Published: 30th January 2018
You are a law student in college, but a student of law all your life: R Venkata Rao
R Venkata Rao says that students always tend to think the minute they get their law certificates they know it all but that it is far from the truth, law college is only just the beginning.
Professor R Venkata Rao, Vice-Chancellor of National Law School of India, has served for 31 years in the Faculty of Law, Andhra University in various capacities as the Dean - Faculty of Law, Principal - University College of Law, Chairman - Board of Studies in Law and Head of the Department of Law. He is a member of a number of prominent law councils across the country and has received several awards for his contribution to the field of law in India. Here he discusses the judges rebellion in Delhi, why he thinks a law student should remain one all his life and the state of justice in the country today. Excerpts:
Where do you think the system is going wrong in its attempt to produce good lawyers?
The constitutional goals mentioned in the Preamble — justice, social, political. economic equality, liberty, fraternity, free expression of thought, faith, speech — every student of law has the responsibility to promote these constitutional goals. So, we have to train students of law in constitutional culture. That's what is important. Training begins at law college, but does not end with them getting their degree. They must be trained to enhance their capacity. We train them in law college to build their capacity, but once it is built it needs to be enhanced, constantly. As long as they are in college, they are law students, but after they finish college, they become students of law and they remain students all their life. Training is only the beginning, not the end.
Recently, the bar council has started a filtering process to cancel the license of under-qualified lawyers. Why do you think this took so long to happen?
Well, better late than never. The Bar Council has taken upon itself the responsibility of this rationalising process. Certificates are being verified. Only those who are seriously practising law will have their names enrolled. I'm glad things have started moving in the right direction.
Do you think the country is producing enough lawyers and are there as many lawyers in litigation as there used to be?
The problem is that earlier, people thought that once a student finishes law college, the only thing left to do is to enrol with the court. But today, there are more than 25 avenues open. Students can now choose to be environment lawyers or human rights activists. Now, they can choose to practise what they like, which is why there aren't as many coming in for litigation. But law has a million dimensions, so students can choose to follow their hearts.
What is your perspective on the issue of the four judges rebelling against the CJI?
It is a churning process. When the system is on the move, churning takes place. It's nothing to worry about; it's all for the good of the system and the cause of justice.