While Gandhiji was in search of Satyagrahis, Pandit Malviya was looking for distinguished scholars,” remarks Professor B.C Nirmal, as he rustles through the placards of history. Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, he continues, was deeply concerned about the need to fulfil India's human resource demand after independence. And high on his list was creating a batch of law practitioners for the newly independent country. With this background, Pandit Malviya founded the Banaras Hindu University Law School in 1921. It had humble beginnings but with the financial support of the Ford Foundation it got a modern building, primarily due to the efforts by then Dean Professor Anandjee. The structure is built on the design of the Harvard Law School. Not only is it one of the oldest law institutes in the country but the only faculty in BHU to be headed by the founder himself. “It has that glory attached to it till date,” says Nirmal, Dean of Law School at BHU. However, behind its illustrious past-which included legal luminaries like Rashbihari Ghose and Tez Bahadur Sapru serve as Dean- today, importantly, it is the only hope for thousands of students from Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand to get into mainstream Law studies. Its subsidised fee and reputation as the pioneer of legal education in India make it the most attractive alternative for students who cannot afford the National Law Universities.“Our aim is to bring these students at par with the students from rest of the country, the so-called elite. Serving the masses with the classes,” says Nirmal.It is the first law school in India to introduce clinical legal education and legal aid program, among other community oriented courses, to cater to the needs of the poor.“The students need to develop a third world perspective. Look for example, poverty and human rights are so closely linked. We must recognize India's diverse needs. Poor people and subordinate courts also need legal representatives. Who is catering to them?” asks Nirmal.Taking a shot at the elite-centric scope of most major law universities, he says the new sprouts of lawyers tend to stay off from the Bar and this is impacting the quality of lawyers in the country.“Do we want to produce legal clerks for corporates or lawyers who will represent the poor? Legal services are also needed by the poor and needy but who is catering to them?”“After paying high fees, the students are under pressure to join MNCs. The Bar is not profitable after such investments. They will not go the Bars and thus no bench. Lawyers are judges of tomorrow, we must not forget,” he adds.Besides being seen as “poor-centric”, the Law School has also been a pioneer in introducing full time three year LL.B course of studies and two year full time LL.M. programmes. It was Prof Anandjee who introduced the six semester system course with modern academic and practical subjects in 1966.
Before that LLB courses in the country were for two years.The BHU Law School is perhaps the only law school in India to introduce two years full time special courses on LL.M. in Human Rights and Duties Education.