An Interview with Prof. (Dr.) P. P. Mitra [Professor of Law, School of Law at Galgotias University, Greater Noida]

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Prof. (Dr.) Partha Pratim Mitra is a Professor at School of Law, Galgotias University, Greater Noida. Before joining here, he was engaged as a Senior Consultant with the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India. His Areas of Specialization are Business Law, Environmental Law, Family Law and Research Methods. He has written and edited several books related to law till now. He has published his many papers in various reputed Law Reviews Journals including AIR, Cr.LJ, MLJ, Indian Bar Review, Corporate Professionals Today, SEBI and Corporate Laws. He has organized several seminars and workshops at the National as well as State level with ICSSR, NHRC etc. He has participated in many seminars, workshops and faculty orientation program as speaker. He was also invited to deliver lectures at the Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi, Jharkhand Judicial Academy and UGC–HRDC, Ranchi University. Previously, he taught at the National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi where he acted as Assistant Dean (Academic Affairs) and Assistant Registrar (In-Charge) also. He has presided over many meetings as Chairman of ‘Board of Research Studies’ and ‘Research Advisory Committee’ for finalization of Ph.D. synopsis. He has supervised many dissertations for master’s students and theses for Ph.D. researchers. He served as Principal at Bimal Chandra College of Law (The University of Kalyani) and he has also taught at Law College Durgapur (The University of Burdwan) and at Midnapore Law College (The Vidyasagar University) in West Bengal. He completed his graduation and post-graduation from the University of Burdwan and was awarded Ph.D. from the same university.

1. Hello Sir, Please Tell Us Something About Yourself to Our Readers.

I have been studying, researching and teaching law subjects for more than one & half decades and presently I am teaching as a Professor at School of Law, Galgotias University, Greater Noida. Before joining here, I was engaged as a Senior Consultant with the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India. Earlier I taught at Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, New Delhi as an Associate Professor of Law. I also taught at the National University of Study and Research in Law, Ranchi, where I served as Assistant Dean (Academic Affairs) for nearly three years and also served as Assistant Registrar (in charge) also. I also worked as Principal at Bimal Chandra College of Law and Teacher In Charge at Law College Durgapur and Midnapore Law College in West Bengal.

2. Sir, What Inspired You to Choose Law as Your Career? Why Law and Not Engineering or Medical Studies?

Law makes life lively. In the legal study, every type of law is being discussed. Being a law student, you need to know cyber law to family law, intellectual property laws to international law, space law to environmental law and so on. Students coming from various fields can excel in the legal arena with their own specializations. As society is being developed so far law is also being developed and enhanced. Sociology, politics, history and every subject have a legal aspect. These beauties have allured me to study law in detail and more detail. Being a student of social science, I always wanted to become a teacher and gradually in course of time I got the scope to teach law and then I continued the same.

3. You Completed Your LL.B., LL.M. and Ph.D. from the Burdwan University, Burdwan. Please, Tell Us About Your Law School Journey and Experience.

It was a great experience to study at one of the old state universities from my state. Classroom academics were the main focus in our time and whatever we were taught, gave a transparent and clear vision about the subject. In our department, classes were given high preference and fundamentals of the law subjects were clarified vividly.

4. Did You Pursue Any Extracurricular Activities Such as Mooting, Debate, Seminar, Online courses, Publication and Sports? How Did This Contribute to Your Holistic Development? Do You Think Such Activities Are Important in Law Student’s Life?

Law cannot be studied in isolation. It is an applied subject. Latest judgments case laws, international conventions, positions in other countries must be taken into consideration. Moot court, debate, the seminar will develop the argumentative expertise as well as presentation skill. Who is fast in law he is best in law. Such types of activities will develop the students to be updated.

5. Sir, You have successfully written many books like “An Introduction to Animal Laws in India”, “Wild Animal Protection Laws in India”, “Birds, Wetlands and the Law: Indian and International Perspective”. Could you please tell us about your book writing journey?

I started my career teaching environmental law in 2005 and also have been researching on laws & policies for the conservation of wild animals since 2003 with my Master’s dissertation. I submitted my Ph.D. thesis on wildlife laws in India in 2011 and subsequently published my book, Wild Animal Protection Laws in India (LexisNexis) in 2016. The ‘Foreword ‘ of this book was written by animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi.

In ecological degradation, the worst victim is the avian species and one of their habitat i.e. wetlands is the most neglected area of environmental jurisprudence in India. In 2019, through my book, Birds, Wetlands and the Law: Indian and International Perspectives (Thomson Reuters),  I have tried to highlight the international and Indian legal issues relating to the most sensitive biotic element, birds and most bitterly affected abiotic element, wetlands. During the lockdown on the backdrop of Covid-19, I took initiative to aware the masses of the legal status of birds through my articles Covid-19, Lockdown and Migratory Birds: International Perspective, Modern Diplomacy (April 4, 2020)[1], Don’t Blame Migratory Birds But centre-State Legal Mechanism in India, Modern Diplomacy (April 14, 2020)[2] and Do Migratory Birds Connect Our World: Analyzing from the perspective of Collective Legal Response, Modern Diplomacy (May 12, 2020)[3].

After the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of India in Animal Welfare Board of India vs. A. Nagaraja (Jallikattu case), I have written the book, An Introduction to Animal Laws in India (Thomson Reuters) in 2019 where Foreword has been written by Justice K.S.P. Radhakrishnan who himself was the author of the Jallikattu case. Perhaps this is the only textbook on animal law in India till date.

In the line of judgment by Kerala High Court[4] and the recommendation of Bar Council of India, I am continuously arguing for the introduction of “Animal Laws” in LLB curriculum as well as in Continuing Legal Education through my articles on “Role of the Supreme Court in Developing ‘Animal Rights’ Jurisprudence in India: A Study”[5] and “Introduction of Animal Law in Continuing Legal Education”.[6] Recently I have written a chapter on  ‘Animal Laws in Contemporary legal System: Need for inclusion in Legal Education’ in the Book titled “Clinical And Continuing Legal Education: A Roadmap For India”[7] where I supported the view for inclusion of “Animal Law” for Clinical and Continuing Legal Education also.

6. Recently you have also written “Socio-Legal Research Theory and Methodology”. When Would You Say a Legal Academician Is Ready to Start Writing Books?

I think when an academician attains absolute experience about the subject he automatically starts writing. A teacher must have the ability of reading, writing, speaking and thinking. My latest book, Socio-Legal Research: Theory and Methodology (Thomson Reuters) is an outcome of my more than fifteen years of experience based on teaching, supervising the master’s and research students and being actively involved in academic research activities. The ‘Foreword’ of the book has been written by Professor Upendra Baxi who himself is an institution in socio-legal research methods in India. I will remain grateful to the late Prof. A.K. Koul who vested me the job of teaching and developing the subject ‘Socio-Legal Research Methodology’ for Ph.D. candidates and LL.M students in 2012 during my tenure at the National University of Study & Research in Law, Ranchi. I got the opportunity to work as co-faculty with Prof. V. K. Gupta, Prof. A. S. Bhat, Prof. V. K. Dixit and Dr. Sitharamam Kakarala who developed my interest about the subject research methods in law. Later Prof. A.K. Koul, then Vice-Chancellor of the NUSRL, Ranchi appointed me as Assistant Dean and subsequently I became the Chairman of ‘Board of Research Studies’ and ‘Research Advisory Committee’ for finalization of research synopses of Ph.D. candidates. It helped me a lot to understand the subject from a practical standpoint. I am obliged to the next Vice-Chancellor, Prof. B.C. Nirmal who supported me to function as the Chairman of ‘Board of Research Studies’ where I got the scope to learn about the subject from veteran teachers relating to finalization of synopsis for Ph.D. theses. My experience during the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice also became helpful as I use to deal with various projects on action research on judicial studies and judicial reforms. Presently I am coordinating Ph.D. programs for Law School in my University and teaching ‘Research and Publication Ethics’.

7. Do You Feel That There Are Differences Between Students Of ‘Elite’ Law Schools and Students from Other Law Colleges and Traditional Universities?

