Dr Sanjay Satyanarayan Bang is an Associate Professor at the School of Law, Christ (Deemed to be University). He completed his PhD in Constitutional Law in the year 2014 and LLM in Criminal Law in the year 2005. He worked as an independent litigator in the trial courts at Nanded, Maharashtra from 2001 to 2008.
After this, he passed the UPSC examination and joined the Indian Forest Services at Sangli, Maharashtra. Dr Bang has worked in the insurance industry as a legal advisor and now, he is an erudite faculty at School of Law, Christ (Deemed to be University).
His areas of expertise include, first and foremost Constitutional Law and Criminal Law, and subsequently, Forest Law, Insurance Law and Law relating to freedom of information. His most recent works include the analysis of ‘Regulation of Health Insurance in India’ and ‘Role of Electronic Media in Empowerment of Women in India’.
Legal Bites: Sir, since you have been in legal practice, you have been related to civil services, worked for the insurance industry and as a professor, can you tell the difference in these fields with respect to work and difficulties?
Dr Bang: First, I would like to congratulate you on this mission. It is a very noble cause that Legal Bites is doing because in our country people have very little knowledge about the laws of the land. Coming to your question, in my 17 years of career, I have observed that a lack of legal knowledge is causing the number of issues.
Even if I take the example of IAS officers whom I was teaching in Dehradun, they themselves were unaware of the criminal procedure and evidence laws. The condition was even worse in the case of Forest Officers. They were completely unaware as to why they are using Cr.P.C and as a result, there is no proper trial and accused is often released securing the benefit of the doubt. As a practitioner, because of the lack of knowledge of law among the people, lawyers often manipulate the clients.
Legal Bites: Sir, since the law is also a social field more than an economic field and a means of livelihood, how do we solve the conflict between the need of the lawyers and the demand for justice?
Dr Bang: The lawyer has to charge his fees for which there is no need of compromise at all but at the same time, if I know that the person is not in a position or because of the prolonged trial, it will put him in difficulty, I must be considerate. When I was practising in Nanded in 2005, there was a case registered in 1919 under the Nizam which will complete its 100 years in September 2019 and is yet unsolved. We claim that justice delayed is justice denied but what do we do for it. The lawyers, I believe, play a more important role than a judge because a judge only interprets law but case depends upon how an advocate puts facts before the judge. So, I think a balanced approach should be adopted.
Legal Bites: What is the role that legal education plays in the life of an individual?
Dr Bang: To answer this question, I can share an example with you. The train was going from Patna to Delhi. It was a daily train and suddenly a problem arose on the train. A person beside me dialled the toll-free number and enquired about the cause and the person on the other side responded ‘it will take time, we are not bound to answer you. So, please be patient, a person will approach for assistance in the next station’. The person said the call support that ‘I have recorded this clip and I can use it after which the entire railway department will be in problem’.
As soon as he heard that the person has the legal knowledge, he changed his approach. This is the common problem of the country that if a person tries to solve his problem politely, he is not taken seriously. So, common man, even though it is not possible for anyone to know all the laws of the country, but he should know certain basic laws. Also, like your organization is conducting camps or conducting the interview, you can target different sectors of people such as women or downtrodden groups or patients aggrieved by hospital management and you can teach them basic rights that they are entitled to.
Legal Bites: Do you think legal education should be imparted at the primary and secondary school level? Is it possible considering the curriculum?
Dr Bang: I think at High School level, legal education can be imparted but we have to see that nowadays students are under extreme pressure due to their curriculum and also if we provide law training to them irrespective of their interest in the field, it will not make sense. But as we see from 8th standard, in Civics students are taught certain concepts related to the Constitution, we can talk about some specific rights such as the rights of women and children.
At least, this will motivate the student that law is one area where a career can be sought otherwise, in 8th standard, students think there are only two career options left, i.e. medical and engineering. From 8th standard, we can introduce certain basic concepts about the Constitution and specifically the Preamble so that people can know what are the aims of the government and the objects of the constitution-makers.
Legal Bites: We hear day in and day out, students committing suicide for law performance in board exams or dropping out of college. According to you, as a society where are we going?
Dr Bang: It is a difficult question to answer because not only the students, everyone is under pressure now. Even the parents are under pressure, even when I work somewhere, I am under pressure. So, it depends on how to undertake pressure. Somewhere I read as well that “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”. But we cannot apply this logic to a school or college student because in the cut-throat competition they are left behind and think that they have left all the hope from life.
But no, in fact, life starts after college and whatever you learn in college is a part of your learning experience. I think that the soft skill training which the current government has introduced for students is a very positive step. But the problem is people either take these things casually or they believe that this is common sense. I agree that “common sense is common, but its application is uncommon”. So, we need to make our upcoming generation very strong and teach them that this is the way life goes and you have to deal with it.
Legal Bites: Do you have any suggestions on how platform such as Legal Bites can assist students and promote legal education?
Dr Bang: The first thing that you can do is to put the law in simple and lucid language because we see even lawyers do not understand the language of the bare acts unless we read it several times or unless it is explained in a case by the courts. Further, as far as possible, try to relate law with the local customs of the people who are being taught. I mean, suppose I am in Sangli and I explain a situation by stating that it happened in Patna, it will have less effect than if I state that something happened in Miraj. This changes their attention level. Once the law is simplified, people will approach law themselves and try to understand the basic concepts. So, my suggestion to Legal Bites is that simplify the law and target the most disadvantaged group that you can identify from the society. If you can make him realize the importance of law, he can spread it among his people further.