INTERVIEW WITH PROF. MOHD. SHAKEEL AHMED (SAMDANI), DEAN, FACULTY OF LAW, ALIGARH MUSLIM UNIVERSITY
Request you to introduce yourself to our readers?
I am Prof. Mohd. Shakeel Ahmed (Samdani) currently serving as the Dean, Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University(AMU), Aligarh. I have a teaching experience of about 30 years. My area of specialization includes Family Laws, International Laws and Human Rights. I have also held many administrative posts in the university. Apart from this, I am also the President of a social organization known as Sir Syed Awareness Forum.
What interested you in taking up Law as a profession?
Taking up law was never a long thought out decision but happened due to various factors. I had taken up science stream after High School but soon realised it wasn’t my cup of tea. So, I changed my stream and completed my B.A. from Gorakhpur University. After this, I applied for LLB (Hons.) from Aligarh Muslim University and I was lucky enough to get admission there.
How was your law school life?
College life is one of the most memorable moments of one's life. College life is the life when you start focusing on your career and become serious towards. I joined the faculty of law, AMU in the year 1980. I had always remained very active in my extracurricular activities. I used to take part in speech and debate competitions. I was also very active in the hall administration as well. During my college I held various posts:-
1. Vice President, Law Society, AMU.
2. Senior Hall Monitor, AMK Hostel, Ross Masood Hall, AMU
3. Secretary, Common Room, Ross Masood Hall, AMU.
What were the activities and internships you pursued in college?
The scope of law was very limited at that time. I had not done any formal internship but I used to visit the District Court Aligarh very frequently.
Please walk us through your professional life after graduation.
After completing my LLM, I was fortunate enough to get selected as a Lectrurer (Assistant Professor) in the Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. I got promoted to Associate Professor in 2002 and Professor in the year 2009.
I had been appointed as the Estate Officer (Gazetted), AMU by the Government of India. I had also held many administrative positions. They are as follows:-
1. Coordinator, General Education Centre, AMU,
2. Member, Media Committee, AMU
3. In-charge, Law Society, Faculty of Law, AMU
4. In-charge, Cultural Program, Faculty of Law, AMU
5. Assistant Proctor, AMU
6. Program Officer, National Service Scheme (NSS), AMU
7. Coordinator, Sir Syed Bi-Centenary Celebrations, AMU
8. Warden, M.M Hall, AMU and
9. Pro Proctor, AMU.
Do you agree that NLU students are given more preference for Jobs and internships?
Before answering this question, I want to tell you that the whole idea of NLU's and integrated course of BALLB was given by a notable Alumni of Faculty of Law, AMU, Prof. N. R. Madhava Menon. Now coming back to the question, I want to say that I don't think that students of NLU are given more preference over the students of AMU in jobs. As far as internships are concerned, I feel that they get some privilege over the other students.
How much importance does attendance hold for a law student, because practical knowledge holds more significance than the theoretical knowledge?
Indeed it is very true that practical knowledge holds more significance than theoretical knowledge, but it does not mean that theoretical knowledge does not hold any significance. To become a successful legal personality, a person must have a balance of theoretical as well as practical knowledge.
As far as class teaching is concerned, the student does not only gain theoretical knowledge there. Academicians share their practical knowledge as well. Last year one of my students who got selected in PCS(J) called me and said that, "Your class teaching helped me a lot in my interview. The examples you quote and the way you explained the things were very much clear in my mind."
Recently, Ms. Iram Majid, Director, Indian Institute of Arbitration and Mediation and my student while delivering lecture in an International conference stated that "she still remember the chapter of Polygamy in Islam which was taught by Prof. Samdani". So, I think class teaching also plays a very important role in shaping one's personality. As far as the Faculty of Law, AMU is concerned, it is mandatory for every student to have 75% attendance at the end of semester.
How has the current pandemic situation affected the studies, internship, and placement of students?
The current pandemic situation has affected the entire education system globally. The positive outcome was the world moved to the digital era and everything has started happening online. Students are attending classes and doing internships online. But the negative effect is that not all people in our country have proper access to the internet and those students are finding it very difficult to compete with other students.
What makes your college different from others?
The Department of Law, Aligarh Muslim University is one of the oldest Departments in India. The teaching of Law in AMU was introduced in 1883. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the Founder was greatly impressed by the Programme of Legal Education in British Universities. So he was very keen to have legal education on that pattern in AMU also. In 1960, the Department of Law came into being into a full-fledged Faculty.
Our Faculty of Law, popularly known as the mother Faculty has produced innumerable legal icons who have rendered their services to many reputed Law Faculties in India. Their services have been keenly acknowledged both at the Bench and the Bar. Some of its illustrious products who rose to senior and eminent positions not only in India but other countries too. In judiciary our notable alumnis include the Indian Supreme Court Judges such as Mr. Justice Baharul Islam, Mr. Justice Murtaza Fazle Ali and Mr. Justice R. P. Sethi. Other prominent foreign Justices & Chief Justices include Justice Baseer Ahmad Khan, Chief Justice of Tanzania and Justice Augustine Saedi, Chief Justice of Uganda and Justice of Pakistan.
What are your views on career choices after Law?
Career choices vary from person to person. Law is developing every day and career choices are also developing with it. I still recall my time when I was a student, then only had 3 choices, litigation, judiciary or academics. But now, career options have increased a lot. I just want to say that career options should remain a personal choice.
Parting advice for the law aspirants?
My advice for the law aspirants:-
1. Set a target for yourself and focus on that target.
2. Try to develop communication skills
3. Try to do more and more internships in the area you are interested in.
4. Always believe that there is no substitute of hard work.
5. Sky is the limit in the legal profession.
Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh