Full name of the reviewer
Amit Rathi Gujjar
Full name of your law school
School of Law, Rights and Constitutional Governance, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Which semester are you in
Completed LL.M. in 2015
Faculty and Academics of TISS
The faculty includes experienced professors from different backgrounds and we mostly have guest lectures for which experts from the field, retired judges, social activists and practising lawyers are invited.
Our last lecture of LL.M was taken by Padma Shri. N.R. Madhava Menon Sir which was a very enriching experience. Lecturers from other Schools and Research Centers from TISS come and engage classes, which is a different experience and makes us think with different perspective and helps in expanding our horizons.
This LL.M. course is very different from the way law is taught in National Law Universities and other law schools. It is more focussed on multi-disciplinary perspective on laws and the way they function in real life situations. Basically field and intervention based approach is followed in the course.
One very different and striking component of this course is Field Work.
In field work students involves with local NGOs, organizations or issues of their interest, where they work on a particular issue for one month in every semester and they have faculty supervisors to guide them.
In field work a student is assessed by the work done by the student and by the inputs from the faculty supervisor and the NGO or the organization with which the student works, students are supposed to give a presentation of their work which they generally do during their field work.
During field work a student is exposed to the realities of the field or the way our laws are actually being implemented. It makes them understand whether the law is being followed in letter or the spirit.
This component is very helpful in making you sensitized which is very important if you are interested in working in the field or as a human rights lawyer or if you are interested in social activism. There is a properly functioning Legal aid Clinic in collaboration with UNDP.
Then there is one more component of Foundation Courses which is compulsory for all the Schools of TISS, where subjects like Economics, Globalization, Sociology, Culture and Society, Development and Political theories, Sociology of Gender, Feminism etc. are taught.
So to my viewpoint it can be an enriching involvement for one year if you have a particular issue in your mind and you want to explore it more.
Student Culture and Activities
There are all kinds of extra-curricular activities and lectures every week on campus, debates on contemporary issues are held, eminent personalities are invited for guest lectures, there are cultural events and evenings at least every month like ‘Mehfil’ where you can showcase your skills in ‘Shayari’ or poetry.
There are active student groups discussing various social or contemporary issues and government action/inaction, etc.
TISS also has an active Students’ Union which gets elected every year which consists a President, Vice President, General secretary, Treasurer, Cultural Secretary, Literary Secretary, Sports Secretary along with Class Representatives and School level Secretaries from all the Schools of TISS.
Students’ Union organizes events and other activities in the campus.
Every year Inter School Sports fest is organized in which all the schools from TISS participates in various sports like Volleyball, Basketball, Cricket, Badminton, Table Tennis, Chess, Carom, Kabaddi, etc.
Though to my opinion being a sports enthusiast, sports infrastructure is not upto the mark especially after graduating from RML NLU, Lucknow. Students participates in other sports events and fests also. There is a Recreation Centre on campus, which has a gym, badminton court, yoga centre and musical instruments.
TISS has a vibrant student community from diverse backgrounds from all over India, and there are exchange students as well.
TISS Mumbai is located in Deonar opposite to Deonar Bus Depot on Deonar Farm road, which is basically in Chembur, which is a suburb in eastern Mumbai.
It is well connected to all parts of Mumbai through buses (Deonar Depot, which is one of the most well-connected bus depots of Mumbai, is just in front of the campus) and local trains (the nearest local train station is Govandi, just around 2 km away from the campus). There is an Expressway which directly connects Chembur to South Mumbai.
TISS has a Centralised Placement Committee for all the Schools together, and each School is free to have its own Placement Cell. LL.M. students get to sit for placements at both the levels – Institute level and School level.
Most of the recruiters or organizations coming for placements are generally from social and development sector. So LL.M. students can either opt for these development sector jobs, or jobs in the socio-legal sectors, based on the kind of organization visits the campus.
Other than placements there are some fellowships awarded to the students every year. Students are selected for ‘TISS Fellowship in Criminal Justice System’ and ‘Access to Justice Fellowship’.
For ‘TISS Fellowship in Criminal Justice System’ students are selected from LL.M and MA Social Work in Criminology & Justice courses while ‘Access to Justice’ Fellowship is only for LL.M students.
‘Access to Justice’ Fellowship was initiated in 2014 when first batch of LL.M was passing out from TISS. ‘TISS Fellowship in Criminal Justice System’ was initiated in 2015 when I passed out.
These fellowships are meant for those students who are willing to work in the field on a particular issue of their interest. Students with strong belief in working with the marginalized and vulnerable sections, or the issues that involve taking the road less travelled are selected for these fellowships.
