Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Teacher and Mentor Professor Faizan Mustafa got SAARC’s Best Law Teacher Award 2014

Professor Faizan Mustafa who is presently the Vice Chancellor of Nalsar Law University Hyderabad got this year’s prestigious SAARC’s Best Law Teacher Award. In a unanimous decision, the high-powered jury consisting of Professor NR Madhav Menon, eminent jurist and Founder Vice Chancellor of NLSIU, Bangalore and Mr Lalit Bhasin, President of Indian Law Firms, announced the conferment of the award on Professor Mustafa.

The award, which carries Rs 1 Lakh cash, citation and a plaque, would be given on 6th September at Delhi by the Union Law Minister in the presence of eminent professors of law, judges and eminent lawyers like Ram Jethmalani and Fali Nariman. Earlier awardees include leading jurists such as Padamshree NR Madava Menon, Professor Ranbir Singh, Professor GV Ajjappa, Professor VS Mani, Professor Laxminath and Professor Mizanur Rehman of Dhaka University, Bangladesh. This is a known fact that the Professor Mustafa is a widely acclaimed scholar and commands great respect among his students like me. He introduced several courses such as Intellectual Property Rights, International Human Rights Law and Tourism Laws at AMU. I was the first person to opt the newly introduced course on Intellectual Property at AMU in 1997. He taught so well that created immense interest in the subject and ultimately IPR became my career option.

At NALSAR he designed and taught new courses like Diversity Management Law, Comparative Strict Liability Law, Multiculturalism and Minority Rights etc. He is the only academic who has been nominated as member of National Legal Services Authority, which is headed by the Chief Justice of India. He is a member at Executive Councils, Academic Councils and General Councils of various universities and has been on various committees responsible for searching new Vice Chancellors.

Prof. Faizan Mustafa started his career at Aligarh Muslim University in early 1990. As a LLM gold medallist, he served the university in various capacities like, Professor of Law, Dean Faculty of Law and Registrar. He was also engaged in various International activities like the drafting of Eritrean Constitution Professor of Law in Ethiopia and advisor in UAE. In Ethiopia, he was exposed to the civil law tradition, was required to teach High Court Judges and work under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister. The country had got a new constitution and he was the only Professor of constitutional law in the entire country. In UAE, he had the opportunity to found a business school and introduce the BBA-LL.B course.

I also have a privilege to work in close association with him in the foundation stages of KIIT Law School and National Law University, Orissa. At both places I worked with him in designing the curricula to promote integration of knowledge as he firmly believes that knowledge is at the intersections of disciplines.

Currently he is serving as the Vice-Chancellor of NALSAR University of Law and very active in writing newspaper articles and books.  He has already written eight books and around 120 scholarly articles some of which have been relied upon by the apex court. He believe that institution building activity is a cooperative venture and try to do his share as the Chief Justice of India’s and Chancellor's nominee to the Academic, Executive and General Councils of several institutions along with serving on various Search Committees for the appointment of Vice-Chancellors.

Law for him is an instrument of social change thus as the Senior Vice-Chairperson of Rural Litigation & Entitlement Kendra, Dehra Dun. He supported the filing of the country’ first environmental and ecology related PIL in the lime stone mining matter. RLEK also got voting rights for the indigenous people of Shivalik Hills i.e. Van Gujjars. He also got 19000 laborers accepted as bonded laborers by the Government and secured their release.

Nothing interests him more than cooking. I am also privileged to eat the famous dish the Akhni Pulao prepared by him. He enjoys teaching and has great passion for debating. He also represented India in various debates during his student life at AMU Aligarh.

His achievements are great motivation and a matter of proud for all of us and hope if we can inculcate some of his excellent skills in our personality.

May Allah provide good health and shower the choicest blessings on him so he can contribute more for the growth and further development of the legal world.

Friday, August 15, 2014

4th Mediation Workshop at College of Legal Studies, UPES

College of Legal Studies, UPES is one of the few pioneer law schools in the world including Harvard Law School which provides special training to the students to inculcate and improve the mediation skills. The University organizes this program twice in a year since 2011.

The 4th Mediation Workshop at College of Legal Studies, UPES is going to begin from 16th August, 2014 by very eminent personalities in India and the world who has made their mark in mediation and have resolved various complex disputes by mediation globally.

This year the mediation team has following personalities

Mr. Niranjan Bhatt, Sr. Counsel, Ahmedabad High Court
Mr. J.P. Sengh, Sr. Advocate, HC, Delhi.
Ms. Sadhana Ramachandran, Advocate, Supreme Court of India
Ms. Veena Ralli, HC of Delhi

The team also includes two American Students Sophie and Carina who came to attend the program on a student exchange program.

Mr. Niranjan Bhatt happens to be the President of the Association of Indian Mediators while Mrs. Sadhana Ramachandran the Secretary of the association needs no introduction being the pioneers in India who promoted the very concept of Mediation and have trained several lawyers and law professionals in the last 15 years.

