DUB Speak

Law Faculty student’s open letter to the Bar Council of India

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Our guest columnist, Chhaya Tyagi, feels that though there are problems, the ‘solution’ of de-recognizing Faculty of Law seems completely unjustified. Here’s her perspective on the issue-

You say we lack tables, that benches are broken, classrooms are small and infrastructure is inadequate to bear the burden of affirmative action. Delhi University’s Law Faculty surely cannot boast of being the most well-equipped in the world. And so can’t India. First things first: We’re a developing country, we have an acute scarcity of resources, and add to that population pressure. Law Faculty is trying to utilize the paltry little infrastructure it has to support a swarm of students. Needless to say, the per capita investment is low, pathetically low. The question is: What do you do about that?

Millions of schools in India’s villages aren’t housed in world-class buildings with cutting-edge technology. How do you respond to that? Do you go around shutting them down, simply because they don’t have as much money to throw into laptops and air-conditioners? That could be an elite’s drawing-room decision, a snobbish apathy towards the common man but such an approach would jeopardize the wider interests of society. Wasn’t that the whole idea behind public sector – to not let commoners be priced out of the market for essential commodities?

There’s another aspect of Law Faculty – the lesser known and strictly experiential one. Whoever has been to its classes would know it well – the excellent (and may I add, adorable) teachers. You complain of paucity of benches. Who’s sitting on benches anyway? With them, you’ve already been transported to ideational spaces. Anyone who doubts it might try sneaking into Ms. Monica Chaudhary’s class. Yes, do that. You can’t sit outside and pass comments. Try uploading some lectures online, and let people vote. ‘It’s not about legalese and procedure; it’s about somebody’s rights. A person’s liberty is at stake. If we’re trading off someone’s freedom for a bit of our security, bail must be a human rights issue…If non-interference in private lives is the justification for excluding marital rape from the definition of rape, I wonder why the same reasoning isn’t applied to consensual relations between homosexuals behind closed doors… If you think a demand for the right to die is unreasonable because life is sacrosanct, you’re still judging, not understanding.’ Such are our platonic realms. Alas! But these are finer matters, can’t be quantified like ratio of students to benches. However, that doesn’t mean that qualitative factors don’t matter. Under Dr. S.K. Gupta, we’ve travelled across six centuries in less than three months. Do you know the pleasures of time travel? When your teachers can recreate an entire era of history in minute detail and you see Dharmashastra evolving; when you almost witness the gradual conferring of proprietary rights upon women – a process spread over decades, it can be beautiful. It can be so beautiful that even if there were no benches, no classrooms, no building, believe it or not, we would sit under trees as long as they agreed to impart knowledge.

I’m a first year student. Still too early for me to think that Bar Council’s recognition is all it takes to validate my education in law. There’s something more profound about what we’re doing. Something that can’t be observed in few hours of inspection, that can’t be contained in a simple compliance report. At its inception during the 1980s, Public Interest Litigation (PIL) promised to privilege essence over form – you could write your grievance on a simple postcard and send it to the Supreme Court, and if the court concurred, it would take up your cause. Ironically, today, the same PIL is being used to demand form (infrastructure) over essence (education). We may have fallen short of ticks in a checklist, but we’re deconstructing an entire apparatus that had guaranteed equality of opportunity to all.

Chhaya Tyagi,

1st year LL.B. student in Campus Law Center, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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