Mohali markers: Country’s lone Army law institute
Soldiering on: Wedded to the motto of aspire and achieve, the Army Institute of Law gives wings to a robust flock of young legal eagles in Mohali.punjab Updated: Aug 05, 2017 15:13 IST
One of its kind in the country, the Army Institute of Law blends the civilian and army way of life to churn out a disciplined bunch of dynamic, young lawyers. The first to offer a five-year integrated law course in Punjab, the institute was conceived in Patiala in 1999 and relocated to its plush campus in Mohali in 2003. Today Principal Tejinder Kaur claims it ranks fourth amongst the top law institutes of North India.
For the Army, it will always be No 1 as it’s the only law institute in the country run by a welfare society aligned to the armed forces. Dr Sheetal Kapoor, who teaches English at the institute, says it’s the blend of army and civilian way of life that provides this institute its unique identity. “I’ve myself learnt a lot from the students coming from army families,” says Dr Kapoor, describing them as focused, articulate, well-mannered, and broad- minded. “The exposure to diverse cultures also makes them very adaptable,” says Kapoor.
Students of the AIL institute say the cosy campus, spread over five acres, is just right for its limited number of students—60 of the 80 seats in the course are reserved for the wards of army personnel, 16 for the Punjab Resident Civil Category and four for All India Civil Category.
“Everybody knows one another on the campus, which makes for a lively atmosphere at the institute,” says Natasha Virdi from Dehradun, who is currently studying in the fifth year.
Although a majority of the teachers are ad hoc—only four of the 19 teachers are permanent, 13 are on contract, and there are two guest faculty— the students are encouraged to flex their legal muscles at home and abroad. Last year, the AIL students visited the International Court of Justice at Hague for a moot court.
After three years of graduation, all the students take a shot at the Combined Defence Services (CDS) entrance examination. Many of the successful candidates opt out of the remaining two-year course and prefer to join the army. Thoroughly professional in its functioning, the institute doesn’t allow anyone to organise religious or political functions on the campus or in hostel rooms, individually or collectively.
OPEN HOUSE SESSION
True to the ethos of the armed forces, the institute doesn’t allow any student union. Instead, every semester has an open house session on the college premises where the students collectively voice their grievances in front of the chairman and the principal. The students choose a batch prefect from every year to represent them and to take up their issues with the authorities.
Interestingly, the institute has a dress code not only for the classes but also for bedtime. Keen to keep the students fit, the campus has a fully equipped gymnasium, basketball courts, volleyball courts, badminton and table tennis.
The institute also keeps its students motivated with a series of scholarships, the latest being Johur (50,000 cash award) for all around academic excellence. Sobti Scholarship (40,000 cash award) is given to the student who scores the highest marks in criminal procedure code, while Monisha Mahajan scholarship (50,000 cash award) is given for the highest score in Public International Law. There are also industry-sponsored scholarships like E- Shiksha (Education Service Portal).
But veterans, who have seen the institute grow, feel it could have fared much better were it not for the tunnel approach followed by the army. “It is evident from their inability to retain their faculty,” groused an academician.
As of now, however, AIL students appear to be doing well. Dr Balram K Gupta, director of the Chandigarh Judicial Academy, vouches for their legal prowess when he tells you he is pleased with the quality of AIL students he receives as assistants.
FROM THE BARRACKS
Set up by the Army Welfare Education Society, the institute held classes for the first batch of 60 students at the headquarters of one armoured division, in Patiala where half-a-dozen barracks were converted into classrooms, library, mess, office of the principal and a computer lab.
Senior advocate M L Sarin, who was associated with the institute in its infancy, recalls how he had suggested the name of late President Abdul Kalam, when they were discussing the inauguration of the institute’s swanky, new building at Mohali in 2003.
Aayushi Mishra, a 5th-year student of law who hails from Kolkatta, admits the ‘army’ character of the institute can be quite overpowering at the outset. “In the beginning, students from army families would hang out together and not mix up with others from civilian backgrounds. But after years of living together on the same campus, we’ve overcome our initial biases. It doesn’t matter where you come from, we all get along really well.”