The Mediation is an informal and confidential way for people to resolve disputes with the help of a neutral mediator who is trained to help people discuss their differences. The mediator does not decide who is right or wrong or issue a decision. Instead, the mediator helps the parties work out their own solutions to problems. A mediation session usually lasts from 3 to 4 hours, although the time can vary depending on how complicated the case is. There is no charge to either party to attend the mediation. Mediation is a negotiation process in which a neutral third party assists the disputing parties in resolving their disputes.

A Mediator uses special negotiation and communication techniques to help the parties to come to a settlement. The parties can appoint a Mediator with their mutual consent or a mediator can be appointed by the Court in a pending litigation.  The decision to mediate is completely voluntary. If the parties do not reach an agreement at the mediation, the charge will be investigated like any other charge. A written signed agreement reached during mediation is enforceable in court just like any other contract. Mediation always leaves the decision making power with the parties. A Mediator does not decide what is fair or right, does not apportion blame, nor renders any opinion on the merits or chances of success if the case is litigated. Rather, a mediator acts as a catalyst to bring the two disputing parties together by defining issues and limiting obstacles to communication and settlement. One of the greatest benefits of mediation is that it allows people to resolve the charge in a friendly way and in ways that meet their own unique needs. Also, a charge can be resolved faster through mediation. While it takes less than 3 months on average to resolve a charge through mediation, it can take 6 months or longer for a charge to be investigated.

Mediation is fair, efficient and can help the parties avoid a lengthy investigation and litigation. Mediation is an effective way of resolving disputes without the need to go to court. It involves an independent third party - a mediator - who helps both sides come to an agreement. Mediation is a flexible process that can be used to settle disputes in a whole range of situations such as: consumer disputes; contract disputes; family disputes; neighborhood disputes to name a few

Mediation is a voluntary process and will only take place if both parties agree. It is a confidential process where the terms of discussion are not disclosed to any party outside the mediation hearing. The mediation programs in addition to helping the students to work through complex personal disputes, the mediators are also developing skills of the students that will benefit them throughout their legal careers. Active listening, assumption-checking, empathy and interest-probing are skills that are important not only to mediation, but also to virtually any practice of law.  If parties are unable to reach agreement, they can still go to court. Details about what went on at the mediation will not be disclosed or used at a court hearing. Both parties share the cost of mediation, which will depend on the value and complexity of the claim.

The Law students should be interested in learning about mediation because being a more effective communicator helps the students in all areas of their life, personal (for instance, handling conflict with friends and family better) as well as professional (like understanding and clarifying what clients and supervisors are looking for). The role of the mediator is to help parties reach a solution to their problem and to arrive at an outcome that both parties are happy to accept. Mediators avoid taking sides, making judgments or giving guidance. They are simply responsible for developing effective communications and building consensus between the parties. The focus of a mediation meeting is to reach a common sense settlement agreeable to both parties in a case.

Monday, August 11, 2014

India Became the 17th Member of the Exclusive Washington Accord

After years of effort and several failures, India finally became the 17th member of the exclusive Washington Accord on Friday, 13th June, 2014. It will help to create equivalence of engineering degree programmes and allow Indians to practice engineering in other member countries. There are six international agreements governing mutual recognition of engineering qualifications and professional competence. In each of these agreements countries/economies who wish to participate may apply for membership, and if accepted become members or signatories to the agreement. In broad principle, each country/economy must meet its own costs, and the body making application must verify that it is the appropriate representative body for that country/economy. The credit for making India a member of Washington Accord goes to many individuals who worked behind the scenes for years.

The World Summit on Accreditation in 2012 was used for backroom diplomacy to allay fears about the Indian system. The process of accreditation had started during late Arjun Singh's tenure as HRD minister. During Kapil Sibal's time, India was made a temporary member. In January, 2014, a comprehensive audit of NBA was undertaken by the Washington Accord team.The oldest such agreement is the APEC Engineer agreement which commenced in 1999. This has Government support in the participating APEC economies.  The formal rules and procedures were developed for a six-year peer-review of signatories and for admission of new signatories, following a period in provisional status. For the crowded list of Tier-II institutions, NBA has given a roadmap so that they are well prepared to become members of Washington Accord. NBA has asked universities to allow affiliated engineering colleges to design at least 50% of the course. For instance, Washington Accord lays emphasis on teaching social sciences along with engineering.

The representative organization in each economy creates a "register" of those engineers wishing to be recognised as meeting the generic international standard. Other economies should give credit when such an engineer seeks to have his or her competence recognised. The Agreement is largely administered between engineering bodies, but there can be Government representation and substantive changes need to be signed off at governmental APEC Agreement level. Washington Accord will, however, not be valid for IT engineers. India will have to sign the Seoul Accord to create similar equivalence of programmes. Becoming part of Washington Accord also does not necessarily mean that all engineering degrees by all Indian colleges will get equivalence with those of other member countries.

NBA has shortlisted 220-odd engineering colleges as Tier-I institutes whose undergraduate engineering programme is in tune with what is required under the Accord. But even Tier-I institutes which include IITs/NITs/BITS Pilani besides many autonomous and deemed universities will now have to apply afresh to NBA and only after extensive verification of their programmes will they be declared fit to be part of Washington Accord institutions.

