Symbiosis Law School, Pune, a constituent of Symbiosis International (Deemed University) celebrated Law Day on 4th March, 2018 at the Symbiosis Viman Nagar Campus Auditorium (SVC Auditorium). A long-standing tradition at the Law School, ‘Law Day’ is celebrated to remember the most important goals of the legal profession: to advance equality and justice, encourage observation and enforcement of the law and to foster respect for law and an understanding of its essential place in the life of every citizen. In addition to Law Day, SLS-P conducted Justice Y.V. Chandrachud Memorial Public Lecture, in the honour of Late Justice Y. V. Chandrachud.
The programme commenced with the auspicious Lighting of Lamp by the dignitaries including the Chief Guest, Adv. Ram Jethmalani, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Professor Emeritus, SIU; Adv. Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, Advocate General, Bombay High Court, Maharashtra; Prof. Dr. S.B. Mujumdar, Hon’ble Chancellor, SIU; Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, Fulbright Scholar, Director, SLS-P, Dean, Faculty of Law, SIU and Dr. Bindu Ronald, Deputy Director, SLS-P.
Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, Fulbright Scholar, Director, SLS-P, Dean, Faculty of Law, SIU in her welcome address traced the history of Law Day as celebrated in SLS-P, ideated and initiated by public intellectuals such as Late Adv. B.R. Ranade, Dr. S.B. Mujumdar and Adv. Ram Jethmalani who believed that the budding legal professionals taking an oath to uphold constitutional values is germane in a democracy.
Dr. Gurpur then presented the report of path taken since Law Day 2017 wherein she enumerated the stellar milestones achieved by SLS-P in the past academic year. She drew attention to the International Association of Law Schools’ Global Law Deans’ Forum (GLDF) and Annual Meeting (AM), 2017 which was conducted in SLS-P which represented classic excellence in legal education in India and the world. She stated that this event has given impetus to SLS-P’s vision to lead legal education and research through care, courage and competence. Dr. Gurpur also drew attention to the collaboration between SLS-P and the Herbert Smith Freehills law firm which led to the prestigious Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) - Oxford International Lecture Programme, 2018 where Chris Parsons, Chairman, India Practice, Herbert Smith Freehills and Prof. Timothy Endicott, Professor of Legal Philosophy, Oxford University conducted lectures to impart quality legal education through their knowledge and expertise.
Dr. Gurpur also spoke about the various laurels received by the students of SLS-P, such as victories in more than 30 national and international moot court competitions. This was evidenced by SLS-P securing the first position in the 7th edition of the Mooting Premiere League. According to her, events such as the B.G. Deshmukh Memorial Public Lecture, the Annual International Research Conference on Contemporary Legal Scholarship cum Legal Research Skills Training Workshop, the Intellectual Property Rights Conclave, Symbhav, the annual cultural fest, inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Maharashtra all embody ‘Learning Beyond Classroom’. Dr. Gurpur’s speech firmly established that SLS-P’s awe-inspiring stride testifies that fact that the institution is moving from strength to strength.
The dignitaries Adv. Jethmalani and Adv. Kumbhakoni were felicitated by Dr. S.B. Mujumdar. Dr. Gurpur felicitated Hon’ble Justice R.V. Deshmukh, Retired Judge, Aurangabad. Subsequently, Adv. Ram Jethmalani presented the “Ram Jethmalani Award” for Evidence Law to Ms. Atmaja Tripathi, 5th Year, B.B.A.-LL.B. (Hons.). Following this, the booklet of Justice Y.V. Chandrachud Memorial Public Lecture, 2017 and LexET, the bi-annual college newsletter were released by Adv. Ashutosh Kumbhakoni.
Prof. Dr. S.B. Mujumdar, Hon’ble Chancellor, SIU in his address stressed on how Adv. Jethmalani was not a guest, but a member of the Symbiosis family. Dr. Mujumdar congratulated Dr. Gurpur for ably leading SLS-P on the path of unprecedented success. The honourable speaker stated that law is an integral part of our life, accompanying us from womb to tomb, so it is important to understand the significance of the same. Dr. Mujumdar opined that the knowledge of law makes one free and fearless. He concluded his speech by establishing that the knowledge of law will go a long way in strengthening the democracy.
Adv. Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, Advocate General, Bombay High Court, Maharashtra delivered the Justice Y.V. Chandrachud Memorial Public Lecture on ‘Legal System Reforms (Beta Version : ?)’. He exhorted the students to join active legal practice and the judiciary. The speaker described the intriguing title ‘Beta Version : ?’ and stated that the suggestions given at the lecture were beta versions which could be improved and innovated. The speaker opined that law was a living organ, and it was impossible to come up with an absolute legal system reform, which will always have infinite trial versions with in-built defects. He enlightened the audience on various revolutionary laws that have recently been enacted, such as the 2015 amendment of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, where a disposal period of one year was imposed as well as the creation of commercial courts to expedite commercial disputes and encourage foreign investment; the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, which he commented would be the future of litigation for upcoming lawyers; the Real Estate and Regulation Act, 2016, which has its own tribunal and has barred the jurisdiction of civil courts in such matters.
Adv. Kumbhakoni commented on the need for the Bar Council to take on a more proactive role, and how amendments to existing laws must not be pursued unless there is some infrastructure to support the same. He brought to light the various programmes undertaken by the Judiciary in this regard, such as the ‘Continuous Legal Education Programme’ (CLEP), the ‘Judicial Services as a Career’ programme, and the ‘Programme for Legal Literacy’.
The honourable speaker informed the audience of how the Aurangabad High Court had resolved 2,920 matters in a single year, an all-time national record, through the Lok Adalat system. He stressed on the importance of ‘housekeeping’ of official records, as in several instances, matters are left pending before the court even though the disputes have already lapsed, especially in matters related to elections, student admission, public tenders, employment and so on. He suggested that an apt time period for disposal of cases would be three months. He also suggested the appointment of an Ombudsman, in the capacity of a mediator rather than an adjudicator to review cases that should be taken up by the Court.
He concluded his discourse by shedding light on the significance of practical legal education in the implementation of legal reforms. He emphasized the need for introducing a blend of both academicians and legal practitioners in the legal education system. He quoted Justice Chandrachud in saying that, “Drafting done by a lawyer is a piece of art and the lawyer is the artist.” Finally, he described Symbiosis Law School, Pune as an island of excellency among a sea of mediocrity.
Adv. Ram Jethmalani, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Professor Emeritus, SIU, the Chief Guest for the occasion, administered the Law Day Oath. In his address, the honourable speaker recounted several enriching experiences from his lifetime, such as his entrance into the legal profession, his academic excellence and his battle against retrospective legislation and the Bombay Refugees Act which served as stories which inspired awe amongst the audience. Adv. Jethmalani proceeded to speak about the life of Justice Y.V. Chandrachud and his knowledge and expertise in law which enabled him to grasp legal matters with precision and perfection. The honourable speaker also recounted the famous Nanavati case wherein he witnessed Justice Chandrachud’s prowess in matters of law. He concluded his speech by reiterating his undying love for law, which prompts him to continue being a law teacher, and his mission to bring democracy in order.
The programme concluded with a Vote of Thanks by Dr. Bindu Ronald, Deputy Director, SLS-P.