An Interview with Dr. Samrat Datta (HOD & Asst. Prof. of Law at ICFAI University, H.P.)

Dr. Samrat Datta is an alumnus of KIIT University, Bhubaneswar. An erudite scholar of Criminal Law, Dr. Samrat, has completed his Ph.D. in Police Law and Information Technology from the Pacific Academy of Higher Education and Research University, Udaipur. He has also co-edited a book “Law relating to Sexual Harassment: Practice and Procedure” and is the Associate Editor of International Journal of Legal Research and Governance. His areas of interest include Criminal Law and Police Law. Presently he is working with The ICFAI University, Himachal Pradesh, Baddi as the Head of the Department, Faculty of Law and Assistant Professor. He has several publications in national and international journals of repute to his credit. He has chaired various national and international conferences and have organised them as well. His keen interest in mooting has had held him the position of Convener of the Moot Court Committee in the institutions he has worked with and judging moot courts and trial advocacy competitions at various levels. He has a teaching experience of 6 years and has held administrative positions including Examinations Coordinator, Member of the Proctorial Board and Convener of the Legal Aid and Awareness Cell.

1. How Would You Like to Introduce Yourself to Our Readers? Please Tell Us Something About Your Pre-College Life?

I am Dr. Samrat Datta and I’m currently working as the Head of the Department and Assistant Professor at The ICFAI University, Himachal Pradesh, Baddi. I have completed my Doctorate from the Pacific Academy of Higher Education and Research University, Udaipur on the topic “Role of Law and New Technology in Dehradun Police Organisation: An Empirical Analysis.” I am an alumnus of KIIT University, Bhubaneswar where I had specialized in Criminal Law under the guidance of Prof. (Dr.) Nirmal Kanti Chakrabarti, the present Vice-Chancellor of the WBNUJS, Kolkata. I have a teaching experience of 6 years at reputed law schools of North India and have publications in various national and international journals of repute. I am also associated with various forums as an advisory board member and am also the Associate Editor of the International Journal of Legal Research and Governance.

I am an alumnus of Don Bosco School Park Circus (DBPC), Kolkata. My pre-college life belongs to Kolkata where I was bread, buttered and jammed so much so that I chose to move out of Kolkata for my graduation and ended up at Law College Dehradun, Uttarakhand. At Don Bosco, I was initially an average student, however, after class VIII, when I joined the Leadership Training Service (LTS), it became the changing point. I learned a lot about what actual social service is. On weekends when most of my friends and classmates enjoyed a leisurely nap or movies, I was with my LTS Unit under the guidance of Mrs. Sunita Nair teaching slum children or visiting old age homes. LTS taught me how to work with someone, over someone and beneath someone. I became vocal, participated in movements for the poor and downtrodden. In the following years, I became a very active member of being involved with the Youth Centre Moulali, Kolkata and LTS Centre, Kidwai Road, Kolkata. The then National Promoter, Fr. John Rogers was the guiding force. I even went on to become the President of my DBPC LTS Unit. However, to be honest, once I left Kolkata, I could never get back to LTS and I do miss those days, as those were the days which transformed me from a quiet little boy to a good speaker and later a debator and mooter.

2. What inspired you to choose law as your career?

I hail from a family of lawyers. My paternal grandmother was an advocate and a teacher and during my childhood days, I was very close to her. She loved talking about Shakespeare and Merchant of Venice and I loved those stories, especially I idolized Portia. Later on, my aunt Ms. Rita Datta, Asst. Public Prosecutor, Government of West Bengal became my second guiding force. But, honestly, I never wanted to choose law as a career. I love teaching and had a passion for it. I wanted to pursue Comparative Literature, as I hated Mathematics. But destiny had other plans and during my Class XII days, I somehow started helping my aunt with case summaries as her junior was on maternity leave and that ignited an immortal fire in me to do something more challenging. I told my parents and they readily agreed and allowed me to choose my career. Although, teaching never left my mind.

3. Tell us a bit about your study time during college life.

You see, there was no fixed study time for me during my college days. We had five subjects each semester with a six-day week and the lectures were one hour long. Yes, I acknowledge the fact that my place was always glued to the first seat in the classroom, but I was not nerdy. I loved Political Science and History in Pre-Law. So, if you ask me how much I studied daily I would not even ten minutes after college. I enjoyed my college life thoroughly with night-outs at Mussorie, cooking on weekends, enjoying river rafting at Rishikesh, smelling fresh coffee at Kalsang Ama Café, enjoying Maggi at Maggi Point Dehradun at 2 am, rains and lots more, what Doonites (People studying or living in Dehradun) generally do. Dehradun was the best day of my life. It made me realize the sense of accountability and responsibility along with being independent and self-reliant.

Sorry, I drifted apart. Studies, well yes, in the lecture halls, I was never glued to my mobile (we didn’t have smartphones in 2008-09) but to the board. I studied only during the two-week preparatory break before end semester examinations, but I always had undivided attention in class and my notes were up-to-date which refrained me from mugging up law and understanding it better. Readers, to be honest, you learn a lot more in class. Just pay attention to your Professors, their share of life experience when clubbed with the texts, sections and articles of your course; you will realize the law is actually a cakewalk. Enjoy your college life, but never deviate yourself from classroom teaching.

4. What areas of law fascinated you the most?

Criminal Law, Constitutional Law and Police Law are my favorites. Although Police Law came to my list much later during the post-graduation days, but yes, criminal and constitutional law had always been my favorites. Learning about how the crimes occur and more precisely devising s defense strategy was very intriguing for me. Constitution being the grund-norm became my second best, but my passion has always laid in criminal law.

