Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am from Shimoga in Karnataka. I grew up and did my schooling in Belgaum, Bangalore, Bhadravati and Shimoga. I am a graduate of the LL.B and LL.M programmes at NLSIU. I began my teaching career at NLSIU, where I initially worked for 4 years. I then went to Yale Law School, USA, where I got my LL.M and JSD (Doctor of Science in Law) degrees. I have been a faculty member at the National Judicial Academy, Bhopal, and at the National Law University, Delhi. I have also been the Chairperson of the Delhi Judicial Academy. Other than my professional interests, I enjoy travelling, reading, and watching true crime shows/docuseries.
What is your area of teaching? How did your interest in Criminal Law begin?
I have focussed on Criminal Law throughout my career. My fascination with the field began right from my second year at law school, when we were taught criminal law. In my final year of law school I was a teaching assistant to Prof. S.V. Joga Rao for the criminal law course. That was a career-defining moment for me. I realised how much I enjoyed teaching, and criminal law. This passion for teaching and criminal law led me to return to NLSIU to teach after a short stint as a corporate lawyer.
The importance of Criminal Law as a subject in your opinion:
Criminal law impacts our daily lives in many ways. People are fascinated by crime, as the current unhealthy media circus around actor Rhea Chakraborty indicates. It is also a political issue, as is exemplified by the 2020 US Presidential elections. In the recent past, I have focused on sexual offences laws.
My doctoral dissertation was on sentencing for rape in India. I was also part of the research team of the Justice Verma Committee that suggested reforms to rape laws in 2013. One of the recommendations of the committee was a definition of “consent” in the context of sexual activities. As the Committee noted in its report, the objectives of the Committee’s recommendations were not only about criminalizing actions or recommending punishments, but to shape and guide people’s behaviour. Since criminal law sets normative frameworks to guide people’s behaviour, failing which it curtails liberty, it is a very important area of law. Criminal Procedure on the other hand is a charter for protection of people’s rights in their interaction with the criminal justice system. Hence, criminal law as a subject is not only interesting to study, but also a particularly important facet of people’s lives.