I have taught at college at the village level, in the national capital and in NLU also, and my perception is that all students are the same at the beginning. A good law school no doubt helps in grooming of students and regular classes, rigorous exam system; extracurricular activities are very much beneficial to generate professional skills.  More exposure at the law school level gives students to choose various avenues of legal professions. Student’s reviews, students’ journals also provide scopes for developing writing skills. Active moot court, regular seminars, debates, MUN and all of these help ordinary students become extraordinary. So, technically teachers and students are very much sound and updated.

8. You Have Worked Both in NLU’s And Non-NLU. Can You Share Your Advice “How a Law Student Can Bridge the Gap between NLU’s And Non-NLU”.

Nowadays law students both in NLUs and Non-NLUs have tremendous potentials to compete at a larger level but they need proper grooming and perfect vision. Moot Court, client counseling, debate, legal aid, MUN, specialized centers help the students to be updated. My perception is that students are the same everywhere. It is up to the institution and teacher who will inculcate zeal and skill among them. When a law student will take the preparation like a student of an Ivy League university, automatically he will able to build himself.

9. Could You Please Give Young Readers Certain Tips on Excelling in Academics? As A Teacher What Tips Do You Give to Your Students for Proper Understanding of a Subject?

Very simple and eternal tips; study hard and study extensively. Law is not a subject like rocket science. Human laws are being framed for human beings. Every subject of law is very much related to day to day life of the common man. To understand the subjects of law very common sense is required. But to do excel here, students need to know the sources of law. They have to study not only the statute but case laws more carefully from the very beginning. This practice will make them perfect. I will suggest every law student should actively participate in moot courts, legal aids, legal writing at their school level or otherwise any outside competition also. These activities will support in developing research skills and presentation skills.

10. How Did You Find Time to Produce So Many Scholarly Articles? What, In Your View, Are the Few Most Important Skills That Law Students Should Strive to Acquire in Order to Write Research Papers Effectively?

Regular writing on the subject is very much helpful to construct knowledge about the subject. Once American academicians popularized the slogan, ‘Publish or Perish’. So to understand the better way you have to be updated. Law is a dynamic subject. New statutes, new amendments, latest judgments, international conventions are very frequently made. Every new move and every crux of the law must be understood. You have seen how Lord Denning or Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer used to write till the last days of their life. Those should be an inspiration to us.

11. What Are Your Views On The Future Of Indian Legal Education? How Would You Suggest That The Legal Fraternity Manages To Stay Ahead?

I think legal education has been developed a lot since independence. Even in the last three decades after globalization, legal education got new dimensions in our country. Students are studying law not only to just become a lawyer but the purpose of legal education has become multifaceted. They are getting the scope of doing an internship with lawyers, judges, Government agencies, MNCs or NGOs. They are also being placed by employers before the completion of the final year. I think the future is brighter. Lots of new areas have been created. In every sphere of life, the law is needed and obviously, legal experts are also needed.

12. The Best Experience and Success Habit You Would Like to Share with Law Students to Encourage Them. What Is The Golden Rule That You Follow In Your Life?

It is said that a lawyer should work like a horse and live like a hermit. Law students have to work hard and you can see our senior lawyers how industrious they are in high courts and Supreme Court. I think every law student should read, write, think and speak. These qualities will make them successful in their own sphere.

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

If you have a passion for teaching then you only come to teach. Till it is a noble profession. A teacher must be a good human being first. They are character builders for every student who is the future of the nation. A teacher’s life must be dedicated to knowledge dissemination and the learning process.

[1] https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/04/07/covid-19-lockdown-and-migratory-birds-international-perspective/

[2] https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/04/14/dont-blame-migratory-birds-but-centre-state-legal-mechanism-in-india/

[3] https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/05/12/do-migratory-birds-connect-our-world-analyzing-from-the-perspective-of-collective-legal-response/

[4] N.R. Nair vs. Union of India, AIR 2000 Ker 340

[5] Journal of The Indian Law Institute, July-September 2020 [Vol. 62: 3]

[6] Indian Bar Review, Oct – Dec, 2019 [Vol. 46 (4) 2019]

[7] Thomson Reuters, Legal [ISBN 978-93-90673-00-1]

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