NUJS Law University- Kolkata to offer course on Harry Potter Universe

NUJS Law University – Come December, the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata will commence its first classes on the legal principles of the Harry Potter universe, The Guardian reported. Titled: “An Interface between Fantasy Fiction Literature and Law: Special Focus on Rowling’s Potterverse, the course is a creation of Shouvik Kumar Guha, Assistant Professor of the Kolkata University. The enrolled students are expected to have already read all the books of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series at least twice, if not more, the report said.

Critical Thinking

The curriculum asks senior students to apply both Indian, and wizardry legal principles to topics such as the “unforgivable curses” – torture, murder and possession of another person – the rules of the broomstick sport Quidditch and an alleged murder by Sirius Black. Along with breaking up the study of stodgier legal subjects, the course is also intended to encourage students to think critically about Indian social problems, noted the report.

Discrimination, torture and slavery are still endemic problems in many parts of India. How India’s Hindu majority should regard the country’s substantial minorities is a significant faultline, echoing a debate in the books about how wizards ought to exist alongside muggles – people without magical abilities.

“In India right now the political situation is divisive. I have my political leanings, but it would be inappropriate to apply them in class. So I am trying to use something on which our students will not have any previous value judgments. Our students believe the discrimination voiced in the Potter-verse is something they all agree is wrong. But in real life there will be things that some see as discrimination and which others do not”, Kumar pointed out. The course will examine how, in the novels, creatures such as elves, centaurs and giants are marginalised in mainstream society and how the Daily Prophet newspaper becomes an outlet for official propaganda.

“Then they can see when they encounter scenarios in the real world; maybe it will help them think a little bit,” Kumar said. More than 500 million Harry Potter books have been sold worldwide, and it is as wildly popular in India as elsewhere. All 40 spots on the course have already been filled, added the report.

The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences was formed under the WBNUJS Act, 1999 (West Bengal Act IX of 1999) adopted by the West Bengal Legislature in July 1999. The University was notified under Clause (f) of Section 2 of the UGC Act, 1956 in August 2004 and has been granted permanent affiliation by the Bar Council of India in July 2005. Initially, classes, which started in 2000, were held at Aranya Bhavan, where the Environment Ministry of the Government of West Bengal is located, and the first batches of students began living in government flats. On 28 October 2002, the university’s present-day permanent campus was inaugurated by the then Chief Justice of India, B. N. Kirpal.

The NUJS, Kolkata, along with the GNLU and NLSIU, Bangalore, remain the only three national law schools which have the Chief Justice of India as the Chancellor. This set-up provides an aura of exclusivity and rare stature to these National Law Schools in India. It may be noted that all other National Law Schools have the Chief Justice of the respective state High Courts as their Chancellors. NUJS is considered one of the best amongst the elite national law schools in India built on the five-year law degree model proposed and implemented by the Bar Council of India.

The university offers a five-year integrated B.A./BSc. LLB (Hons.) degree programme at the undergraduate level and a Master of Laws (LLM) programme at the postgraduate level. Admission to the former programme is through the Common Law Admission Test, a highly competitive, nationwide common entrance examination, held jointly by fourteen of the seventeen national law schools. NUJS also offers MPhil, PhD and diploma in business laws and other programs. It also provides some online courses that attract students from 17 countries across the world so far. The Chief Justice of India is the Chancellor of NUJS and is also the Chairman of the General Council, the supreme policy-making body of the University. Professor Dr P. Ishwara Bhat is the Vice Chancellor of the University.

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