The passion for mooting helped us survive: SLCU's winning team at Law College Dehradun Moot 2021

The winning team from the School of Law, Christ University Bangalore
The winning team from the School of Law, Christ University Bangalore

The School of Law, Christ (Deemed) University, Bangalore emerged as winners of the 5th Edition of the National Moot Court Competition 2021, organized by Law College Dehradun, faculty of Uttaranchal University.

The competition was conducted on 1st and 2nd May, through the online mode for the very first time. Out of 22 teams, coming from all across the country, 18 made it to the oral rounds of the event. This Edition’s problem was based on Constitution, Biodiversity Act and other related laws.

The inaugural ceremony of the same was graced by the presence of Justice Indira Banerjee of Supreme Court of India as the Chief Guest. The judges of all the rounds comprised of faculty members of Law College Dehradun and other eminent legal minds tuning in from different parts of the country.

On the first day, i.e., 1st May, two Preliminary Rounds were conducted where nine courtrooms were setup. These were followed by the Quarter-Final Rounds in which eight teams competed. The Semi-Final Round and the Final Round were conducted on the second and concluding day, i.e., 2nd May.

After a rigorous Semi-Final Round, the two finalist teams argued in front of a five-judge Bench comprising of, Hon’ble Mr. Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Former Chief Justice of India, Ms. Aishwarya Bhati, Additional Solicitor General of India, Mr. Abhishek Anand, Co-Founder and Partner, SARVADA LEGAL, Dr. Amit George, Advocate Delhi High Court, and Prof. (Dr.) Rajesh Bahuguna, Dean, Law College Dehradun.

The results for the same were declared during the Valedictory Ceremony, where the results for the other positions, including that of Best Memorial, Best Researcher, along with the Best Oralist (both Male and Female).

The winning team, comprising of Aarav Srejan Prasad (B.B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), 2nd year) and Lolita Delma Crasta (B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), 2nd year), as speakers, and Aniket Dutta (B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), 4th year), as the researcher, bagged a cash prize of Rs. 25,000/-.

The Runners-Up were Central University of South Bihar, Gaya, who won a cash prize of Rs. 15,000/-.

Campus Ambassador Aditi Bansal conducted an interview with the winning team.

Earlier the competition was to be conducted offline but the mode had to be switched to online. What all changes did you have to do in your preparation strategy and how did it affect your overall experience?

For a year, every moot court competition has been turning into the virtual mode, but it was one such moot that was going to be conducted physically, and for that, we were going to visit this beautiful city of Dehradun. We were most thrilled; however, due to the deteriorating situation across the country, this moot also had to switch to the virtual mode.

The three of us, being from different cities and different states, had arranged for our travel and had prepared a schedule to discuss and practice court mannerism expected in the physical format; however, since we had had the experience of online moots, the change didn’t affect our preparations much as everything then was done using online meetings on a daily basis.

How do you usually go about when it comes to research and drafting the memorial?

The moot proposition of this competition, being on such an intricate and niche area, demanded a lot of in-depth research, followed by proper structuring in view of the readers’ interest. At the same time, we didn’t loosen up on the formatting and presentation of the memorial since it makes the first impression on the reader.

We had to refer to all sorts of material available only on the internet given the pandemic situation, including standard textbooks on constitutional law and for the specific subject-matter of this moot, i.e., Biodiversity Laws, we relied heavily on the material provided on the official website of the National Biodiversity Authority.

Once we had the textbooks for conceptual understanding and the laws and orders to back our arguments, we started our preparations by applying them to the given facts in the moot proposition.

During the course of the competition, you were a part of 5 rounds in two days. What was your strategy as far as proceeding with the oral rounds was concerned, since there was hardly enough time when it came to switching from one oral round to another?

After memo submissions, our team was all-in for the oral rounds’ prep since we knew how it would be a game-changer and determining factor of our progress in the competition. The rounds during the two days were tiring for sure since they just didn’t take a lot of preparation mentally, but the anticipation as well.

There was hardly a gap of half an hour between the rounds, so we devoted this entire time to dissect the opponent’s memo only. We were thorough with the points and the standard line of arguments, and hence, the only job left was to prepare good rebuttals during the course of proceedings or otherwise, patiently answering in the sur-rebuttals.

Alongside the moot, you must’ve also had academic obligations to take care of. So, how did you maintain a balance in order to keep a check on both?

All three team members had simultaneous commitments during the time we were preparing for the moot, but all of us had our priorities straightened out. We didn’t entirely leave researching during our mid-semester exam and assignments since that would’ve disconnected us from the proposition and would have been counter-productive. There were definitely times when it got overwhelming with the pandemic and all the bad news pouring in, but the passion for mooting helped us survive.

How was your experience pleading before so many Benches consisting of Judges, especially when all of them belonged to such different and diverse spheres of law?

The learned judges definitely grilled us on the various issues and intricacies of the proposition, but the prep we had done on every aspect aided in getting through those questions. One observation we made was that it is very important to not get intimated by the bench or take their grilling personally since they do so to test the speakers' composure. Lastly, it was an utmost honour to argue before such a decorated bench in every round.

Lastly, what is your takeaway from this experience and what key-points would you like the future participants and aspirants to take a note of?

The major takeaway from this experience is that a challenging moot proposition requires consistency in preparation. It must not break anywhere during such preparation, and one must endeavour to finish what they started both strategically and in an appropriate manner.

One must get accustomed to using e-library sources and how to do fast-track research on these platforms. Reading a judgement in its entirety is very important, and primarily only those judgements should be relied upon that directly coincide with the subject matter of the case, including the applicable laws. If there is any possibility of the law having supplementary rules and guidelines, then all those must be referred to entirely.

One must not be afraid of seeking help from their peers or seniors as it is also a team-building exercise for mutual learning and growth. Before appearing for actual rounds, one must have it presented before someone knowledgeable to test the efficacy of their arguments.

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