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The National Law School of India University, Bangalore has signed an MoU with the National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam to collaborate on research and training in the field of Child Rights Law.
For a number of reasons, the study and research of laws relating to child rights has rarely received the attention it deserves. This is about to change.
As part of a novel initiative, the National Law School of India University, Bangalore has signed an MoU with the National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam to collaborate on research and training in the field of Child Rights Law.
Under the MoU, NLU Assam’s recently formed Centre for Child Rights (CCR) will benefit from the expertise of NLSIU’s 19-year-old Centre for Child and the Law (CCL). The pact, which was signed on October 16, also entails a periodic exchange of faculty members between the two universities, as well as introducing new courses.
Speaking to Bar & Bench, the CCR’s head, Prof. VP Tiwari, said that,
“Being a new university, we thought we should have some collaboration in terms of both expertise and finances. NLSIU Bangalore’s CCL has been around for almost 20 years, so we wanted to collaborate with them in order to achieve our task in a more efficient manner.”
Prof. Tiwari also elucidated CCR’s three-fold approach.
“We will undertake capacity building of various stakeholders, including judges dealing with POCSO cases, NGOs, police, etc. We will also undertake empirical research on the situation of children. Further, we will be involved in advocacy with state government agencies to ensure that policies regarding child welfare are made.”
Highlighting the pressing need for child rights advocacy in the state, he said,
“Assam has a lot of tea gardens, where we hope to apply the national sanctions regarding conditions of children in plantation labour under the Plantation Labour Act. Since the state government is very serious about tackling the child trafficking issue in Assam, we plan to introduce a course in child trafficking for the Railway Police Force and the Central Police Reserve Force.”
The law varsity in Assam is not the only one that CCL has identified. Funded by the TATA Trusts, CCL is looking to establish research centres on Child Rights in universities and strengthen the existing ones.
This is the second MoU that the CCL has entered into; the first was with CNLU Patna a few months ago. The third university is yet to be decided upon
The CCL’s Arlene Manoharan says that,
“We recognized that in other law schools, little is being done to promote teaching and research on child rights. So we made a proposal to TATA Trusts, which we are funded by. They wanted to put their money into encouraging other law schools to work on child rights.
The Trust has enabled us to create partnerships with three law universities to support them in improving library resources, developing curriculum and conducting training programmes.”
In fact, funding, or rather the lack of it, remains one of the biggest deterrents in getting law schools to conduct research on child rights, and related issues.
“With the current model, ultimately, National Law Schools have to generate funds on their own and unless there is someone within the university actively taking part and writing proposals for funding, nothing happens.”
Manoharan also laments the lack of personnel involved in child rights research and advocacy, something she puts down to a lack of attention paid by law schools.
“If you analyse the landscape of research on child rights law, there is a huge gap between the need and supply in terms of teachers, judges and practising advocates who have the sensitivity and skill that is required. That is primarily because there is no education on Child Rights in the law school curriculum. Not enough is being done to capacitate students and faculty on child rights law and lawyering.”
So what can be done to improve things? Apart from integrating the Legal Services Clinics at law schools, she calls upon the faculty of law schools to encourage students to augment the existing framework.
“In the Juvenile Justice Rules, there is a specific provision that enables law schools to support implementation by providing legal aid. Ideally, there should be a system by which the faculty are equipped to mentor students. The first year students could be involved in spreading awareness, whereas the fifth years can do much more; they could even assist advocates in drafting.”
Manoharan concluded by saying,
“Though the project requires us to sign MoUs with only three, we are willing to extend our support to anyone who asks for it. We believe very strongly that law schools have a duty, which has been neglected all these years.”
Read the full text of the MoU below