Prof. (Dr.) Yogesh Pratap Singh was fortunate enough of being a founding member of three law schools and working with the leading legal luminaries including the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts for more than fifteen years. Since the inception of his academic journey, he tried to make a balance between his academic work and administrative work.

Prof. (Dr.) Yogesh Pratap Singh was fortunate enough of being a founding member of three law schools and working with the leading legal luminaries including the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts for more than fifteen years. Since the inception of his academic journey, he tried to make a balance between his academic work and administrative work. He worked in different administrative positions like Controller of Examinations, Chief Warden, Head of a Law School, Director, Academic Affairs, Library In-Charge, Deputy Registrar (Supreme Court of India), Registrar, NLU Odisha and later Vice-Chancellor In-Charge of NLU Odisha.

Despite these administrative tasks, He did not lose his focus on his classroom teaching and has been rated amongst the best teachers by students in their feedback. On the research and publication front, he published six books, 40 journal articles and 30 book chapters. He also developed a habit of writing in the popular media and has published more than 100 edit pieces in various reputed newspapers and law portals such as The Statesman, The Tribune, Deccan Herald, Hindustan Times, The New Indian Express, The DNA, Livelaw, The Wire etc.

His book “Judicial Dissent and Indian Supreme Court: Enriching Constitutional Discourse” which was published by Thomson Reuters is the first seminal work on Judicial Dissent in India.

All the hard work culminated when he was appointed founding Vice-Chancellor of NLU Tripura in August 2022 only at the age of 44 years and became one of the youngest VCs of India.

Interview: Prof. (Dr.) Yogesh Pratap Singh | Vice-Chancellor, National Law University Tripura

We recently got a chance to interview Prof. (Dr.) Yogesh Pratap Singh. Here’s the transcript of the Interview: Prof. (Dr.) Yogesh Pratap Singh, Vice-Chancellor, National Law University Tripura.

Legal Bites: What motivated you to pursue a career in law, and how did you get interested in the areas of research you specialize in?

Dr. Yogesh Pratap Singh: Joining LL.B. at the University of Allahabad was not a pre-determined plan. It came abruptly with the limited purpose of taking a law degree only. But the professors of the Law Faculty especially the late Prof. L. M. Singh who taught me IPC in the first year created my interest in law and I decided to pursue my career in law. Later, I joined LL.M. at NSLIU Bangalore and my teacher of Constitutional Law and Judicial Process Prof. T. Devidas created my interest in constitutional law, judicial process and related areas of public law.

Legal Bites: You have a diverse range of research interests, including Constitutional Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, Judicial Process, Criminal Law, Law of Tort, Jurisprudence and Public Health Law. Can you talk about some of your recent research projects and their findings?

Dr. Yogesh Pratap Singh: Yes, as I mentioned that my interest in law was created by a professor of Criminal Law when I joined my LL.B. at the University of Allahabad and later Professors of Constitutional law and Judicial Process at NLSIU forced me to study more the fundamental law of superior obligation i. e. Constitution and its interpretation by the Supreme Court of India. When I joined academics way back in 2007, I was given subjects like Law of Torts and Criminal Law to teach but later I got constitutional law, judicial process and Jurisprudence where I developed my core competencies.

I worked on the contribution of dissenting opinions of Indian Supreme Court judges. It was published by Thomson Reuters as a book in the year 2016. Justice Dr DY Chandrachud, the current Chief Justice of India wrote foreword for my book. Recently, my two co-authored books are published. First entitled “The Supreme Court and the Constitution” (2021) was published by Wolter Kluwer Publishers and second entitled “Institutional Decline in Neo-Liberal Regime” (2022) by Thomson Reuters.

Lately, I developed some interest in Public Health Law. I was granted a two-year project entitled “Supporting stronger and evidence-based tobacco control initiatives through capacity building and strengthening laws, policies and institutional mechanism with multi-stakeholder engagement towards tobacco-free India” by The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), Rue Jean Lantier, 75001, Paris France.

Legal Bites: You served as Deputy Registrar, Research in the Supreme Court of India from May 2016 to October 2018. What were your primary responsibilities in this role, and how did this experience shape your views on the Indian legal system?

Dr. Yogesh Pratap Singh: It was a different kind of enriching experience. You get so many insights when you are part of the institution and you watch its functioning from within. Justice T. S. Thakur, the then CJI conceptualized a “Centre for Research and Planning in the Supreme Court Registry. The Centre consisted Academicians invited from various Universities and idea was to provide research assistance to the Hon’ble CJI and other Justices in the discharge of their judicial and non-judicial functions. We assisted Hon’ble judges on many important cases pending at that point in time.

