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The who’s who of the legal profession paid tribute to Professor Madhava Menon at the memorial ceremony held in his honour at New Delhi today.
Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad, former Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, and sitting Supreme Court judge Justice Indira Banerjee were among the dignitaries who spoke at the function.
Ravi Shankar Prasad remembered Professor Madhava Menon as the pioneering force behind the setting up of the National Law Schools. He cited NLSIU Bangalore, NUJS Kolkata, and NLIU Bhopal as examples of the work put in by Professor Menon in transforming legal education in India.
Prasad, terming Professor Menon an “icon”, suggested a lecture series in Professor Menon’s name to carry his legacy forward.
Recalling fond memories of the time he shared with Prof Menon after emitting office, ex-CJI Dipak Misra referred to him as an “incurable optimist” like himself. Justice Misra credited Prof Menon for being a visionary, saying,
“Professor Menon was not confined to the present but thought about the anticipated future… He emphasized on citizenry rights in a different way and justice to the poor.”
Justice Indira Banerjee remembered the contribution made by Prof Menon in transforming the Indian legal education system from the one that used to churn out “half-baked lawyers” to the one that is now being emulated by private institutions as well. She said,
“This was the unfortunate State of law education in this country but thanks to Professor Menon, today Law is a subject aspired for. Many private institutions have tried to emulate the model of law colleges introduced by Professor Menon.”
The exercise of moot courts in law colleges was conceptualized and popularised by Prof Menon, Justice Banerjee said. She added,
“I’m immensely grateful to Professor Menon who impressed upon me that we needed a more litigant-centric approach than a court-centric approach in justice delivery, which I tried to do during my time in the Madras High Court.”
Justice Shekar B Saraf of the Calcutta High Court, who was also a student of Prof Menon’s at NLSIU Bangalore, referred to him as an educationalist par excellence and a very strict disciplinarian.
Justice Saraf remembered Prof Menon’s staunch views against inviting corporates for campus recruitment at NLSIU.
“In hindsight, I understand that this was due to his vision of upliftment of litigation across the country and at all courts.”
Also present at the memorial function was judge of the Supreme Court of Nepal, Justice AK Sinha, who remembered Prof Menon as the person whose vision led to a change in the situation of legal education in his country.
President of the Bar Association of India Lalit Bhasin also spoke about his professional association with Professor Menon and spoke about the concern expressed by Professor Menon regarding Law Teachers, not just in India, but all of SAARC region. He said that the move to celebrate and commemorate the efforts of Law Teachers in India is owed to Professor Menon.
“It was due to the efforts of Professor Menon that now we have a Law Teachers’ Day every year in the first week of September.”
Other dignitaries present included Professor VS Mallar of NLSIU Bangalore and Senior Advocate R Venkataramani,