Year of Establishment : 1909
History of the department :
Faculty of Law / Department of Law: Present and Past:-
The Faculty of Law/ Department of Law, University of Calcutta is situated at 51/1, Hazra Road, Kolkata-700019. The Faculty/Department has six affiliated Law Colleges imparting 5 Years B. A. LL. B. Course. The Department including two other affiliated Law Colleges (Jogesh Chandra Chaudhury Law College and South Calcutta Law College) also imparts B. A. LL. B (Honours) Course. Besides, the Department imparts 2 Years LL. M. Course as well as Ph. D. Programme. The Department also provides Post-Doctoral research (LL.D.) facilities in appropriate cases. The Department of Law, University of Calcutta is in present position since 1983. Following are the existing academic faculty of the Faculty of Law/ Department of Law, University of Calcutta: Prior to 1983, the Department of Law was known as the University College of Law which was established in January 1909.The first step towards the establishment of what Asutosh Mookerjee described in his Convocation Address of 1914 as "the new University of Calcutta", was taken when under his leadership the Senate of the University decided to establish the University College of Law. Law was Asutosh's first love. The example of Dwarkanath Mitra senior, who left an imperishable name as Judge of the High Court of Calcutta, inspired Asutosh to the same aspiration. After the passing of the Universities Act of 1904, Asutosh Mookerjee, it is said, was persuaded by Curzon to believe that the Vice-Chancellorship of Calcutta University would come to him after Pedler, if he accepted a seat on the Bench of the High Court at Calcutta. In March, 1904, Asutosh Mookerjee was appointed a Judge of the High Court at Calcutta. He retained his seat on it for twenty years and retired on January 2, 1924. For some time he acted as the Chief Justice of that Court.
Wood's Education Despatch of 1854 explicitly stated "that it would be advisable to establish in connection with the Universities, Professorships in various branches of learning" for acquisition of which facilities then did not exist and added that "the most important of those branches was law." This, Asutosh stated before a meeting of the Senate on July 24, 1908, was the position in 1854. For more than half a century the idea of establishing the study of law was in existence. On a scientific basis was only a dream. The University of Calcutta was founded in 1857; twenty two years before, in 1835, the Calcutta Medical College had been born. The Civil Engineering College was born in 1856. For five years this College was attached as an appendage to the Presidency College, Calcutta, but it was eventually shifted to its own premises at Sibpur on the Ganges. In a minute written by Asutosh Mookerjee for the Syndicate of the University, he stated : "The branch of our education system which stands in need of the most urgent; and radical reform is that concerned with the reaching of law for our degree examinations.It is a noteworthy fact that we have not got a single college devoted entirely to the study of Law as we have in the cases of Medicine and Engineering." The history of teaching Law in the University of Calcutta was clearly set out in the above tatgd minute. When the University was founded in 1857, Law classes were attached to the Presidency College. In 1864, the Government decided to attach Law classes to the Government College at Hooghly, Dacca, Krishnanagar, Berhampore and Patna. In 1869, Law Classes were added to the Colleges at Cuttack and Chittagong. In 1880, such classes were attached to the college at Rajshahi. All these Law Classes had no independent existence. They were subordinate to the Arts Colleges owned and managed by the Government. In 1882, private enterprise attached Law Classes to private colleges, and the process started with the then MetropolitanInstitution; next year the City College followed suit. Asutosh himself was a student of the City College in its Law department. In 1885, the then Ripon College was granted affiliation in Law by the University. The Bangabasi College, Calcutta, sought and also obtained affiliation in Law. Apart from these Law classes in the city of Calcutta there were in 1896, six Colleges in the districts, affiliated Law. These were the Colleges at Cooch-Behar, Bhagalpur, Midnapore, Bankipur, Barisal and Rangoon. In 1908, there were in the University eighteen Colleges with affiliation in Law. The teachers in most of these colleges were men of distinction. But Law students suffered from lack of aim and ideal. The teaching staff was wholly insufficient for the purpose of meeting the requirements of the new regulations. These regulations effected considerable improvement upon the study of Law for the Law examinations of the University. It was stated in the minute of Asutosh Mookerjee that there was a college affiliated in Law in one of the districts where there was only one pupil. That pupil paid a monthly fee of Rupees five only. The teacher who was supposed to lecture on all the subjects of study for the law examinations, was paid his honorarium out of this sum of Rupees five a month. Law libraries did not exist in these colleges. The Government of the then Bengal as also the then Government of Eastern Bengal and Assam decided to close all Law classes attached to the Government Colleges in these provinces, and to have instead two Law Schools, one at Dacca and the second at Patna. In or about 1908, the Bangabasi College and the Metropolitan Institution were not anxious to continue their Law classes either. The Ripon College alone desired continuance of its classes. The classes attached to private colleges in the districts were all closed down by 1908. Asutosh was anxious to establish a Law College in Calcutta like the Law Colleges in Madras, Bombay and Allahabad. The Law College in Calcutta was to be a University College of Law. It was to be a model Law College and was to be constituted as bona fide centre of legal education. Asutosh Mookerjee's minute was in conformity with the principles enunciated by the resolution of the Government of India, of October 24, 1902. His minute was considered by the Syndicate at their meeting on July 4, 1908, when the following resolution was adopted ; "The Syndicate recommend to the Senate that a University Law College be established and the Syndicate be authorized to appoint a provisional committee to organize it," On July 14, 1908, the minute was considered by the Faculty of Law at a special meeting, and the Faculty adopted the following resolution : "That the Faculty do record its opinion that for the promotion of legal education of students for degrees in Law, it is desirable to establish a University College of Law to !;erve as a model, but not so as to create a monopoly either general or local." Notwithstanding the fact that legal education was not for nearly half a century placed on a scientific basis, powerful interests and strong traditions were unnecessarily restless. At a meeting of the Senate held on July 21, 1908, Asutosh Mookerjee as Vice-Chancellor, moved the adoption of two resolutions.
