The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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After mission Bengal, lawman sets next goal

A mission brought him to Calcutta. He drew up a five-year plan to gift the city a centre of excellence in legal education. And as N.R. Madhava Menon, the man behind the country’s leading law school in Bangalore, packs his bags to leave Bengal for Bhopal, he has enough reason to look back with a smile.

The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (NUJS) began its journey in the summer of 1999 at Aranya Bhavan, off the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass. Today’s imposing structure that stands barely 100 meters away from the pollution control board headquarters — the address of the law school till around six months ago — is a concrete example of Menon having kept his word.

From a small set-up in Aranya Bhavan, today NUJS sprawls over a five-acre campus, with 400 students, 30 teachers and 42 administrative staff members. “I am satisfied with the way the institute has grown. The students have proved their worth both in India and abroad, while the teachers have made a mark in the world of research and academics,” says Menon, who came to Calcutta responding to a request from Jyoti Basu, then chief minister of Bengal.

NUJS now offers bachelors and masters courses in law and also enrols students for M. Phil programmes. The law school is also involved in research and undertakes projects for both government and private establishments. With a steady flow of grants and projects, the institute will become self-financing by 2004, except for government aid to pay back the loan of Rs 23 crore the institute took from Hudco to construct the campus.

“I had a five-year contract with the state government, but I am leaving a year ahead of schedule as I have been asked by the Supreme Court to set the ball rolling at the National Judicial Academy in Bhopal,” explains Menon, who served as vice-chancellor of the fledgling university. A selection committee will name his successor later this month.

Menon has already started preparing for his green-field assignment from the vice chancellor’s room on the first floor of the new NUJS campus. “It’s a challenging assignment as I will have to conceive and conduct programmes for senior judges and also evaluate the impact of the programmes,” he says. Menon’s mandate also includes inculcating management principles in the judges’ training to effect a faster and easier disposal of the over three crore cases pending in various courts in the country.

“I came to Bengal with a lot of apprehensions and so the only thing I demanded was complete freedom. The government gave me a free hand. It was great being here,” signs off Menon.

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