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Academic Excursion to Singapore

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Eleven Law Students proceeded to Singapore on a 7 days visit that saw them at the Parliament, Supreme Court, State Courts, Law Society and Corporate Office of Tata Sons.

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Academic Excursion to Singapore

  1. 1. Academic Excursion To Singapore -Maj GenNilendraKumar Legal education would have little meaning unless the process of learning is carried out in a clinical mode and a comparativemanner.The students learn by observing how law is practiced.Such a skillcan be imbibed during the process of internship and by participating in moots, mock trials and legal aid camps.Legalwriting has to be a compulsory component. Internships can becarried out at diverse places affording scopefor practice and application of law.An academic excursion appears as one such option.It offers an innovativescope to observeand facilitate an exposureto legal system, framework and procedures of differentjurisdictions.Itstimulates an analytical and critical evaluation of differentexamples and situations. Eleven students studying for their law degree in Delhi recently took part in an academic excursion to Singapore.Theentire exercise was undertaken by Lex Consilium, consultants in the field of legal education.The schedule of the visitwas planned to coincide with the vacations between the Christmas and the New Year to avoid any absencefromlaw classes and studies. The group of six girls and five boys wereselected after proper screening of their academic attainment, discipline and other relevant attributes like communication skills and an interest in international Law. Having regard to the limited number of days available, the itinerary planned was a suitable mix of the 'academic' and `excursion` components of the trip. The date wisenarration of the actual daily events is summarized below to indicate how the excursion actually progressed. 27th December ,2016, : Law Society of Singapore : This is a regulatory body akin to the Bar Council of India.This was the first item of the excursion schedule.The students were particular to punctually
  2. 2. reach the venue dressed in formalattire.This practice was repeated at other places too.The programmeentailed presentations by three officials of the law society. The opening sessions was taken by Lim Tanguy, Director Pro Bono Services.A fluent and convincing speaker, hewas able to clearly articulate the expectations of the community fromlaw professionals and their responsewithin the constraints of time and resources. Heexplained the Singaporelaws through various presentations involving analysis of their society. The corefunctions of Pro Bono Services was explained to the students and that each lawyer is expected to contribute at least 25 hours of services in a year to the same. The next to take the floor was K.Gopalan, Director, conduct, representation and law reform.Heis responsiblefor matters relating to enforcement and ethics.In a transparentand lucid manner, he took time to answer the queries also covering the regulatory part, equivalent of the disciplinary proceedings for the professional misconductunder the Bar Council of India rules. Coming to some figures, About 40% marriages in Singaporeend up in divorce. Not more than 500 law graduates are allowed to enter litigation annually. After getting a law degree, the students have to carry out a compulsory training under the advocates. After a working lunch, the students walked back to the Law Society for the afternoon session. They were guided by a smartintern (studying for her law degree in London) to the State Courts. The latter are what we call trial courts in India.Mr Gopinath Pillai, Director Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, took up the briefing.He took the group to place of actual conductof Pre Trial chambers procedure. The scene witnessed an accused, lodged in a prison far away, was visible on a screen. The bail procedurewas in progress.The Defensecounsel expressed the difficulty to the court in arranging the amount indicated to securethe bail.The court was sympathetic and reasonable.Thegroup was thereafter led to a different court roomon the floor above to observeexamination of a witness in another matter by the interns who also answered various queries put forward by students while in
  3. 3. the court.Therules and procedureare similar to those existing in India.However, themain difference is in orderly conduct, due adherence and total cutting down of delay. The Law Society has been allotted spaceto make their legal aid services available to the entitled persons. Thefactual details are carefully noted down to ascertain need and scopeof legal help. No camera or photography was allowed in court. 28thDecember,2016: Supreme Court of Singapore Firstitem for the day was a visitto the Supreme Court, Suitable preliminary arrangements had been made to secure an articulate guide, a Sikh advocate whoseforefathers had migrated fromIndia. He practices maritime law and also doubles as a guide. The Court building is imposing and towers over all surrounding structures.It has a common entrance for judges, advocates and all others except the accused.Thelatter are facilitated entry directly to the court fromits basement.The guide took us to the visitors gallery to give an extensive and absorbing briefing. He kept the students on the alert and posed many questions Ever thoughtwhy lawyers and judges wear black and white? Why are there no windows in court-rooms? Why judges worewigs in earlier days.How caning is administered to the offenders and not to the females? What day of the week is earmarked for hanging? He asked the questions and provided convincing answers as well. He led the students to a training chamber which is equipped to train lawyers and judges in an interactive ITmode.The facility is meant to help the advocates and the judges to brush-up their knowledgeof statutory and procedurallaws.Our students who arequick to play the roles at such a training model. The group was next allowed entry to a court-roomwherean African female was being tried on a charge for carrying drugs. Theoffender was duly
  4. 4. arraigned. She pleaded guilty. The judge personally explained to her the implications of a matter where the person under trial pleads guilty to the charge.Theminimum sentence prescribed is 20 years rigorous imprisonment.Shehad no escape fromthat.There was one consolation for her.Becauseof her sex, she got away from25 lashes! The group had already been cautioned that no photography was permitted within the courtpremises, they had to contend themselves by taking pictures of the buildings. TATA Sons Office Next the students moved to the office of Tata Sons Singapore.Ithas just shifted to its new premises at 78 Shenton Way.A well laid out and functional office. The visitors were welcomed by Ms Virginia, an alert and smartexecutive and led to the conference room. Then they got the benefit of a very usefuland professionally rewarding talk by KV Rao, the Resident Director.Hemesmerized the students by the depth of his knowledge and practical approach.Hehandled somevery incisive queries fromthe law students. Mr. Varun Mehta, Regional Head ASEANwas next to take the mike. He too, appeared courteous and well informed to give the bestadvice to the law students to plan for an entry to multi- jurisdictionalcorporatelocations. Each student was presented a copy of a book on JamsetjiTata by Frank Harris. On our part the firstmove had been made by giving them both a copy of book by Mahatma Gandhi.Rightat the start.They were both presented a book on Gandhi.Also one on Legends of Law for their library. See the pictures at their office. 29th December,2016: Parliament : The students boarded the bus to reach the fronta entrance to the Parliament building.If offered them free access to take pictures.Somecan be seen here.
  5. 5. The entry to the Parliament is regulated by stringentsecurity checks.The group was properly received and given a fully guided visit to the Parliament.Suitable arrangements had been made to accord the benefit of an elaborate briefing by Siow Peng Han, Dy Clerk of the Singapore Parliament, one of the senior mostofficers. He himself led the group to the Visitors Gallery and gave a detailed presentation.He answered the queries. Being thoroughly familiar with the composition, role and procedureof the Lok Sabha, he was able to draw suitable parallels and also indicate dissimilarities whereneeded. A lot can be learnt fromthe systemof governancefollowed by Singapore.It provides for a uni-cameral Legislature. The systemof government, functioning of Parliament, place of religion, education and so on.Rather than opposition members, they are called non-governmentmembers. The reception area has a counter for sale of specially designed items like pen, bookmarks, stationery items and picture frames, etc.Bought a few memorabilia.That broughtan end to the 'academic' partof our trip. Such excursions are likely to become morecommon in the coming years having regard to the interest generated and spaceoccupied in social media. The cost involved may not see this alternative being taken up by a majority. However, the students who can afford the expenses will definitely stand to gain froma visit to differentdestinations. Itwould be beneficial for bilateral trade and international relations if law students are allowed to avail internships in Singapore. A policy for issueof suitable Visa to them would need to be formulated.

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