Time to ask if five-year course shaped socially conscious lawyers: CJI Ranjan Gogoi

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia at convocation of the National Law University, in New Delhi. Amit Mehra

There is a need to overhaul legal education to bring about social change in the country, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said on Saturday.

It is time to question whether the five-year Law course has shaped socially conscious lawyers. Even today, corporate practice is the preferred career path for most graduates, and we must understand why this is the case, CJI Gogoi said.

The CJI was speaking at the seventh annual convocation of National Law University in Delhi. CJI Gogoi is visitor of the university, while the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court is its chancellor. The university handed out graduate and postgraduate degrees in Law to students on the occasion.

CJI Gogoi, the chief guest at the convocation, also said that national law universities, the pioneers of modern legal education in India, were set up to strengthen the Bar and bring out lawyers to serve the country. He criticised law universities that often charge a high fee for students choosing to practice law in corporate firms over practising in courts.

Legal practice is also highly lucrative. Most judges to higher judiciary are drawn from the Bar. Let me tell you, the experience on this side of the Bar is extremely satisfying, the CJI said. In a country like ours, a barrier to access to education because of a shortage of funds is nothing short of a tragedy.

Justice Gogoi also said that a degree is not just a certificate but a call of duty to Law graduates. Say no, and a big no, to anything and everything that appear to your mind to be morally and actually regressive. Say yes to everything which you think can be offered to anybody, he said.

The CJI said lawyers act as advocates and advisers to litigants and help them secure their rights under the law. While working for clients, they interpret and mould the law and help judges in laying down legal propositions that have binding effects on future generations.

The CJI shared the stage with Justice D N Patel, the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, NLU Vice Chancellor Ranbir Singh, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev.