HNLU Campus Review: Raising the bar in legal education
Faizal Khan, 21 Feb 2019
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Hidayatullah National Law University, named after a Chief Justice of India and the sixth in the series of National Law Universities, is setting the standards in legal education...


When it was founded in 2003 by the Chhattisgarh government, Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU) in Raipur assumed a name to match its vision. Justice Mohammad Hidayatullah was the eleventh Chief Justice of India, and the sixth Vice President of India. He had also served as an Acting President of the country. A son of the soil, he studied in a government school in Raipur before going on to achieve greater heights in education, especially in the field of law. For a law student, Justice Hidayatullah’s journey as a lawyer to the highest offices of the country is an inspiration. 


After joining the bar at the age of 25, the young Hidayatullah served in the High Court of the then Central Provinces and Berar (Central Provinces later became the undivided Madhya Pradesh) before becoming Advocate General. He became an Additional Judge of the same court in 1946 and was soon appointed as a permanent judge and later the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court. He was elevated as Supreme Court judge in 1958 and after serving for nearly 10 years, he was appointed as the Chief Justice of India. He had the distinction of being the youngest Advocate General, youngest Chief Justice of a High Court and the youngest Judge of the Supreme Court of India.  


Consistent efforts

“Since its inception with the motto of ‘Dharma Sansthapanartham’, our university is continuously trying to produce not only legal professionals but responsible citizens. Along with dedicated faculty members, the university provides state-of-the-art infrastructure, modern teaching aids, Wi-Fi-enabled fully residential campus, IT Lab, Moot Court halls, enriched library etc. for the overall development of students. Over the last 15 years, students of HNLU have proved themselves in diversified fields and due to their consistent efforts the institution emerged as a center of excellence in the nation,” says Vice-Chancellor Justice Chandra Bhushan Bajpai, a former judge of the Chhattisgarh High Court.

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Humble beginning

The university had a humble beginning, functioning from a rented building in Raipur. In 2009, HNLU moved to a brand new campus in Atal Nagar, 28 kms from Raipur. Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the then President of India, laid the foundation stone of the permanent building in 2004. Atal Nagar is also the place where the new capital of Chhattisgarh is coming up. The 65-acre new HNLU campus has a natural lake and sits across a jungle safari. “Ours is an eco-friendly campus in a pollution-free environment,” says HNLU Registrar Dr. Ayan Hazra. Solar energy powers hostels and street lights on the campus dotted with trees. “We have an energy audit every year,” adds Dr. Hazra.


Courses

The university offers B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), LL.M. and Ph.D. programmes for students across the country. There are 940 students currently on the campus in various disciplines. The 5-year B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), programme has Constitutional Law, Corporate Law, Trade & Investment Law, Intellectual Property Rights Law and Criminal Law as Honours papers. The one-year LL.M. has specialisations in Corporate Law, Intellectual Property Rights Law and Environmental Law.

“HNLU helps to promote legal education to those who do not get the opportunities,” says Dr. Hazra. Situated in a state dominated by tribal communities, the university attaches utmost importance to serving the people. HNLU has adopted the nearby Upparwara village where HNLU students conduct weekly classes in its three government-run schools. 


Student-driven campus

The university is a student-driven fully residential campus. “There are 14 student committees on the campus looking after various activities,” says Ankit Awasthi, Assistant Professor (Law), who teaches International Trade Law for Honours students and Legal Method for first-year B.A. LL.B. (Hon) students. The students learn four papers under Trade & Investment Honours Paper, namely International Trade Law, International Investment Law, National Regulation of International Trade and International Commercial Law.


“The student-driven committees function in areas from internship to placement,” says Akansh Jain, a fourth-year B.A. LL.B. (Hon) student and vice-convenor of Academic Support Committee. The Legal Aid Committee conducts legal awareness camps in Upparwara and nearby villages in collaboration with the District Legal Services Authority to resolve disputes. The student-driven committees also run a monthly Lecture Series, inviting judges from higher courts and partners of major law firms.


Experiential learning

A highlight of HNLU campus is a flagship national moot court competition named after Justice Hidayatullah based on Environmental Law. “The Moot strives at inculcating the principles of sustainable development and has thus kept with its theme of environmental law; specifically transnational environmental concerns,” says Dr Hazra. The best of the teams in the country participate to determine the best advocate for environmental rights. Forty teams applied for the competition in 2018 with 30 teams receiving selection after extensive screening. With the financial assistance received from the Government of Chhattisgarh, the university spends Rs. 1 crore every year for participation of students in moot court competitions, seminars, conferences and workshops at national and international levels.


Extracurricular activities

The university has one of the best indoor and outdoor sports facilities among higher education institutions in the country. There are grounds for cricket, football, basketball and volleyball along with separate gymnasiums for girls and boys. There is also an indoor badminton court. The annual national cultural and sports festival of the university called Colossus is a favourite among universities in India. “As many as 170 colleges from across the country participate in Colossus,” says Jain.   


Justice-Bajpai

Mr. Justice Chandra Bhushan Bajpai,

Vice-Chancellor, HNLU


Since its inception with the motto of ‘Dharma Sansthapanartham’, our university is continuously trying to produce not only legal professionals but responsible citizens


Akansh

Akansh Jain,

Fourth-year student, B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), HNLU


There are a number of pending cases such as land acquisition cases and family disputes in which students of HNLU provide legal assistance

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