Human Rights Education in India

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. So stated Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This is what the Indians have been preaching since times immemorial as it has become the immemorial customs of our nation .Human Rights are a fundamental value. There is a long Indian tradition of standing up for the weak against abuse by the strong. Upholding human rights values in every aspect is firmly in our tradition. The ”Great Mauryan emperor Ashoka the great renounced the path of violence after the massacre in the war of Kalinga ” The ”Great Moghul,” Akbar the Great granted religious minorities legal status in his realm, One of the most influential was Mahatma Gandhi’s movement to free his native India from British rule. It is the core of our Constitution and the heart of our national interest today. But the values that we stand for – freedom, human rights, the rule of law – are all universal values. Given the choice, people all over the world want them. But it is regretting that India who was once looked up by whole world as the pioneer of these values is now groveling in lowly dust of atrocities and human rights abuse. Human rights abuse is sadly a reality in Indian society, it is not just an affront to the values of tolerance, freedom and justice that underpin our society. It is also a tragic waste of human potential.
The Need for Human rights Education
The importance of human rights education hardly requires any over emphasis. It has a crucial role in preventing human rights violations from occurring.
The United Nations proclaimed that human rights education is “training, dissemination and information efforts aimed at the building of a universal culture of human rights through imparting knowledge and skills and the moulding of attitudes”. These efforts are designed to strengthen respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, facilitate the full development of human personality, sense of dignity, promote understanding, respect, gender equality and friendship to enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, and further activities for maintenance of peace.
Human rights education, training and public information are, therefore, necessary and essential for the promotion and achievement of stable and harmonious relations among the communities and for fostering mutual understanding, tolerance and peace. Through the learning of human rights as a way of life, fundamental change could be brought about to eradicate poverty, ignorance, prejudices, and discrimination based on sex, caste, religion, and disability and other status amongst the people.
Human rights Education in India
It may be said that in India that the content of human rights education is not different to what was taught by way of religion, be it Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity or Islam. There is lot of truth in that statement. The quintessence of human rights is also the basic essence of all religions, Love, compassion, loving kindness are the same. However, while teaching religions we confined the obligations arising from these doctrines only to their followers. Human rights could bring in a universal aspect to moral and ethical education. And we in our divided societies are in great need of this On the other hand in the context of rapid secularization we could still retain a basic common ground for respect for each other. We could still be our brothers’ keepers and withstand value systems which only promote selfish ways of life.
Indian textbooks barely mention human rights. Indirect references to human rights are included in the Directive Principles of the Constitution of India and in civics and history textbooks. Most universities in India do not offer human rights education, although some have three-month to one-year postgraduate courses on human rights. Section 12(h) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, requires the Commission ”to spread human rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness .The National Human Rights Commission of India and many NGOs have launched a countrywide public information campaign for human rights. It aims to make everyone more conscious of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and better equipped to stand up for them. At the same time, the campaign spreads knowledge of the means which exist at the international and national levels to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Any education to be effective needs to be contextualized too. Thus it is not enough to teach abstract principles of human rights taken from United Nations’ documents or our Constitutions. Our historical context as nation as well as local contexts need to be reflected in human rights education. The contextualizing of human rights is essential for nurturing of peace. Creative reflections on local situations from a human rights perspective would help the schools greatly, to become the societies’ most important peace makers. Some say that we Indians should have less rights than people living in Western countries. They say, the human rights concepts are Western. Only people who have all the rights could say this to people who have much less rights. We keep masses of humanity without rights and condemn the growing consciousness of rights as a Western one. This would mean that to be Indian one has to put up with one’s bondage, one must remain submissive, one must eat less and work more. Is that what our women, and our children need to believe. Is that what our workers and peasants need to believe while multinational companies with the help of our elite take away the fruit of their labours, and the fruit of our lands. The relativist theory, though couched in nationalist terms is not nationalist at all. It work for the benefit of big companies Western or otherwise.

protection of these rights through publications, the media, seminars and other available means”.

In an interdependent global economy, our own prosperity and security can best be guaranteed by tolerant, stable, democratic societies in the regions where we travel and trade. Human rights violations in one country are the concern of other states. That means that the UK, together with other like-minded states, has a duty to respond to massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. By making the world better for others, we make it better for ourselves.


By: Prerna Chopra


“I don’t feel stupid, just inadequate. After three years of studying the law, I’m very much aware of how little I know.”

– John Grisham (The Rainmaker)

In the legal profession in India, professional development has traditionally been considered as a one-time affair, occurring at the stage of pre-service education. Increasingly, changing professional needs have compelled some kind of reflection on the need for in-service or on-the-job professional development.

