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Two Nalsar Hyderabad debating teams suffered a tight double defeat at the hands of the double-winners Faculty of Law Colombo at the 8th National Law School Parliamentary Debate held at NLSIU Bangalore.
Nalsar's first team was the Indian law school that performed best out of around 10 Indian law schools competing and progressed to the knock-out rounds.
In a competition of 60 top Indian and South Asian universities, Nalsar's first team was beaten by Sri Lanka's Faculty of Law Colombo in the round of the last 16 in a controversial four-to-one split decision, which saw the chief adjudicator came out strongly in favour of the Nalsar debating team.
One of the chief adjudicators and Ateneo de Manila, Philippines faculty member Sharmila Parmanand said she felt strongly about her dissenting stance.
"I thought their approach was very sophisticated," she said about the Nalsar team's arguments in favour of the proposition that rape cases should be tried exclusively by female judges.
She said that the Nalsar team had tried a difficult philosophical approach in arguing that gender-bias and patriarchy were hard to transcend for individual male judges.
Colombo went for a more practical approach that ultimately convinced the majority of the judges.
However, Parmanand accepted the majority verdict and conceded: "When you are in the break rounds you have to deal with very diverse adjudication philosophies."
The Nalsar A team consisted of Tarun Gopalakrishnan, Anees Backer and Pranshu Bhutra and they all vowed to return to NLSIU for next year's competition.
Backer said that the fact that the most experienced adjudicator on the panel gave it to us was "really heartening", as she has judged moots at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Austral ASEAN level.
Bhutra commented: "At the end of the day a lot of adjudication is subjective and there is an element of luck involved as well."
Gopalakrishnan added: "It was extremely tight – we would have preferred winning but overall we accepted the justifications given."
The A team from Faculty of Law Colombo consisted of Shamalie Madhu Jayatunge, Luwie N Ganeshathasan and Sachinta Dias-Mudalige and continued winning the competition in a nine-to-one decision against R.V. College of Engineering Bangalore yesterday (4 December).
The proposition in the final debate was that Sri Lankan generals should be tried for war crimes, with the Colombo team arguing in favour.
Elated Colombo speaker Ganeshathasan gushed in the midst of victory celebrations: "It feels brilliant, it is my third time here - the first time we came to the finals but we lost that, last year we lost the semi-finals but finally it feels just brilliant!"
The Faculty of Law Colombo team B also went on to win the novice competition of 20 teams, again, narrowly besting Nalsar's B team in the finals. Nalsar's B team included Nehaa Chaudhari, S Bheeshan Iyer and Puneeth Nagaraj.
The NLS debating competition is one of India's largest international debating championships and has been organised by NLSIU Bangalore for eight years now.
NLS convenor Maanav Kumar told Legally India: "Frankly the competition was great, the arguments being thrown around in the rooms were of a very, very high quality and the issues and their reasoning were very, very competitive."
"And the judging was also excellent," he added. "The USP of this tournament was that this was the best judging in the country."
NLSIU had invited a number of chief adjudicators from ASEANS countries, many of whom have had international adjudication experience.
NLSIU debating teams were not eligible to participate in the full competition.
The competition's main sponsor this year was Clifford Chance, with Legally India acting as one of the co-sponsors.
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