Supreme Court judge Justice BR Gavai expressed his disagreement on the suggestion of appointing foreign vice-chancellor and faculty in the newly-inaugurated Indian International University of Legal Education and Research (IIULER) established by the Bar Council of India (BCI) trust.
Justice Gavai emphasised that while the law university should be of international standards, the obsession to have foreign faculty should be jettisoned.
He was speaking at the inaugural event of the varsity at Goa on Thursday when he also underlined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s motto—“think globally, act locally”. He was responding to a suggestion of the BCI chairman and Senior Advocate Manan Kumar Mishra.
“I have some disagreement with the fetish for the foreign faculty. Is there a dearth of talent in India?” asked Justice Gavai.
“We have had Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Motilal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel — all from law faculty. They gave up on their lucrative (law) practice and contributed towards the nation,” he added.
Mishra had earlier indicated having a “world-class vice chancellor” five foreign faculty members of the total of 11 members in the university.
“We are going to produce real lawyers and perfect judges,” he had said.
Justice Gavai, however, underscored that eminent jurist Sir Hari Singh Gour had clients from South Africa and Britain, to appear before the Privy Council.
“And therefore though I agree that we must have a law university of international standard, compete with global universities but then to that of Mr Mishra’s concept that we must have foreign faculty and foreign vice chancellor, I think the Bar Council may have a relook. I don’t understand this concept… We are celebrating 75 years of independence,” he highlighted.
Justice Gavai also noted that law leads to changes in society and law cannot remain static.
"Law has to change with the changing needs of the society and, therefore, there is a provision in the Constitution that though the basic structure of the Constitution cannot be changed, still an amendment to suit the changes of the society is always necessary. Therefore, I’d like to insist upon that this university should not only produce the best lawyers and judges but produce eminent persons,” he said.
He wanted lawyers and judges to take forward the Constitutional goal of equality and justice — social, economical and political.
BCI chairperson Mishra said in his speech that for the current academic year, admissions to the University will take place through an exam conducted by the BCI for Indian as well as international students.
“I can assure you we have already got the consent of International Bar Association, American Bar Association and several other International bar associations. Top universities of the world, they have expressed desire to collaborate with our university,” he added.
The event also saw participation from the members of the various Bar Councils of the states and different High Court Bar Associations.
Bombay High Court judge Justice MS Sonak, Supreme Court judge Justices Surya Kant and MM Sundaressh and Goa Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant were other attendees.
Justice Sonak outlined that with the advent of technology, the world has shrunk and to remain relevant in such an environment it is essential to not only think from a global perspective but beyond.
"And by beyond I refer to the establishment of a fair and just regime for space administration. Space law is one of the subjects we cannot ignore. We must equip ourselves, we must equip the future generations to play a significant role in evolving a fair and just space regime. This necessitates a robust space law,” he highlighted.
The judge argued that there was no time to complain or criticise but to stretch the horizons.
“The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon. We are never tired so long we can see far enough. Second is maritime law or law of the seas. This is another subject we cannot afford to ignore. The state of Goa is most suited for this exercise. We already have a world-class institute — The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO). One of the leading institutions in marine research. We have the Antarctica Centre, which has made forays in the South Pole and firmly established India’s presence in Antarctica,” said Justice Sonak.
The prospective students could, as a result, expect an opportunity to interact with the NIO and play a significant role in shaping the policies in maritime law, which is, in turn, linked to admiralty law.