Mapping of media law curriculum related to legal education in India

By Prof. Shrikrishna Deva Rao

This long essay by Prof. Srikrisna Deva Rao (Registrar, National Law University, New Delhi), is the final report of a study conducted in the area of “Mapping of Media Law Curriuculum Related Legal Education in India”. Prof. Rao undertook this study as an MPL Fellow of the Ford Foundation project titled “Mapping Media, Policy and Law in India” at the Centre for Culture Media and Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia. He may be reached at registrar@nludelhi.ac.in


 This monograph presents the result of a survey conducted on ‘Media law Education in India’ in 2011 as part of fellowship at C.C.M.G., Jamia Millia Islamia University.  The study started with a base line study of Medial Law Education and trend analysis of Media Law Curriculum.

The fellowship provided an opportunity to map the curriculum and pedagogy of media law in India. The research work started with identifying educational institutions offering media law courses in India and analysing the curriculum of courses-modules offered on media law and related specialisations (cyber law, IP law) in terms of three vectors: the construction of the object of the media law, the thematic priorities and emphases and the use of case material and other pedagogical resources. The overall aim of this fellowship is to map and analyse the space of media related legal education in India in order to develop curriculum in this field. This would enable to strengthen the curriculum in teaching of Media Law in India and to encourage multidisciplinary approach in development of Media Law Education in India.

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT IN LAW 

The concern for legal education was addressed by several Commission and Committees after independence. However, the importance of curriculum development and pedagogy in law was first time occupied prominent place in legal education in 1986 with the establishment of Curriculum Development Center (CDC) in law at University of Delhi. The report of University Grant Commission (U.G.C.) Curriculum Development Centre (C.D.C.) in Law attempts to classify status of legal education into three phases. Phase I from 1950-65, in which the principal concern was how best to transform legal education away from its colonial inheritance and to ‘Indianize’ it. The phase II covered the year 1965-75 emphasizing on the reorganization of curricula and pedagogy towards professional legal education. The phase III from 1976-88 was the preoccupation of ‘modernization’ of law curricula to increase its relevance to society and State. The phase IV is post globalization and establishment of National Law Universities for strengthening professional legal education in India.

The U.G.C. C.D.C. in law has suggested for the first time in Indian model curriculum in law for under graduate and post graduate students including the three and five year B.A.,LL.B (Hons.). This was further revised in the year 2001. The Advocates Act 1961 empowers the Bar Council of India (BCI) “to promote legal education and to lay down standards of such education in consultation with the Universities in India imparting such education and the State Bar Councils”. Meanwhile, the Bar Council of India has also developed curriculum for three year and five year LL.B programmes in 2011. However, the U.G.C.-C.D.C. report of model curriculum in Law is a unique contribution for legal education and is being followed in many universities.

INDICATORS OF THE STUDY

The study identified five indicators for analyzing Media Law Curriculum in India. They are, location of the institution including Geographical location and affiliations, faculty and their teaching and research background, course structure and content and its focus, in-class pedagogy and out of class learning. The five indicators were further elaborated with the guidance of the project staff of C.C.M.G., Jamia Millia Islamia University. The details of five indicators are as follows:

  1. Location of the institution: Geographical location: affiliation of any kind, national or international;
  2. Faculty: Teaching staff, full and part time; specialisation of research areas and background of teachers;
  3. Curriculum: Course structure and content: changes in course structure and content, areas of past, current and future focus;
  4. In- class pedagogy: Classroom teaching (lecture/workshop formats), assignments given to students;
  5. Out of class learning: Moots, symposia, conference, and other research, co-curriculum and extension activities.

The legal education in India is being offered in 978 law colleges, 14 National Law Universities, Law faculties in the Universities, Govt. Law Colleges including aided & unaided and private Universities including private law colleges. The mapping of media related legal education focused on four different types of institutions offering courses in media law.

Firstly, The National Law Schools;

Secondly, The Universities and Faculties of Law offering Legal Education;

Thirdly, law colleges both old and conventional colleges set up by government and in private sector.

The Study also attempted to collect the information from media professional bodies, such as Press Academies and other institutions offering media law training.

