National Law Universities are premier academic institutions set up with the aim of improving the overall quality of the new entrants to the Legal Profession. Visualized and executed by the Late Prof. Dr. N.R Madhava Menon, NLSIU, Bangalore was the first and over time the number has grown to the mid twenties, with NLU, Sonepat being the latest.
About fifteen graduates of these NLUs have come together to form a charitable entity called the CAN Foundation, which spells as “Confederation of Alumni for National Law Universities”. It was established with a three pronged aim – Financial Assistance to those students studying at NLUs; Helping fresh meritorious graduates enter litigation who may otherwise never, through a stipend; development of faculty teaching at these NLUs.
The Founders acknowledge that their aims are rather majestic, but add that they have undertaken a phasewise process to the realization of the above stated goals. The first, that is helping students in need of financial assistance, is called Project Eklavya. A template and a detailed application form with various heads (22 in number) was circulated, in which information about the applicant’s background, financial and otherwise, their academic records and participation in other college related activities had been called for. An autonomous committee, independent of the Foundation, known as the “Scrutiny Committee” has been set up, with each member having minimum of ten years or more standing at the Bar. They have the complete autonomy to decide criteria, and thereby shortlist candidates.
This short list is then to be approved by the Patrons & Advisors of the Foundation who are eminent Senior Advocates and Former Chief Justice of High Court. A total of 18 scholarships (subject to change) will be given out during the Inaugural Ceremony of the Foundation, which is slated to be held on 7th December, 2019 at NLIU, Bhopal.
The ceremony will be graced by the Hon’ble CM of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Kamal Nath; Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court. Mr. Justice A.M Khanwilkar and Mr. Justice S. Ravindra Bhat, along with the Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court Hon’ble Mr. Justice J.K Maheshwari; The Chancellor of NLIU, Hon’ble Mr. Justice A.K Mittal (Chief Justice, M.P High Court) The Chairman of the Bar Council of India, Shri Manan K Mishra and other dignitaries.
On the same day, the Foundation, shall also host a Symposium on “Strengthening the Role of NLUs in the Justice Delivery System” which shall be graced by eminent Senior Advocates, Shri Vikas Singh, (Former President, SCBA) Dr. Menaka Guruswamy (NLSIU ’97) and Mr. Gopal Sankaranarayanan (NLSIU ’01) as also Mr. Sumeet Malik (NLSIU ’99), who has made an international niche for himself as Editor of one of the most comprehensive legal databases “SCC Online”.
A journal containing articles on the above theme, titled ‘Chandragupt’ will also be released by the Chief Guests on the same day. It boasts of literary contributions from Hon’ble Mr. Justice Khanwilkar, Prof. Dr. V. Vijayakumar (Vice Chancellor NLIU, and Guest of Honor) Solicitor General of India Mr. Tushar Mehta Additional Solicitor General of India, Mr. Vikramjit Banerjee to name a few amongst many authors of diverse fields.
The Foundation has received support from eminent Senior Advocates Mr. Vivek K. Tankha, Mr. Neeraj Kishan Kaul, Mr. Siddharth Luthra Mr. Shekhar Naphade. Their contributions are what forms the corpus of scholarships being given out under Project Eklavya. The Foundation, with the aim of supporting all round developments of the students it helps or the volunteers that work for it, has also entered into an MOU with one of the leading tax firms in India Lakshmi Kumaran and Sridharan Attorneys.
To support the achievement of the aims of the Foundation, corporate entities such as Dilip BuildCon, MANTENA Ltd, and IDEMEA have committed funds to it, under Corporate Social Responsibility. Some of these funds, will be used in the next aspect- Helping fresh graduates in litigation with a stipend, under their Project titled Dhananjay, set to be rolled out next year some time.
Under Dhananjay, a monthly stipend will be paid to the chosen candidates (by another independent scrutiny committee), to those new graduates who, right out of law school intend to join litigation, but cant do for reasons of their economic well being, as a way of encouraging them, and also improving the quality of lawyers entering court practice. The website, www.canfoundation.in suggests that the Foundation hopes to have some of these stipend recipients placed with Senior Counsels and advocates of repute and such lawyer chambers.
EBC and SCC Online® are supporting the CAN foundation as Knowledge Partners. Candidates chosen by the CAN foundation under Project Eklavya will be given books, bare acts and subscriptions to SCC Online and EBC Learning to make their scholarships more meaningful. The student volunteers who put in sincere and diligent efforts in the efforts of the Foundation shall also be suitably rewarded by EBC-SCC Online in the form of subscriptions.
The pioneers of this initiative this Foundation are its President Mr. Abhinandan Mishra (Delhi Bureau Chief, Sunday Guardian), CEO Mr Siddharth R. Gupta (Advocate M.P HC and Supreme Court) Secretary, Mr. Manu Maheshwari.
Mr. Gupta, on being asked about the Foundation and its future said, “We are thrilled to receive the support that we have gotten. It propels all of us towards the goals with enthusiasm, We hope that many other Alumni will come on board to make this foundation, truly a Confederation that can make a difference the way legal education is being delivered in the Country.”