An interview with Somabha Bandopadhay, KIIT: Winner of 33rd BCI Trust-All India Inter University Moot Court Competition, 2017

Four years ago, in 2013, KIIT University, School of Law created history by becoming the first private university to win the prestigious Bar Council of India National Moot Court Competition. History has repeated itself as this time School of Law, KIIT University defeated one of the most reputed National Law School, NALSAR, Hyderabad in the finals of the 33rd Bar Council of India Trust- All India Inter University Moot Court Competition, held from 30th March, 2017 to 2nd April, 2017.

BCI’s All India Inter University Moot Court Competition is the most prestigious and awaited national level students’ academic event of its kind, attracting participation from all reputed law institutions, including National Law Schools, across the country.

The winning team comprised of Mr. Saunak Rajguru (Speaker, Third Year), Ms. Somabha Bandopadhay (Speaker, Fourth Year) and Mr. Mohit Rai (Researcher, Fourth Year). They were assisted by a research team consisting of Mr. Shivam Pandey, Ms. Madhurika Ray, Mr. Akanshit Jha, Mr. Amardeep, Mr. Abhishek Kumar, Mr. Subham Bhut and Mr. Kautilya Birat.

Ms. Bandopadhay and Mr. Rajguru won the ‘Best Overall Female Speaker’ and ‘Best Overall Male Speaker’ award respectively. In addition, she was adjudged ‘Best Speaker (Fourth Round)’, while Mr. Rajguru bagged ‘Best Speaker (Third Round)’. KIIT Team also won ‘Best Memorial’ award in the Third Round. Mr Shubhodip Chakraborty, Student Ambassador, SCC Online interviewed Ms. Somabha Bandopadhay.

Q1. Congratulations on the big win! So, how did you feel when you came to know that you are the winners of this moot court competition?

Ans: Thank you! Well, probably we or rather I was personally not being able to express myself when we were declared the winners. I was in a state of shock. Finally, after more than 1 month’s rigorous dedicated practice we heard what we wanted to, we felt what we desired to. We were awarded the trophies by Justice L. Nageshwar Rao – an inspiration in itself making me spellbound after his words of appreciation. This was my first winning in a Moot Court competition and that too BCI, so the joy was ten times!

Q2. What was the process of preparation? How did you go about it?

Ans: The process started in the month of February when I was not in campus due to the internship break. But, the homework was being done regularly by me taking out time from the internship hours. The rigorous preparation started from 1st March.

The boost up was the team of additional researchers that we had. They have been the real heroes working for the 4 different problems. We had set up target dates by when we should be done with each problem and divided it amongst ourselves. We tried to stick to our plan. However, the toughest part was to understand and imbibe the varied concepts covering probably 50% of the subjects that we have been taught till this semester. We not only needed to understand it, but remember the intricate details as well. Imagine… 4 different problems pertaining to about 10 different subjects having numerous case laws! But, again the research team owes it all. They filtered out the most relevant ones and we read in-depth of those.

As a speaker, I had obviously given much more. I wrote whatever I learnt, I spoke as many times as possible. We were crossed questioned on everything that we studied. We sat with our faculty members discussing the basic concepts and arguments who guided us while we faltered. So, overall, this one month of mooting exercise was a mind boggling activity and the test was to indulge in every detail of every case, concept, etc., etc. not getting confused and holding on to our patience for delivering the same in an appropriate manner needed to win BCI.

Q3. How was the competition in terms of judging quality, organisation and other competitors? And which team would you consider to be your toughest competitor?

Ans: Well, it goes without saying that it is BCI which leaves no stones unturned to give us the feeling of a heated competition and this time in association with IFCAI Hyderabad, the quality could not have been better in every respect.

The judges were very experienced. They had researched well before they judged us, so they knew the details of almost everything that we were citing. However, they were very cooperative and took time to judge us. They ended the sessions giving us feedback and suggestions. The judging parameters were informed to us prior to the competition and there was adherence to the same. Here, I find it pertinent to note that the transparency so maintained was beyond even an iota doubt. The draw of lots and assigning of the sides were all completed in a manner just, fair and reasonable! We are very content with the way the days of the competition unfolded.

The teams were from various parts of India and every team had prepared well. For us, the Final round against NALSAR Hyderabad was the toughest I feel. The team was well prepared and the speakers were experienced which we understood from their presentation skills and confidence. It was indeed a great competition.