We also prepared a report entitled “Subordinates Courts of India: A Report on Access to Justice (2016)”. The Report was referred by Hon’ble Supreme Court (Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice Dr. D. Y. Chandrachud, Justice L. Nageswara Rao) in Imtiyaz Ahmad v. State of U.P.& Ors. Decided on 2 January 2017 and later placed in the Parliament of India.

Legal Bites: As the Vice-Chancellor of National Law University Tripura, what are some of your goals for the university, and how do you plan to achieve them?

Dr. Yogesh Pratap Singh: The initial goal is to attract and appoint good faculty members who will eventually attract good students and encourage them to do well. We intend to expand the University’s civic engagement by collaborating with partners locally and nationally to improve educational, economic, health and cultural outcomes. In long term we will explore and create ways to continue educational innovation and quality by creating diverse partnerships so that NLU Tripura emerges as the best choice for the aspirants of legal education from north east.

Legal Bites: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the Indian legal system today, and how can these be addressed?

Dr. Yogesh Pratap Singh: There are so many intrinsic issues with our legal system which expose its flaws and shortcomings and call for quick adjustments and accountability. As many as 30 million cases are backlogged in India’s court system. The credibility of the judiciary is at stake due to mounting arrears and delays. And one of the reasons for this problem is the abysmally low judge-population ratio in India. Therefore, the first step is to raise the number of judges at every level, especially at the lowest levels of the judicial system. In addition to this, the administrative responsibilities should be handled by the agency in order to ensure that judges are used only for their area of expertise i. e. judicial functions.

The legal education system needs to attract the best minds to legal education and encourage them to strengthen our bar and bench. Continuing legal education must be institutionalized as a measure of accountability at all levels.

Legal Bites: How do you see technology affecting the practice of law in India, and what changes do you anticipate in the coming years?

Dr. Yogesh Pratap Singh: With advancements in technology, the traditional mode of practising law is changing – and this can be seen in several different aspects. The biggest change that technology is going to bring about will come from improved access and affordability. This will be done by using litigation management, AI-based legal research, case management and analytics, document automation, contract management and online dispute resolution.

Legal Bites: You have published extensively in your areas of research. What advice would you give to young scholars who are starting out in academia and seeking to establish themselves in their fields?

Dr. Yogesh Pratap Singh: Teaching and research both are essential aspects of academic life. Some teachers focus more on classroom teaching and some focus more on research and publications. However, we need to make a balance. Conduct research on what you are teaching and teach what you have found in research. This is one of the biggest problems our academia is facing. Institutions Including NLUs have failed to create an ecosystem sustaining the faculty members to perform and achieve the expectations.

Too much of teaching along with administrative and extra-curricular activities leaves no time for quality research. I would suggest people joining academia to engage in action research i. e. research based on your teaching practice. You change your method of delivery and look for changes, both qualitative and quantitative. Examples may include Activity Based Learning/Action Learning, Gamification, Case-Based Learning, use of the Flipped Classroom approach, to name just a few.

Legal Bites: How do you balance your academic work with other responsibilities, such as teaching, administrative duties, and community engagement?

Dr. Yogesh Pratap Singh: Every individual has to devise his own plan to balance all these essential aspects of academic life. You need to fix your targets which should be realistic. For instance, you can fix a target of publishing one quality paper in one academic year and one book in three years. If you want to publish more in Scopus or peer-reviewed journals, that’s great – but be realistic about how many you can commit to publishing in over an academic year.

Legal Bites: What advice would you give to law students who are interested in pursuing a career in academia or research?

Dr. Yogesh Pratap Singh: While several new law universities including National Law Universities (NLUs) have opened in recent years, most of them are struggling to get high-quality faculty, the most important human resource required to build universities. We need to encourage bright legal minds to join academics and research.

The future is very bright and a lot of opportunity is already existing for young budding legal professionals who intend to join academics and research. Government, UGC and BCI must also ensure that the best legal minds join academic and research activities by providing better service conditions in the Universities and Research centres.

Legal Bites: Legal Bites is an online E-Library for law cum information blog. What role do you see online platforms like Legal Bites playing in the dissemination of legal knowledge and information, and how can these platforms help bridge the gap between academia and the competition?

Dr. Yogesh Pratap Singh: The legal education and the practice of law in the future is going to see a more complete blending of people and technology. Information blogs such as Legal Bites are going to supplement the work of a lawyer in manifold ways and change the Indian legal landscape for the better.

Legal Bites: Thank you so much!

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Updated On 28 Jun 2023 5:08 AM GMT
Mayank Shekhar

Mayank Shekhar

Mayank is an alumnus of the prestigious Faculty of Law, Delhi University. Under his leadership, Legal Bites has been researching and developing resources through blogging, educational resources, competitions, and seminars.

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