Prof. K. Elumalai, Director, School of Law, IGNOU
16 Feb 2012

Prof. K Elumalai joined IGNOU School of Law on May 15, 2008. He holds a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Law from Delhi University (DU) and Ph.D. from Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Andhra Pradesh. He also holds a Master's Degree and Master of Philosophy in Economics from Madras University. Prof. Elumalai worked as a Professor of Law at Vaikunth Mehta Institute of Corporative Management, Pune, from 1992-2008.

Prior to this, he worked with a Public Sector Bank as an Economic officer for a decade. He specializes in Consumer Protection, Banking Laws, Cooperative Law, Cyber Law and Human Rights. He assisted in drafting of cooperative law for three northeastern states. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation, Government of India also invited him, to suggest changes to be made in the Multi State Cooperation Cooperatives Act, 2002. He has written five books.

His book on ‘Cooperative Legal System' is a prescribed textbook for class XII students for vocational courses. His recent book ‘Consumer Protection Act and Banking Service with Digest of Case Laws’ and ‘Seth’s Banking Regulation Act and allied Banking Laws' (co-authored) were published by Law Publishers (India) Pvt. Ltd., Allahabad. The UN Solution Exchange has identified him to lead an Action Group Forum on 'Strengthening Cooperative Acts for Financial Inclusion and Micro Finance'. He is also a visiting faculty in the Indian Law Institute, New Delhi.

Q. Kindly tell us about the researches which have been done in association with the SOL.

Prof. Elumalai - The Ministry of Corporate Affairs, GOI, has constituted a committee on National Competition Policy for the purpose of identifying the laws, rules and regulations which affect or destroy or eliminate the competition. We identified 60 major sectors for which detail analysis and legal study has been carried out. One such activity being identified is in the Agriculture sector. Then the Ministry of Corporate Affairs through the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs approached the Director, School of Law, IGNOU with a request to undertake this research study on agriculture sector with the primary objective to study and analyse all the agriculture laws and find out which the provisions which affect or destroy or eliminate the competition. This is the recent research study undertaken by the SOL which is a very significant research study.

Apart from this we undertake several other research studies at our own level. In fact SOL has also been approached by Indian School of Law for the Annual Survey of Indian Law. I have been requested to review the case laws decided by the Supreme Court on High Courts on the subject: Consumer Protection Laws for the year 20010-11. Along with these developments the school also offer Ph.D. programme in Law through which learners research intensely in the area of law.     

Q. In the year 2008, the school organized a training activity course of legal correspondents and journalists. Does the school also plan to launch a distance course in the similar area?

Prof. Elumalai - It’s a 5 days residential programme organized by school of law in collaboration with National Legal Services Authority. Nearly 20 Judges from Supreme Court and High Court address the participants and senior advocates also participate in equal numbers. We are thinking of organizing a similar one week residential programme preferable in 2012. Already Indian Law Institute is offering a course for media personnel but we do not wish to repeat the same programme again. However, if there is a demand or need or specific request from any quarters, we will be happy to launch an awareness programme. In a programme a learner has to appear for an examination and journalist generally do not find time to study and sit in the exams as per the procedure. Therefore, through awareness programme one need not sit for the examination and can just undergo the programme in the subject and receive the certificate from us at the end of the programme.      

Q. VEL (Virtual Education in Law) is an innovative method of offering virtual learning platform to the learners. What has been the response of VEL so far?

Prof. Elumalai - I am glad to inform that SOL is one of the pioneer schools in IGNOU to offer its courses through online programme. PG Certificate in Cyber Law is the first programme by the SOL. We are now also offering a course PG Diploma in Legal Process Outsourcing which is also offered through online mode. In addition we are also offering PG Diploma in Environmental Law (online) which is in collaboration with WWF. The best part is that IGNOU also conducts its virtual exams online. In fact the foreign universities are pleasantly surprised to know about this achievement. Last time we conducted the online examination, we had approximately 20 to 25 examination centers across the country. We depute the observers through our RC to these examination centers. As per the VEL, in fact, we conduct the counselling for cyber law through online mode and also the viva which is done through e-counselling. On the same line we are also planning to offer a certificate course in anti-human trafficking through online mode for the police department and other related officials.       

