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An estimated 10-minute read
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This is a work of fiction and all events as well as characters are purely figments of imagination. Any resemblance (if at all) to any event or person alive or dead is merely coincidental. This is a sci-fi short story set in 2022 and you are free to stop reading it at any point if you hate sci fi or are annoyed with the poor quality of this writing. 

"Yes Sirr!" I blurted out loudly as I was jolted awake from my slumber by Lahsiv's elbow crashing into my ribs.

It was a signal for me to wake up and answer my roll call.

With the West India National Law University (WINLU) having implemented a compulsory 70% attendance policy, the roll call was the single most important reason why most of the students attended classes. I was pleased with myself for having been marked present though I had not been awake for a single minute of the 'Interpretation of Statues' class.

I hadn't missed much, because in WINLU just as 'world class university' meant classrooms without paint, 'Interpretation of Statues' meant a case-memorising-endeavour. The final exam paper pattern ironically did not involve the interpretation of a single section but required students to merely reproduce from memory, some landmark decisions.

Having secured my attendance due to him, I gave Lahsiv a smile and glanced at the time table on my phone to see what lecture I would have to endure next. Constitutional law; I sighed and opened my notebook simultaneously looking around to see who looked like a sincere soul who would be carrying an extra pen.

Constitutional law and Administrative law lectures meant that you had to scribble everything that the teacher said as fast as you could. The professor goes through almost a million cases in a month and you have to have the notes for every single one if you want to have a chance to secure decent marks. Just as the prospect of an aching hand after an hour was going to dissuade me from taking notes, "at least the subject is interesting." I encouraged myself. 

"It's the last class, want to ride to the IT city and have good lunch there?" Lahsiv asked.  The thought of riding my latest 2014 edition Electric Cattle series robot brought a smile to my face. Up until 2012 most people thought that the solution to the depleting petroleum reserves world wide was electric motor vehicles but the unlikely partnership of Bajaj motors and Blackberry had brought forth their innovative product line - Electric Cattle. Not only was it a voice activated robot through which you could access the internet (critics claim Blackberry copied it off Apple's Siri) and play with like a pet but you could also ride on the electric powered bull and go up to 100kms in a single charge. The fastest model, which I had purchased a few months prior, was called Bullsar. It was Bajaj's play on the similarly named range of motorcycles which the Electric Cattle robots had rendered obsolete. 

"Of course" I replied with a grin but my enthusiasm waned when I remembered and added "but we will have to wait for 20-30 mins for it to charge." With the food at WINLU being bad more often than not, most students had bought various Electric Cattle series versions so that they could easily ride to nearby fast food joints.

"You can ride Lalit's. He has to study for his retest today, he won't come." Lahsiv replied just as the professor entered. 

For the next 55 mins words like "reasonable classification" and "nexus" filled the air and my notebook as I scribbled at maximum possible pace not bothering to think whether I was writing legibly enough to be able to read it later. Just as I thought that my borrowed pen was about to embarrassingly run out of ink, the bell rang to my great relief.

"Get Lalit's Bullsar too, I will see you in ten minutes at the gate.", I told Lahsiv as he headed to his room (which he shared with Lalit) while I went back to mine. After unceremoniously dumping my notebook (that's all I carried to class) on my bed, "Hello beefy boy!" I shouted. 

On hearing my personalised voice activation command, the Bullsar woke up from its sleep mode and greeted me. "Hello Almighty!" One of the greatest joys of having a robot you can personalise is that you can train it to give you self esteem boosts!

It followed up with, "You have one new email message." And then in a more ominous tone, "Battery Alert! Battery is less than 5 percent. Please plug me to a power source." 

I cursed under my breath and started looking for the power cord which I soon found under the bed. "Read email aloud." I commanded while plugging in the Bullsar.

From : Professor Alphus
Subject : Use of appliances within the Halls of Residence

Dear Students,
This is to inform you that as per the decision of the Hostel Committee, possession and use of Electric Cattle is hence forth prohibited within the campus. Use of Air Coolers rated above 20W is also prohibited. If any person is found in possession of any such electronic device, it shall be confiscated.

Professor Alphus

My blood began to boil the minute I heard the message.

"Injustice, this is injustice isn't it? Not long ago, that bearded boy had got marks-for-discipline system scrapped by filing a PIL, hadn't he? PIL, I am going to file a PIL.", I decided.

But then, shouldn't I write to the authorities first. Give them a notice or something? I rationalised and I began drafting a letter in my head...

""Dear sir,
The university not only charges us a hefty hostel fee but also makes us pay for the electricity that we use as recorded by the electricity meters installed in each room. When this is so, why in the world do you now want to restrict our electricity usage? We are already paying for the electricity being consumed by our devices including the Electric Cattle and coolers whether big or small...""

I could recall that ironically enough, it was Prof. Alphus who had taught us in his history lecture about how Indians protested against the unfair and irrational Rowallat Act which was enacted without taking them into confidence. "Either it was that act or it was Monty-Mirlo reforms, I must check up and compare this stupid rule made without consulting us to that thing which he had taught."

