Dynamics and dimensions of legal education have undergone sea change, says Judge

School Of Law, Sai University, organises the S. Krishnamurti Endowment Lecture; legal philosopher Upendra Baxi participates in the programme through video conferencing

April 28, 2023 10:33 pm | Updated 10:33 pm IST - CHENNAI

M. Sundar, second from left, Judge,Madras High Court, K.V. Ramani, founder and Chancellor of Sai University, and Sriram Panchu, senior advocate, at S. Krishnamurti Endowment Lecture in Law on Friday.

M. Sundar, second from left, Judge,Madras High Court, K.V. Ramani, founder and Chancellor of Sai University, and Sriram Panchu, senior advocate, at S. Krishnamurti Endowment Lecture in Law on Friday. | Photo Credit: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

The dynamics and dimensions of legal education have undergone a sea change as he never got to listen to jurists of his time in 1983, said M. Sundar, Judge, Madras High Court, at an event in Chennai on Friday.

Judge Sundar was the chief guest at the S. Krishnamurti Endowment Lecture in Law organised by School Of Law, Sai University, on “Law’s soft technology governing hard technologies?” delivered by legal philosopher Upendra Baxi via video conferencing in Chennai.

“The dynamics and dimensions of legal education have undergone a sea change – I belong to the first batch of five year law course – and we never got to listen to jurists like Upendra Baxi in our age. It is wonderful that the whole culture has changed for the better,” he said.

Judge Sundar said: “Way back in 1983, we had one recommended text Legal History and Legislature authored by Professor Baxi. Thereafter, I got to hear him in 2016 or 2017 in the national judicial academy. As I understand, I was just reading a 2015 interview given by him. Interestingly, he was a reluctant student of law. He said it was dull, full of details and no compelling human interest for me.”

Prof. Baxi, former Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University, explored the question whether law may be conceived as technology and if so what kind of technology it may be. He found the idea of law as an “enterprise” to subject human behaviour advocated by jurist Lon Fuller and the notion of “cultural lag” propounded by sociologist Charles Ogburn compellingly relevant today in understanding law as technology. 

“The Fullerian idea of law as a normative enterprise has appeal because legislation, administration, interpretation, enforcement, the four domains of law, unite as risk-takers. Risks and trust in experts, epistocracy, as we now call it, are the defining marks of the old and the new modernity; and modern law is at the heart of the dialectical relation between the two. So, there is fun ahead in thinking about ‘soft’ technology of law still trying to regulate ‘hard’ ones,” Prof. Baxi said.

Senior advocate Sriram Panchu, who was guest of honour, said: “It is often said that the law is years behind society — it is slow moving — and sometimes it is ahead of society. And that is when the legal minds use the legal tools and processes. And it’s in that context that technology and the law is a fascinating subject.”

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