Q. In your view should the judiciary be absolutely exempted from the RTI Act?

Prof. Elumalai - Judiciary is a very broad term. It starts from the grass root level and goes upto the apex which is the Supreme Court. The decisive point is as to identify which are those informations' that are seeked under the RTI Act. For instance, in regard to number of cases pending before the court of law, I do not find any reason why the information should not be parted with the public. Now the cases pending before the court of law is enormous and because of the awareness when the issue is being debated the court has now started taking action towards minimizing the number of cases. With regard to parting the information like number of cases pending or the posts lying vacant cannot be held back without sharing it with the public. But there is also some information which cannot be parted like the investigation’s progress, identity of accused or suspects etc. Thus vital, secret and confidential information cannot be parted through the act. Therefore, the subject matter as in what information is seeked is utmost important under any circumstances.        

Q. Do the learners get a chance of apprenticeship after pursuing respective law courses at the school? How does it help them in gaining experience?

Prof. Elumalai - Yes, in fact some of our learners get internships at various places not necessarily law schools but in some law firms, other universities etc. which will be according to their specializations. There is an internship in cyber law where they pursue it wherever the opportunity is available. 

Q. Reforms in our legal system and legal education can’t be sluggish. Considering the present scenario, what is your view regarding it?

Prof. Elumalai - In legal reforms, most importantly, there are several legislations running in thousands and thousands of legislation which are irrelevant and old. Several recommendations have been made as to why can’t we scrap these laws. Law is dynamic and it’s not static. It should keep on changing and periodical review should be done for it.  Legal reforms are very essential.

Legal education, unfortunately, in India failed to contribute to the legal reforms in India. The reforms done are done according to the need of the hour but the legal institutions and system have not substantially contributed. We need to rethink and revisit whether our legal education has enabled the production of the good quality law teachers, legal advocates and the judges and if our answer is ‘yes’, then we have succeeded but if ‘no’ then we need to act swiftly in bringing reforms as the system has not been able to bring good lawyers, teachers and judges. Unfortunately the entire focus has turned to commercialization which itself won’t solve the entire problem. Today nobody wants to look into the service oriented sector but rather focuses on commercial sector. Another legal reform which needs to be introduced is the uniform fee structure for all the advocates. Everywhere we talk of services where price is specifies and made known but why cannot the fees levied by the advocates and judges made known to the public. If we can do this, 90 percent of our nation’s legal problem will be solved.       

Q. Kindly share with us your future plans and projects.

Prof. Elumalai - We have a very ambitious plan that the SOL is running a programme called ‘ Kanooni Salah’ on Gyan Vani, 105.6 MHz on every 2 and 4 Wednesday of every month. We started this programme on June, 2011. Experts who have participated in this programme include Secretary to the Ministry of Consumers Affairs, Additions Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Additional Direction General CRPF, Professors from different Medical Colleges, Deputy Additional Police officials, Advocates from Supreme Court and Chairman and President of NGOs. This is a radio programme on Gyan Vani. From 26th January, 2012, we have also started a similar phone-in live programme on our Gyan Darshan television channel called ‘The Legal Awareness for Common People’. Through this we are adding to the legal education of the country particularly for the unreached. 

In addition, we also plan to start Masters programmes along with LLB regular course. UGC is also planning to finialise the curriculum for B.A. Law and IGNOU will first offer this course through distance mode. We are also planning to offer Diploma in Para-Legal Practice. The SOL is also working with various ministries and organisations like Department of Justice, UNDP, WWF etc to develop new and relevant courses which can offer legal education to the common man.   

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