"Lawyers are not only professionals whose sole purpose is to represent their client. Instead, their role is that of social engineers", said Supreme Court judge Justice Surya Kant addressing a gathering of law students.
The judge also quoted former President and teacher Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's statement, 'Books are your true companion' and stated that a library is the only place where there is a wealth of knowledge.
On November 19, Justice Surya Kant was speaking at the Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Library's inaugural ceremony at Dr. B.R.Ambedkar National Law University. He stated that doctors and lawyers play a significant role in the upliftment and service of society, and that law students should adopt this attitude from the start in order to prepare themselves as better professionals, as a good legal professional is a milestone for the country's democracy.
"It is very sad to see the role of books being reduced in the current Google search era. We should lay emphasis on developing good libraries especially in educational institutions. The library plays an important role in creating a common attitude among the students, provided the student is from any background. He said that students should also read J Store, Manupatra Online Journal etc., in which research papers related to various aspects of international legal education are available. At present we need to develop Common Law, which should not be based on any religion or caste. It is very important for students to read good books for all-round development in life. At the beginning of the program, the chief guest inaugurated the library and also planted a peacock tree in front of the library", he said.
Presiding over the program, Vice-Chancellor Prof. Viney Kapoor Mehra laid a detailed report about the achievements of the university and upcoming plans in front of the chief guest. She told that this year they have got 4 buildings inaugurated after shifting to the new campus, in which the women and men's hostels were inaugurated on Ambedkar Jayanti on April 14, 2021 by Hon'ble Chief Minister, Mr. Manohar Lal Khattar through online medium. Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishna Shikshak Bhavan was inaugurated on 7th September 2021 by the Governor and Chancellor Mr. Bandaru Dattareya.
She told that till now the University have organized 80 seminars-webinars, workshops, guest lectures and competitions and 4 international seminars and MoUs with 10 institutions etc. It will be our constant endeavor to take the University to the International level. Library is the backbone of the university, library will prove to be a milestone in the field of legal education and research. The main objective of the university is to provide qualitative education. The Registrar, Dr Amit Kamboj, while greeting all the guests who attended the program, proposed a vote of thanks.
Among the distinguished guests present in the program were former judge and member of Human Rights Commission Justice K.C. Puri, Prof. DP Bhardwaj, Prof Amarjit Singh, Dr. Pankaj (Registrar, Supreme Court), Mr. Subhas Mehla (District Sessions Judge), Xen Pankaj etc.
Read the full text of the speech of Justice Surya Kant :
"I am indeed delighted to be here with all of you today at the inauguration ceremony of the library building of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Law University. When I was entering the campus, I saw photographs of two great personalities of India being displayed. That makes you feel immense satisfaction and pride in yourself on being a part of this nation where such great human beings were born and immensely contributed for marching ahead of this nation. I firmly believe that the purpose of legal education much like the law itself has always been reflective of the need of society.
Over the past few decades, the landscape of legal education in India has drastically changed. One of the most significant impetus to this evolution has been the establishment of national law universities across various parts of the country. The five-year integrated course, which initially began as an experiment under the ages of late professor Madhava Manan. As you know, National Law School University Bangalore has increased the quality of the bar and that has now become the benchmark of high-quality legal education in India.I recollect that when this university was established in 2012 and the learner Advisory Council had updated me in this regard. It came as a big relief to all us individuals who felt that there was a need to revamp the pedagogy and curriculum of law education in various law schools of the Haryana. I'm pleased to note that despite having been established recently, this university is already on its way to become one of the finest law schools in the country.
On a personal note, I feel elated, that this university had been named after Dr. Ambedkar, the chief architect of our Constitution. Dr. Ambedkar was not only a great jurist and luminary,but he will also be known for all the times to come as the Crusader of equality and for hammering the artificial and man-made inequalities among those who have an equal right on all that we have in our country. Dr. Ambedkar tirelessly worked for the downtrodden and successfully articulated their cause in the process of constitution formulation. I would request the young students that since the original copies of the Constitution are now available in the university, you will recognize these great juries' luminaries from their original signatures. And then you will go into their life history, particularly the Constituent Assembly debates, that how and in what manner, the fundamental rights, duties and other legislative or executive concepts were introduced in our Constitution.
Having said that, I wish to remind you a that there lays a great responsibility on the shoulders of your institute, its management, and the faculty to start hard to translate the most legitimate expectations of Dr. Ambedkar into ground reality. To the faculty present here, I say that you are not only the makers of these 350 plus students present here today, but also the squatters of the nation's future. A good legal education is indeed a sign of the development of any democratic country. Lawyers are not only professionals whose sole purpose is to represent their client. Instead, their role is that of social engineers.
