This interview has been conducted by Palak Verma, ex Campus Manager, Amity Law School, Noida – Centre II. The interview was taken on December 10, 2014. Well, better late then never!
Kumar Shanu isa charismatic person and an influential personality with stump oratory skills! Having grown up in Patna, Shanu has been fortunate enough to be exposed to various things and he believes that one should have a sense of giving back to the society.
1. What made you take up law?
My great grandfather was a social worker. Being a government school teacher he did not accept salary or pension. He kept teaching in the school even after retirement. He spent his whole life helping people in every possible way.
I was fortunate enough to spend my 12 initial years of my life with a man with such a pure soul. I always wanted to be like him. I wanted to touch as many lives as I could. Even after 12th Boards I had no plans to take up law. All I wanted till then was to come to Delhi.
I initially planned to graduate from University of Delhi. I did not know anyone from my generation who was persuing law or had any plans to do so.
The story behind studying law may sound dramatic. While roaming on the roads of Patna, I stopped in between at shop where a person was selling forms. I saw him selling LLB entrance exam forms.
Till then, I was not aware about the concept of 5 year course after completing Class 12th. I thought this would be a perfect career choice. My sudden interest in law was primarily an outcome of my proximity to the social causes. I could do better for Society after studying law.
After some research, I found NLU, Delhi, Indraprastha University and Amity as options in Delhi. Unfortunately NLU, Delhi deadline had expired. I appeared for IP entrance examination and got 545th rank. I could not get top 3 colleges affiliated to the university because of 85 percent of the seat reserved for the students of Delhi.
I landed up getting admission in Amity University. Today in the fourth year of law school, I find myself lucky to be a student of law. I am in love with the legal profession. The journey so far has been very satisfying.
2. What is your experience with the legal aid cell of our college?
I was not clear that being in the law school how to use my education for society. The idea of establishing a legal aid cell emerged while talking to Justice Altamas Kabir, the then Executive chairman of The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), in a seminar organized by our law school.
Our aim is to ensure that even the weakest amongst the weak in the country does not suffer injustice due to lack of legal awareness.
The journey had started with a group of 5 people and today more than 150 students of the institution have enrolled themselves as active members of the cell.
The members have been assigned different roles. All of them are very hard working and I am proud to lead such a great team. So far we have been able to make some difference.
It was all possible because of the consistent support of a NLSIU alumnus, our Assistant Prof. Mr. Ashutosh Tripathi.
3. Share your experience in mooting? Tips for our readers?
I honestly regret not giving much time to mooting in these three and half years of law school.
I have represented my university in 27th BCI Trust Moot Court Competition. Arguing before some eminent lawyers and judges of the country at a very early stage of my law education will always be an unforgettable moment.
Recently, I also represented my college in RGNUL National Moot Court Competition, 2014. We finished ahead of most of the NLUs.
Mooting has instilled great amount of confidence in me. I plan to participate with all my energy in at least two prestigious moot court competitions before I complete my course.
4. How was your internship experience under Mr. Arvind Kejriwal?
The interns had to work on the behalf of Mr. Arvind Kejriwal (then MLA) in his constituency.
I was assigned Sarojini Nagar and some other adjoining areas of New Delhi assembly constituency, represented by Mr. Kejriwal. My role was almost that of an MLA for the assigned area. I visited every possible house to collect the grievances and problems of the residents.
We then discussed the problems faced by people with concerned departments of the government for quick solutions. Mr. Kejriwal also allocated funds to solve some of these problems.
The best part of the internship was that Mr. Kejriwal gave a lot of importance to his interns. He always consulted us before taking major decisions. The interns assisted him on different policy issues. Our opinions were taken very seriously.
The 4 month long internship came to an end with dissolution of Delhi assembly.
5. With a proactive social life, how do you manage to keep up with the demands of your law education?
The day I realized that I could speak well, I decided not to speak for myself anymore. For me, law education is a medium to serve the society in the best manner.
Just after studying labour law as a subject, I decided to aware the workers in organized and unorganized sectors of Noida about their rights and duties.
These social responsibilities helped me to understand the laws in a better way. One just cannot assist people with legal problems without having knowledge of relevant laws.
6. What is the one achievement that will be always be the most special to you?
During our legal literacy camp in Prayas Juvenile Home (Delhi Gate) we came across a 12 -year-old child who was accused of theft. One can’t believe that this child could have done any wrong after talking to him. He was clearly a victim of flaws in our judicial system.
His parents till then were untraceable. Our volunteers provided legal assistance to him and finally this child is with his parents. He has been acquitted by the Juvenile Justice Board. This child wants to become a scientist. But his parents are unable to send him to school.
Legal Aid Cell, Amity Law School – II has decided to help him complete his education. We are still looking for people who can sponsor his complete education.
Though the child was looked after by the authorities and had access to playground, television and enjoyed good food at the juvenile home. There the environment was not good and that was adversely impacting the child’s growth. He had to share his room with some most notorious juveniles accused and convicted of heinous crimes.
Taking him out of that place and finding his parents were big challenges for us. We did that with a lot of effort. The smiling faces of the child and his family members will always be very close to my heart.
7. What is your experience at Legal Literacy camps?
While my recent visits to some of the police stations, I was surprised to learn that hardly any of the policemen were fully aware of the recent amendments in criminal law. If this is the condition of policemen then expecting the knowledge from common man would be totally unfair.
The harsh reality remains that majority of the people in rural as well as urban areas are totally ignorant of the basic laws prevailing in the country.
With our limited resources and efforts, we are trying our best to make the ends of justice meet. We face many problems during our camps. Collecting people for these camps is a major challenge.
We have been using skits and plays to attract more and more people. We are able to create a better impact on minds of people through these skits. The legal provisions become easy to understand even for a person who is not at all literate.
There are security concerns as well. The villages of Noida are hardly safe.
I remember one instance where people belonging to two groups of the same village had a fight just because one of the groups thought that we were misleading their wives and daughters by informing them about laws relating dowry, female feticide and domestic violence.
A lot more work has to be done in the field of legal awareness. Contribution of different stake holders is needed. Unfortunately some district and state legal service authorities have reduced their awareness camps to mere photo-ops.
8. What is your driving force that keeps you going from one project to another?
The smiles that we are able to bring on the faces of people.
9. Tell us about your short term and long term goals.
I want to litigate but being the eldest son of my family, I find it very difficult. The initial struggle in litigation would bring financial difficulties.
I plan to get a decent corporate job for few initial years so that I am able repay my education loan amount to the bank and develop my skills in an efficient manner.
I also desire to bring some good people together and work as an NGO for the cause of free legal and medical aid as well as awareness.
My hometown, Mokama, which is just 90 km away from the state capital, does not have doctors. People living there are left on the mercy of god. This compelled my younger brother to decide to prepare for Pre Medical Tests.
A below average student who worked hard not because he loved science as subject but he wanted to do something to put an end to the sufferings of the people. He made it to All India Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Patna and is now in 2nd year of MBBS.
With the help and contribution of the students of AIIMS, Patna, we aim to make people aware about different symptoms of diseases, their best possible cures, generic medicines, different government schemes for the poor and needy and the jholachap doctors carrying unauthorized practices.
10. Any tips for our readers?
Be a person, not a resume.