An Interview with Dr. Susmita Dhar [Assistant Professor of Law at Sister Nivedita University, Kolkata]

Dr. Susmita Dhar, Assistant Professor, Grade – II, Sister Nivedita University, Newtown, Kolkata, West Bengal. Dr. Dhar has passed NET exam in 2012 December having experience of 6 years teaching in the State Universities as a guest lecturer. She also has 29 Paper presentations in National and International Journals and Edited Books. Also 18 paper publications in her credit. She has practiced the Calcutta High Court for many years under the Criminal and Writ Jurisdiction.

Hello Madam, Please introduce yourself to Our Readers.

I am Dr. Susmita Dhar is a learner of law for the last 21 years from my entry to Hooghly Mohsin College as a student of B.A. LL.B (3 years course). After passing on the professionally powerful subject, I took advocacy as a career and started practice under the then ADD.PP (Additional Public Prosecutor) at the High Court of Calcutta. I got the opportunity to practice few years in the Criminal and Writ Jurisdiction in the excellent atmosphere of the Calcutta High Court. I never forget those days of professional brotherhood, feeling among all the lawyers there.  I have been awarded a Doctoral degree from Burdwan University. From 2015 to 2020 I was a guest lecturer of Burdwan University and in 2018 I joined as a guest lecturer of the Calcutta University, law department. I also served George School of Law for two years as a guest teacher. Now I am attached to the Sister Nivedita University, Newtown, Kolkata as an Assistant Professor, Grade – II. I have 18 publications in National and International Journals and Edited Books and presented papers as a sole presenter in 29 seminars and conventions out of which I can remember gladly in July 2021. I represented my fraternity in the BRICS NU WRPT 2021 which was a great moment in my tiny life.

What interested you to take up Law as a profession?

Law was totally an unknown domain to me till 2000. My father motivated me for studying law and to take law as a career. Initially, I do not have any idea about the contours of the legal profession but after my entry as a learner of the LL.B curriculum the charismatic high profile lawyer, judges and devoted teachers attract my mind. Then I gradually prepared myself for judgeship or advocacy which was, later on, converted me into a law teacher.

You have completed your LL.B from Hooghly Mohsin College, LL.M from the University of Calcutta and Ph.D. from Burdwan University. Please Tell Us A Bit about Your Study Time during education Life.

By the grace of my Guruji, I really have a rare experience of studying law under the best State Aided Institutions of West Bengal.

Hooghly Mohsin College was my starting point where I found my basic of law and indebted to my Sir’s and Madam of the College.

After few years practicing at the High Court of Calcutta I choose LL.M and was fortunate enough to get a chance in the Hazra Law College and while studying LL.M in 2009 my department was observing hundred years of excellence. That was my turning point from where I imbibed for the preparation of the NET exam. I am thankful to my Sir’s and Madam’s of the Calcutta University, Department of Law. The Burdwan University is the place where I took my doctoral journey. The environment and ambiance of the Burdwan University, Law Department, its calmness and excellence of the law faculties are my treasure of life. I am really grateful to my guide Dr. Subir Kumar Roy, Register and Associate Professor of the Bankura University for his guidance to complete my doctoral journey. I am also grateful to my life for giving me chances to teach law as a guest lecturer to my two Alma matters (C.U and B.U).

I really enjoyed the ambiance, learning, library, teacher and friends of the two institutions which is a treasure of my life.

Did You Pursue Any Extra-curricular Activities Such as Internships, Mooting, Debate, Seminar and Sports? How Did This Contribute to Your Holistic Development? Do You Think Such Activities Are Important in Law Student’s Life?

Honestly speaking during LL.B, 3 years I only devoted my time to study not for an internship as that was not compulsory then but after giving the final exam I devoted my time to the Chinsurah District Court under the supervision of an old medical jurisprudence expert advocate Abani Singha Roy. These few months taught me about the court culture primarily apart from the court visits. We have experienced a wonderful court visit (SC and HC) under the guidance of Dr. Prem Kumar Agarwal and visited Rashtrapati Bhawan in 2003. Today time has changed and the internship of few months is under the Bar Council curriculum which is a very good initiative to enlighten the students. In my opinion, if a student who wishes to practice in the future can join any senior from the final year that will be beneficial for them. Up to the AIBE exam, they will be well versed on the subject of the domain of the practice of their senior.

Yes, I think change is life and the students of today should engage themselves in extracurricular activities. In our University (SNU) we encourage them to such all kinds of activities with which they will come up as a total personality and human resource in the legal fraternity. Sports are the backbone of the student’s life as robust health is needed to become a successful lawyer, judge and teacher along with legal knowledge. According to Swami Vivekananda, “the youth need football more than Gita”. So all kinds of activities will make them proper citizens, educated enlightened, liberated on enthusiastic.

I only started seminar presentations for the last six years but now I am encouraging my LL.M students for paper presentation and publication.

When Would You Say That an Academician Is Successful?

