One of the major indicators of a progressive society is its legal system. India being the largest democracy in the world, is also one of the fastest developing countries globally. Indian constitution is considered one of the best in the world.
Even though India has a vast and diverse population, most of its citizens are unaware of its laws that everyone must know. Moreover, the gap between the country’s growing population and the justice system is somewhere acting as a barrier in moving from a developing country to a developed country.
Addressing this unique requirement of legal education in our country, many ventured into improving and closing the gap of legal education and judicial reform. However, educating a huge country and providing this country with many prominent leaders in the judicial system is quite a challenge even for educators in this sector.
Prof. Dr. Nirmal Kanti Chakrabarti took up this challenge to look into the need of justice system and interface between legal education and justice system in India along with helping students to be professional lawyers who share a shared love for the law.
Prof. Chakrabarti is the Vice-Chancellor of The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences and has effectively changed the university’s educational dynamics, making the university an ideal place for understanding law in changing committee and undertaking research on the emerjing socio-legal issues and technological development.
A Researcher’s Journey to an Admirable Leader
Every student on the campus admires Prof. Chakrabarti, and the immense knowledge and experience he brings to the table are simply irreplaceable. Being such an inclination to do research in criminal justice administration, Prof. Chakrabarti considers himself an ardent researcher.
Being such a passionate reader and researcher, Prof. Chakrabarti did his LL. B, M.A. (Political Science) and LL.M (Tort and Crime) from the prestigious University of Calcutta. Later he moved on to pursue his PhD from the University of Burdwan.
However, his journey as an educator started soon after completing his LL.M. and joined West Bengal Education Service as Lecturer of Law in 1985. Climbing the ladder in the educational space, he joined the Department of Law, the University of Calcutta in 1996 and was promoted as Reader in 1998 and later as a professor in 2007. Moving ahead to an authoritarian position, Prof. Chakrabarti took the position of Director at the School of Law, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, in 2009. Reaching the apex position as a leader of legal educator, Prof. Chakrabarti joined the NUJS as Vice-Chancellor.
Despite having so many laurels to his name, the researcher inside him allowed him to explore different aspects of the education sector. Being a prolific and research-based writer, Prof. Chakrabarti has authored/edited nine books and has more than 100 articles published under his name, including Scopus and Web of Science Journals. Moreover, he is an acclaimed researcher in the field of Criminology and Criminal Justice in India. About 25 scholars successfully completed their Ph.D. program under his supervision and he has completed five Research Projects.
A Leader’s Contribution to Legal Education
Emphasising his contribution to the legal education space, Prof. Chakrabarti explains, “My significant contribution as leader of an institution of Legal Education is to lead the students to think and join in all emerging fields, particularly interface between law and development. My endeavour is to create an opportunity for students to learn various interdisciplinary areas law and other social science and technological development.”
“Both at KIIT School of Law and at NUJS, Kolkata I am able to increase the canvas of legal learning in the teaching learning process,” he added.
On a Visionary Mission to Strengthen the Freedom of Choice
NUJS’s founding statute is to advance and disseminate learning and knowledge of the law and legal processes and their role in national development. In regard to this objective, NUJS aims to imbibe the responsibility to serve society in law by developing skills to advocate, legal service, legislation, law reforms, and create research scholars out of students.
The university also aims to make law and legal processes efficient instruments of social development and to promote the interdisciplinary study of law. Adding his personal vision to the objective of the university, Prof. Chakrabarti says, “After assuming the office of the Vice-Chancellor, I am trying to strengthen the freedom of choice of subjects because the USP of NUJS is offering baskets of subjects to students. The Vision of NUJS is to study law with a science and technology backdrop.”
Overcoming the Challenge of Free-thinking
The Indian constitution gives the liberty to think and express freely. However, for a law student, it is required to think rationally, which is the major challenge that Prof. Chakrabarti faced during his academic career.
Explaining how he overcame this challenge, he says, “The major challenges I had to face in my academic career to think freely and to nurture my chosen area of study. In my present institute, NUJS, I have extended freedom to the teachers to develop Centre of Study and research and thereby at present we have more than ten Centres of research studies. Each Centre also engages students as researchers and started Research Project funded by the University.”
Prioritising Student Engagement for a Bright Future
Being an ardent researcher, Prof. Chakrabarti has recognised that student engagement on the campus holds particular importance for their bright future. He is always available in the university and keeps himself engaged in both curricular and extracurricular activities.
As a Vice-Chancellor of a prestigious institute, he arranges numerous activities for faculty and students to keep them engaged. “I am allowing my students to involve varied academic activities as well as research engagement with various centres of studies to achieve maximum students’ engagement.” Prof. Chakrabarti added.
Keeping Up to Date
As the world is making constant technological advancements and enhancing every sector with grace, the next big step for NUJS is to introduce more integration of law, science and technology in our course curriculum and teaching-learning process.NUJS is offering even LL,B. Students to learn subjects like: Law and Artificial Intelligence, Nano Technology and Law, Forensic Science, Digital Forensics, Criminal Psychology, Health Technology etc.
An Ardent Researcher’s Message
Prof. Chakrabarti’s message to all the students and particularly law students, is, “Prepare your mind to accept the law and technology integration as part of multidisciplinary learning and to accept the fact that we have to go beyond the law.”