Report No. 14
31. Full-time teachers necessary.-
It has been and is the practice at most of the Universities to leave the teaching of law in the hands of junior practising lawyers who seek appointment as lecturerswith a view to supplement their income at the Bar during the initial waiting period. It may be that practising lawyers may be useful and even essential as teachers at the stage of teaching the practical side of the law as part of a professional training. But it is obvious that for the teaching of law in its scientific, cultural and educational aspects we need full time teachers, and, as far as possible, men of outstanding distinction in law and legal research.
We already have in some of our law colleges very capable men who are devoting all their time to the task of teaching law and at the same time conducting legal research. We had the advantage of being assisted by some of those able teachers and scholars who gave evidence before us. Though, in the initial stages, we might find it difficult to staff all our full time institutions with adequately equipped personnel, there is no reason why we should not have, in course of time, distinguished jurists and scholars like Lauterpacht, Jennings, or Griswold directing legal teaching in our Universities.
32. Methods of teaching.-
We might make a few observations, on the methods of teaching in our law colleges. As in any other branch of learning, the accepted methods are delivery of lectures, the holding of group discussions, seminars and tutorials and in addition the case method, moot courts and mock trials are also recognized as valuable additional aids to law students aspiring for a professional career. The relative merits and advantages of these methods have been discussed in the Reports of the Bombay and Rajasthan Legal Education Committees and there is little that we can add to the recommendations made by them.
33. Lectures dominated by examinations.-
The best and the most accepted method of teaching is by the delivery of formal lectures. The opinions of Professors Winfield, Holdsworth and Hazeltine cited in the two Reports are wholly in favour of the retention of this system under which the teacher stresses what, in his view, are the important aspects of a subject and calls the attention of the student to the latest developments in legislation and case law. Frequently, however, the method of delivery of lectures degenerates into a system of mere dictation of notes having reference to the probable questions in the examination. In the words of the Indian University Commission, 1902:-"the greatest evil from which the system of University education in India suffers is that teaching is subordinated to Examination and not Examination to teaching". This evil is not peculiar to us. It has been found to exist in various foreign Universities.
The average law student merely crams the notes, the cheap guides and question and answer pamphlets prepared by anonymous or pseudonymous writers of dubious qualifications. Standard books by reputed authors are an unwanted luxury to the student.
Merits and demerits of lectures (Preparation and handing out of synopsis.).- The lecture method is, no doubt., very useful in the hands of the right type of teacher who can, by the force of the originality of his discourse of exposition, stimulate the students to think for themselves and to follow up the lectures by working on their own initiative. In order, however, that the student may derive the largest measure of benefit from the lectures, many experts recommend that the lecturer should give to the students, in advance a synopsis of his lecture so that the student may, in taking his own notes of the lecture, not miss any of the finer points made by the lecturer and may, without losing the thread of the discussion, later systematise his own reading with the help of the synopsis. At the same time, care has to be taken not to make the synopsis too exhaustive as such a synopsis would make it unnecessary for the student to take his own notes. The synopsis should contain only the essential parts of the lecture and the preparatory reading required for each lecture.
The lecture method can be supplemented by seminars or group discussions amongst a small group of students and teachers on some particular topic which is selected before-hand and on which the students are expected to have done some reading. The manner in which such a discussion ought to be conducted has been thus described by the Bombay Legal Education Committee:-
"The student is expected to have read about the subject and to have thought over it as deeply as he is capable of thinking. In the discussion of such a topic the teacher and the taught take part and this necessarily leads to a lively discussion and personal contact. The teacher is in a position, thus, to try to find the ways of thought of each individual and find out where he goes off the rails and put him back on his own rails. A good teacher knows that he must listen as well as talk, otherwise he is no good. The student must attend these discussion groups and make it a point to prepare for them by attempting to work out the problems for himself before the class. The value of the class is lost if the student sits back and lets the teacher or the other members of the class do the problems for him. It is necessary that the student should speak."1
1. Report of the Bombay Legal Education Committee, p. 57.
Difficulties of holding seminars.- The success of this method will depend on various factors, not the least important of them being the size of the class the number of teachers in relation to the number of students, the time available to the students and teachers, the number of lectures and the number of subjects to be taught. If such group discussions are to be held in each subject amongst a group of twenty to twenty-five students as recommended by the Bombay Legal Education Committee, it would be difficult to find the time to use this method with the large number of students in each class that are to be found in the existing law colleges. The utility of this method cannot, however, be in doubt and, wherever possible, it should be adopted as a supplement to the formal delivery of lectures.
35. Tutorial method (Obstacles to introduction).-
The tutorial method is even more difficult to arrange with the large classes that we have in our existing colleges. Under this method, a small batch of five or six students it placed in charge of a single teacher who coaches them individually and the students are asked to write a given number of essays on different subjects. This method is commonly adopted in the English Universities and its merit lies in the individual attention which each student gets at the hands of the teacher. This system which would require one qualified tutor for every five or six students would be a great strain on the financial capacity of our law colleges.
A feature of this system, namely, the writing of a given number of essays on certain subjects was, it appears from the evidence before us, tried at the Delhi University students being required to submit a certain number of essays before they could take their examinations. It is not surprising it failed, divorced from the other necessary elements of the system and worked with a staff inadequate to the number of students. It is clear that this system cannot yield any useful results unless a proper ratio is maintained between the students and the number of teachers capable of stimulating a student's interest. The method could hardly receive a favourable response from classes largely composed of students who are employees giving the best of their time during the day to their legitimate work.
