This heartfelt tribute is in remembrance of Prof (Dr.) Mool Chand Sharma, a law professor extraordinaire, an esteemed academician, a prolific author, an indefatigable institution builder, and one of the kindest human beings I have known. His sudden demise has come as a rude shock causing immense grief to all those who knew him and worked with him, especially scores of law students who learnt from his knowledge and wisdom.
Prof. Sharma was a distinguished Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi. His passion for the law also led him to serve in several capacities, as Vice-Chairperson of the University Grants Commission (UGC); Director of National Law Institute University, Bhopal; Senior Research Advisor at the National Human Rights Commission; Expert Legal Advisor for the Law Commission of India; and Joint Registrar of Research at the Supreme Court of India. He continued to advance the legal profession throughout his career, not only teaching a generation of lawyers, but also through his legal research, writing and service. One of his noted works, The Constitution of India: Celebrating and Calibrating 70 Years – A Compendium of Articles, was recently presented to the President of India by the Indian National Bar Association.
My journey with Prof. Sharma began in Campus Law Center, (Faculty of Law) University of Delhi in the year 1997-98. Being a first -generation law student, I was unsure of what professional life had in store for me. As I pursued my studies in law with uncertainty and a degree of trepidation, I came in contact with Prof. Sharma, and went on to become his devoted student. One of the first things that comes to mind about him was the brilliance of his intellect, coupled with his simplicity of thought. Whenever I had a conversation with him, I knew that I was embarking upon an academic journey, whose endpoint would be deeply satisfying. There was elegance in the way he reasoned, explained, and argued. What he had to offer as an educator was exceptional.
Prof. Sharma's deep understanding of interplay amongst finer nuances of rule of law; diversity and development; distributive justice; law of poverty and human rights; jurisprudence; constitutional law, and education as a tool for building an inclusive democracy, were legendary. It was awe-inspiring to see the brightest legal minds and senior members of the Bench praising his intellectual and academic contributions to legal research, analysis and jurisprudence.
Besides his keen intellect, he brought a love of teaching and learning, and an encyclopedic knowledge to the classroom. His students were always at the heart of all his teaching endeavors. A gift to law students, he challenged and entertained in his lectures, which meant his classrooms were always packed with students vying to get a sitting space, even if they had not opted for the subjects he taught. But most of all he had an incredible ability to change students' approach [to the study of law]. To me and to countless others, he stood out as a professor, and mentor for these and many more reasons. His kind spirit and demeanour, openness, remarkable depth, and ability to call you out when you were wrong, were some of those. Gentle, wise, patient and someone who smiled easily, words fall short to describe his persona. His passion for teaching, love for legal scholarship, humility, and selfless devotion to the larger good of the legal community, will continue to inspire an entire generation.
I remember him as someone who connected with his students, who created space for every person in the room, and kept his door open for all. Prof. Sharma was aware of my non-legal background and instinctively became my coach, mentor and guide. After I finished my law degree, he was instrumental in helping me get my first professional break. It was my endeavor to not let him down and continue to learn, grow, strive for excellence, and give it my best, without fearing failures, just as he would have wanted.
Over the years, through my law firm journey, pursuit of masters' degree and working stint in the US, building a family with my fellow law school mate, Richa Kachhwaha (also a student of Prof Sharma), and my current long tenure in-house role, I kept in touch with him. Besides checking on his health and wellbeing and sharing updates, I looked forward to his guidance and wisdom. I feel fortunate to have spent quality time with him a few years ago along with my family at his home in New Delhi.
While his untimely passing is a deep loss, like many others, who knew him and know more because of him, I will cherish him as a remarkable, learned, humble, and a simple man. Prof. Sharma leaves behind his bereaved family, colleagues, friends, and innumerable students he taught over decades.
Rest in peace, Sir. Your legacy is timeless, inspiring, and will endure.
Keshav Dhakad is working as General Counsel, Microsoft India
Views are personal.