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Legal Infrastructure for the before 21st century

Prof. Bimal N. Patel stresses on the importance of legal infrastructure in terms of legal knowledge, research, training and extension programmes and allied activities.

When we talk of “Gyan Shakti” we think of holistic as well as area specific “Gyan Shakti”. It is cumulative, collective, synergic knowledge in various areas in which we can have a true realization of “Gyan Shakti”. India has a long way to harness the potential of “Gyan Shakti” for the overall development of the nation. While the technological infrastructure through IITs and management infrastructure through IIMs have made recognizable contribution to the development of the country, we at the Gujarat National Law University are finding ways to implement the concept of legal infrastructure which remains at our heart. Along with the presence of IIM and IIT, similar institutions have potential to make significant contribution to the nation to become an emerging economy of its kind in India. The legal infrastructure can be compliment and supplement to the vision of the nation. Legal infrastructure is collective efforts of all stakeholders, policy makers’, executive, judiciary, corporate, business, NGOs, academic institutions and the public at large.

The knowledge part of legal infrastructure suggest that all the stakeholders should have a mechanism at the disposal to acquire awareness to forecast the future to train them in all areas of law in general and specific legal area in particular. The knowledge does indeed include, knowledge in the traditional areas of law as well as emerging areas having strong focus on interdisciplinary nature and application of law in day to day life and vice versa. As such the stakeholder should have knowledge of emerging subjects such as space air nanotechnology, biotechnology, IPR, second green revolution, management and the alternate legal machine and mechanism needed to address the challenges and prospectus that arise and shown arise while reaping the benefits by the beneficial offered by the new subject areas. i.e. putting the “CHANDRAYAN” on moon, without comprehensive space legislation; need to exploit benefits of IPR, without a comprehensive IPR policy; need to tackle cyber crime related problems without good cyber laws. Imaging our needs concerned and interest are like of legal mechanism and laws, a huge disparity.

Only, creation and knowledge recreation in the filed of law is a true demand of the day. Without imaging and forecasting the legal problems or challenges through rigorous research, how individual or joint state machinery can think of solutions indeed from the application of new subjects for the betterment of human kind. The stage of legal research in India in general needs a large scale systematic drive coming from the universities, government and all those who are affected by application of laws in their day to day life. How one can think of having excellent legal knowledge without establishing chairs or centers which opens avenue for specialization of law in food security, space, corporate, finance, investment etc. Establishment of chair and centers with vision, focus and performance only can provide solution to those who are affected by the application of the laws in these areas.

The creation and recreation of knowledge by the learned experts must be complimented by scholastic debate taking place elsewhere in the world, hence across the country, fertilization of ideas and thoughts which are very fruitful. For example, in the field of cricket, Indian legal experts and scholars can be benefited by exchange of knowledge and visits to and from England, Australia, New Zeeland, West Indies etc. It is this collective mechanism of ideas which we offer to the world cricket loving community at large and integrated legal framework which can ensure smooth conduct of games as well as transparency, accountability and dispute settlement means.

National law universities established in several states of the Indian union can indeed become nodal agencies/universities for the purpose of capacity building of standard legal education, research and training in the state concerned. They can not simply operate in isolation from the law colleges of the state which produces thousands of lawyers, legal advisors and judges every year. Exchange of knowledge, faculties, between the traditional law colleges and these national law universities, is an impetrative to meet this goal. The idea and the views generated from this collective and combined scholarship can be fed into legal policy making at the state and national level. Legal academicians and scholars need to play a prominent and proactive role in policy, planning and decision making at all levels as being widely practiced in the developed countries. The executive and the legislature can attain higher benefits from the knowledge, vision and ideas of these academicians and scholars, not only in the field of decision making but also in the dispute settlement mechanism there is an enormous scope to opt academicians and scholars for the larger benefit of the concerned stakeholder.

Legal scholars and academician tend to be relatively shy from commenting or offering their judicious thoughts provoking observations in the media like their counterparts in Political Science and Sociology. This trend needs to be seriously examined and the legal scholars need to come up with legal projection as much as like economic and financial projections. By prompting interdisciplinary studies between arts, commerce, science and law is a great deal of knowledge,  benefit can be achieved through it i.e. the thrust for regional integration in the region demands that our lawyers, legal advisors and judges should study and prepare necessary legal and regulatory framework in the areas of trade, foreign policy, security, finance etc. Along the lines of European Union, ASEAN, India  requires that our students, academician and legal advisors to have a good grasp of legal and judicial system functioning and challenges of major foreign jurisdiction with which India has and will be having more and more economic, social, cultural, scientific, political ties of cooperation.

The concept of legal infrastructure can only truly be realized if the law universities and law colleges produces and groom students not just as lawyers but integrated legal advisors, so that they can visualize and implement solutions and needs in the lifecycle of any business venture, government department, etc. As like our MBA and IIT graduates, law graduates need to advise the stakeholders that how with a judicious and visionary vision, constitutional matters can be met and what all does our legislature need to have well trained legal assistants or researchers so that they can better appreciate the existing laws and forecast the needs for required laws. Our corporate houses need a sizable legal team so that not only legal minds work for the solution in the courts but also can prevent the occurrence in the legal problems. Our bureaucracy needs legal researchers so that in the execution of laws, they can be guided and advised by the lawyers so that laws are implemented in true spirit and letter.

Our chambers of commerce and trade needs lawyers so that they can articulate their demands to national and international policy makers at the sound legal footing. Our judiciary which is overloaded by cases need to employ, with due respect to secrecy and confidentiality of the cases, number of lawyers as assistants and researchers on top of clerks. These researchers and assistants can help our judiciary in the case management as well as research, analysis and drafting of the judgments. Our NGOs need socially and politically aware legal advisors and researchers who can provide good legal opinion and can advise in their mean to become partners and development with state machinery. Human resources in form of well trained and educated lawyer is one element in legal infrastructure with availability of online and hard copy of latest laws, legal material, books, opinions etc is vital.

Similarly a good physical infrastructure and means of education form an inevitable pillar for the legal infrastructure in the country. Our legal educational curriculum needs to be equipped with well trained committed, competent, legal scholars and professionals. Our libraries need to be equipped with latest sources of knowledge and communications. Our legal academicians and scholars need national and international training and exposure. Our practicing lawyers need refresher and orientated courses which can be imparted by national law universities and colleges. Our judicial need is to continuously update the knowledge especially in the advanced legal areas so that they are able to make timely, accurate and foresighted judgment. Our legislature at all level, from grass root to top level, needs to have legal advisor cum researchers so that they can deliver their public duties in an informal manner.

The above outlines summarize the scope of legal infrastructure that we need to cater to the needs concerns and interests of the nation at large.

PROF. BIMAL N. PATEL is the Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar.
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