METHODOLOGY OF SURVEY

The first step in the process of compilation of curriculum started with writing letters to all the Vice Chancellors of National Law Universities, Heads and Deans of Law Colleges requesting them to send the details of curriculum and contact details of Faculty who is teaching this course for further interactions. The letters were sent 120 institutions in India including all National Law Schools and other selected University Law faculties and Law Colleges (Annexure- I). The second step was to search the web to find the courses and then to contact selected institutions through telephone and requesting them for curriculum. The following table provides a list of institutions offering Media Law courses in India. These courses were analysed in the light of five indicators as stated above.

Table 1: Institutions Offering Media Law Courses

S. No. Institutions           Course Title Year of offer
I. National Law Schools
1 HNLU Raipur Media and Law 2011-12
2 NALSAR University of Law Hyderabad Media Law (Seminar Course) 2011-12
3 NUJS Kolkata Entertainment and Media Law (Fourth year of LL.B and LL.M.) 2011- 12
4 NLU Jodhpur Entertainment, New Media & Communications Law (Part of LL. B. fourth year in honours course in Constitutional Law and LL.M. third semester in IPR and technology law) 2011-12
5 GNLU Media Law (Seminar Course for LL.B. fifth year) 2011-12
6 National Law University, Delhi Media Law (Seminar Course in Fourth year of LL.B and LL.M.) 2012
7 National Law School of India University, Banglore Media Law (Seminar Course ) Used to Offer in 1990s
 II. University Law Faculties
8 Dr. B. R. Ambedkar College of Law, Andhra University Media Law including Right to Information (Optional Paper –  IV for LL.B. three year degree course) 2009-2010
9 University Law College, Bangalore Mass Media Law (in LL.M for constitutional and Administrative Law Group) adopted UGC CDC syllabus 2011
10 University of Lucknow Mass Media Law (in LL.M for constitutional and Administrative Law Group) adopted UGC CDC syllabus 2011
III. Private Law Colleges
11 Symbiosis School of Law, Pune Media Law (Elective Course for LL.B. Fourth Year )

The media law related issues are offered as one module in different courses in law. These issues were dealt in constitutional law as part of freedom of speech and expression, issues related to defamation were discussed in law of torts, issues related to cyber law are discussed in cyber law or information technology course and the media related IP issues are dealt in intellectual property course. The exclusive offer of media law as a separate course was found a due place in the National Law Schools as an optional seminar course in fourth or fifth year of five year integrated law course. The media law is also offered in LLM programme in the constitutional law specialisation.

The survey revealed that seven national law schools among the fourteen national law schools in India are offering media law as part of seminar course in five year integrated course of BA LLB (Hons.) and as course in LL.M in constitutional law specialisation. The seven national law schools are HNLU Raipur, NALSAR Hyderabad, NUJS Kolkata, NLU Jodhpur, GNLU Gandhinagar, NLSIU Bangalore and National Law University Delhi.

The survey also found that only one law faculty, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar College of Law, Andhra University, Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh is offering Media Law including Right to Information as an Optional Paper in LL.B. three year degree course. Whereas, two more law faculties such as University Law College Bangalore and University of Lucknow are offering media law only in LL.M in constitutional law specialisation. Symbiosis law college Pune offers Media Law as an elective course in LL.B fourth year.

Generally, media law is being offered in post graduate courses in law in constitutional law specialisation. However, the offer of media law course in LL.B programme finds more prominence in the National Law Schools who have more autonomy and innovation to offer new courses by encouraging interdisciplinary learning. This is clearly demonstrated by offer of this programme in seven national law schools in undergraduate programme and in one five year undergraduate programme in university law faculty and in another private law college in Pune.

PLACE OF MEDIA LAW IN LEAGAL EDUCATION

Media Law is being taught primarily as part of the Constitutional Law in freedom speech and expression, issues of censorship in the fundamental rights chapter. The issues related to defamation are being taught as part of Law of Torts. Issues such as obscenity, sedition, blasphemy finds place in Criminal Law. The Intellectual Property Rights issues related to Media are taught in the Intellectual Property Law course. In addition to teaching of Media Law as part of several courses it finds due place as separate course in legal education only in the five year integrated law courses at National Law Schools. The Table 1 clearly explains that among the eleven institutions that were surveyed nine were offering Media Law course in the five year integrated law programme and two University Law faculties are offering it in the LL.M. by adopting U.G.C. C.D.C. syllabus.