36. Moot courts: limited value.-
Moot courts and mock trials have occasionally been held in certain institutions with a view to train the future lawyer. Such courts and trials are, in our view, intended to give the student a practical training for his professional career and an idea of the atmosphere of a law court. These methods are, therefore, more appropriate for adoption in the third year's professional course rather than during the academic training in law at the Universities.
37. Case method.-
A method which has been adopted more or less universally in the American Law Schools is the case method originally introduced by Professor Langdell at the Harvard School of Law in 1871. In this system, a student is required to study the judgments of certain important cases delivered by the superior courts on a particular point. Such a study has the advantage of the student understanding the abstract principles of law against a background of actual facts. It further helps the student to apply the theories and principles which he has learnt to a given set of facts. It has the advantage of making the study of principles more interesting.
The student also benefits from a study of the manner in which eminent judges have applied the principles, to a given set of facts and have occasionally deduced some new principles from well accepted ones. After the cases have been studies, there is a discussion between the students and the teacher on the cases so studies and the principles laid down in them. Thus, there is an active interaction between the minds of the teacher and the taught in relation to the principles discussed in the cases. It is claimed that the case method of teaching tends to develop among the students the power of analysis and a sense of values and discrimination essential to the practical application of the law. The method is, it appears, being gradually adopted in the English Universities.
Useful.- The application of this method in our colleges is also fraught with difficulties. Its successful application postulates students who are able to devote ample time to their studies and their division into small groups who can meet and discuss their studies with competent teachers. There may also be other difficulties in the application of this method, such as, the want of the necessary case books which are printed volumes containing a collection of leading cases on a particular subject, and the inapplicability of the method to the teaching of certain subjects. Notwithstanding these difficulties, we would recommend the adoption of this method in so far as it may be feasible and the difficulties in its application can be overcome.
38. Law examination-proper standards necessary.-
We have discussed above the nature of the institutions for imparting legal education, the need for an adequate and efficient teaching staff for them and the methods which may be adopted in imparting instruction. The training and the teaching imparted to the students will necessarily aim at enabling them to pass their examinations, for the law degree. The nature of the examinations and the manner in which they are conducted must, therefore, largely and inevitably influence the teaching imparted to the students at these institutions. However well conducted and well staffed these institutions and whatever the methods of teaching adopted, if the examinations for the degree are conducted as at present, the efficiency of the teaching is bound to be completely undermined.
As already stated, the examinations have to be designed to assist and subserve the purpose of a proper and scientific training. The examination papers have to be drawn so as to encourage and award recognition not to the student who memorizes a certain amount of information but the student who has devoted some thought to the subject and shows a capacity to apply legal principles to given facts. Unless, therefore, there is a radical change in the method of conducting examinations, the other measures taken to put legal education on a sound footing are bound to fail.
39. Law examinations a test of memory (Proper standards and tests necessary.).-
The evidence before us revealed the completely unsatisfactory nature of the examinations which, to use the words of a teacher of experience at one of the Universities, are "conducted on more or less stereotyped lines or mechanical basis". That inevitably leads, as pointed out by the Rajasthan Legal Education Committee, to a resort by the students not to the text books prescribed which lay down and discuss principles but to short notes and summaries and catechisms on various subjects. "Majority of students do not purchase text books that are prescribed or recommended by the University. They purchase cheap popular series notes and University examination papers and their answers.
It shows that either the students cannot afford to purchase prescribed or recommended books or they consider purchasing of such books and (sic) mere waste of money when they can get the degree without the books. This has become a chronic habit. For the subject of contract 'Anson's Law of Contract' is recommended by the University for study. Not a single student purchased the book."1 It is not for us to go into and prescribe adequate methods of testing intelligence in examinations and encouraging thought and application of principles to facts.
There is no reason why work done by the students at the Universities during their course of studies in the shape of essays and studies written by them should not be valued and considered in judging their fitness for the award of the degree. It is, perhaps, trite to point out that the obvious method of testing intelligence in a student is not to ask him to summarize the law on a certain subject but to set to him decided or hypothetical cases which would lead him to exercise his mind and discuss the principles of law applicable to the given facts. It would be an advantage to permit him to do so with the assistance of statutes and other law books which may be made available to him at the examination.
1. Report, pp. 5, 69.
40. Nepotism in examinations.-
A graver condition of affairs at some of the Universities in regard to the conduct of examinations was also revealed to us in the course of the evidence-the existence of nepotism and a total lack of standards in the examiners. We were told by an eminent judge who was at one time connected with a law school, of an instance where an examiner at a university had given as many as seventy examinees first class marks, namely, sixty-seven per cent. and more of the total marks. The matter was looked into and the papers were again valued by a judge who reported that, in his opinion, only one out of the seventy examinees should have been given a first class.
This judge stated that "there is a lot of corruption even in the University in the matter of marking of answer books". Evidence of a similar nature was given before us also by some principals and professors of law colleges. It does not need to be emphasized that examinations conducted in this manner must result in the complete destruction of the whole fabric of legal education. It is not for us to suggest measures to remedy this deplorable state of affairs in certain Universities.