‘SAARC Success Story’ | Filzah Belal, Shweta Bhuyan and Neil Goswami on winning 5th Prof. N.R Madhava Menon SAARCLAW Moot 2020

Filzah Belal, Shweta Bhuyan and Neil Madhav Goswami, students of National Law University and Judicial Academy Assam, emerged as winners of 5th Prof. N.R Madhava Menon SAARCLAW Moot 2020 conducted by Lloyd law College. They have been interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Stuti Dwivedy who is currently pursuing law from NLU Assam. 

1. Tell us something about yourself?

Filzah: I am currently in my final year of law school [B.A. LLB (Hons.)] at National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam. Both of my parents are law graduates and I assume law as a career option came to me very naturally. I was always enthusiastic about public speaking events, initially MUNs and debates and later on moots have helped me grow as an orator. In law school, I found my interest in a lot of subjects but eventually I decided to specialize in environmental law, and explore others through moots and research opportunities. I look forward to pursue higher studies and join academia in the coming years.

Shweta: I am Shweta Bhuyan, born and brought up in Guwahati, Assam. I am currently in 4th year in National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam with specializations in Constitutional Law and Criminal Law.Born to a family consisting of lawyers and doctors, my interest in law stems long back to my school days. Since 8th standard I was convinced that I will be choosing law as my career option

Neil: I am Neil M. Goswami currently in the second year of the BA.LLB course at the National Law University and Judicial Academy Assam. I was an active participant in debates and MUNs in my school days which laid the ground for my growth as an orator, however my tryst with mooting has obviously confirmed by belief that there is much more too mooting than just oratory skills. Since I am in the nascent stage of my law school journey I am exploring different arenas of law to find out what interests me and add to my avid interest in sports law, which is founded on my interest in football.

2. Since you are the winners of the prestigious 5th prof. N.R Madhava Menon SAARC law moot, so it would be really interesting for our readers to know about your mooting background?

Filzah: Our team has a diverse range of experience. The international rounds of this moot was my 7th mooting experience and I have always been blessed with amazing teams, probably which led to achievements in six of them. Every moot is different and requires a different approach which make it a challenge, but this is also what helps in exploring different branches of law in a very short span of time. I therefore tried moots in as many fields as possible ranging from environmental law to securities laws. It has played a huge role in shaping my academic interests. This moot was my last and I finally experienced winning a moot, just the kind of ending I would have liked to my law school journey!

Shweta: Mooting for me started with the intra-university moot in the 3rd semester. Before that I did not know much about mooting. The 5th Madhava Menon moot is my 3rd moot. Although my previous two moots were not as successful as this one, they did provide me a good learning experience which I used to my advantage in this moot.

Neil: My mooting journey started in my first year of college with the Capacity Building Moot Court Competition which was an initiative started by the Moot Court Committee of our college by organising an Intra moot for the first years which would essentially induce them into the world of mooting. The next step in my mooting journey was the India rounds of the 5th Prof. NR Madhava Menon SAARC Law Moot, from which we qualified for the SAARC rounds.

3. Was there any specific strategy in your mind at the time of preparation, since it was an international moot and one of the most prestigious of its kinds?

Filzah: In the national rounds, we formulated issues and took up one issue each, this helped us in thorough research on each topic. Our library had a good stock of books on the related subjects which helped us a lot. We also practiced for both the rounds numerous times, which was the second most contributing factor, first being our coach, Dr. Gitanjali Ghosh. We played a gamble when it came to the international rounds. The moot problem document itself was 15 pages long with around 4 story lines running simultaneously. We drafted our own sets of issues, but for the oral rounds, we switched our sets just so that we would have an idea of all the issues. Luckily it paid off, especially when one questioned about issues that they are not arguing themselves.

Shweta: The main strategy at that time was teamwork and dedication. Apart from this, our knowledge of international law was also useful in preparation for the moot.

Neil: The international rounds were challenging for me, largely because I had little knowledge of international law and the moot proposition was based on sovereignty and diplomatic immunities, which are a tough read, therefore my preparation had to start by understanding the basics, but thanks to our team coach, Dr.Gitanjali Ghosh Ma’am, I was able to cover the basics as she simplified things for me to make sure I understood them with ease, so as to ensure that I was well equipped to answer the questions which involved international law. We made the entire memorial while we were in different cities and then after our submissions we worked on framing our arguments, while drafting the memo we developed a clear understanding of our arguments and since the scope of our arguments were extended beyond the memorial, we kept reading up to ensure we were in a position to address questions that came up.

4. What were the key factors apart from your hard work or in other words an x-factor of your team that you think possibly made you the winners?

