Academic Excursion To Singapore
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
The group was next allowed entry to a court-roomwherean African female
was being tried on a charge for carrying drugs. Theoffender was duly
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
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-
Each student was presented a copy of a book on JamsetjiTata by Frank
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.
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.
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
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.