Law being a dynamic field it is imperative for the working professionals to stay abreast of the latest developments which have a direct nexus with the subject. The developments affect the bar and bench equally not to mention the litigants. Hence to serve the greater cause of justice, continuing professional legal education is a sine qua non.


“The impetus for the changes is the sense that what has been taught and how it has been taught may be “embarrassingly disconnected from what anybody does,”

– Ms. Kagan, The New York Times

Continuing Legal Education ensures that legal and judicial reforms contribute to changing the attitudes and behaviors of lawyers and citizens. For this reason, Continuing Legal Education should be an integral part of legal and judicial reform strategies that are anchored on the rule of law and reflect a country’s societal values. Legal education strengthens professionalism, builds public confidence, and facilitates consensus and momentum for further reforms. Continuing Legal Education also improves the performance of legal professionals, enhances service quality and stimulates public respect.

The legal service rendered and the courts and the agencies before which we appear deserve a maximum level of competence, which we believe cannot be maintained without regular participation in seminars and other training programs designed to keep the lawyers abreast with developments in his or her chosen field.

Moreover, law is one of the few professions that allows a new admittee to jump right in and start practicing their craft without any required “real-world” training. For example, we would not want a doctor straight out of medical school to take out an appendix without first completing his residency program.


The concept for Continuing Legal Education Programme is as old as the profession itself. Seminars, Conferences, lectures etc are all very regular phenomenon across the country. However, doing the same in a more regularized manner, making it accessible for all and then making it compulsory would go a long way in enhancing the standards and quality of profession.

Activities being contemplated in this regard include full-time certificates, diplomas, accumulation of credit hours of training, and even professional socialization and dialogue in seminars, roundtables and conferences. Online distance learning is the latest development within non-classroom based modes of communication and interaction, and has attracted interest from providers of legal education as well. The training programs should be designed not only to enhance performance but also to instill the values of impartiality, professionalism, competency, efficiency and public service.

(1) Latest developments- Seminar, Conferences, Workshops etc-

“Often people defend the traditional curriculum by saying that we are teaching them to think like a lawyer. . . I say we are teaching them to think like an 1870s lawyer.”

-Dean of Vanderbilt University Law School

The journey of modernization of legal education started under the guidance of the British, but over the years it has failed to impress upon. Although members of the legal fraternity have contributed immensely to the emergence and growth of this nation, the general state of affairs regarding legal education in this country needs a lot of improvement. While other professional courses are surging ahead, this remained rooted in mediocrity. Research and deliberations went on from time to time to improve the system, but still a lot of work needs to be done. Therefore continuing legal education is the need of the hour; legal education should be dynamic rather than static. In order to keep lawyers abreast with the changing law in the society there is a need to organize seminars, conferences and workshops etc both at national and international level on various subjects of law which are still unexplored.

(2) Specialization

“Only by strict specialization can the scientific worker become fully conscious, for once and perhaps never again in his lifetime, that he has achieved something that will endure. A really definitive and good accomplishment is today always a specialized act.”

– Max Weber

Today specialization has become the need of hour irrespective of any profession. Just as many doctors choose specializations outside of family medicine, lawyers also have the option to specialize in different areas of the law. The reasons are for the same as doctors; it can pay both financially and academically, to specialize in a field. For instance, a lawyer may have an active interest in property law or alternatively wants to concentrate on family law in order to gain more familiarity with those sorts of cases and thus make a stronger attorney in court. Also, by specializing in a particular area of law, some lawyers can charge additional fees.

In the present day scenario there is need for the legal professionals to specialize themselves in the particular field of law by enrolling themselves in various short term specialization courses, LLM programmes, distance mode courses etc. which will pay them both academically and financially.

(3) Partnership between colleges and bar/bench:

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success”

-Henry Ford

The BCI, state bar councils, state government, UGC and the universities have a greater role to play for improving the standards of continuing professional legal education in the country. They should work in a comprehensive manner without any conflict. They should think seriously to provide the resources both human and financially to all law schools for implementation of the continuing professional legal education. The BCI along with help of academicians and bar should search for improved ways to serve, and always with an eye toward how to better train lawyers and allied professionals to be competent and ethical practitioners.

The 21st century should also consider the globalization and its implementation on legal field at national and international level. The BCI and UGC in the area of computer application and the information technology in the legal field, should explore new avenues and potential use of internet in the practice of law and continuing legal education. They should find out the way and means to meet the new challenges and provide better tools of research and methodology of learning from coming generations.

