MEETING ON FEMINIST JURISPRUDENCE
The National Commission for Women (NCW) organized a meeting
for determining the curricular content of Feminist Jurisprudence to be taught
in the Law Faculties of various universities and institutes, on 31st October -
1st November, 2003 at the India International Centre, New Delhi. Various
luminaries from law, women studies and other related fields along with teachers
of law at various colleges, inter alia, had participated in the meeting. The
challenge before the participants at the meeting was to chalk out a course
curriculum for feminist jurisprudence to be incorporated in LLB and LLM
The meeting commenced with a formal welcome address by Mrs.
Sunila Basant, Member Secretary, NCW. She pointed out that the meeting was
topical relevance in view of increasing onslaught on women and their rights.
Feminist Jurisprudence can contribute significantly by looking at rights and
remedies in critical areas of equality, position in family, employment and
life. She stressed that India is a stratified and segmented society and
Feminist Jurisprudence will therefore, also have to explore areas like
atrocities against women of weaker sections in feudal situations.
The background paper for the meeting was presented by Dr. Nilima
Chandiramani, Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Mumbai, who had submitted a
draft report on "Guidelines for a course on feminist jurisprudence" to be
introduced at LLB and LLM courses in India to the NCW in March, 2001. She
pointed out that very few law schools in India offered papers related to
feminist jurisprudence at the LLB and LLM levels and even in those, only
substantive provisions of law were taught and the issues were not dealt with
from the point of view of women.
In her address, the Chairperson, NCW, Dr. Poornima Advani,
confessed that although the Commission had been intensely dreaming of
incorporating feminist jurisprudence in LLB and LLM courses since the year
1999, there had been no implementation of the same since. Thus, the NCW
initiated action on the issue by organizing the meeting. Dr. Advani emphasized
that while preparing the course curriculum, the stark realities have to
feature. She also stressed on the need to bring the available resources, energy
and efforts of all organizations/institutions such as the NCW and National
Human Rights Commission, Colleges, lawyers and women activists etc. under one
umbrella so as to avoid any overlapping.
A vote of thanks was proposed by Ms. Baby Rani Maurya, Member,
NCW, who pointed out that there is need for amendment in the laws and that laws
should be viewed from the point of view of women.
The first plenary session, which was chaired by Prof. B.P.
Srivastava, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, aimed at discussing what
feminist jurisprudence is and why is it required to be studied. Dr. Poonam
Saxena, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi explained that feminist
jurisprudence is the knowledge of law from the point of view of women. Ms.
Flavia Agnes, a practicing lawyer, pointed out various provisions in the Indian
laws which though, on paper appear to have been enacted in the interest of
women, are in reality prejudicial to their interest. Ms. Rekha Pandey, while
explaining 'what is feminist jurisprudence', opined that women have to be
central when studying jurisprudence. During an interaction, various suggestions
were made eg., every girl and boy must compulsorily be given a course on
feminist jurisprudence at the first year level of graduation.
The second plenary session chaired by Sh. Adish c. Agarwala,
vice Chairman, Bar council of India, focused on the incorporation of feminist
jurisprudence in law courses Prof. Ranbir Singh, Director, NALSAR, Hyderabad,
expressed strongly that Feminist Jurisprudence has to be internalized into the
system rather than incorporating separate subject o it in the LLB and LLM
courses. He was of the view that issues relating to feminist jurisprudence must
be included in the existing subjects. Prof. Moolchand Sharma, Faculty of Law,
University of Delhi, stressed on the need to launch parallel project on
teaching methodology and faculty development in order to successfully
incorporate feminist jurisprudence in the course curriculum. He was of the
view, that the constituency, i.e. on whom the course is to administered, had to
be identified and that the course developed must answer the grand objectives
like, awareness, sensitization, building capacity, imparting skill and
unwarning the prejudices etc.
Summing up the days discussion, the Vice Chairman, Bar council
of India, agreed that these was a need to incorporate a subject as Feminist
Jurisprudence in the curriculum for LLB and LLM courses and that it should be
mandatory if it was to serve any use. He also gave an assurance to the NCW that
once the course curriculum for feminist jurisprudence is framed by it, the
subject would be included in the curriculum at law college with the help of the
Bar council of India. On the second day of the meeting i.e. Ist November, 2003
as a matter of convenience the participants divided themselves into two groups
in order to review the curriculum devised by the CDC. Upon a discussion after
the presentation, various other changes which were suggested by the
participants, were incorporated.
Expressing the views of the group reviewing the curriculum for
the LLB course, Prof. Pam Rajpute, centre for women's Studies and development,
Punjab University, mentioned that the paper must be incorporated in the
curriculum for the final year of the course i.e. the 3rd or the 5th year, as
the case may be. She suggested that faculty development and developing a
teaching methodology are needed and that, certain regional workshops, atleast
for the initial few years, must be organized for the purpose of building the
capacity of the teachers. Prof. Rajpute finally suggested that it would be
pertinent to test the course on the participants themselves, so that it could
be seen whether the course could actually be taught from the perspective with
which they plan to teach.
The Vice Chairman, UGC , Prof.V.N. Rajshakharan Pillai who was
also present at the meeting promised support and assistance both financial
& otherwise from the UGC to the NCW, in introducing a course in feminist
Jurisprudence in the various universities. He also assured to supply catalysts
for training the teachers once an outline of the course curriculum is devised
by the NCW.
The two groups would finalise the draft course curriculum for
the next joint workshop of LLB and LLM course and these would be discussed in
the next meeting.
It was suggested that selected bibliography in the curriculum
devised by the CDC of the UGC should also include the name of Indian writers. A
sociologist should also be included in the group dealing with LLM.
At the end, Dr. Poornima Advani, Chairperson, NCW, expressed her
delight over the success of the meeting saying that for her it was a dream come
true, that the participants had really been involved in working towards
finalizing a course content for feminist jurisprudence. She suggested that
notes of the reviewed course curriculum for both LLB and LLM courses be sent to
all participants as well as universities for further suggestions upon it. Dr.
Advani expressed her hope that the course curriculum would be published by the
Ist February, 2004 so that it could be placed on the laps of the UGC by the
8thMarch, 2004, which is celebrated as the World Women's Day.