|Pic: Gajanan Dudhalkar
What would you say of an institution that counts Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, B.R. Ambedkar, N.A. Palkhivala, Ram Jethmalani, Soli Sorabjee, Fali S. Nariman, Justice P.N. Bhagwati and a host of judges, jurists, statesmen and lawyers, as its students' Indeed, the venerable Government Law College just outside the Churchgate railway station in Mumbai is more than a landmark. Last year it celebrated its sesquicentennial — 150 years of an illustrious academic journey.
Like the IIT and the J.J. School of Arts, which are bywords for academic excellence in their respective fields in Mumbai, the Government Law College is also renowned for the quality of its academic programme. It was ranked among the first 10 law colleges a couple of years ago by India Today. In fact, if you want to study law in the country, lawyers will tell you that the two places are the National Law School in Bangalore and the Government Law College in Mumbai. The National Law schools in various parts of the country are deemed universities and the course fee is upwards of Rs 60,000. The Government Law College, on the other hand, has a very affordable fee structure of about Rs 2,500 per annum.
There are two courses on offer — a five-year integrated law course leading to a BLS, LLB degree and a three-year law course leading to a LLB degree. They also offer two postgraduate one-year diploma courses, security law and cyber law, which are conducted in collaboration with the Asian School of Cyber Laws, Pune.
Admissions are based strictly on merit. There are 160 seats of which half are for the reserved category. So there is usually a mad scramble for the seats, with over 1000 applications being screened every year from all over the country. While selecting students, the college board keeps in mind the fact that Arts students cannot score as much as students from the science or the commerce stream. An added attraction is the fact that hostel facilities are available for as many as 62 students.
The College is funded by the Maharashtra government and is affiliated to the Mumbai University. In Mumbai, the concept of a five-year degree course in law is catching up fast and colleges like S.V.K.M. Law College, Nalanda College of Law in Borivali, M.G.M. College and D.Y. Patil College in Navi Mumbai offer the five-year law degree course. Three-year courses in law are offered at K.C. College of Law, Siddharth College of Law, New Law College, Matunga, Gopaldas Jamatmal Advani Law College, Jitendra Chavan College of Law and the T.M.C Thane Law College, Thane.
However, every law student dreams of studying at the Government Law College since the faculty is excellent and solicitors like Professor Pitawala and Professor Iqbal Panjwani lend their expertise to the teaching.
The moot court competitions of the Government Law College are legendary. These competitions involve taking up a case modelled on a controversial one and arguing the matter, just like in a real court of law. There are several such moot court associations in the Government Law College and the famous ones include the Nani Palkhivala Memorial National Tax Moot Court Competition and the D.M. Harish Memorial International Moot Court Competition. The M.C. Chagla lecture series held by the college every year is also very prestigious and is usually attended by eminent speakers. In fact, Soli Sorabjee is scheduled to speak this year. Says Abhinav Bhushan, the general secretary of the student’s union, and a fourth-year student, “ I am from Saharanpur, studied at the Doon School in Dehra Dun and had got admission to the ILS Law College in Pune. But keeping in mind the access to the courts here at the Government Law College, I decided to join this institution. I feel I have an edge over others because I have been at the courts for the last four years witnessing the action firsthand.”
Abhinav adds that the active moot courts help in honing advocacy skills and allow students “to think on their feet”. “Interesting topics are discussed at these moot court competitions. For example, we are now discussing the constitutional validity of the Domestic Violence Act,” he says. The college also has a vibrant atmosphere of extra-curricular activity and has such committees as the Hindi Parishad, the Marathi Mandal, a debating society and sports committees.
Says P.R. Rao, principal of the college, “One of our ex-students who is now a minister for higher and technical education in the Maharashtra government, Dilip Walse Patil, has promised a grant of Rs 35 crores which will go towards sprucing up the college.” On the cards are a renovated auditorium, a computerised library, a conference room, a seminar room, etc.
Nandish Vyas, who passed out in 2004, and now works with a firm of solicitors called Federal & Rashmikant, says that the location of the college itself is an advantage. “It was so easy to attend court while in college. The courts are just 10 minutes away and we are also close to the offices of many of the legal firms.” He adds that the experience gained there proved to be very beneficial in tackling real life cases. “The placement committee was also very active and good,” claims Vyas.
WHAT IS IT' A government law college.
WHO’S THE BOSS' P.R. Rao is the principal.
How expensive is it' The fees amount to Rs 2,500 annually.
How about jobs' They have an active placement cell.
Where to stay'There are hostel facilities.
Where is it' Government Law College,“A” Road, Churchgate,Mumbai 400 020.
Phone: (22) 2204 1707
Fax: (22) 2285 1315