Further the bar council of India and state bar councils along with universities should start LLM programme on part time basis which should include research methodology, seminars and conferences, practical court training. They should also make sincere endeavor to start with various short term diploma courses in specialized field of law like media law, taxation, etc. which will enhance their knowledge about the subject of their interest in which they wish to practice. The BCI and the universities has to discharge their duties and the responsibilities more religiously and also lay down the standards in terms of class room teaching, practical training and skills, court visits ,moot courts, legal aid work and other practical training programmes for the law students and legal professionals. Further the area of deficiency should be located and corrective measures should be affected with the cooperation of both bar council, which is the governing body and universities, so that the legal fraternity is enriched with the added skill set.

The NLSIU has laid firm foundation in the sphere of Continuing Legal Education programmes. The International Bar Association (IBA) has established an Endowment Chair in this regard. The University has been conducting series of Continuing Legal Education programmes for Lawyers, Judges, Administrators and Law teachers on identified subject areas. Besides, a variety of paralegal and public legal education programmes are part of the teaching and research agenda of NLSIU and the CLE unit.

(4) Training the judges

“Laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind.”

-Sir Francis Bacon

It is also imperative that continuing Legal Education Centers be set up for keeping abreast the judges particularly in the field of new emerging areas of Law, such as Cyber laws, Intellectual Property matters, matters pertaining to Computer and Internet etc. In these Centers, judges must have an opportunity of interacting with distinguished people from various disciplines so that they can be made aware of ground realities which will help them in effective discharging of their onerous task.

A felicitous initiative in this direction has been taken by setting up the National Judicial Academy in Bhopal which is rightly termed as India’s ‘Think tank on justice’. The National Judicial Academy aims at strengthening the administration of Justice through Judicial Education, Research and Policy Development. It is the constant endeavor of the National Judicial Academy to maximize the scope of learning and to influence judicial behavior for greater efficiency and productivity.

(5) Evening and Weekend Courses

It is suggested that courses must be designed in such a manner that actively practicing lawyers and sitting judges are able to comfortably attend the same. Various one month diploma and certification courses specializing in a particular subject should be conducted during summer vacations which enhance the skill sets of lawyers in their respective subject areas. Also regular short term courses should be started where classes are held only on weekends, keeping the course structure interactive. The assignments if given should be based on practical learning and experiences. A person would become eligible to take this exam after attending a particular number of classes which are spread over a span of time.


Continuing Legal Education requirements exist in nearly all developed other countries, such as in United Stated, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, to name a few. Some jurisdictions such as Israel recommend, without requiring, their attorneys to participate in CLE courses other have made it obligatory.

Continuing Legal Education (“CLE”) is a requirement for attorneys in the United States to maintain their ability to practice law after initial admission to the bar. CLE credit usually have a set class-hour requirement for a period of years, sometimes with specific hour requirements for special topics.

CLE courses are offered throughout the year by state bar associations, national legal organizations, law schools, and many other legal associations and groups such as non-profit CLE providers, as well as other private, for-profit enterprises.

In recent years, many states allow CLE classes to be taken on-line as part of distance education courses or by listening to MP3 downloads, such as Often, a portion of CLE requirements may be satisfied through reading and other self-study as well. CLE courses are usually taught by attorneys and cover legal theory as well as practical experiences in legal practice. Classroom materials can be extensive and may represent the most current and advanced thinking available on a particular legal subject. Competency testing is usually not required as part of CLE.

In United Kingdom, the Solicitors Regulation Authority has operated a compulsory Continuing Professional Development (“CPD”) scheme. Solicitors are encouraged to assume responsibility for their own development by choosing from the wide range of activities that can be pursued in order to meet the yearly CPD requirement. Currently, all solicitors and registered European lawyers (RELs) who,

(a) are in legal practice or employment in England and Wales, and

(b) work 32 hours or more per week,

are required to complete a minimum of 16 hours of CPD per year; at least 25 per cent of which must consist of participation in accredited training courses. A solicitor or registered European lawyer must keep a record of such continuing professional development undertaken to comply with these regulations and produce the record to the Law Society on demand.

The continuing legal education in Canada is in the form of CPD (Continuing Professional Development). The CPD in Canada aims at maintenance and enhancement of a lawyer or paralegal’s professional knowledge, skills, attitudes and professionalism throughout the individual’s career. Under CPD lawyers and paralegals must complete in each calendar year at least 12 hours of continuing professional development in eligible educational activities. No less than 3 of the 12 hours must be concentrated on topics related to ethics, professionalism and/or practice management. The Law Society of Upper Canada assumes primary responsibility for delivering the required ethics, professionalism and practice management content subject to the CPD requirement which needs to be met, without charging for program registration or materials.