Q4. How well were the problems drafted?

Ans: The problems were standard ones. The last one was the most interesting one for me and the first one was a challenge which we were successful in overcoming. And now that we have won it I can say, well the problems were easy to crack!!!

Q5. How was the final round? What else did you all do to crack it up?

Ans: The final round was intense. We were arguing in front of High Court judges who deal with petitions concerning Section 482 CrPC on a regular basis. So, arguing for 1 hour on that matter was challenge in itself.

We incorporated several new concepts and ideas, like using the Psychology theories propounded by Sigmund Freud of Id-Ego-Superego and Child Psycho-sexual development and Criminology theories of Development life course theory, Social Containment theory, Hagon’s Power control theory. We also utilised the philosophical notions of consent and consensual

relationships in consonance to personal autonomy as a right amongst many other varied notions. Probably, this novel conceptualization and relating that to the broad umbrella term of “to secure the ends of justice” brought us appreciation. In my opinion, law is not only about legal theories and legal principles, it is much beyond that. So, this was the secret trump card or rather trump cards which got us through swiftly.

Q6. How a student should go about when it comes to researching in moots? Any tips for our readers?

Ans: I feel there is no strait-jacket formula. It depends on how and which way you are comfortable. Someone can be case-oriented as in understands through studying case laws, some others like me would like reading scholarly writings and articles to understand the basics. But, the key to successful mooting is that the basic fundamentals should be clear. Even if we have the best of resources put down in our memorials, the purpose would not be served unless one knows the basics. In the competition, the judges harp upon the concepts primarily and then go to the factual matrix in consonance to the legal principles and all.

So, to all those mooting aspirants; study study and study to get your basics clear. Does not mean that you have no life, but striking the balance between the two is of utmost importance.

For researching; well, that is a skill which comes with practice and again there is no specific way by which you can imbibe it. So, once you start the research and question your research again and again you will lead yourself to some unknown or new information relevant to you. And when Google and SCC Online are there research becomes so easy! So, take the optimum of the services provided by SCC, it really helps.

Q7. Any advice to budding mooters?

Ans: I think I have already mentioned most of it. One more thing which I feel is important. Please never ever lose hope from mooting. My very first mooting experience was not the one I ever wanted for myself, I was disheartened and did not want to participate in any moot. But, my friends insisted, I went on. Today, I am expressing my views hoping to inspire some of you.

Just remember one thing, hard-work pays off coupled with dedication and honesty. So, no matter what experiences you have and how many times you think of leaving it, motivate yourself and come back! Well, that’s life and that’s mooting. You cannot expect to win every moot, but you can certainly expect to gain from every moot so that at the end of the journey when you look back you see a changed person- more knowledgeable, more accepting and in this process if you win that is the cherry on the cake! All the best!

Q8. How well was your team composition in general? Tell us about the camaraderie you all shared.

Ans: The team as I have already mentioned deserves the entire appreciation. We were being the representatives of their work. The team could not have been better. It was an amalgamation of several minds, especially those who were specialised in the specific fields. Thus, the outcome is the result of the perfect stimulation that we had. The team members shared immense trust and confidence in each other and the winning is thus not the work of the 3 of us, but the entire team of researchers. Yes, a team is sine qua non for a moot like BCI added with teachers who have been ever willing to share their experiences and guided us.

Q9. You guys bagged almost all the trophies that were on the plate; not only managing to win the competition, but also the best speaker (male and female) and best memorial/brief awards. Any word on that and any tips for our fellow readers?

Ans: Indeed, it was a clean sweep! This result is only because of our sheer hard work believe me. So, once you have put in that adequate amount of dedication, you will surely be awarded. So, keep working and keep loving the work you are doing, the results will be yielded automatically. Trust yourself and trust your work.

Q10. Any future plans?

Ans: For further moots, well I have not yet decided any for sure. I have some in mind, but let’s see. Otherwise, for my career, I am planning my LLM and trying to put in place everything needed so that the leap can be yet another swift one! So, I am working on papers, seminars, courses amongst others. I hope everything fall in place soon and I am all set to turn to the next chapter of my life where I expect that sometime soon I definitely get to have another interview with SCC! So, till then Thank you! And All the best to all the readers! Keep Mooting!

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