Dhaka based Empowerment through Law of the Common People (ELCOP) has received the “South Asian Excellence in Legal Education Award” from Indian Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on 1 September 2018. The acknowledgement was given in New Delhi on the occasion of 10th Law Teachers Day symposium, organised by Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) and Menon Institute of Legal Advocacy Training (MILAT).
The SILF-MILAT noted ELCOP's contribution to human rights education through its summer schools and community law reform programs for long 19 years. ELCOP founder and the 2011 SILF-MILAT Best Law Teacher, Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman attended the function along with a Bangladeshi team. Ten law institutes and individuals of India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka were also awarded for their outstanding contribution to legal education in India and beyond.
Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman has been advocating for the kind of legal education the aim of which should be to produce “rebellious lawyers” as opposed to litigant lawyers who would empower the poor to fight the discriminatory legal system. In his speech, Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman recalled how he came in contact with Professor Madhava Menon in the early 1990s and then dreamt to inculcate the “Menonic Vision” of legal education. With a design to achieve that target, Dr. Rahman established Empowerment through Law of the Common People (ELCOP) back in 2000. Since then, ELCOP has been running human rights summer school, community law reform and street law programs in order to realise the social functions of law. Dr. Rahman added that legal education cannot achieve its purpose unless law students are taken out of the class room to show the socio-legal grievances of the downtrodden community and therefore, unless and until the law students are taught to motivate, mobilise and organise the poor, poverty cannot be effectively fought with. Dr. Rahman reiterated his arithmetic dream that some 100 pro-poor lawyers that he would produce, may change the goal of a legal system with their innovative interpretation of law and justice.
This year, the prestigious SILF-MILAT Prof NR Madhava Menon Best Law Teacher Award was received by Prof R Venkata Rao of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. Amongst others, Padmashree Professor Madhava Menon, Chief Justice of India Shree Deepak Misra, NALSAR VC Prof Faizan Mustafa spoke on the occasion. Recognising the importance of law teachers Shri Venkaiah Naidu said that even in the age of information technology, Google cannot replace a Guru. He underscored the importance of legal education in fashioning rule of law and based on that premise, Naidu opined that to reform, perform and transform should be the trinities of a Government. Justice Misra, while delivering his inaugural speech, said that law schools are the hatcheries for supplying legal professionals who act as sentinels for the implementation of rule of law. Professor Madhava Menon stressed on establishing more law universities in line with the Bangalore model.