Law curriculum must fall back on tradition, be bilingual: Draft National Education Policy

Law curriculum must fall back on tradition, be bilingual: Draft National Education Policy

Bar & Bench

The need to imbibe the socio-cultural and linguistic context in the study of law assumes focus in the recently released Draft National Education Policy, 2019.

The Draft policy emphasises that there is a need for the law curriculum to fall back on the culture and traditions, the history of legal institutions and the victory of “Dharma” over “Adharma”. 

It goes on to note that there is a growing consensus that the study and practice of law cannot be independent of the culture of society, including the study of classical law texts. Bearing this in mind, it has been recommended that law universities,

“…ensure that the curriculum reflects, in an evidence-based manner, the history of legal thinking, principles of justice, practice of jurisprudence and other related content appropriately and adequately.

A more concrete measure proposed by the Draft policy is the introduction of bilingual education to law students, so that they may be able to better suited to deal with matters before the lower courts. As noted in the draft,

Legal transactions at the lower courts are conducted in their respective regional languages whereas those at the High Courts and Supreme Court continues to be done in English, in most States in India. This contributes to the considerable delay in legal outcomes as cases can move up only after the documentation has been translated.

In view of this issue, it has been recommended,

State institutions offering law education must consider offering bilingual education for future lawyers and judges – in English and in the language of the State in which the law programme is situated.”

Further, to go about introducing such a bilingual policy, the draft document also proposes that the following measures may be implemented:

  • induction of teachers well-versed in the regional language as well as in English
  • making text books and study materials available in both languages
  • allowing examinees to write their exams in either language medium
  • introduction of special cells for translating legal materials from the state language to English and vice-versa. Students who are fluent in both languages will be invited/incentivised to contribute to the work of translation in these cells.

Apart from these specific proposals, the policy document also emphasises the need to adopt best practices and embrace new technologies for wider access and timely delivery of justice.

Earlier this month, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had also commented that the new government will be focusing on using technology to facilitate greater access to justice. Further, the Law Minister had also said there would be special focus on the promotion of legal education and research in the coming years.

Read the Draft National Education Policy [Legal Education is on Page 303]:

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