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Law and Legal Institutions in Contemporary India: In Honour of N R Madhava Menon (November 23, 2019) at India Habitat Centre

November 23, 2019 @ 9:30 am - 5:00 pm

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The Man and The Mission

N R Madhava Menon was widely recognized as a legal luminary and institution builder. He was the founding Director of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore; founding Vice Chancellor, The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences; and founding Director of National Judicial Academy, Bhopal. His greatest contribution is to build world-class institutions in a short-time with meager resources. The current seminar proposes to understand how he imagined and built institutions, where the history of public institutions in the post-independence period in India is chequered. Public institutions in India, in most cases lacked healthy work ethic, accountability and also quality. National Law schools emerged on the map of higher education in India within a short time and challenged the conventional notions of universities with its unique governance structure, and style of teaching and functioning. In a rather dramatic fashion, Law from being almost the last choice was propelled to compete with or many times replace management, administrative services, and other professional degrees. Was it also something to do with changing global opportunities and the fact that most of the law schools were distinctly designed (may be unintentionally) to cater for corporate and business enterprises in the post 1991 era and less towards ‘social engineering’ aspects?

N R Madhava Menon put heavy emphasis on creating a new culture for legal studies; cooperative teaching methods, drafting and imagining new law courses focusing on skills development thereby expanding horizons of Indian legal education tapping into emerging national requirements and global opportunities. He, for instance, started B.Sc LL.B at NUJS, combining law with science policy degrees and linked it to IPR, forensic, genome studies, public policy among other things. Many of the initiates he started have become the norm for most of the law schools-experimenting and innovating, unfortunately not realizing Menon –The Man cannot be replicated; and in the race of establishing new law schools, what we are losing, is sadly foundational understanding on the importance of legal education for national development. Madhava Menon understood the shortcomings, and conveyed in clear terms, if he were to establish a new law school, that will be vastly different from the NLU model.

Finally, Menon, also laid emphasis on social responsibilities of lawyers calling them “social engineers’ advocating for deeper social work in the areas of policy, management and public interest lawyering. This was manifested in his emphasis on legal clinics, making human rights part of the curriculum, and introducing legal courses to study interface of Law, Technology and Development; Law and Economics; Media Studies etc.

The proposed seminar will look into law, legal institutions and legal education in its broad sense, and identify how re-imagining these could further contribute for national development.


The proposed seminar will be centred around Menon`s interest and contribution, but will go beyond it to look at the current situation in India.

The seminar invites contribution from leading academics, lawyers, and former students of the law schools to take stock of things. We intend to work towards bringing out an edited volume on these contemporary themes.


Conference Chairs and Contact:

  • Vikramjit Banerjee, Additional Solicitor General of India
  • M V Shiju, Christ Academy Institute of Law, Bangalore
  • Ajay Gudavarthy, Jawaharlal Nehru University (Submission of papers: < gudavarthiajay@yahoo.com>)
  • M P Ram Mohan, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad ( Participation and enquiry: <mprmohan@iima.ac.in> )


Conference Supported by

JSW-School of Public Policy, IIMA


Conference organizers

  • Anish Sugathan, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad
  • H Anilkumar, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad
  • M P Ram Mohan, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad
  • Jacob P Alex, Advocate, High Court of Kerala


Message from The Hon. Michael D. Kirby AC CMG


  • Contributions of Prof. Madhava Menon & Assessing Law and Legal Institutions in India
  • Centre-State Relations in Contemporary India
  • Business, Entrepreneurship and Indian Economy
  • Legal Education and Pedagogies
  • Law and Public Policy, and Resources Management


Confirmed Speakers

  • Prof. Errol D’Souza, Director, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad
  • Mr. Krishnan Venugopal, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India
  • Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor, The Wire
  • Prof. Nirmal Kanti Chakrabarti, Vice Chancellor, The W.B. National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata
  • Prof. Bhavani Prasad Panda, Distinguished Professor & Former Vice-Chancellor of Maharashtra National Law University
  • Father Davis, Principal, Christ Academy Institute of Law, Bangalore
  • Dr. Ajish P Joy, Deputy News Editor, The Week
  • Prof Haragopal, National Law School of India University
  • Dr. Shilpi Bhattacharya, Associate Professor, Jindal Global Law School
  • Sidharth Sharma, Advocate on Record, Supreme Court of India; Adviser to Tata Sons & Tata Trusts; Non-Executive Director, Tata Services Limited
  • Dr. R.J.R. Kasibhatla, Deputy Legal Adviser, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India


November 23, 2019
9:30 am - 5:00 pm


Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre
Lodhi Road Near Airforce Bal Bharati School, Institutional Area, Lodi Colony
New Delhi, Delhi 110003 India
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