Dr. C. Raj Kumar while in a conversation with Higher Education Plus speaks about Alternative Dispute Redressal, inefficiency of lower courts, the intersection between law and business, and how to reduce the period of dispute resolution in India.
What is the Master of Business Law programme all about?
Today, we are launching Master of Business Law program at Jindal Global Law School. This programme is designed to equip, empower, educate, and enable people of the corporate world who are not formally trained in law with a wide range of laws in the business world. This includes corporate financial training, investment, IP, and many other aspects of laws that impact the business world. The purpose of this course is to provide an opportunity for business people working in corporations, companies, business enterprises, accounting firms, investment banks, and range of other organizations of learning the law in an environment where they can work and study too. It is a typical idea of a programme which is meant for working professionals.
What are shortcomings that Indian judicial system must overcome in order to become an effective judiciary?
One of the major aspects of not just judiciary but of all the individuals involved in government mechanism also is that we need to develop a better understanding of the relationship between law and business and to what extent law creates an enabling environment for business to flourish. Law also imposes restrictions on businesses to function. For instance, if a business functions in an arbitrary manner; or runs in a manner which does not have transparency; or violates laws, rules, and regulations, the law should come into play. In many ways, it provides check and balance between exercising of power and enabling a regulatory environment for contracts to get forced, for disputes to be resolved, and for people to feel confident about the fact that promises will be kept. Hence, law becomes the foundation for the effective functioning of every aspect of democracy.
Is Alternative Dispute Redressal a feasible way to decrease the pressure on Indian judiciary?
It is clearly imminent. There was a famous saying by Prof. Mark Gallatin at the University of Wisconsin Madison in which he talked about the facts behind the proliferation of cases and why India is not considered a litigious society. According to him, many people in our country are going to courts but the cases for which they go in don’t come out quickly. We are not unlike United States a litigious society because of the fact that the gestation period for solving disputes is longer. Therefore, we need to take several steps. First of all, we need to re-examine the existing framework of adjournments.
Frequent adjournment given by courts for delaying is a major threat for our judicial system. Dealing with this has several limitations such as time-bound limitations imposed by courts either formally or through procedural steps. We also need to train our lawyers and judges in a better way. The establishment of judicial academies has also helped but much of the impact is visible in higher courts and the Supreme Court. But, we need to work at the lower level. I think that there is a need for radical reforms at the lower court level so that the judges who are handling disputes there are conscious of that. While we can deal with the inflow and outflow of cases, we also need to develop a stronger Alternative Dispute Redressal system. Unfortunately, in India, the ADR system is not efficient as it should be. Hence, people have difficult choices to make. ADR system is also becoming more bureaucratic and challenges of litigation are being transferred into ADR system. The implementation of methods involving resolution of disputes in a time-bound and an effective manner is required to encourage people in adopting this system.
Why do you think students prefer legal services over court litigation?
There is a very strong recognition among students that litigation in any form or manifestation in any part of the world is expensive. Also, it may not fetch the desired results for the party involved. Hence, the measures of alternative dispute resolution such as arbitration and conciliation are being adopted increasingly by companies and corporations while dealing with disputes. We hope that knowledge of business laws among professionals will make them more sensitive about the way they approach law and therefore become conscious of the compliance issues surrounding law.
How do you look at the role of BCI in improving the quality of law education instead of quantity?
Bar Council of India is the lead regulatory agency for regulating legal education. BCI has taken several measures in last decade to improve quality of legal education. I think it is just fair to say that the agency has recognized that the proliferation of law schools has affected its ability to ensure the excellence of studies in legal institutes positively. It has already taken measures and we just need to ensure that the 1500 plus law schools that we have to maintain certain basic standards when it comes to imparting legal education. Inevitably, law schools which are elite should have an ecosystem where it can provide more to its students and faculty. There are others which might not be in that situation but all of them should have a minimal standard when it comes to pursuing law education.
Budding lawyers don’t prefer the lower courts? Why do think that’s the case?
This has been a major challenge for our law schools in last two decades. I think that it is fair to say that the level of interest that legal education had generated among young people in last two to three decades coincided with the opening up of Indian economy, liberalization, and also globalization. This provided an opportunity to students of not only pursuing the legal education and then to work in a court of law but also of pursuing other career alternatives at corporate law firms, in-house counsel in companies and business enterprises, research institutions, non-governmental firms, inter-governmental organisations, and United Nations.
These opportunities have in some ways created some degree of disincentives for students to pursue litigation. Also, it is fair to say that litigation world also has significant barriers for young law graduates to enter. Historically, getting a chance to work with a senior may or may not be adequate. The kind of motivation and ecosystem that our courts particularly lower courts have might not suit a young budding lawyer who may not be from a family of lawyers. These disincentives have discouraged young law graduates to enter into litigation. But, I think it is changing. One of thing which we have observed at our law school is at least 15 to 20 percent of our law graduates are looking at litigation and that’s a welcome trend. We hope to encourage it further.
What are your views on ‘Right to Privacy’?
We are fortunate that Supreme Court of India made an extraordinary judgment on ‘Right to Privacy’. I think India has played a global leadership role in recognising the right to privacy while it has been acknowledged as a basic human right all across the world. The Supreme Court’s recognition of this as a constitutional right is a reflection of the strength of our democracy and our commitment for rule of law. Also, the intuitional imagination of the Supreme Court as a leader has been realised. Its tryst for pursuing justice is also reflected through this.
Which domain of law according to you law schools or universities should emphasize on?
I personally think we need to have diversity when it comes to the interest of a student. Law schools and universities should be pluralistic. At our institute, we have inter-disciplinary subjects. We have students who pursue study of human rights, constitutional law, IP, property law, family law, corporate law, financial law, trade, investment etc. A good or comprehensive law school should give opportunity to students to pursue inter-disciplinary courses so that students have ample choices to make an informed decision about their careers.