This is particularly true for our nation, where lawyers, even in pre-independence time, had been important pillars of strength for positive social change. When we do look beyond a few pages of our history books, to understand the significant contribution of lawyers, and law students to our society, it is thus imperative that legal institutions produce efficient lawyers who can be flag bearers of democratic development. Having produced the curriculum of the university, which of course, I have just gone through briefly and the programs, the way they have been updated, I'm content to see that the faculty and leadership have embraced the responsibility with open arms. I applaud the Vice-Chancellor and her entire team. Today marks an extremely important day, not just for the university, but also for the dear students present here. Even in the areas of quick Google searches, the importance of a library as an avenue of knowledge and research cannot be understood. This is especially true when it comes to legal education and legal institutions. One of independent India's greatest visionary, scientist and teacher, whom I respect and have an emotion attachment with. I'm talking about Dr. APJ. Abdul Kalam, whose name now graces the university's library. He had said and I quote, "Books become permanent companions.
Sometimes they are born before us. They guide us during our life journey and continue for many generations."These wise words of Dr. Kalam emphasize the sacredness of academic works and other texts as a source of knowledge and inspiration in our lives. While the characteristics of a library have changed with the advent of digitization, its essential function remains the same. The primary role of a library continues to be providing access to legal and law-related information. Access to law is vital to all who must comply with it and also for those who seek to influence its evolution through a democratic process. However, in the absence of law library, access to information is easier said than done. Purchasing law books or getting an individual subscription to journal copies on the online database is very costly. But as we all know, law at its very core is about moving away from such barriers and towards equality. Therefore, libraries are great equalizers. Once inside, all of you, my dear students will have access to the same information without any form of discrimination. There are ample opportunities for each one of you to gain knowledge in your area of interest. While we know the importance of a library, we must also appreciate the value added by the librarians. They curate and preserve information and materials when called upon. They assist students and scholars by directing them to the right resources. Despite the best of available technologies, there is no replacement for these sentinels of knowledge. I may mention at this point that every year I interact with several young law students and lawyers. It's a part of the job. Even today, I have variable young graduates assisting me as my law clerks in my chamber. But throughout my interactions, I have seen a worrying trend. While there is no doubt that online databases, such as SEC or Manu Patra and several others are extremely important for conducting speedy research, and suddenly their value has also grown in this age of distant learning and social isolation. Yet an over-reliance on such resources is not advisable either. As you all know, common law goes beyond statutory rules and is instead derived from customs and judicial precedents. Thus, any study of law is incomplete if a student cannot internalize the relevant jurisprudence. While such an online database will provide you with the necessary tools to research on case laws and judgments. They may fall short of explaining the evolution of law itself. At such times, one must turn to conventional legal commentaries, which have been painstakingly written by legal experts after years of extensive research. While I'm aware that the process of digitalizing the more famous commentaries has already started, this is still to fully happen concerning unexplored and specialized areas. Till such time, we must again look towards our libraries. I may hasten to clarify that by no means, I do intend to undervalue the importance of having a robust online infrastructure. I am happy to Vice-Chancellor, in fact, explained that this university is quite well advanced in this kind of infrastructure. I commend the management for ensuring that despite the several constraints brought on by the COVID-19 these students continued education remains largely undisturbed due to access to resources like SEC and other databases such as J STOR. But I do wish to impress upon you, my dear students, the scope and potential for learning the open goes untapped.
I hope that all will be conscious of the trappings that I have just mentioned and will take full advantage of all the resources at your disposal. It is well said that a law library is not merely a collection of books, and other writings containing information, arguments, and opinions. More importantly, it is a repository of living systems of authority, as well as have reasons and systems which change and grow from time to time. I'm informed that Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam's library now boasts a collection of nearly 3000 books, as well as other reading materials, including a whole plethora of digests and manuals. This is indeed very impressive and I'm sure that the students will benefit from such an extensive assembly. I'm equally pleased to learn that the architecture of the building has effectively addressed the needs of different students, and adequate facilities, such as a special ramp have been built up to create a more inclusive and egalitarian environment more particularly for differently abled students. Beyond this, as all we know, Sonipat has already become a hub of world-class education. This entire area is known as an education city. There are both public and private universities, most of them are reflective of the new face of higher education in India. With a strong focus on interdisciplinary education, I hope that all the universities here, find avenues to collaborate and pull in resources. This, in my opinion, will be a great benefit to all the stakeholders involved. Near the end, I wish to once again remind the students that law and society go hand in hand. Simply put, the law cannot be read in a manner that is diverse from the social context. Keeping this in mind, I wish to encourage you all to read and learn about a variety of disciplines, be it history or sociology or even commercial subjects like financeor business management. I would say it is almost a prerequisite that to be a successful lawyer, one ought to be well versed in a variety of subject areas. To sum up, I believe that all of you, dear students, have been presented with a tremendous opportunity. I hope you use the resources at your disposal to the best extent possible. I wish you all the students, the faculty, the very best. Once again, I thank the learned Vice-Chancellor, Registrar and all other distinguished dignitaries who are present to invite me and to give me this opportunity to interact with you. Thank you very much.Jai Hind!!!"