THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: His mother wished to see him dazzle in a white gown donning a stethoscope. However, destiny had other plans, rather better, for N R Madhava Menon whose illustrious life ended at Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday night. In the book ‘Turning Point’ published by Universal Law Publishing Co Private Ltd, Menon wrote ‘circumstances willed otherwise and I became a lawyer’. And the rest is history.
He not only went on to become a doyen in the field of legal education, but also conceptualised the five-year integrated LLB programme. He was also the brain behind the establishment of National Law School of India University, Bengaluru, National Judicial Academy, Bhopal and National University of Juridical Sciences, West Bengal.
Born in 1935 in Thiruvananthapuram, he had his BSc and BL degrees from Kerala University, LLM and PhD from Aligarh Muslim University and MA from Punjab University. He got enrolled as an advocate in Kerala High Court in 1956 at the age of 20.
The turning point in his life came in 1986 when the Bar Council of India invited him to Bengaluru for setting up the National Law School of India University and to initiate a new model of legal education, the Five Year Integrated LLB programme. After that, he was invited by the West Bengal Government to establish a similar institution in Kolkata. Then came the request from the SC. His service was sought by the apex court for setting up the National Judicial Academy at Bhopal. Upon his retirement, he imparted his scholarly knowledge, expertise and legal acumen as the member of the Commission on Centre-State Relations; chairman of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata; chairing the committee to draft a National Policy on Criminal Justice and the Committee on Equal Opportunity Commission, member of the Committee on Criminal Justice Reform and the Committee on Restructuring of Higher Education in India. He served two times as a member of the Law Commission of India. He was CDS chairman.
He was a prolific writer and columnist, who could authoritatively comment on legal education, the legal profession, legal aid, judicial training and administration of justice.