Filzah: I have always believed that the most important element of a winning team is chemistry and understanding, without which even the best of your work will not fall into place. Secondly, all three of us believed in having a balance – we worked and partied in our own space and time, and it was never a problem because work was getting done with precision (trust factor played a huge role here). We did work hard, but we did not burn out ourselves which kept our energy really high during the three days of the competition.

Shweta: Apart from hard work, the other factors which played an important role was a good teamwork. Apart from this, Gitanjali Mam’s constant support and guidance all throughout the moot was also a factor.

Neil: The contribution of our mentor was immense, her ability to simplify things for us to understand and her constant guidance was a huge addition to our team. Moreover, we faced every round like it was our last.

5. How does it feels to be winners?

Filzah: Absolutely surreal! Since I was in my final year, this moot mattered a lot, and I will always be grateful to Neil and Shweta, and of course, Gitanjali Ma’am, for making this happen. My fondest memory will always be Ma’am getting teary eyed when we were announced as winners.

Shweta: On top of the world. Still can’t believe that we are winners. I have no words to express the feelings which came over when we were declares as winners of the moot.

Neil: The feeling is surreal, it still hasn’t quite sunk in, considering the fact that it was my first mooting experience beyond intras and we not only qualified for the SAARC rounds but we made it went the distance and actually won it and the experience of arguing in front of judges from the Supreme Courts of Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh in the finals and having legal luminaries from other countries as judges in almost every round was quite overwhelming and something I’ll always cherish.

6. You are the quintessential example for students who are intrigued into mooting would all of you recommend a specific set of does and don’ts for potential mooters?

Filzah: First, always read the moot problem and understand the legal issues before deciding on doing the moot. Secondly, don’t dread going for a moot because the moot problem is ‘difficult’, you can still ace it if you give it your all (it should not matter if you are having to study a subject from scratch). Third, that each teammate is comfortable in the team to ensure there is no hesitation in communicating with one another. Fourth, don’t be over-confident, even if you are an amazing speaker. A team that wins may or may not have speakers do speak flawlessly, but they are always abreast with the applicable laws. Finally, enjoy the process because without memories and inside jokes, there is nothing to celebrate.

Shweta: For the potential mooters, I would like to recommend them that start your first moot with a subject which you feel you are confident or comfortable with like for example, Constitutional Law or Criminal Law and start your mooting in an earlier stage like in 3rd semester so that by the time you reach 3rd and 4th year you have gained enough experience to go for bigger moots. Most importantly, while selecting your teammates always make sure that you select people with whom you are comfortable and share a good rapport with. Another thing which I would like to add from a past experience is that mooting is a collective venture which requires collective responsibility from all the teammates and there should not be any blame game over one teammate for the failure. If you don’t achieve success in your moot then don’t lose hope and most importantly don’t blame your teammates. Learn from that experience and carry it forward for your future moots.

Neil:There are no specific do’s and don’ts as such but I think that students should select the moot court competition they want to participate in carefully because the subject area of the moot court is something that they need to keep in mind, considering the fact that the entire exercise involves a lot of time and I think one more essential factor is knowing what you want in your team, making sure you’re on the same wavelength. Along with that lots of research and keeping it simple and straight forward, while being extremely organised in putting forth your arguments and also enjoy the entire process of mooting.

7.Its widely seen that many students and parents undermine the value of mooting in the law school, why do you think mooting is so important for the law students?

Filzah: In school, I was accustomed to be active with extra-curricular activities, I believe this helped me in all my experiences. As a law student, mooting helps us understand how a lawyer must approach a case. Moreover, moots help in undertaking in-depth research on a subject and mastering it in a very short span of time. This contributes in assessing which branch of law we might be interested to pursue a possible career in. I absolutely believe that mooting helps law students assess themselves in ways more than one.

Shweta: Mooting in today’s time is very important. Many people feel that mooting has no significance in life. But that’s not true. Mooting can be helpful for students who wish to pursue litigation. Apart from this, it provides a good learning experience and also helps to develop researching skills and also provides the opportunity to meet new people and learn from them.

Neil:Participating in moots helps in exploring areas of interest one has and also in exploring areas of law which might not be a part of one’s course structure and also to decipher whether they interest you or not. The mooting exercise involves a lot of things from reading up on a lot to honing ones research skills to oration.

8. On an concluding note, is there any other extra piece of advice apart from mooting, that you would give to our readers?

Filzah: Please be consistent throughout your law school journey and keep trying new things. Eventually, you will realize what you really enjoy doing and that will help you take future decisions with clarity.

Shweta: On a concluding note I would like to say that in your life you get an opportunity to pursue something in your career then do not hesitate when it relates to academics, mooting, internships or any other thing in your legal career. Don’t think what your friends or other people might say or think because they may not share the same interests as yours and it is your own future which you have to decide.

Neil: One of the biggest things to take everything as a learning experience, be it mooting or any other exercise, every experience has something unique to offer.

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