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Faculty of Law, Delhi University introduces Manusmriti as part of syllabus

Faculty of Law 

The Faculty of Law, University of Delhi has introduced the ancient Indian text Manusmriti as part of its law courses.

The subject Medhatithi’s concept of State and Law has been introduced as a suggested reading under Unit V – Analytical Positivism of the subject Jurisprudence, being taught in the first semester of the three and five-year undergraduate law courses. 

Medhatithi is one of the oldest and most famous commentators on the Manusmṛiti.

The texts Manusmriti with the ‘Manubhasya’ of Medhatithi, by GN Jha, and Commentary of Manu Smriti – Smritichandrika, by T Krishnaswami Iyer, have been added as suggested reading on the topic.

Snapshot of syllabus as reflected on students’ portal

Manusmriti has been subject to significant criticisms owing to its endorsement of the caste system, gender inequality, harsh punishments, outdated social norms and values, social ostracisation etc.

Prof Anju Vali Tikoo, Dean of the Faculty of Law, however, said,

“It is all about bringing in a critical comparative perspective. It has got nothing to do with Hindus, Hindutva or Hinduism.”

Expressing distaste at this development, a faculty member at Campus Law Centre I said,

“There is no logic at all in introducing ancient texts like Manusmriti in the syllabus. It will lead to division of society based on caste, class, etc – there is no rationality in creating discrimination in the society. The young generations who are not aware of these texts will be prompted towards being a part of that divisive society that takes it backwards. In the ancient times, women’s rights were restricted and the man was the Head, the Karta of the family. When we are heading towards better education in a globalised world and competing with other progressive countries on technological grounds, implementing texts which are not progressive is not logical.” 

The faculty member added,

“As an academician, I have seen so many videos of instances of violence taking place across educational institutions, hostels, the IITs, etc, all in the name of casteism and religious divide now and then, this will become more rampant with the introduction of these texts. Educational institutions are not to be politicised, it is for progressive ideas to be discussed and deliberated. We live in a democratic State with an elaborate Constitution. For any society to grow, we need to go beyond these regressive texts.”

As per a report, there was expected to be a meeting of the Academic Council before the text was introduced in the syllabus. However, the updated syllabus has been reflecting on the students’ portal since about 6:30 PM today.

Shailendra Yadav, final year student of Campus Law Centre I, reacted,

They have already implemented this text as part of the suggested readings. It has been uploaded on the portal. The Law Faculty is known for justice and here we have students from different religions, castes, class, etc. If teachings from one particular religion will be implemented and taught formally then it may have a questionable impact on students from other religions. People’s mindsets will start becoming more rigid. There were no discussions or deliberations before introducing this. If there was any scope for discussion, this would not have been introduced at all. We are living in a democratic society with a living Constitution. No religion can be taught in any educational institution.”

Classes are scheduled to begin on August 5. Yadav, who is also member of a minority rights group, said,

“What message will this send to Dalits, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, Muslims? This will create immense mental pressure on them when a religious text of one religion is being formally taught in a law school.”

He added that a majority of the teachers at the DU law schools are against this move, but aren’t able to voice their concerns for fear of threat to their promotions and research initiatives.

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