Mokokchung | 6 May
With the Nagaland government facing numerous high-profile legal battles, the necessity of legal education and awareness grows by the day. With the ULB issue still in court, the work to draft a new Municipal Act, and the ‘flaws and ambiguities of Article 371A’ recently highlighted by Advisor Imkong L Imchen, Nagaland is in need of more legal education.
“It is unfortunate that despite attaining 59 years of age, our state still does not have a government law college,” C Talimoa, former president of the Nagaland Law Students’ Federation told Mokokchung Times.
“Nagas have introduced many brilliant minds and legal personnel ascending to the extent of being the Judge of the Supreme Court of India such as Hon’ble Justice H.K. Sema. We are truly capable. Establishing a Government/Public Law college in the State would not only serve the interest of the students’ community in general but would also be a sign of great progress in favor of the State,” he added.
According to him, legal knowledge refines a society and that legal education is the heart and soul of the society for administering rule of law in a democratic country like India.
“Today, there are many people in the state who struggle with interpreting Article 371 (A), despite the fact that it is an article that protects our rights. The judiciary is the fourth pillar of democracy, and the judiciary is made up of brilliant legal minds,” the former president stated, emphasizing the need to have a government law college in the state.
Nagaland has three law colleges recognized by the Bar Council of India (BCI), namely Kohima Law College, Mokokchung Law College, and City Law College, Dimapur.
“The three existing colleges right now are significantly providing quality legal education but the colleges struggle to pay the inspection fee cum registration fee to the BCI. A National Law Institute or a government-aided law college is urgently needed to promote legal education in the state,” he said.
According to him, the three colleges roughly pay about 5.5 lakh INR to the BCI annually for the inspection cum registration fee, but due to low student turnout, the colleges struggle to pay the BCI annually, and thus the payment is put on hold.
“The pending payment keeps on accumulating and if we fail to pay the pending money, the BCI will not enroll the three colleges, and the degree which the student has obtained will be worthless because one cannot be a lawyer without BCI recognition. The three colleges faced issues like that years ago. Similar incident happened with Mokokchung Law College a few years back, and it was the Ao Kaketshir Mungdang (AKM) that worked so hard to pay off the pending amount to BCI and we are thankful to them,” he stated.
It can be noted that the Bar Council of India visits and inspects Universities/Law colleges in the country as part of its statutory function of promoting legal education and laying down standards in consultation with the Universities in India and the State Bar Councils.
The Nagaland Law Student Federation (NLSF) has been demanding for Government Law Colleges since 2016 where they staged a sit-in protest at their respective colleges. The NLSF further reiterated their demand in 2020 and 2021 claiming that in 2018 the Centre had approved proposals for setting up two colleges for advanced studies – an engineering college and a multi-professional college (law, management and music technology) in the State.
The NLSF in January 2022 had also demanded the same along with the demand to establish Nagaland High Court and Directorate of Prosecution and Government/Public Law College.
Can Mokokchung Law College become the first government law college in Nagaland?
Advisor Imkong L Imchen, when asked for his personal opinion on whether there is a need for the Nagaland government to intervene in setting up a Law College or an institute in the state, opined that it was of ‘great necessity’, particularly for Mokokchung Town.
“Mokokchung Law College has to be taken over by the government and make it the first government law college in Nagaland,” he shared his thoughts with Mokokchung Times on Saturday.
Similar views were shared by Dy CM Patton during the CNTC Get Together cum Cultural Program in May 2022 where he talked about how the oldest law college, Mokokchung Law College, is still a privately run college till date and shared his hopes of turning it into a government college.
During the 69th AKM general conference held earlier in January this year, Advisor Tongpang Ozukum has also encouraged the student community to work towards the ‘revival’ of the Mokokchung Law College. Even in the 68th AKM general conference in 2020, it was resolved that for improving Mokokchung Law College, an expert panel would be appointed to scrutinize the functioning of the Mokokchung Law College (MLC). Therefore, improving Mokokchung Law College has always been discussed but is yet to turn it into a reality.
Mokokchung Law College, established in 1981, is the brainchild of Ao Kaketshir Mungdang (AKM) and is also the proprietor of the college. The uniqueness of this college is that its foundation stood on the understanding and contribution by every household in Mokokchung district and people across Nagaland.
At the moment, the college is funded by Mokokchung Law College Corpus Fund, donations from well-wishers, revenue from the students during admission, tuition, library and miscellaneous fee for an academic session. The college is also assisted by the government of Nagaland in the form of Grant-in-aid.