While co-curricular activities like moot-court competition, client counseling contest, competition on commercial arbitration etc. are now common place among law students, competition for law reform is relatively unknown. In early 1990s, the National Law School of India University, Bangalore conducted one round of law reform competition with participation from several law schools in the SAARC region but discontinued it, probably because of organizational challenges. Two decades later, Mar Gregorios College of Law, Trivandrum in association with MILAT has revived the competition for promoting intellectually challenging and socially relevant ways of learning law and in the process, contributing to legal development for the benefit of society.
Law reform is an exciting and instructive exercise for serious law students wherein they not only learn analytically the law as it exists in the books, but also identify through field research in the community why the law fails to deliver what it promises. Furthermore, they get the opportunity to gather the community’s perspectives on what changes in the law they think appropriate and then articulate it in the form of a legislative proposal for authorities to consider. Naturally such a massive and innovative learning method can happen only in groups over a long period of time.
A few words about the theme for the law reform competition: The Constitution directs the State to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India. For different reasons successive governments at the Centre failed to take the initiative. On more than one occasion, the Supreme Court experiencing difficulty in maintaining equality in family relations has asked the Government to take steps for enacting a Uniform Civil Code. Recently, on direction from the apex court, the Law Commission of India asked citizens to respond to the feasibility and strategy for developing the Code. It is in this context, the organizers felt that law students who think beyond narrow identities are equipped to contribute to policy development can make an attempt to produce a draft incorporating the views of different communities and integrating constitutional values of secularism and religious freedom. Only if a draft is in public domain can people understand what the UCC is all about and whether it is acceptable or not. Hence the first national law reform competition on drafting a Uniform Civil Code for India from the legal academia.