Digitising legal scholarship

Is anyone aware of any searchable online database of Indian law journals? I searched for the websites of Journal of Indian Law Institute and Indian Bar Review (well, the former had more like a webpage than a website, and a google search on the latter shows up Bar Council of India Rules for the first hit!). I looked up the journal pages of prominent law schools (those that had one) – no academic content whatsoever. Even subscription research websites like Manupatra do not have anything more than primary legal material. The only useful, but limited, research tool is OPAC – a freely available searchable index of most Indian legal journals created by the National Law School Library.

As a student at NLS about 4 years ago, I made feeble attempts to get the law school journals freely available on its website. In any case, the journals did not generate revenue and putting them up online could only increase readership, besides making useful contribution to scholarship. Nothing came of it.

Then Lawrence (of the Liang fame) came up with Lex Libre – its webpage describes it as “An Open Archive of Student projects/articles/ working papers contributed to the public domain”. With eight papers on the site, most of which were put up at its inception, I don’t think it went very far (although I continue to get publication requests for my embarrassingly half-baked undergraduate research papers put up there – the need for accessible legal research is clearly desperate).

At least with respect to published articles, law-schools should take the initiative to put up past issues of their journals online. Surely Manupatra or IndLaw also have enough business incentive to take this up – searchable subscription databases would perhaps be better than absolutely nothing that exists at the moment.

Some of this stuff must be good … only if someone could get to read it. Any thoughts (if some databases actually exist and I have ranted in vain, please enlighten anyway)?

Written by
Tarunabh Khaitan
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  • I think open access is the best solution. Many Law Reviews and Journals are available in open access. Indian Law Schools should
    consider this possibility. Manupatra or similar databases are
    not available in many research
    institutes for many reasons.Legal
    scholarship in india should reach
    a wider academic community in
    India. Open access will ensure that.

  • Heard that Indian Law Institute is already in the process of designing a new website. And about the Journal of Indian law Institute, the entire collection is digitised and available in CD, but unfortunately not online at present. And heard that the Government of India is already working for establishing IndLII