Mumbai: On 15 August 2016, Maharashtra National Law University (MNLU) Mumbai celebrated the 70th Independence Day. As part of the celebrations, MNLU Mumbai inaugurated its first Centre – the Centre for Clinical Legal Education. Hon’ble Mr. Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, Judge, High Court of Judicature, Mumbai graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Satish C. Sharma, Judge, High Court of Madhya Pradesh was the Guest of Honour, both of whom inaugurated the Centre. The celebrations were presided by Prof. Bhavani Prasad Panda – the Hon’ble Vice Chancellor of MNLU Mumbai. The Regulations which governs the centre were released by the dignitaries.
The objectives of the Centre include contributing to and promoting the constitutional ideals of rule of law, equality and access to justice for the poorest and the most vulnerable communities; and promoting clinical legal education that is socially relevant and skill-based in order to prepare students for the requirements of the legal profession.
On this occasion, an overview of the Centre for Clinical Legal Education, as well as Legal Services Clinics – a flagship programme of the Centre and of the university – were presented. Through democratic processes involving intense deliberations among the students and faculty of the university, it has been decided that the first Clinic will focus its efforts on protecting and promoting the human rights of manual scavengers – one of the most vulnerable communities. The Clinic will work in collaboration, among others, with National Legal Service Authority (NALSA), Maharashtra State Legal Service Authority (SLSA Maharashtra), Mumbai District Legal Service Authority (DLSA Mumbai), Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), relevant government departments, statutory bodies and civil society organisations.
Hon’ble Vice Chancellor, Professor Bhavani Prasad Panda emphasised the importance of Clinical Legal Education for transforming social realities into legal realities. While congratulating the students of MNLU Mumbai on initiating a Legal Services Clinic, he observed that many challenges lie ahead in the path of achieving academic excellence at MNLU Mumbai. Hon’ble Mr. Justice Oka, while inaugurating the Centre, highlighted the importance of the Legal Services Clinic addressing the issue of manual scavenging which continues to be prevalent in Maharashtra. Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sharma emphasised the role of students in upholding constitutional values and that we should value the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters for this nation.
The programme ended with a rendition of the national anthem.