Justice R.C. Lahoti

In the realm of legal education, the Manav Rachna University’s School of Law has once again demonstrated its commitment to fostering academic excellence and practical legal skills through the successful organization of the 2024 Justice R.C. Lahoti Memorial Moot Court Competition. Building upon the triumph of last year’s inaugural event, this year’s competition, held on 01-02 March 2024, continued to serve as a dynamic platform for aspiring legal minds to engage in rigorous intellectual discourse and hone their advocacy skills.

Drawing participation from 16 esteemed teams representing law schools from across the nation, the competition showcased a diverse array of perspectives and legal acumen. By bringing together students from various backgrounds, the event not only facilitated healthy competition but also promoted collaboration and exchange of ideas, enriching the overall learning experience. Central to the competition’s ethos was the exploration of emerging issues at the intersection of law and artificial intelligence.

The competition unfolded over two exhilarating days, characterized by a blend of intense competition and camaraderie. Day one featured the preliminary rounds, providing teams with the opportunity to showcase their legal prowess and secure a coveted spot in the semifinals. The stakes were raised on day two as the competition progressed to the semifinals and culminated in the highly anticipated final rounds. Each round was marked by rigorous deliberations, incisive arguments, and astute judicial scrutiny, underscoring the commitment of participants to excellence in advocacy.

The event commenced with a grand inaugural ceremony, marked by dignitary welcomes and the symbolic lighting of the lamp. Dr. Prashant Bhalla, Chancellor of MRU, delivered the welcome address, reflecting on Justice R.C. Lahoti’s pivotal role as a founding member of the Advisory Board and elucidated the significance of dedicating the moot court competition to his memory. Dr. I.K. Bhatt, Vice Chancellor of MRU, presented a poignant video illustrating the life and enduring legacy of Justice R.C. Lahoti. Honorable Justice U.U. Lalit, former Chief Justice of India, elaborated on Justice Lahoti’s profound contributions to the legal and academic spheres. Advocate on Record, Divyakant Lahoti, fondly reminisced about his uncle, Justice Lahoti, and shed light on why the title “Karmyogi” was befitting of his legacy. Dr. Kanu Priya, Dean of the School of Law, extended a heartfelt vote of thanks, expressing gratitude to all participants and organizers for their invaluable contributions for making the event possible.

Following the spirited inaugural ceremony, the competition commenced promptly. Sixteen esteemed guest judges, specially invited to adjudicate the preliminary rounds, were provided with comprehensive briefings on the moot problem, highlighting key legal nuances and anticipated arguments. They were acquainted with the scoring criteria and encouraged to offer constructive feedback to the participating teams. The initial rounds witnessed intense debates among the teams, each showcasing their legal acumen and advocacy skills. Post-lunch, the second round unfolded, continuing the fervent exchange of arguments. As the day drew to a close, the eagerly awaited moment arrived to announce the four teams advancing to the semifinals. The anticipation among participants and spectators was palpable. Based on cumulative scores from both rounds, the deserving teams securing spots in the semifinals were Trinity Institute of Professional Studies, Bennett University, Northcap University, and Maharaja Surajmal Institute.

The following morning witnessed a thrilling semi-final showdown between Trinity Institute of Professional Studies and Northcap University, as well as between Bennett University and Maharaja Surajmal Institute. With the semis being knockout rounds, the competition intensified, leading to tightly contested battles. After a grueling round, the stage was set for the finals between Bennett University and Trinity Institute of Professional Studies. The final round was presided over by a distinguished four-judge panel, comprising Dr. Pavan Duggal, Advocate of the Supreme Court of India and Founder of Pavan Duggal Associates; Mr. Sudhir Sharma, Senior Partner at C&S Partners; Mr. Bhuwan Yadav, Senior Manager (Law) at GAIL (India) Limited; and Mr. Maninder Singh, Senior Advocate. Lasting over two hours, the finals witnessed a fiercely contested exchange of arguments, with both teams showcasing their advocacy prowess and legal expertise.

Following the culmination of the final round, the stage was set for the valedictory ceremony, where the results would be announced, and certificates distributed. Dr. Sanjay Srivastava, Vice Chancellor of MRIIRS, delivered the opening remarks, expressing his delight at the impeccable organization of the event and the remarkable caliber of the participants. Each of the distinguished judges from the finals was invited to share their insights and feedback on the rounds and the participants. All the judges lauded the participants for their exceptional performance. Dr. Pavan Duggal highlighted the contemporary relevance of the moot court topic, drawing parallels with Elon Musk’s lawsuit against OpenAI. Mr. Sudhir Sharma expressed astonishment at the participants’ ability to effectively argue on topics they had not yet studied in law school. Mr. Maninder Singh underscored the importance of comprehensive legal knowledge when arguing in higher courts, while Mr. Bhuwan Yadav emphasized the significance of clarity regarding case facts in trial courts. These valuable insights, coupled with the unanimous observation of the exceptional talent displayed by the participants, particularly the finalists, added richness to the ceremony.

The esteemed chief guest for the valedictory ceremony was Justice K.K. Lahoti, the younger brother of Justice R.C. Lahoti. He reminisced about their upbringing in Guna, a quaint town in Madhya Pradesh, where Justice R.C. Lahoti’s innate curiosity was evident from a young age. Justice Lahoti described his brother as an early riser with a penchant for gifting books and delivering memorable lectures. He recounted a particular book authored by Justice R.C. Lahoti, where he offered a unique interpretation of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution. Justice Lahoti commended the finalists and expressed a tinge of envy towards the younger generation, reflecting on the absence of such enriching extracurricular activities during his student days. He shared an intriguing 9th-century anecdote of the 42-day debate between Adi Guru Shankaracharya and Mandan Mishra on Advaita Vedanta, using it as a metaphor to emphasize the importance of maintaining composure amidst fervent arguments. Concluding his remarks, he gracefully requested the announcement of the competition winners.

The culmination of the two-day event reached its pinnacle with the eagerly awaited announcement of the results. Inviting the convenor and co-convenor of the Moot Court Committee to the stage, they took center stage to do the honors. Ms. Rakshita Singh, a student from Trinity Institute of Professional Studies, New Delhi, was awarded the prestigious title of Best Speaker. Bennett University clinched the award for Best Memorial (Respondent), while Fairfield Institute of Management and Technology secured the accolade for Best Memorial (Appellant). Ms. Rakshita Singh received a cash prize of 10,000 INR for her outstanding oratory skills, whereas both the Best Memorial (Appellant) and Best Memorial (Respondent) received a cash prize of 5,000 INR each in recognition of their exemplary written submissions.

Last but certainly not least, the highlight of the event was the presentation of the flagship prizes. The victorious Trinity Institute of Professional Studies team, comprised of Ms. Jahnavi Berlia, Ms. Rakshita Singh, and Mr. Parth Sehgal, secured the grand prize of 40,000 INR for their stellar performance in the finals. Meanwhile, the runner-up position, accompanied by a prize of 20,000 INR, was claimed by the formidable all-female team from Bennett University, featuring Ms. Aditi Raj, Ms. Shreya Singh, and Ms Leena Bharti. The exhilaration among the winners was palpable, marking a fitting conclusion to the event. Dr. Kanu Priya, Dean of the School of Law, extended gratitude to Mr. Krishna Deo Singh Chauhan, the architect of the moot proposition, for his invaluable contributions. The event was brought to a close with a comprehensive vote of thanks delivered by Dr. Kaveri Sharma, Head of the Department of the School of Law, acknowledging the collective efforts of all involved.

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