By Protik Da
First published on October 13, 2012.
A few stray thoughts from an alumnus of one of the most laid back places from where you can graduate in law. (University College of Law, University of Calcutta, Hazra Campus, as it used to be before they made it into a department).
Background reading here.
1. 5 years LLB is a post graduate degree, ultimately.
You attend a college for this, regardless of whether you follow the Western system and call it a law-school or not. College/University is where they knock out the hidebound traditions that school imposes on you.
2. In a college you experiment because it is that stage in your life where you must lose and find yourself.
Within some very loose limits (we call them legality) you have to explore your personality.
Wearing what you want (even if it is a black three-piece suit of clothes, which I used to wear in my student days, to acclimatize myself with the uniform I would have to wear the rest of my life) is a right that cannot be taken away from college students. So long as you do wear something that is!
3. Freedom of speech is one of the most cherished rights that democracy gives us. It is not just a fundamental right, it is what makes us free.
If today you criticize Lawctopus for calling a draconian measure “Taliban-like” are you not policing words which are not obscene but operate as a shorthand for a huge concept?
As loyal students of a University you may express your grievance with the word, but to ask for its removal or rephrasing, you must give a lawful reason.
Is it defamatory? Does it incite violence or is it subversive to the extent that it interferes with public law and order? Is it opposed to public morality or does it compromise national sovereignty or religious feelings?
4. If a site for law students run by law students does not take up cudgels for law students, who will? Arvind Kejriwal? (that was sarcastic, not serious).
Concrete measures to stop university authorities from becoming pocket dictators:
a. Challenge any law that establishes them as ultra vires because it prohibits not merely restricts, and/or unreasonably restricts the freedom to form associations for students (who are major).
The vires of the statute have to be expressly challenged.
b. Write anonymous letters to the newspapers and websites that lawyers and law students and recruiters read complaining of the atrocities.
c. Complain in large numbers to the State Human Rights Commission.
d. Have class action/representative action litigation (including PIL if you are afraid to put your own name on it) filed in the High Court of the relevant state, complaining of denial of civic and political rights.
e. If there is a body (even if sponsored or heavily controlled by the authorities) where there is student representation, ensure that whoever serves on it from the student body speaks for you and not at you.
In other words, even the “snitch” will have to spend the majority of his time in a hostel or with the other students in class. He must be made to understand that his loyalties lie with his fellows nor the teachers.
f. Listen to Another Brick in the Wall–Part II many times consecutively.