NOMENCLATURE OF MEDIA LAW COURSES

The table 1 provides a glimpse of the nomenclature of Media Law courses offered in eleven institutions in India. The course on Media Law is being offered in many Law schools when compared to University Law Faculties and Private Law Colleges. Among the Seventeen National Law Schools, Seven National Law Schools were offering Media Law courses and all of them are offering it as Seminar course in Fourth or Fifth year. The nomenclature of the course in five National Law Schools is under the course title ‘Media Law’. Whereas, NUJS Kolkata named the course as ‘Entertainment and Media Law’ and NLU Jodhpur calls it as ‘Entertainment, New Media & Communications Law’.

A conventional University Law College located in Andhra University Vishakhapattanam titles it as ‘Media Law including Right to Information’ in three year law degree course as an optional paper. This demonstrates its thematic focus on Right to Information as an integral part of Media Law. The University Law College, Bangalore and Lucknow University adopt the course title as ‘Mass Media Law’ as per University Grants Commission Curriculum Development Center in Law.

During the survey three Universities and one aided private Law College expressed their interest to offer this course in future. They are: Sambhalpur University, Orissa, A.P. University of Law, Visakhapatnam, Department of Law, University of Mumbai, Mumbai and V.T. Choksi Sarvajanik Law College, Surat.

TREND ANALYSIS OF MEDIA LAW CURRICULA

The curriculum is analysed in terms of three major vectors suggested by C.C.M.G., Jamia Millia Islamia University. They are:

  1. The construction of the object of Media Law.
  2. Thematic priorities and emphasis.
  3. The use of case materials and other pedagogical resources.

The trend analysis of Curriculum primarily focused on syllabus, design and thematic focus. The analysis has also taken into consideration the place of offer of Media Law in legal education and its focus as a Compulsory or optional course. It also attempted to address the larger issue of how the legal education persist and understand Media. How much of traditional (censorship, defamation, sedition, hate speech etc.) and new interdisciplinary issues (Intellectual Property, Cyber law etc.) or being brought together under the larger rubric of Media Law. The analysis also examined the context and the external environment and its impact on teaching of Media Law in India (Passing of new laws, coming enough new sectors).

Table 2: Selected features of Media Law Curricula

S. No. Institutions           Orientation Thematic Focus Books recommended What is New
I. National Law Schools
1 HNLU Raipur Traditional Traditional

2 NALSAR University of Law Hyderabad Mainstream Broadcasting, Internet and regulation Mainstream Regulating Media
3 NUJS Kolkata Mainstream Cinema, Broadcasting and RTI Mainstream Judicial reporting, Recent controversies, Advertising and Cinema
4 NLU Jodhpur

5 GNLU

6 National Law University, Delhi Mainstream Mainstream Mainstream
7 National Law School of India University, Banglore Traditional Traditional

II. University Law Faculties
8 Dr. B. R. Ambedkar College of Law, Andhra University Mainstream & Traditional Radio, Television and RTI Traditional & Mainstream RTI
9 University Law College, Bangalore Traditional (adopted UGC CDC ) Traditional Traditional

10 University of Lucknow Traditional (adopted UGC CDC ) Traditional Traditional

 III. Private Law Colleges
11 Symbiosis School of Law, Pune

Traditional

 

The Media Law in legal education is constructed with the thematic focus around traditional and conventional issues such as constitutional rights including freedom of speech and expression and restrictions such as censorship, blasphemy, defamation, obscenity, sedition and contempt of court. The media in popular terms is called as press that is the print media, the radio, television, broadcasting and other new communication technologies were added into legal learning in the later stages. The legal education started addressing these questions and problems posed by new communication technologies as part of the curriculum. However, the thematic focus of the curriculum in Media Law still relies on conventional issues related to media. Very few Media Law courses incorporated the regulatory issues and issues related to intellectual property.