The meeting was very largely attended. Surendranath Banerjea was present at the meeting, It was presided over by Andrew Fraser, the Rector of the University. Under the regulations, the Vice-Chancellor of the University has to maintain the non-partisan character of an impartial Speaker when presiding at a meeting of the Senate. It was expected that a great controversy would ensue, and therefore, the Vice-Chancellor vacated his Chair and the Rector presided. Asutosh Mookerjee moved before the Senate: "(a) That the University Law College be established and that the Syndicate be authorized to appoint a provisional committee to organize it.(b) That with a view to avoid misconception, it be recorded that in establishing a University Law College the University does not wish to deviate from the principle enunciated in the resolution of the Government of India dated October 24,1902; the College is to be established for the promotion of legal education of students for degrees in law and to serve as a model college and not with a view to create a monopoly, either general or local."
In the course of his speech, Asutosh confidently declared "that law was neither a trade nor a solemn jugglery but a living science in the proper sense of the word." He pointed out that the Government of the United States of America had prepared a survey of the condition of the legal education in the different universities of the world. The survey included details about all European countries, America, Japan and China. It contained no reference to India. The Vice Chancellor stated: "Fortunately" for us, "if the Calcutta University System of Law teaching had been described they would have stood branded for all time." The resolution was carried unanimously. The University Law College started functioning from July, 1909. The Law College was placed under the management of a Government Body consisting of sixteen members with the Vice-Chancellor as President ex-officio. S. C. Bagchi became the first Principal of the College. He was a scholar of eminence and jurist of reputation. In 1912, Birajmohan Majumdar was appointed the first Vice-Principal of the college. The first Professors and Assistant Professors appointed for the University College of Law were Professors: Gopalchandra Sarkar Sastri, Haradhan Nag, Harendranath Sen; Assistant Professors : Subodh Chandra Ray, Nirmal Chandra Sen, Abdullah-ai-Mamun Suhrawardy,Jyotiprasad Sarbadhikari, Haraprasad Chatterjee, Asutosh Mookerjee, Birajmohan Majumdar and N. N. Gupta.
