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Prof. (Dr.) Priya Sepaha is a law professor and an accomplished director with a track record in the education management area. She holds an M.A., M.Phil., LL.B., LL.M. (Criminology), UGC NET, and Ph.D. in English (Law). She has a strong background in criminology, criminal law, personal law, torts, and current issues. She is a passionate writer on various aspects of Criminal Law, Criminology, Penology and Victimology. She has written six books and written many articles in many National and International Journals. She has presented papers in many National and International Conferences, distinctively in Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge.
She started the law website and YouTube channel “Dr. Priya Sepaha,” the Facebook page “Law Colloquy,” and the Instagram page “Law Colloquy,” where she regularly shares posts, legal news, lecture series, and other law-related information.
Swami Vivekananda Excellence Award 2017 in the area of “Academic Administration” was bestowed upon her by the World Achiever’s Foundation and the Confederation of Indian Universities.
Legal Bites interviewed Prof. (Dr.) Priya Sepaha to get insights into her rich background in law.
Legal Bites: Ma’am, you are an accomplished director as well as a distinguished academician. Tell us about your passion for criminal law and what inspired you for your remarkable contribution to criminal law and criminal psychology?
Prof. (Dr.) Priya Sepaha: I firmly believe that “You must know yourself to grow yourself”, one should be aware of society’s basic structure, system & functioning. And the aim should be to comprehend, analyze and disseminate the information pertaining to various aspects of law in an easy and simple to understand manner.
Law and Legal studies being a very dynamic subject, it becomes all the more important to study it with greater commitment and responsibility, specially taking into consideration the fact that it, empowers and affects us radically. The study of law and understanding its nuances is one of the ways to accomplish this. Criminal law and criminology have always been my favourite subjects.
Throughout my studies, I was intrigued by the theories of causation of crime and tried to engross myself in understanding its core principles. My PhD on “Psychopath Behaviour: A need for a Therapeutic Approach” is perhaps a reflection of my passion, I consider myself to be lucky that my research work was published in the form of a book by Thomson & Reuters.
During PhD, I got an opportunity to do in-depth research on various aspects of crime, criminal behaviour, criminology & penology. The study also helped me reinforce my conviction that an interdisciplinary approach, is perhaps the best method, not only to understand but also to enforce the various provisions of law. The knowledge and skills gained by studying criminal law and criminal psychology have enabled me to analyze contradictory aspects of complex situations or problems rationally, and devise the best solution, based on cogent reasoning and critical thinking.
Legal Bites: As an academician as well as a thorough researcher in criminal law, where do you think our criminal justice system is lacking?
Prof. (Dr.) Priya Sepaha: At the outset, I would like to mention that, the Indian Criminal Justice System encompasses a large area, and by their proactive approach many courts have by passing appropriate orders ensured that suitable directives/amendments are introduced from time to time as per the demand and requirement of the dynamically changing situations.
In a way, it has acted as an enabling platform where the voices and demands of many have been accommodated. This process has led to the passing of many landmark judgements, empowered many sections of the society, ensured better enforcement of much desired existing provisions, opened up new and upcoming areas of law, etc.
In totality, it has helped in reinforcing the faith in law and legal institutions. Yet, there are many lacunas in our criminal justice system which need to be flagged in order to make it more expedient and pragmatic. Since the subject is vast, I would like to give an example from the area of my PhD research – Mental health and the problems pertaining to it is usually a non-emphasized area in our criminal justice system, and therefore it requires significant consideration, on a war footing.
Holistically speaking administration of mental health law not only encompasses aspects pertaining to criminals and victims but also the intrinsic orientation of law enforcement agency, medical and legal professionals while dealing with such crime. By making human behavioural study an integral part of the legal curriculum, training of police officials, judges and medical professionals the society at large will be benefitted, as this will help in early detection of many markedly different mental disorders, providing opportunity for applying timely possible corrective measures, counteracting crime and averting victimization.
The extensive study of Anti-social personality disorder can lead to a deeper understanding of the rapid increase of certain types of crime in India and can help to bring about necessary amendments to deal with such type of crime & criminals.