The monograph attempts to analyse the selected features of Media Law Curriculum of eleven institutions in India to understand its orientation, thematic focus, novelty in the course along with the recommended texts and readings. The trend analysis of Media Law curriculum of the institutions is given below:

 

OFFER OF MEDIA LAW COURSES IN DIFFERENT INSTITUTIONS IN INDIA

UNIVERSITY GRANTS COMMISSION & CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT CENTRE

Majority of the law colleges in India are following the U.G.C. C.D.C. curriculum of Mass Media Law. This has five modules and in the first module on mass media law press films radio and television are covered. Freedom of speech and expression, government monopoly on Radio and television and constitutional restrictions are given priority in the curriculum. The course deals with the interaction with law and mass media. This can be described as a traditional curriculum which is being offered as part of LL.M. course in two law faculties, University of Bangalore and University of Lucknow.

HIDAYATULLAH NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY, RAIPUR

The thematic focus of curriculum of HNLU Raipur follows traditional approach in construction of curriculum of Media Law course.  The priorities of the course are on constitutional framework, freedom of press, privacy and right to information. The issues relating to Broadcasting and its regulations are also given a focus in the course.  The inclusion of un-enumerated rights shows some novelty in the curriculum. However, it was primarily explained as part of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India.

NALSAR, UNIVERSITY OF LAW, HYDERABAD

 The Media Law curriculum of NALSAR University of Law reflects main stream, comprehensive and innovative course structure having thematic focus on the concept and history of media law, its constitutional foundations, criminal law relating to expression, broadcasting media and internet. Regulation of media prominently figures in the curriculum. The curriculum describes self regulation and regulation by Press Council of India and through other laws including Consumer protection. The new media technologies along with internet and issues regulation were given prominence in the curriculum. The instructor of this course, who himself was an erstwhile journalist who later opted for law teacher.

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF JURIDICAL SCIENCES, KOLKATTA

 The course on Entertainment and Media Law in NUJS covers themes such as media and society, media and constitution, the issues of obscenity and censorship, contempt of court, defamation, investigative journalism, right to privacy, right to information etc. This is the only curriculum which incorporated cinema and the state, judicial reporting, broadcasting and other recent controversies. The course also covers recent controversies including role of media in elections and emergency, complex legal issues involving celebrity rights and media and copyright jurisprudence.  The orientation is main stream and the thematic focus of the course includes media law both new and old issues and advertising , broadcasting , cinema and music industry and potential areas were also highlighted in the curriculum.

DR. B.R. AMBEDKAR LAW COLLEGE, ANDHRA PRADESH

The law faculty in Dr. B. R. Ambedkar College of Law, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam broadly adopted the U.G.C. C.D.C. syllabus with addition of one module on Right to Information Act, 2005. This course is offered as an optional paper in the five year LL.B. course.

GUJRAT NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY, GANDHINAGAR

Gujrat National Law University offers Media Law Seminar Course for LL.B. students in the fifth year.  This course also broadly adopts U.G.C. C.D.C. curriculum.

NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY, DELHI 

National Law University Delhi offers media Law as Seminar Course in the Ninth Semester for fifth year B.A. LL.B. Hons. students. This course is also offered to LL.M. students in Constitutional Law specialisation. The thematic focus of the course is mainstream and covers both conventional and modern aspects of media law such as judicial reporting and contempt and investigative journalism. The course incorporated several new modules to understand the problems with media such as Paid news, Trial by media and Cricket broadcasting. The course also added innovative issues looking at general structure and working of the Cinematograph Act and Cinematograph Rules. The upcoming issues of Cricket Broadcasting is covered in two modules which includes mandatory sharing of signals, disputes in exclusive broadcast rights and broadcast as intellectual property.

NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY, JODHPUR 

National Law University Jodhpur offers Media Law course as part of honours course in Constitutional Law group in fourth year LL.B. programme and third semester in LL.M. programme in Intellectual Property Right (IPR) and technology law course. The thematic focus in the LL.B. programme is primarily on Entertainment, New Media & Communications Law and in LL.M. on IPR and technology law.

UNIVERSITY LAW COLLEGE, BANGALORE 

The University Law College, Bangalore broadly adopted the U.G.C. C.D.C. syllabus and it is offered as an optional paper in the five year LL.B. course.

FACULTY OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF LUCKNOW 

The Faculty of Law, University of Lucknow also adopted the U.G.C. C.D.C. syllabus and this course is offered as an optional paper in the five year LL.B. course.