The new regulations passed under the Act of 1904 instituted three Law examinations, and insisted on three years' course of study for the B. L. Examination. It prescribed the delivery of regular lectures of students. It made arrangements for holding tutorial classes. The novt;!l feature which was introduced in the curricula of studies was the institution of the sy!;tem of moot courts. Leading cases were prescribed for examinations in law and these cases were conducted in moot courts under the presidency of the Professors of law. The system of holding moot courts is known to England and also to the great schools of Law like those attached to the University of Harvard and Yale. Asutosh Mookerjee himself presided over many of the moot courts and he also used to deliver lectures to the students. The University College of Law was first housed as stated before, in a tiled hut in the compound of the present College Street Campus of the University of Calcutta. The Law College had no finance excepting the revenues derived from the students. In 1909 the number of students studying in the college was 520. It, however, was fortunate in receiving from the Government of Bengal an annual sum of Rs. 3500/- for five years. It was still more fortunate in securing from the Government of India, the annual subvention of Rs. 20000/ which was subsequently raised to Rs. 30000/- . Private enterprise came also to the aid of the Law College. Maharaja Manindra Chandra Nandi of Cossimbazar not only agreed to the abolition of the Law Department from the Krishnath College, Berhampore, but also placed at the disposal of the University College of Law the sum of Rs. 50000/- for the purpose of founding a number of scholarships for students of Law at a competitive examination to be held by the College, with one condition that in cases of equal competence preference might be given to those who had graduate from the Krishnath College, Berhampore. Maharaja Prodyot Kumar Tagore made a gift to the College the sum of Rs. 10000/- towards the founding a Law Library in connection with the Law College to be called after his father, Maharaja Jatindramohan Tagore. The only condition of the gift was that a life-size bronze bust of his late father Jatindramohan Tagore presented by him should be installed in the Law College Library. Jatindramohan Tagore was President of the Faculty of Arts in the University of Calcutta in 1881. His bronze statue decorates the Library hall of the University College of Law. Prodyot Kumar Tagore also presented to the College the entire Library of valuable Law books left by his grand-uncle Prosunno Kumar Tagore. Gooroodas Banerjee felt exultant when the Senate accepted the gift of two other great lawyer to this University: Tarak Nath Palit and Rashbehary Ghose. He invoked the aid of "Themis of law and wealth." The debt of the University of Calcutta to what Asutosh described as "the dreaded and the despised tribe of lawyers" is indeed very impressive. Private enterprise again came to the assistance of research in law in this University. Onanthanath Dev, one of the landed aristocrats of the city, made a gift in 1912 of Rs. 25000/- for the foundation of a research prize. The recipients of the prize have considerably expanded the bounds of the knowledge of Law in this University. The list of researchers includes distinguished names like those of Atul Chandra Gupta and Bijan Kumar Mukherjee. Both of them were Professors in the University College of Law for years. The former is regarded as a well known scholar and advocate in Bengal; the latter sat as a Judge of the High Court at Calcutta for years and then occupied the exalted position of a Judge of the Supreme Court of India under the Constitution of India 1950 and rose to be its Chief Justice.
From out of the revenues of the University College of Law another Lectureship for n search in Law was established in 1925 to commemorate the memory of Asutosh Mookerjee. It is called the "Asutosh Mookerjee Lectureship in Law." S. C. Bagchi, Principal of the University College of Law , was the first lecturer. For more than thirty years no other Lecturer has been appointed, and the funds originally contributed amounting to Rs. 20000/- (present value Rs. 68700/-) are lying invested so that the interest on the accumulation might maintain a Chair in law.
The University College of Law was housed in the Darbhanga Library Building, 87/1 College Street, Kolkata-700073. Accommodation for the students of the Law College was, however, found in the hostel adjoining this building. In 1909 the Government of India made a grant of rupees six lakhs to the University for the construction of hostels for the students of colleges affiliated to the University. The request of the Syndicate to grant a sum of rupees one lakh for the construction of a hostel for the students of the University College of Law out of this grant, was not complied with by the Government. In 1912, the University acquired a plot of land south of the Darbhanga Library Building, at a cost of rupees one lakh and fifty thousand paid out of its reserve funds. The total approximate cost of the hostel for law students was four lakhs of rupees. The Government of India contributed three lakhs of rupees towards the cost. The gift of the Government was for the purpose of having a hostel for the Hindu students of the University College of Law and also for the erection of an examination hall for holding University examination. The Syndicate contemplated that the building when completed would accommodate the Registrar and two Professors of the University College of Law who would be in charge of the students. This purpose could not be effected due to lack of funds. The five storied building standing on the Colootollah Street is called the University College of Law Hardinge Hindu Hostel after the name of the then Chancellor of the University.
The services of the University College of Law to the University and the country are not always realized. It is estimated that it contributed in diverse ways, to the University from 1909, the date of its foundation to 1956, the sum of Rs. 6-23-286-8-10. The sum of Rs. 20000/- out of the Rs. 30000/- , the annual grant made by the Government of India to the University College of Law has not since 1934-35 been spent by the University on the Law College, but is spent by the University itself. The University College of Law has been, during the course of its existence for nearly half a century, the nursery of leaders of the bar and the judiciary of these provinces including the High Courts. This college has given to India its first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who was at one time a Professor of the University College of Law. It has given to India two Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of India, Bijan Kumar Mukherjee and Sudhir Ranjan Das. Both of them were once Professors of the University College of Law. One of the members of the teaching staff, Pramatha Chaudhuri, became the leader of a new movement in Bengali literature. Prabhat Kumar Mukhopadhyay, another teacher, was a reputed short story writer and novelist.
Special award/ recognition from UGC or related statutory body: Recognised by the UGC and affiliated to Bar Council of India.
Thrust areas in teaching and research of the academic department/ centre :
- Research work of the Department.
- TPL and Cyber Law.
Major activities :
- Moot Court Competion, UGC Refresh Course
- International and National Seminars etc
Campus : Hazra Campus
Address for communication : 51/1, Hazra Road, Kolkata - 700019