5. How important do you think mooting or any co-curricular activity is in shaping one’s future career in law?

Co-curricular and Extra-curricular activities are the backbone of any student’s CV. If you are not active into these then it makes you a dull student. So yes, mooting, debating, Youth Parliaments are all the means to shape a future career in law. Remember dear readers, when you practice law, you fight for the rights of someone else. You are having the life of another person in your hand and so, it is important that you be very vocal, which is only possible through debating as it enhances your oratory skills. Mooting is the fundamentals of law schools. It is through mooting that you understand how to draft a petition, and more precisely, how to plead. You are taught about the nuances of professional and courtroom ethics as well. But, to be honest, I believe more than mooting, one should focus more on trial advocacy, as it brings to the reality of the trial courts. These competitions teach you how a case is built the case brick by brick and how you need to prepare your defense for the same. Trials teach you cross-examination which is fundamental. Mooting teaches more of appellate courts wherein you argue on facts and law, but trials make you prepare yourself for the actual challenges of the law and its interpretation and implication. Therefore, students focus on extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, as you will learn research, drafting and other skills as well.

One more thing I want to add is that doing all these don’t ignore sports. Sports are also essential. The reason is that with sports, you learn teamwork, and that is more important. You work as a team in moots, debates, mock trials everywhere, but you can understand yourself as a true leader only if you are in sports as you will be able to comprehend yourself for the better.

6. Did you ever had an internship experience during your college and how much internship is important for a law student?

Yes, I had various internship experience with Fox and Mandal (Kolkata), Luthra and Luthra Law Offices (Mumbai). AkzoNobel, Gurgaon to name a few. The internship is definitely very important for a law student. It completes your knowledge. In law schools, you are made to understand the law, but at internships, you interpret the law and put it to use. If you choose your internships well, you get to witness the ground reality of how the law works and trust me, everything is not by the book. So, when you are interning, you get to know the nuances of law at actual practice and also get to understand the difference between classroom and courtroom. Internships shines your career and make you blossom and prepare you for the tough battle ahead once you are out of your protected boundaries of law school.

7. Having secured a PhD from Pacific University Udaipur, how would you describe the journey to attaining the same?

Ph.D. – Well, I would say it was a pretty tiring one, but at the same time interesting and worth the effort. I was never sure of doing Ph.D. I was doing my job at a college at Jaipur, when at an educational fair I met Dr. Reva Mishra, my mentor and guide. We became friends and continued talking and sharing law school experiences. In June, 2016 I shifted to Dehradun when Dr. Mishra told me to join Pacific. As I didn’t have UGC-NET qualification with me, I appeared and cracked it in once go. Then started the real battle with the gargantuan course work, followed by exams, RDC Meetings, Publications, Seminars and lots more. Dr. Mishra and Prof. Pitaliya had always been by my side after my family to help me out. There were times of writer’s blog, I regretted my decision, challenges of the private sectors, but yes, eventually it all paid off. Finally, I achieved what I wanted and I am thankful to all those who had been with me through this journey.

8. You Currently Work as An Assistant Professor of Law at ICFAI University. What Prompted You to Choose Teaching as A Career?

As I had told earlier, I always had a passion for teaching. During my graduation days, I was not very convinced about coming to teaching. Rather, I wanted to pursue a career in criminal law by joining the criminal litigation firms. However, my parents in my final year told me to pursue LL.M. Although I had bagged two campus placements, but I also somewhere felt the need to have a Masters Degree, and so opted for KIIT University and that is what inclined me into teaching. At KIIT, our Professors taught us so much out of the course and its relevance. The facets as to why even after decades of independence, we still don’t have any sentencing guidelines, the reasons behind cynicism in police personality, non-victimless crime, corporate frauds and insider trading and the list goes on. All these somewhere told me I should study more. Also, there was an incident which I had encountered during my court training at Dehradun. My advocate defended a person who was a rich CEO and was convicted of sexual misconduct, but he was set free due to his power. This angered me with the profession and I felt even if I am in the profession, I would look into it to bring about positive change. So, bearing this in mind, and after pursuing LL.M. and seeing the faculty members, I felt it’s not bad to get into teaching. I would study and teach, and I can come back to advocacy whenever I wished. But now having completed six years in the profession and having received my doctorate degree, I am happy to be in the professional teaching young minds for the future of the country.

9. The best experience and success habit you would like to share with law students to encourage them.

Students, if you want to succeed in life, then pay attention in class. If you study in class, 80% of your work is done. Instead of swiping facebook, making TikTok videos and Instagram stories, just listen to the faculty members and if you want to still fiddle with your mobile go through the legal news and ask your teacher questions on the subject related to the news. He/She will also be happy to share and answer your queries.

Secondly, never hesitate to answer any question. If you don’t ask a question, that means you have not understood anything. So, ask as many questions as you can even if it means something which you feel is very stupid, but don’t hesitate to ask.

Third, in law school make contacts in the events being organized, in the internships you undertake that would help you once you are stepping into the profession.

Most importantly, choose your internships well, take part in Moots, Debates, MUNs, Sports Meet whatever extra-curricular activities interest you as they will groom you.

10. What Would Be Your Parting Message to Our Readers Who Are Primarily Law Students and Young Lawyers?

Students, Young Lawyers and my dear readers, you are the beacons of the society and the essential medium of change. Always remember hard work is the key to success. But, that in no way means that you ignore your share of fun in college and university life. Prioritize yourself. Studies are always your first priority. Moreover, change always comes with time and it can’t happen overnight. So, be patient, learn your lessons properly and wait for your time. You will excel in all your endeavors. Lastly, make contacts and go for internships which will actually shape your career.

All the Very Best of Luck.

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