O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring
– Walt Whitman
The most intriguing part of a human being is her memory. The ability to remember things, it is very subjective and it might change as per the idea. One may remember what the enemy said scores ago and yet tend to forget what one says days ago.
Similarly, even though we boast of being the most intelligent species on the planet, we need special days to remind us to celebrate the days of our lives.
Today is one of such days, it is Teachers’ Day. On this day we remember our teachers and express our gratitude for their constant efforts in shaping our future and nation-building.
For our legal fraternity, we are remembering two of our jewels that we lost this year.
Prof. Madhava Menon
Born in 1935, Dr. N.R. Madhava Menon had his B.Sc. and B.L. degrees from Kerala University, LL.M. and Ph.D. from Aligarh Muslim University and M.A. Degree from Punjab University. He got enrolled as an Advocate in Kerala High Court in 1956 at the early age of 20.
Dr. Menon joined the faculty of Aligarh Muslim University in 1960; moved to Delhi University in 1965, became Professor and Head of the Campus Law Centre.
During this period he served on deputation as Principal of Government Law College, Pondicherry and Secretary of the Bar Council of India Trust.
In 1986, Dr. Menon moved to Bangalore at the invitation of Bar Council of India to set up the National Law School of India University and to initiate a new model of legal education, the Five Year Integrated LL.B. programme.
He served NLSIU as its Founding Vice-Chancellor for 12 years. He was invited by the West Bengal Government to establish a similar law school in Kolkata.
From 1998 to 2003, he served as the Founder Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Juridical Sciences. The Supreme Court sought his services to set up the National Judicial Academy at Bhopal and was the Founder Director of NJA till 2006.
On retirement in 2006, the Government of India appointed him as Member of the Commission on Centre-State Relations (2006-2010). He was also Chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata and of the Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum.
He chaired the Government of India Committee to draft a National Policy on Criminal Justice and the Committee on Equal Opportunity Commission.
He was Member of the Committee on Criminal Justice Reform and the Committee on Restructuring of Higher Education in India. He served two terms as Member of the Law Commission of India.
Dr. Menon was decorated with several awards by Government and professional bodies.
The International Bar Association honoured him with Living Legend of Law Award (1994), the Rotary Club with Vocational Excellence Award (1992), the Society of Indian Law Firms with the Best Law Teacher Award (2009), the ET-NOW Group with National Education Leadership Award (2013) and the Government of India with PADMASHREE, the highest civilian award for outstanding public services (2003).
He was elected Chairman of Commonwealth Legal Education Association in 1997.
He is regarded as the father of modern legal education as if it was not for him, the dream of establishing National Law Schools would either never come to be a reality or be pushed by several years, to say the least. Every one of us who have a five-year degree in law or are pursuing one owe it to him.
He saw a dream to revolutionise the legal education and achieved it, it is because of him that our legal eagles are on the world map working side by side with the best legal minds of the world.
Prof. Shamnad Basheer
Prof. Basheer graduated from India’s premier law school, the National Law School of India University, Bangalore.
He then joined Anand and Anand, a leading intellectual property law firm in New Delhi, and worked on a variety of contentious and non-contentious IP matters before being called upon to head the firm’s IT and Telecommunications Law Division, India.
While in practice, the IFLR 1000 guide rated him as a leading technology lawyer.
He did his post-graduate studies at the University of Oxford. He completed the BCL (as a Shell Centenary scholar) and MPhil with distinction; his thesis dealing with biotechnology and patent law in India was awarded the second prize in a writing contest held by the Stanford Technology Law Review.
He read for the DPhil (PhD) and was a Wellcome Trust scholar. He was an invited research fellow at the Institute of Intellectual Property (IIP), Tokyo, an International Bar Association (IBA) scholar and an Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA) scholar.
He was a Ministry of Human Resource Development Chaired Professor of Intellectual Property Law at the WBNUJS, Kolkata, and the Frank H. Marks Visiting Associate Professor of Intellectual Property Law at the George Washington University Law School, and a research associate at the Oxford Intellectual Property Research Center (OIPRC). He founded several initiatives such as SpicyIP, IDIA, P-PIL and Lex Biosis.
He intervened in the landmark Novartis case, filed a number of other public interest litigations and took initiative to bring about changes in the IPR regime in India.
Some of the awards given to Prof Basheer are,
- Infosys Science Foundation Award, 2014.
- In 2016, Society of Indian Law Firms awarded Shamnad Basheer with Legal Education Innovation Award 2016 in recognition of innovation and leadership in the development of Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access (IDIA) and promoting legal careers among the underprivileged.
- 2007: Awarded the first place in a writing contest held by ATRIP for an article dealing with the Novartis-Gleevec patent case in India.
- 2004: Awarded the second prize in a writing contest held by the Stanford Technology Law Review for an article on biotechnology and patent law in India.
- 2004: Awarded the MS Lin Scholarship to attend the Inter Pacific Bar Association (IPBA) conference in Seoul.
- 2003: Awarded the Wellcome Trust studentship prize and the Clarendon Scholarship for the Mphil/Dphil at Oxford.
- 2003: Awarded a distinction on the BCL at Oxford.
- 2003: Awarded the IBA (International Bar Association) scholarship.
- 2002: Awarded the Shell Centenary-British Chevening Scholarship for the BCL at Oxford.
- 2002: Rated as one of the leading technology lawyers in India by the IFLR 1000 guide (a Euromoney publication) in 2002.
- 2001: Awarded the second-best prize by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) for an article on “Internet and Intellectual Property Rights”.
Throughout his journey from being a student at the prestigious NLS, being one of the youngest professors in the NLUs, founding SpicyIp to nurturing and promoting legal talent through IDIA, he touched thousands of lives. His legal acumen and grasp of the law were so promising that he was considered an authority on Intellectual Property Law.
Needless to say, a teacher to many and a guide to more, he was one of the finest among us.
Happy Teachers’ Day to both of these amazing professors.