Revisiting the Curriculum in India vis-à-vis other common law countries: How can we improvise?

Paper presented at the 2015 CLEA Conference in Glasgow

S Sivakumar
Professor, Indian Law Institute / President, CLEA (Asia-India)
Indian Law Institute

Like all other establishments, higher education in broad and legal education in particular is in a progressing process of far-reaching changes in organization, management, content and delivery. The basic feature in this transformation is the constitutional authorization to raise a social order based on democracy, human rights and rule of law securing to all of its citizens justice, liberty, equality and dignity. Currently, Indian legal education is trying hard to reach at par with the countries across the world, which belies the wonderful potential that the Indian legal profession can unleash in the years to come. Undoubtedly India occupies an important strategic position in South Asia and has got so many educational institutions. The survey report shows that more than 1200 law colleges are in India and all these colleges follow rules as set up by the Bar Council of India. It was in 1961, the Advocates Act created the Bar Council of India to “promote and support law reform”; “to conduct seminars and organize talks on legal topics by eminent jurists and publish journals and papers of legal interest”. After that law curriculum of many colleges is prepared based on the requirements of the Bar Council of India. However, the problems arise because several specialised courses in law as mandated by Bar Council of India are not updated. At this instance, there is an immense requirement to revisit the curriculum and get it modified in accordance with the changing demands. It is stated in the paper that to widen students’ decisive thinking and confront their minds to the highest degree, teachers, too, had to be rationally enthused and challenged. Further it is stated that among other steps to aid this process, there is a need to decrease teachers’ workloads to give them time for research, suggesting a maximum of eighteen hours of teaching per week. This paper aims to highlight the need for institutional reforms, reforms in content and structure, measures to improve pedagogy and methods of teaching, use of contemporary teaching techniques, and adoption of the outcomes mode, continuous education and skill upgrades for faculty and standards for faculty evaluation. It emphasis on the need of a proper improvement in India’s legal Academy dealing with practical veracity, distinguishing the needs of students and mentors, and gratifying all scholarship—teaching as well as research, writing, and publication. Further, the paper focus on the point that while attempting to meet the challenges of the marketplace and globalization, the focus of the curriculum at the Law Schools need to be balanced with the inalienable rights of people to access to justice. This paper therefore, draws attention to the ways of ensuring an enhancement of curriculum. The conclusion of the paper is that if the revision of curriculum does not happen at the earliest, the prospect of legal education is bleak and students with economic capacities will migrate to other jurisdictions for their education.

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