Participation in courses is accredited based on the following criteria:

• Generally, credit is based on the actual time in attendance at a course.

• Credit is available for participating in “real time” on-line courses, streaming video, web and/or telephone conferences, if there is an opportunity to ask and answer questions.

• Two or more lawyers or paralegals reviewing a previously recorded course together are able to obtain credit.

More over the credit is also available for the following educational activities:

• Participation as a registrant in a college, university or other designated educational institution program, including distance education.

• Teaching (to a maximum of 6 hours per year)

• Acting as an Articling Principal or mentoring or being mentored or supervising a paralegal field placement (to a maximum of 6 hours per year)

• Writing and editing books or articles (to a maximum of 6 hours per year)

• Study groups

• Educational components of bar and law association meetings

The continuing legal education in Australia is in the form of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (Continuing Professional Development) (MCPL/CPD) scheme provided by the Law Society of New South Wales, Sydney. Under the MPCL the requirement is first practicing certificate and the practicing certificate has an effective start date between 1 July and 31 December, you need to attain 5 units by 31 March. If the effective start date is between 1 January and 31 March there is no need to attain any units by 31 March. Units may be gained through a variety of activities including:

• Attending seminars/conferences/ lectures = 1 unit per hour minus refreshment breaks

• Preparing CLE/CPD lectures = 1 unit per hour – maximum of 5 units

• Presenting CLE/CPD lectures = 1 unit per hour – maximum of 5 units

• Private study of video/audio tapes/DVD = 1 unit per hour – maximum of 5 units

• Publishing/editing articles in law journals = 1 unit per 1000 words – maximum of 5 Units

• On line web based programs = 1 unit per hour

A course of MCLE/CPD must include at least one (1) unit in each of the following fields:

• Ethics and Professional Responsibility

• Practice Management and business skills

• Professional Skills

The Law Society does not have an accreditation process but it provides for “Notes for Course Provider”

Notes for Course Providers

The system of self-assessment underpinning the MCLE/CPD scheme requires individual practitioners to determine the number of units for which he/she will claim credit. The Society suggests that providers use one of the following statements on brochures in preference to making any specific reference to MCLE points or units.

• Version A – long version

Seminars and other CLE/CPD activities are not accredited by the Law Society of New South Wales. Under the MCLE/CPD Rules and Guidelines, if this particular educational activity is relevant to your immediate or long term needs in relation to your professional development and practice of the law, then you should claim one “unit” for each hour of attendance, refreshment breaks not included.

The annual requirement is ten (10) units each year from 1 April to 31 March.

• Version B – short version

If this particular educational activity is relevant to your immediate or long term needs in relation to your professional development and practice of the law, then you should claim one “unit” for each hour of attendance, refreshment breaks not included.


In the light of the above discussions the following may be suggested which might open new chapters in Continuing Legal Education:-

i. A dedicated umbrella organization should be setup to oversee the Continuing Legal Education programme across the country. In this regard, the newly set up directorate of legal education in India, that will shoulder the responsibility of all things concerning law education, may prepare an action plan on the subject for the next decade.

ii. Make the Continuing Legal Education programme compulsory for all active members of the bar and recommendatory for all members of the Bench.

iii. Under the CLE programme every lawyer must be required to attain certain number of credit points every year. Say 10 points every year or 15 points in 2 years depending upon the consensus formed within the Bar.

iv. CLE Credit Points may be gained attending conferences / workshops / seminars accredited by the Bar Council, by writing articles and other research material and other activities as the Bar Council may recognize.

v. Experienced attorneys may receive credit for speaking or teaching at an accredited CLE program; for moderating or participating in a panel presentation at an accredited CLE activity; for teaching law courses at an Bar Association accredited law school; for preparing students for and judging law competitions, mock trials and moot court arguments, including those at the high school or college level; for published legal research-based writing; and for providing pro bono legal services.

vi. Non-practicing lawyers may elect to be on restricted status. This means they can maintain their law license but do not have to fulfill continuing education requirements.

As we saw through this discussion, Lawyers must be nimble navigators of change and must be ready for the impending regulatory revolution that will affect the profession. Forces such as technology, the government, globalization of commerce, and forms of property are driving change. Attorneys must respond to the need for specialization and expertise in non-law fields. Multidisciplinary practices will grow, where lawyers and non-lawyers work together generating revenues for the same business.