A massive redesigning of course will take place with emphasis on outcomes and letting students explore and innovate. The admission to the Washington Accord of the accreditation organisations in Hong Kong China and South Africa in the late 1990s and Japan, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Korea and Malaysia took the number of signatories to 11 by 2009. Since that year, the accrediting organisations in Turkey and Russia have become signatories. Currently there are also five organisations with provisional status. Many of the new and provisional signatories were mentored by established ones as they developed their systems.

Engineers should have knowledge of the environment so that they know how their work is going to have an impact on the ecosystem. They also need understanding of society, management and communication skills. Agreements covering tertiary qualifications in engineering. There are three agreements covering mutual recognition in respect of tertiary-level qualifications in engineering: The Washington Accord signed in 1989 was the first - it recognises substantial equivalence in the accreditation of qualifications in professional engineering, normally of four years duration.

The Sydney Accord commenced in 2001 and recognises substantial equivalence in the accreditation of qualifications in engineering technology, normally of three years duration. The Dublin Accord is an agreement for substantial equivalence in the accreditation of tertiary qualifications in technician engineering, normally of two years duration. The signatories committed to continue to share relevant information; allow their representatives to participate in each other’s accreditation processes and attend relevant meetings of their organisations; and to make reference to this agreement in publications listing accredited programmes. Agreements covering competence standards for practising engineers The other three agreements cover recognition of equivalence at the practising engineer level i.e. it is individual people, not qualifications that are seen to meet the benchmark standard. The concept of these agreements is that a person recognised in one country as reaching the agreed international standard of competence should only be minimally assessed (primarily for local knowledge) prior to obtaining registration in another country that is party to the agreement.

The Sydney and Dublin Accords for engineering technologists and engineering technicians were initiated in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Together with the three agreements for engineering practitioners, the IEA was formed in 2007, and the IEA Secretariat was created to assist with the administration of the accords and agreements and their development. The following organisations hold provisional status; Bangladesh Board of Accreditation for Engineering and Technical Education;  China China Association for Science and Technology; Pakistan Pakistan Engineering Council; Philippines Philippine Technological Council and Sri Lanka Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka

The International Professional Engineers agreement commenced in 2001. It operates the same competence standard as the APEC Engineer agreement but any country/economy may join. The parties to the agreement are largely engineering bodies. There are intentions to draw IPEA and APEC closer together. Whilst accord recognition strictly applies only to education programmes offered within a signatory’s territorial boundaries, the need to accommodate developments in crossborder education has required development of rules for out-of-territory accreditation and recognition. The rules agreed to in 2008 also allow for assistance to emerging economies that may be too small to operate their own accreditation system. The rules are currently under review.

The International Engineering Technologist agreement was signed by participating economies/countries in 2003. The parties to the Agreement have agreed to commence establishing a mutual recognition scheme for engineering technologists. In 1989 the six foundation signatory organisations from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States observed that their individual processes, policies, criteria and requirements for granting accreditation to university level programmes were substantially equivalent. They agreed to grant (or recommend to registering bodies, if different) the same rights and privileges to graduates of programmes accredited by other signatories as they grant to their own accredited programmes.

The adoption of graduate outcome specifications in tertiary education was paralleled by the development of the specification of consensus graduate attributes for the accords. Version 3 was adopted by the accords in 2013 as the exemplar of the educational requirements to be met by signatories. The signatory for each jurisdiction is the recognised organisation for accreditation of professional engineering qualifications. They are listed by jurisdiction, in order of admission to the Accord, with the current operating name of the accrediting organisation. 

1989 Australia Engineers Australia
Canada Engineers Canada
Ireland Engineers Ireland
New Zealand Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand
United Kingdom Engineering Council United Kingdom
United States Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
1995 Hong Kong China The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers
1999 South Africa Engineering Council of South Africa
2005 Japan Japan Accreditation Board for Engineering Education
2006 Singapore Institution of Engineers Singapore
2007 Korea Accreditation Board for Engineering Education of Korea
Chinese Taipei Institute of Engineering Education Taiwan
2009 Malaysia Board of Engineers Malaysia
2011 Turkey MUDEK (Association for Evaluation and Accreditation of Engineering Programs)
2012 Russia Association for Engineering Education of Russia

The Accord recognises that the members of the European Network for Accreditation of Engineering Education (ENAEE) operate similar accreditation processes to similar standards within Europe, and its authorised members provide the Eur-ACE label to accredited programmes. Four of the Accord members are also authorised members of ENAEE. There is a formal mechanism between the IEA and ENAEE to maximise mutual understanding and potential benefits of the two organisations.

The current signatories to the Washington Accord that together deliver over 7,000 programmes. The Accord requires a body that wishes to become a signatory to first apply for provisional status. The body must demonstrate it has an accreditation system that meets basic requirements. To proceed to signatory status the body must demonstrate substantial equivalence of its standards and processes in a review by a team drawn from the signatories, and be approved by unanimous agreement of the signatories.