Prof. (Dr.) Srikrishna Deva Rao is the current Vice-Chancellor of National Law University Odisha, Cuttack. Before joining NLUO, he was the registrar of NLU, Delhi since 2010. He was also the founding director of IGNOU’s school of law from May 2007 to 2010. He has worked with NLSIU Bangalore, NALSAR Hyderabad and GNLU Gandhinagar (as its first Dean) and was a member of the UGC expert committee to transform legal education in India.
Prof. Rao obtained LL.M. from Kakatiya University, Master of Philosophy in Law from National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore and Ph.D. from Delhi University. He specializes in Criminal Law, Human Rights and Legal Education.
He served as a consultant to the Indian Medical Association, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Child Rights and You (CRY), Swedish Development Cooperation and Swedish National Science Foundation.
Live Law: Congratulations on being appointed as the Vice Chancellor of NLUO, what is your opinion on ‘Law School’, as an administrator.
Prof. (Dr.) Rao: Thank you!! Law Schools are single faculty universities unlike the multi-faculty conventional universities with several disciplines. In that way, Law School administration is very easy and simple. The job of law school administrator is to enthuse and motivate the faculty, staff and students to share and own the broader vision of the university. Once you motivate the people around you and encourage team spirit of working together and thinking together, your job is done.
Live Law: How and at what point of time did you decide to pursue a career as an academician and not as a lawyer or any other profession?
Prof. (Dr.) Rao: I practiced as an advocate in trial courts of Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh from 1985 to 1988. When Kakatiya University, Warangal Andhra Pradesh started its first batch of LL.M., I decided to join to pursue my academic interest. I am greatly indebted to one of my professor who has purchased an application form for me and asked me to appear for the entrance test. That is how my journey in search of legal scholarship began with the LL.M. programme.
In the second year of my LL.M., one of my research papers was selected as one of the best research papers to be presented in the conference of Indian Society of Criminology in the year 1990 at Bangalore University. It so happened that the session was chaired by Prof. N.R. Madhava Menon, the then Director of NLSIU, Bangalore. I presented my paper in that session. That time, my second year of LL.M. was just started. After the completion of that session, Prof. Menon asked me to meet him at NLSIU old campus.
When I met Prof. Menon, he suggested me to apply for M.Phill programme. That was a real turning point. Working with NLSIU, Bangalore in the initial formative years was a great learning experience.
Live Law: Traditional universities have given us legal luminaries and noted jurists. Considering your association with 4 National Law schools and Traditional University, please throw light on the importance of growing National Law School trend in the near future.
Prof. (Dr.) Rao: It is no doubt that the several legal luminaries and eminent jurists have come from traditional universities but we have to wait and see how these national law schools will produce the third generation of jurists. I have great confidence and faith in this third generation of law teachers coming from National Law Schools across the country. Definitely, they are going to create benchmarks and new directions to legal education in their respective spheres of life.
Live Law: It seems that there is some serious tussle happening between the chair of VC of NLUO and judiciary at Odisha. Your comments on this regard and if the mêlée is still persisting, how are you going to overcome those problems and take NLUO to heights.
Prof. (Dr.) Rao: I think this is a myth. I have never experienced anything like this.
Live Law: NLU-D has witnessed tie-ups with many foreign institutions in the recent past in which you were closely involved. What would be your take when it comes to NLUO, which still has to start its tie-ups and everyone relying on you for the same?
Prof. (Dr.) Rao: We will make conscious efforts to sign MOUs with selected universities abroad to promote faculty exchange, student exchange and collaborative research programmes. After joining here, I have written to United States Education Foundation of India requesting them to send a Fulbright specialist scholar from United States. We have also applied for a two year research project UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKERI).
Live Law: Your comments on ‘Student Exchange Programme’ between Law Universities/Law Schools in India.
Prof. (Dr.) Rao: We will soon be signing MOUs with National Law University Delhi and National Law School of India University, Bangalore for student as well as faculty exchange programme.
Live Law: What are the prospects of law students to seek internships in International Arena? Do you have any plans in this regard in near future?
Prof. (Dr.) Rao: We will definitely promote internships both in India and abroad. We will try to explore new areas for Internships. However, we would encourage more students joining legal profession and entering into judiciary.
Live Law: Coming to the dilemma of lack of alumni base, how did you overcome the problem at NLU-D and how, now as a Vice Chancellor of NLUO, will you tackle the same problem?
Prof. (Dr.) Rao: Alumni associations will play very prominent role in building the brand image of the law schools. NLSIU, Bangalore, NALSAR, Hyderabad and NLU Jodhpur, alumni associations have played a very important role in several initiatives like placements, seminars and internships etc.
Live Law: Kindly indicate your vision with respect to Seminar Courses, Credit Courses, lectures by partners and Senior Associates of esteemed law firms and the area of moot court Competitions.
Prof. (Dr.) Rao: In case of moot courts, we are planning to organize workshop on moot court in the next semester. We have decided to invite recent international moot court winning teams of Jessup and Manfred Lachs.
We will explore offering special seminar courses of one credit and two credit by international faculty, experts from law firms, advocates and specialists. We would like to experiment offering several optional clinical courses. We would like to offer one year law legal aid and services clinical course either in the end of first year or beginning of second year.
Live Law: Sir, your comments on Appointment of Academicians directly to Supreme Court.
Prof. (Dr.) Rao: I look forward to see the implementation of this ‘decoratory’ provision in the Indian Constitution as a reality at least during my life time.
Live Law: Your message to Law Students across the Country.
Prof. (Dr) Rao: Please remember there is no substitute for hard work in life. Sincerity, honesty and impeccable integrity will definitely reward you in your life. Do not compromise on your values, try to help the ‘Daridra Narayanas’ (in the words of Justice Krishna Iyer) poor and marginalized Indians.
Well Thank you so much sir for your precious time. We wish you a great future ahead and a healthy and prosperous life.