The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences (WBNUJS or NUJS) is an autonomous law university offering courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It is in Salt Lake City of Kolkata, West Bengal, India. NUJS is considered one of the best amongst the elite national law schools in India built on the five-year law degree model proposed and implemented by the Bar Council of India.
The university offers a five-year integrated B.A./BSc. LLB (Hons.) degree programme at the undergraduate level and a Master of Laws (LLM) programme at the postgraduate level. Admission to the former programme is through the Common Law Admission Test, a highly competitive, nationwide common entrance examination, held jointly by fourteen of the seventeen national law schools. NUJS also offers MPhil, PhD and diploma in business laws and other programs. It also offers a number of online courses that attract students from 17 countries across the world so far.
The front entrance to the academic block
NUJS was established in 1999 by the Bar Council of India, in conjunction with the government of West Bengal. The Founder-Vice Chancellor was Professor N.R. Madhava Menon, a former Professor of law of Delhi University and Founder-Director, National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore, who is credited with revolutionizing the field of legal education in India, by starting the concept of "national law schools", as opposed to the traditional law colleges prevalent before.
The NUJS, Kolkata, along with the GNLU and NLSIU, Bengaluru, remain the only three national law schools which have the honourable Chief Justice of India as the Chancellor. This set-up provides an aura of exclusivity and rare stature to these National Law Schools in India. It may be noted that all other National Law Schools have the Chief Justice of the respective state High Courts as their Chancellors.
Other eminent personalities without whose help and active intervention the university could not have been founded, include Sh. Jyoti Basu, a former Chief Minister of West Bengal who was a Middle Temple barrister; Sh. Somnath Chatterjee, a former Speaker of the Lok Sabha, also a Middle Temple barrister and a leading member of the Calcutta Bar Library; and Justice Chittotosh Mookerjee, a former Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court and the Bombay High Court and the (Acting) Governor of Maharashtra. Justice Mookerjee was the university's Honorary Treasurer and has been associated with the work of the university since its inception in 1999. The NUJS is an autonomous university.
Initially, classes, which started in 2000, were held at Aranya Bhavan, where the Environment Ministry of the government of West Bengal is located, and the first batches of students started living in government flats. On 28 October 2002, the university's present-day permanent campus was inaugurated by the then Chief Justice of India, B. N. Kirpal.In 2006, NUJS was allotted a 50-acre (200,000 m2) plot in Rajarhat, an upscale township, which is being developed by the West Bengal government.
According to Professor Mahendra P Singh, one of the university's ex-Vice Chancellor, it is NUJS's "endeavour to teach students the value of social justice so that they can help the weaker sections of society." The majority of graduates choose to work at firms that practice corporate law, rather than as litigators, academia or in NGOs. In an article written for The Hindu, Dr Ajay Gudavarthy, a former teacher at NUJS and NLSIU, criticised both institutions as being "tailored for the corporates" and argued that they could end up as "professional institutions without social relevance."
Academic reputation and Ranking
LexisNexis Halsbury's Law Monthly rates NUJS as a Tier One law school, jointly with the NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad, and the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore, and states that NUJS's "placement process is at par with the other two colleges in the top tier."In 2009 Outlook (a major current affairs and culture magazine) ranked NUJS as the second best law school in India (behind NLSIU) In 2008, in a ranking conducted jointly by the Wall Street Journal and Mint (a business newspaper of the Hindustan Times group), NUJS was rated as the third best law school in India (behind NLSIU and NALSAR), with the best "pedagogic systems and process" amongst all law schools in the country.Overall, the survey awarded NUJS a score of 607 out of 800, while NLSIU and NALSAR achieved scores of 621 and 609 respectively. In 2010 Lawyers Update magazine ranked the faculty at NUJS as the best in India.
However, the news magazine India Today ranked NUJS sixth in 2007, fifth in 2008 and eighth in 2009 and Careers360 has ranked NUJS 4th in 2016, below law schools that Halsbury's Law Monthly classifies as Tier Two and Tier Three institutions. In 2006, India Today did not even feature NUJS (along with a few other national law schools) in their rankings. Further controversy was created when Outlook ranked NUJS fifth in 2010 from second in 2009. This demotion led to exchanges of claims and counter-claims between a faculty and student-led group at NUJS and the Outlook editors.
The popular press has described NUJS as "one of the top three NLUs" (The Hindu); "one of the most prestigious institutions for legal education in the country" (The Telegraph);and a university whose students' moot court achievements "put Kolkata on the world map in less than three years" (The Times of India).
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