In addition, the pendency of cases, vacancies in the judiciary, corruption at various levels, undesirable media trial in certain cases, the need to redefine the role of various law enforcement agencies and their accountability, etc. are some other areas which need urgent attention. Expanding the ambit of Fast Track Courts in hitherto unemphasized areas and disseminate legal aid will make the legal and criminal justice system more utilitarian and practical.
Legal Bites: You have a widely acknowledged and successful social media presence. What, in your opinion, can be an effective approach to spread legal awareness?
Prof. (Dr.) Priya Sepaha: During my tenure as Principal/Directorship, I was grossly engaged in an administrative job and desperately missed classroom teaching. It was at that juncture, that many students approached me, to pen down my notes and make the notes and articles available to them.
In the larger interest of my passion to promote the dissemination of law and legal knowledge, I thought it would be appropriate to share the same on social media with my students, friends, well-wishers, family members and all those who have an appetite for legal knowledge. Subsequently, I decided to launch a website, lawcolloquy.com and YouTube channel (Dr Priya Sepaha) and started sharing my notes and lectures on them. An honest attempt has been made to deliver helpful information, by focusing on the basics, in a simple format, making them easy to understand.
Social media is undoubtedly one of the most effective platforms to spread extensive consciousness. The most challenging part, however, is the need to do in-depth research, have good communication skills (verbal/non-verbal), be attentive to the demand of the audience, keep a track of the emerging issues and constantly device an effective way to cater to their needs. Apart from relentlessly upgrading knowledge, a lot of hard work, patience, perseverance and passion is required to keep your work relevant and trendy. I am overwhelmed to see ‘Law Colloquy’ as one of the most trusted and searched platforms for legal awareness.
Legal Bites: Ma’am, please tell us about your guiding principle as an academician.
Prof. (Dr.) Priya Sepaha: Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact on their student’s lives. Knowledge is power, and information is liberating. Every teacher must have knowledge and command over the subject and have a passion for teaching. It always helps you acquire updated information, which you can pass on to your students and motivate them.
Secondly, research work is an integral part of legal studies and teaching. A strict benchmarking must be done so that both the faculties and students are benefitted from it.
Thirdly, the objective of any academic institution should be to impart theoretical and practical knowledge in the most enabling atmosphere and the easiest to assimilate manner. The involvement and duration of practical experience must be increased in a broader/varied way.
Lastly, conscious efforts towards promoting an interdisciplinary approach will help provide better and humane solutions to the rapidly growing challenges being faced by society due to the deviant behaviour of specific individuals, thereby making the education system more effective and relevant.
Legal Bites: There has been a significant shift among law aspirants from taking up traditional careers of law to becoming legal educators, corporate lawyers etc. What will be your message to them?
Prof. (Dr.) Priya Sepaha: Law is a continuous, ongoing process and has its own dynamics. Studying law is a demanding task and a true intellectual challenge. It allows students to understand the reasons behind the regulations.
Law students/teachers and lawyers should always keep themselves updated. Apart from obtaining knowledge from bare acts and textbooks, the emphasis must be given to imbibe the skill-based education like Moot Court, Advocacy skills, mock trials, judgment writing, paper presentation, research articles, etc. as this helps a student to develop the reasoning, argumentative and writing skills which are vital ingredients of the legal profession.
A complete transformation takes place during the process of acquiring legal knowledge. Law students develop the ability to argue, based on evidence that can be hard for others to comprehend; it actively cultivates vital advanced communication skills, imparts keen problem-solving skills and above all, imbibes the capacity for independent thinking. It also helps the students in their overall personal development and goes a long way in producing not only excellent professionals but worthy human beings.
Legal education is one of the noble professions that makes you strong and confident and equips you with a unique ability through which you can help and furnish much needed impartial advice to others, mainly when they are in dire need of guidance for prudent future action.
“Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.” – John Maxwell
In my opinion, there are no shortcuts to success. If you want to do something wholeheartedly, you will find a way; otherwise, you will find an excuse. Never say you don’t have enough time because you have exactly the same number of hours per day that are given to others.