'But there aren't any of those fancy article 14 words in it yet.' I thought. "The authorities are acting very arbitrarily." I should perhaps add.

'In a letter, do I need to tell them how they are State under article 12 first before invoking 14?'  I wondered. However, that chapter had been taught long ago. That there was some airport restaurant tender case was all that I could remember. 

'Nexus' & 'reasonableness', these words should feature prominently I decided because I remembered them having been uttered frequently in class, just a few minutes earlier.

"The university action had no reasonable nexus with logic." I decided to write. Didn't sound very legalese like but reflected my thoughts rather accurately. 

"Your actions are blatantly unconstitutional." I thought would be a good conclusion to the letter in my head.

"Some famous jurist's quote regarding justice would make it even better. They will wonder if Denning wrote the letter. Even god won't be able to produce a better draft," I thought with the full confidence of a second year law student who only intermittently pays attention in class. 

Just for good measure I decided to open up the bare act and see if there was anything else that I could add. It was rather shocking to see that the bare text of article 14 just talked about equality in two awkward terms.

"The jurists love such crap. They will have written two hundred pages (of some textbook's summary) on 'equality before law' and 'equal protection of laws'," I thought.

"God knows where all this nexus business came from. I should be including some inequality allegations." I was suddenly not as confident as before about my draft. "Could I say it discriminates based on gender because girls use a lot of other electric stuff like hair dryers and irons which weren't banned under this policy..."

While I was wondering about this angle, my cellphone rang. It was Lahsiv asking me to hurry to the hostel gate. I went there. Hopping on to the Bullsar, I ordered it into gear and sped off. Feeling the cool wind blowing in my face as we accelerated towards IT city, I asked him "Read Prof. Alphus' email? Bloody fascists these administration people are! They have no right to teach us law and justice." 

"Nope, I didn't read but Lalit told me about the crazy Electric Cattle ban," he replied.

"This could be our last ride if they actually..." I began.

"Don't worry, they won't implement it. This isn't the last ride, don't worry...  By the way, I'll tell you something interesting! I was chatting with Mosho just now, and you know what, they have increased salaries at BNTT again! Now it is almost two lakhs a month!" Lahsiv paused at that, letting the enormity of that amount sink in. 

It was really difficult to believe that Mosho, our senior who spent most of his law school time playing NFS racing games was now being paid enough by a law firm to actually buy a small Tata Nano car or two or three Electric Cattle models every single month!

"And that's without including the bonus," Lahsiv added but before he could continue, his Bullsar interrupted, "You have a new voice note." 

"Woooohooo, I am going to Cambridge," Esha's voice note played.

"No surprises there, she was bound to be accepted there. She had a superb recommendation from the dean to add to her perfect CGPA. What else do you need..." I commented, wondering if my dream of pursuing a Masters degree from the UK shall also one day come true or if it was destined to remain a dream...

"It was only superb because she herself had drafted the LoR. The dean merely signed it." Lahsiv pointed out. "She was his favourite student!"

Perfect CGPA and favourite student, these things mattered at WINLU. CGPA was the holy grail but this one easier to find than the one Langdon chases. All you have to do is mug, mug and mug, one solid week before the exams and a night before each test to make sure that Sasho's notes (photocopied sets of which are conveniently made available in the photocopy shop) are ingrained in your mind. Then all that remains is regurgitating it on paper. Understanding the concepts which those notes purport to encompass is purely optional.

However, you still need the college to forward that CGPA laden CV to WINLU. 'It is important to ensure that the holy grail lands in the right hands.' I thought. "Will they still help me if I challenge their stupid rules?" I wondered... "Surely no one will bother to give me a Letter of Recommendation. Nobody likes a troublemaker, do they?" 

"They may perhaps even write to other universities telling them I am anti-establishment, or will they not go so far?"

"The safe option is surely to remain quiet. Another semester of persevering on with mugging Shasho's notes, could give me a fair shot at the two lakhs per month pay package or possibly even a UK Masters degree if my luck holds too."

"Who are you thinking about for so long? Say something," Lahsiv interrupted my chain of thoughts.

"Beyoncé. She's hot. Also, out of my reach. Let's have the burgers today." I replied and got a weird look for being so very random. I spoke of Beyoncé but it was the blind lady of justice that I was thinking about. Definitely out of reach if I wanted to have a shot at a UK university. Perhaps I may seek her there but later. Not now, definitely not now. 

What's injustice when compared to 2 lakhs month? How can principles and reasoning ever be more important than going to UK? Why be drafting letters to point out the teachers' hypocracies when you could be planning how to spend a couple of lakhs in a month?

I silently deleted the draft letter from my mind. West India National Law University may or may not impart good education of the law but Western India can teach you far greater lessons. - Focus on what's on everyone's mind and you can trample over the rest.

You can rule your educational fiefdoms with an iron fist, just so long as you have a good Recruitment Committee. 

Who needs Gobbels when you inspire self censorship.  -  A modern West India proverb.

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