So today’s blog is something a little unconventional for me. Instead of recounting random thoughts I’ve had over the course of 24 hours, I’m going to put forth an argument I’ve been thinking of for a very long time. Sadly, the theme, as with the rest of my life, is law school. For context purposes, this is all you have to know: I study at a Law School in India, and at one point of time was about to study at a law school in a foreign land. I’ve previously recounted, on this very blog, about what made me stay back in this country (in case you’re wondering: ) Without further ado, therefore, let’s get into the meat of things.
I’m quite disoriented by several things at the moment, and am slowly getting used to a relatively quieter period in my life. This has meant 8 hours of sleep for the last 3 days, and a lot of clarity in the amount I’m paying attention to what’s happening in classes.
A lot of what I dreamed about before I came to law school is learning the law. A bigger part, however, rested in the fact that I wished to understand why people follow the law the way they do, and what gives law the power it has. What makes men wilt before order, and strive for some insane, flawed conception of justice. What makes people submit to Governmental authorities, and repose faith in them to uphold ideals that people believe to be fair. It’s a huge part of why I wanted to go the UK, and not anywhere else.
I felt that studying there would give me some sense of purpose with respect to the ideologies and philosophies governing the principles of Law. And through that, a bigger ambition, was to develop a sense of identity for myself – in terms of principles I stand for in the Law, and principles I vehemently disagree with, even though they’re a part of the aw. While 18 years of living on planet Earth and undergoing different experiences has taught me a lot of that, it’s always been garbed by morality, or religion, and at times where I’ve pushed my parents a little harder, because, that’s just the way it is.
And those have all been answers I’ve never been satisfied with. I didn’t accept that 1+1 = 2, or that different languages could have different letters, till someone sat and explained some rationale behind it to me. They didn’t have to just explain to me, I needed to be convinced by it, else I saw no application in it whatsoever.
The system of teaching the Law abroad, from what I’ve heard, revolves around helping people find their identities with respect to the Law. Several individuals graduate out of Law school – take Neil Gorsuch, for example, identifying with a particular belief system or set of values they relate to.
I looked forward to that, and figured that somewhere along the way, someone would prod me to think long and hard about the sort of system I believe in.
It’s rather early for me to comment (I’m only coming to the end of second year), but, Law School hasn’t done that as yet. It’s only taught me about what the law is. No explanation of the why. No debates on contentious issues. Nothing to split us.
And today in class, when I was scrolling through a report about Gorsuch’s ideology, I eventually landed on a page about the late Antonin Scalia. Which led me to a bit about the role philosophy plays in American Court decisions. There’s a LOT of literature out there about this.
What struck me at that point, was that we don’t care about the philosophies of Judges as much in our country. I mean, everyone knows how to criticize decisions and positions of Law without reading about them. But not many delve into the consistent position of a particular Judge on a particular position.
This also occurred to me in Consti-I, while learning about Articles 12 and 13. Justice Bhagwati repeatedly referred to his own decisions, which at that time, I found hilarious. Not many people cared though.
Which begs the question: Does Indian jurisprudence, conceptually exist?
I haven’t read a lot around this, but what I’m disillusioned by is the fact that people can comment about a change in the position of the Law – in terms of how Articles of the Constitution are interpreted, but not many people comment about what prompts an attitudinal shift in the Court’s view.
For example: Do we know how many Judges in the Indian Supreme Court are utilitarianists?
Now, you may wonder why any of this is relevant at all.
The answer, for me, is simple. If, apart from the Law, the only other thing that helps us understand it, is different interpretations of the Law, it’s necessary for us to know why such an interpretation exists, and not only who has offered such an interpretation.
Because that will help us form our own opinions.
Because right now, I have the same opinion as all of my Professors. If, Professor X criticizes a decision, I validly accept what he is saying. Why? Because that’s what he expects in my answer sheet.
Is this asking for spoon-feeding? No, I do not believe so.
I believe this is asking for some guidance. Rather than telling me X is X because Y authority said X is X, please explain why X is suited, or not suited to Indian society.
I’d be mighty pleased then.
As always, what am I going to do about it?
For now, just read. Because that’s the only other source I have.