In Conversation with the winners of 8th RMNLU SCC Online International Media Law Moot Court Competition

This interview is conducted by EBC/ SCC Online Student Ambassador Ms. Suzann Dinu, who is a fourth-year student of law at the National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Kochi. In the interview, she gets talking with the Winners of the 8th RMNLU SCC Online International Media Law Moot Court Competition; Ms Padmavathi Prasad (3rd year), Mr. Abhinav Mathur (4th year) and Mr. Pankaj Kumar Shukla (4th year) of NUALS, Kochi.

  1. Let’s begin by hearing how it felt to be winners, were you guys expecting it?

We were absolutely elated! We started working on the moot pretty late as we had our end-semester exams going on when the problem was released, followed by our respective internships in three different cities. While balancing internships alongside working on the moot was quite the challenge, we still worked quite efficiently. The reward is definitely gratifying.

Also, we didn’t have high hopes after quarter finals as the rounds were extremely close and the competitors kept getting better! But as luck had it, we qualified the quarters and were pretty confident of the momentum we set after that.

  1. Can you tell us a bit about your Moot Problem, I am sure a lot of our readers will be interested to hear what Media Law is like?

It was a remarkably diverse problem and covered various aspects of the right to free speech and expression, the right of free press, right to privacy and the limitations of these rights when pitted against national security, right to information and disruption of public peace. The best way to understand this concept is with a quote by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”

The contentions that we had to argue from both sides dealt with the legality and validity of certain actions of the government that could be viewed as an infringement upon the existence of a free press. Furthermore, one of the contentions we argued, dealt with the extent of the right to privacy and anonymity of an individual when national security is at stake.

Working on it became even more interesting as Article 19(2) was not made parimateria in the moot problem, but 19(1)(a) was. So essentially, there were no set law on the limitations of the right to free speech and expression that we could rely on. This gave us a greater leeway to modify and play with our arguments even more.

  1. Any tips on maintaining a healthy team chemistry which is inarguably a sine qua non for moot competitions?

Firstly, good listening skills. We might feel very passionate about our logic and opinions, but it’s extremely important that all members are given an equal opportunity of presenting their views at any stage of the moot, which might even lead to respectful disagreements. Members of a team should make an active effort to be patient listeners and engage in regular discussions regarding the moot problem and maintain constant communication to be on the same page throughout.

Secondly, sticking to deadlines. It’s very important that members adhere to a strict timeline throughout the moot and follow it as much as possible. Even though we were interning and couldn’t physically sit with each other to discuss and research, we made sure that our research was well coordinated and every member was moving at the same pace.

  1. Moot court competitions can often be taxing and I am sure we have all heard about the low Risk-Reward ratio at least at some point in our mooting careers, what helped you guys to not succumb to the pressure?

Moots are surely a time investment and winning one is a great reward, but all three of us have previously done moots in which we couldn’t make it past the preliminary or the quarter-final rounds. We think every moot is a learning experience and one gets better at it with practice and consistent participation. Moreover, moots help you to get in-depth knowledge of a subject of law which might help one find their area of interest. Losses must always be taken in a good stride as there almost always will be a second time.

  1. Are there any key pointers that you can give our readers for preparing the memorials?

Firstly, before starting to draft the memorial, always look at the rules of the respective competition and avoid penalties. A lot of times even though the arguments and authorities are on point, teams lose marks on minor drafting errors and violation of the memo rules which might cost them the prized, best memorial award.

Secondly, make sure that your arguments have a logical flow and are properly structured. If the argument is too complex, break it down into sub-issues if necessary. There must be a healthy balance of good logical arguments and the authorities that back them. Remember, you’re drafting a memorial, not a research paper with excessive authorities/case laws.

  1. How did you guys prepare for the oral rounds? How did it feel when you were at the actual rounds?

After the submission of memorials, we had a substantial amount of time to practice for the oral rounds and we immediately started working on our oral presentations. Firstly, we started by mastering the facts and that helped us greatly. Multiple readings of the facts might give you strong arguments as well as loopholes that can be used from either side.

Secondly, instead of only restricting ourselves to our respective contentions, we made sure that all three team members are thoroughly well versed with all the team members’ arguments. This helped us greatly during the questioning of the oral round preparation and devising convincing responses for the same. Furthermore, we tried to not stick to a particular speech pattern as one may get questions from the judges when one is least expecting them.

The rounds were very challenging given the complex moot problem and the Judges certainly didn’t make it easy for us. The quality of judges was excellent, and they knew the facts in-and-out. But the highlight of our competition was arguing before an incredible panel of Advocates, sitting High Court Judges and Jurists for the final round.

  1. Every Moot is a learning experience, what were your takeaways from this experience?

Firstly, learning to work under pressure. The limited time to come up with a memorial was pretty daunting at first but it all worked out well at the end of it. Secondly, effective communication between the team members especially when we were preoccupied with other things like internships. Lastly, not losing hope even after a round where you’re not fully satisfied with your performance. Just focus on the other rounds and hope for the best!

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