SYMBIOSIS LAW COLLEGE, PUNE 

The Symbiosis Law College, Pune offers Media Law course as an elective course for LL.B. Fourth Year and it is broadly based on the U.G.C. C.D.C. curriculum.

 CURRICULUM DESIGN

The curriculum is a pedagogical instrument with a clear course and class objectives for learning. The outline of the course can serve as a basis for asking questions and framing the subject matter for further interactions with students. It not only guides the instructor but also makes student more enthusiastic and motivates them in the process of learning.

Teaching is a process of continuous learning, experimentation and incorporating new content, methods and teaching styles. Curriculum design occupies very important place in teaching. A teacher has to be given freedom and autonomy to design the content, teaching style and the materials. However, the curriculum is generally developed by the Board of Studies in Universities and is given to the teachers for instruction.

It is only in the National Law Schools that provide autonomy for teachers to design their courses and develop creative and innovative materials. This freedom of curriculum development makes the teacher more participatory and engaging in learning. This encourages teacher to experiment and incorporate new ideas and perspectives into the curriculum.

While designing a course faculty should address the following issues and clearly communicate these matters to students to make learning more productive and enjoyable.

  • Identification of course objectives and what students should be able to know through the course.
  • Selection of cases and materials: case laws, books, articles, videos, film, clippings, press clippings, cartoons etc.
  • Variety of teaching learning activities such as lecture, discussion, small group, projects, field trips, simulation etc.
  • Articulating class room policies and procedures – attendance, timelines, academic honesty etc.

PERCEPTION OF MEDIA LAW IN LEGAL EDUCATION

The legal education perceives and understands media in a very conventional and traditional sense as censorship, defamation and sedition. This is the traditional notion of media projected by the state by restricting freedom of speech and expression through censorship, defamation and much more aggressive form of declaring as an act of sedition inviting criminal prosecutions. This can be considered as a predominant notion of media which is colonial in origin and still continues even in the independent India without much challenge. This focus in curriculum is visible in all the courses.

The interdisciplinary approaches in understanding of media are still emerging with the development of information communication technologies and intellectual property law. These new trends found thematic focus in the majority of the National Law Schools unlike the law faculties and other law colleges. However, there was no serious attempt made to bring in issues of new media and contemporary issues related to electronic media, broadcasting, media policies, cinema and other related issues.  

CONCLUSION 

In this age of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and emergence of new Media, there is an increasing significance in teaching of Media Law in several Universities in India. Teaching of Media Law gained importance with the curriculum developed by U.G.C. C.D.C. way back in 90s. Many universities adopted the U.G.C. C.D.C. curriculum and only some Universities followed broad based themes and emerging contemporary issues. It was interesting to compare the nature of curriculum of National Law Universities with other law faculties and private institutions. It is also important to note in this context the special efforts made by Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore to design one module on defamation which is an important area in Media Law. This defamation module is very innovative and creative way of understanding defamation in an interdisciplinary perspective.

This project of mapping Media Law related legal education provided me an opportunity to understand the formulation of curriculum and to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of curriculum design. It also gave a new outlook toward the thematic focus of media law by comparing the course modules of the various universities. There is a need to restructure the curriculum to incorporate the contemporary debates and world scenario. The legal educators have to innovate in contextualising the contemporary law, policy, judicial discourse and interrogating several issues into the curriculum and learning pedagogy. There is a need for interdisciplinary Handbook on cases and materials on Media Law in India.

 

REFERENCES

John Makdisi, ‘A Survey of AALS Law Schools Teaching Islamic Law’, Journal of Legal Education, Volume 55, Number 4 (December 2005), Pp. 582-88.

Parag Waknis, ‘Macroeconomics Curricula in India and the United States’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol XLVII No. 13, March 13, 2012 Pp. 79-80.

G. Visakh Varma, ‘Some Thoughts on the Macroeconomic Curriculum in India’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol XLVII No. 3, January 21, 2012 Pp. 22-26.

Gerald F. Hess & Steven Friedland, Techniques for Teaching Law, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, North Carolina, 1999.

Madhavi Goardia Divan, Facets of Media Law. Estern Book Company, 2006.

This entry was published on February 21, 2013 at 11:51 am. It’s filed under Media Policy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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