IIT Kharagpur's law school contributes where law, technology intersect: Dean

Several technical institutions, including IIT Delhi, are teaming up with law schools for research, training.

Goutam Saha, dean, Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law, IIT KharagpurGoutam Saha, dean, Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law, IIT Kharagpur

Pritha Roy Choudhury | January 15, 2022 | 10:12 AM IST

New Delhi: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur was the first IIT to start a law school. The Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law was established in 2006. Dean Goutam Saha spoke to Careers360 about how it was set up to contribute in a space where law and technology intersect and how its unique position inside an IIT enables joint research programmes and legal training of technology students.

Q. All law programmes offer a specialization in Intellectual Property Law and IIT Kharagpur has a law school dedicated to it. Why is this law so important?

A. The prosperity of a technology-driven society is linked to innovation. Innovation requires creative and inventive effort. Protection of intellectual property (IP) by law helps the inventor earn recognition and derive economic benefits out of it. This, in turn, encourages investment and research and development effort by which innovative activities flourish. For a growing economy like India, it is reflected in the increase in the number of patents granted which rose from 5,900 in 2014-2015 to 24,900 thousand in 2019-2020. Over this period, a significant increase was also seen for other forms of IPs such as trademark, copyright, industrial design etc. IP laws and their enforcement goes beyond the economic development of a nation and are seen as key to international trade and commerce that includes technological exchanges. It is to be noted that IP laws not only considers individual benefit but also maintain a fine balance of public good by making the rights and use conditional. Understanding IP laws give both the producer and consumer their rightful dues.

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Q. How do you integrate study of science with the study of law?

A. For a law school housed in an IIT campus, it comes as a way of life. Besides, faculty-level interaction, sharing of campus by law students with technology students gives them a unique opportunity to integrate science and technology with the law in an organic manner. We have faculty with techno-legal experience and we also offer law and policy-related subjects to technology departments of IIT.

This is a unique aspect of our law school. In certain subjects, our curriculum caters to individual discipline-based learning. For example, our energy law offering was integrated with the newly-formed School of Energy Science. Our offering on biodiversity law caters to students of agriculture and food engineering, biotechnology, bioscience etc. While these are mostly PG level engagements which is mutually beneficial, we also offer an “Introduction to IPR” course which is taken by UG students too, across disciplines. In recognition of our efforts, we have been the only academic institution to be awarded the Best Patents Portfolio Award in the 7th CII Industrial Intellectual Property Awards 2021.

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Q. How are the programmes delivered?

A. The classroom interactions emphasize case studies. Dissertation is included in the LLB programme as well. The ability to delve deeper into a particular area develops the skill to dissect another. This is to make the students future-ready to take up whatever challenge that may come their way. There is a healthy mix of guest lectures from national and international experts drawn from academia and the professional world. The association with our alumni, where they share their professional experiences to develop the right perspective and attitude among young students, is very special to us.

Q. Are the students exposed to legal aid clinics? What about internships?

A. Yes, the students participate in legal aid clinics. These clinics are usually held amongst the community. On certain occasions, it was held on our law school premises, too. Every student here gets internship opportunities; some even get more than one. Many internships, especially the ones arranged by our in-house Career Development Cell, ends with a highly valued pre-placement offer. Last year, each student who registered for placement got placed. This year, more than half of the batch who will graduate in 2022, is already placed.

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Q. What opportunities open up for the students after they complete the programmes?

A. Each of the students opting for placement gets an offer from the campus itself. Many get multiple offers and it includes big companies and law firms. Some students join judicial service, go into litigation and make a name for themselves. Students opting for higher studies bag offers from prestigious international institutes. Our alumni are now established in their profession in almost all the continents.

Q. NLU Delhi and IIT Delhi have also collaborated to work on law and technology research.

A. We welcome such developments. The basic premise of establishing a law school at IIT Kharagpur, way back in 2006, was to contribute to the space where law and technology intersect. Research remains a core area of focus of this law school and this is reflected in our consistently high score on this parameter in law school rankings. We do engage in fostering joint research and capacity-building initiatives with other institutes and industries.

Q. Where do you see the Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law 10 years from now?

A. We see the school expanding its bouquet of services, especially in the technology-law interface for which it is uniquely positioned. We also see the school making an indelible mark in the international arena by this time.

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Q. What are the eligibility criteria for the LLB programme? Is it specifically for students from engineering?

A. The LLB programme entails a first-class bachelor’s degree in engineering, technology, medicine or a first-class master’s degree in science or pharmacy as the eligibility criterion. I would like to highlight that it is not restricted to the engineering stream only.

Q. What about the LLM and doctoral programmes?

A. The LLM programme considers a first class in a five-year or three-year bachelor of laws (LLB or BL) from any recognized university along with a bachelor’s degree in humanities, science or commerce.

The PhD programme considers LLM (two-year programme) after either a five-year integrated or a three-year LLB degree. It also considers a five-year integrated or three-year LLB graduate if they have qualified the National Eligibility Test (NET).

Research remains a core area of focus of this law school and this is reflected in our consistently high score on this parameter in law school rankings. We do engage in fostering joint research and capacity-building initiatives with other institutes and industries

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