When as a teacher I found my best, mediocre and backward students simultaneously answered ‘yes mam we understood what you said, I feel it is a success. When my students achieve good positions in life and my past and present students are standing by my side with love that is success to me as a teacher. When they said mam your speech motivated us to take a proper decision regarding our career that is the moment of success for me.

Madam, What are your suggestions on developing the quality of legal education in India?

With the changing time, legal education is also changed towards constant growth. It is the best weapon to protect rights of the human being and protect society from anarchy. Legal education is a humanistic education that produces future lawyer, judge, administrator, legal scientist, teacher, etc. So to serve the community objective is the main goal of legal education which ultimately aids social change by promoting justice. In my opinion, the suggestion of Professor Madahava Menon about Clinical Legal Education is the only way out. A blending study culture with theory and practice from the very first day of learning will improve the better understanding of the students. The theoretical foundations along with practical implementation are the basis of any legal education what we need. The future lawyer should be a totally honest person who will be entrusted with the protection of the future society. So imbibing professional ethics with utmost honesty in them will help the future legal education in India. The transfer of knowledge through student and teacher exchange with the Foreign Universities can help the legal education of the Indian scenario.

Please Tell Us About Your Teaching Methodology.

I used to observe lecture methods and case study methods while imparting legal education. I use to make personal acquaintance with every one of them and stressed on class participation of them. I deliver my lecture but never prepared it as a formal one but try to make them understand what are the provisions of the law through Bare Act first. Sometimes study goes on collectively and I use to connect other subjects in reference and give examples by taking their names so that they feel interested. Sometimes I send the various link of the subject taught or will be taken and after a look into that, they can discuss it with me. I used to refer seminar materials to something interesting learned by me recently to keep them aware. I think practical examples from my advocacy life also help them to understand the scenario.

Ma’am, what habits and areas should an LL.M student or a Research Scholar should focus on during their early graduation?

In the time of their studying LL.B and LL.M they should be thorough with every aspect of the subject taught, no suggestion, no notes only they need to do justice to their Bare Acts and textbooks available. My suggestion to them is to please read, understood, clear the concept, memorize it, revise it and reproduce it according to your own understanding. Law is the subject which will give you a lifelong profession as a teacher or advocate up to death. So students please do prepare yourself with the habit of honest learning practice revise recollect the lessons to the utmost faithfulness. The habit of learning the subject you love thoroughly as a scholar is the Mantra of Success while doing research. I used to attach myself to social media like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to collect materials shared by the author relating to my research topic. Do not spare any chance or time which can give you proper learning of the subject, if a student started mastering over it of their own nothing in this world can stop them. So please do not limit yourself to conventional study only use every facility available to you in this changing time.

Habits of discussion with the teacher, friends, and experts through personal or social acquaintance can enlighten them. Proper routine is needed positive mindset, proper lifestyle, balancing approach, towards society is needed.

The Best Experience and Success Habit You Would Like to Share with Law Students to Encourage Them.

My best experience as a law student was gathered during our High Court and Supreme Court visit. It is my lifelong memory along with my buddies of Hooghly Mohsin College to meet Dr. Abdul Kalam (the then President) personally and have a great refreshment in the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Best experienced as a law teacher when I was a guest lecturer at the Burdwan University, Department of Law, for three times I was the visit in-charge of my students and successfully conducted High Court visit of 150 students in three years and initiated Rajbhawan visit of my own with the support of my HOD. My students have also been able to meet Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court personally in My Lord’s personal chamber and they also visited Bidhansava under my supervision and those enlightening moments are my treasure of life. Success is a word in legal education that needs the perseverance of the learner and law is such a subject that will not disappoint who worships it with utmost devotion only the students need to know they have to give 100% during their LL.B time to construct their strong roots. They have to wait for the successful moment in life, believe me, every lawyer, teacher, judges; the officer who studied law takes law as a career a really happy with the power of their pen. It is glamour’s profession also if they devoted their heart and soul to the study the Deity of Law will render justice to them certainly.

Lastly, What Would Be Your Message to People Who Want to Take Up A Career in Teaching?

Perseverance, understanding of the subject with clarity is needed. A teacher makes the Nation, feeling proud as a law teacher in the journey of six years I am complacent with my student’s happy face, when suddenly meet them in any responsible position feel grateful. A teacher should be a learner first not the lesson of law only they need to learn the mind of their student’s to understand their limitation, liking, love and situation with care and caution which makes a great relationship. Without a personal and perfect relationship with students, a teacher cannot successfully transfer knowledge in perpetuity. This is a noble profession and a teacher should spread love where ever they go then only they can earn respect, money, and love at a single time, no other profession can give such feeling and solace. The teacher not only teaches them letter of the law but the idea with practical implementation should be imbibed through discussion. Law is a powerful degree, so law teachers should have the duty towards the society so that a new bunch of social engineers will emerge with proper legal acumen and expertise.

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