The criminal justice fellowship program is offered for a period of two years. Presently there are 15 fellows working in different states in India i.e. Delhi, Karantaka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, Haryana.
They are working on different issues within the broad theme of criminal justice i.e. Mob Justice, Legal Aid in Prison, Notified & Denotified Tribes, Rehabilitation of women and children in prostitution, Working with children in Observation home, custodial deaths, sexual violence, transgender community and issues of women workers in unorganised sector.
The core idea behind this initiative has been to encourage new areas of work, especially where there is a dearth of trained human service professionals, and to demonstrate the scope and potential of working on critical issues.
Interested students are asked to prepare a proposal on their area of interest and then it is evaluated by a committee of experts (generally Professors from TISS), then shortlisted candidates are interviewed and selected for the fellowship.
Each fellow has a mentor to guide. Mentors are the Professors from TISS or the experts associated with the ongoing field action projects of TISS.
I am presently working under the ‘‘TISS Fellowship in Criminal Justice System’’.
I am working on the issue of providing legal aid, education & livelihood to ‘Van Gujjar semi- nomadic tribes’ in the Shiwalik foothills on U.P/ Uttarakhand border in Saharanpur district of U.P. under the mentorship of Prof. Shamim Modi. Van Gujjars are the semi nomadic tribes and seasonal migrators who still practise their traditional way of life, they are nomadic water buffalo herders.
They live year around in the wilderness, not in villages, – grazing their animals or livestock on the vegetation that grows in the forests and mountains of Northern India. The tribe spends winter in the Shiwalik foothills and trek their herds up to the Himalayas, aiming for high alpine pastures during summers.
Administration and Fees
The overall cost of the one-year LL.M. programme is around 2 – 2.5 lakh including accommodation. Accommodation is one big issue you have to face in TISS because of lack of availability of space in the hostels.
The administration is friendly, totally depending on the way you behaves with them. Every School has its own ‘Secretariat’ which looks upon day to day activities of a particular course like schedule of lectures, syllabus, and other related issues.
Tell us about the infrastructure of your college
There are two campuses, old campus and new campus not much far away from each other. Both the campuses have dining halls. To avail the facilities of dining hall you have to become the member by paying the fees or if you are a local or you are living outside the campus in a flat then you can avail the coupon facility.
School of Law is located in the New Campus. Sometimes you have to go to the Old campus also for some lectures. The main drawback is lack of hostel facility for students. Library is located in the Old campus which is well equipped and maintains quality.
It remains closed from 6 am to 8 am. Don’t expect a library full with law books and bare acts like we have them in Law Colleges across India. We have proper legal databases and number of other e resources. NLU Mumbai is also running its classes in TISS campus only.
So join TISS if you are interested in focusing on multi-disciplinary perspective on laws and the way they function in real life situations. It is a good course for those who are interested in the field and intervention based approach.
Join this course if you are willing to work in the field on a particular issue of your interest or if there is some issue close to your heart like I wanted to do something on ‘Agriculture Laws’ and then finally I prepared my Dissertation on ‘Sugarcane issue of Western U.P and agricultural laws’.
Come to TISS if you have strong belief in working with the marginalized and vulnerable sections, or the issues that involve taking the road less travelled.
Lastly come to TISS if you want to be enough sensitized and which is much needed before you start working with marginalized and vulnerable where your words, your actions, your reaction and your behaviour plays a very important role.
Best things about your law school
If you are interested in the field and intervention based approach and interested in knowing the ground realities of the field then this is the best course for you.
Field work is one of the best component of this course where you get to know the real implementation status of our laws and the realities of the field. During field work a student is exposed to the realities of the field or the way our laws are actually being implemented. It makes them understand whether the law is being followed in letter or the spirit.
Initially you may feel irritated with those chart papers, clay and plays you are supposed to do as your coursework but these are the things which are now helping us in community setup where we are working now.
This course will teach you one very important aspect of sensitization.
Worst things about your law school
You will not find pure legal lectures in this course. Please forget everything about corporate law. You will not get a single lecture on corporate law.
If you think you will get to mark those heavy law books and bare acts with your pencils or markers then you will be totally disappointed here because field based approach is followed in this course.
You have to be in the filed or community to be more precise during your field work. So be prepared with basic repo building skills and be enough sensitized otherwise it will be very difficult for you.
Here you will find people from diverse backgrounds from all over India with different viewpoints so be prepared to listen & respect their viewpoints.
Note: I am presently working with TISS and Tata Trust, Mumbai under TISS Criminal Justice Fellowship as a Programme Officer.
I am working on the issue of providing legal aid, education & livelihood to ‘Van Gujjar semi- nomadic tribes’ in the Shiwalik foothills on Uttar Pradesh / Uttarakhand border in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh.