युक्ती हीने विचारे तु धर्महानि प्रजायते


Mankind will not remain on Earth forever, but in its quest for light and space will at first timidly penetrate beyond the confines of the atmosphere, and later will conquer for itself all the space near the Sun.

– Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky, father of cosmonautics.

One of the biggest challenges that the international politico-legal community faces today is to develop and nurture a coherent, cohesive and uniform set of legal principles governing the human usage of the outer space. While air and aviation law and matters related thereto are often subjected to the sovereignty of the underlying state, the domain of space law is not susceptible to exercise of such sovereignty. The activities surrounding air transport and passage have given birth to one of the most thriving industries in the modern world. By bringing the world closer together, it has also given international cooperation and economic exchange a new fillip. Today, air law encompasses a range of disciplines, and includes within its scope issues relating to environmental protection, safety standards including travel and transport safety protocols, product liability, carrier liability, insurance, aerial navigation, security measures, financing avenues and guidelines and many others. When it comes to the outer space, India stands today as one of the major global space powers to reckon with, particularly following its success with the Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan missions. With the space sector being sought to be liberalized, the private participation and commercialization of space technology are on card for the immediate future. Along with such progress has arisen the need to examine crucial matters such as adherence to the principles enshrined in the various international space treaties, legal complexities associated with launching services in space transportation, usage of satellites for remote sensing, telecommunication and navigational purposes, national security concerns, property (real and intellectual) rights in outer space, technology transfer, space tourism and so on. In both of these disciplines, humankind is at the threshold of a new age of wonders, with rapid technological progress bringing forth new horizons to explore every single day. The respective legal regimes governing these fields therefore must keep pace with such growth, which necessitates focused research and examination in related lines.


It is to explore, understand, analyse and critique such legal developments and needs that a Centre for Aviation and Space Laws is being proposed to be established at The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. The Centre would inter alia delve into rigorous quality research in the twin disciplines of aviation and space laws and related policy measures, and also pursue a range of active collaborations with other institutions including educational and research institutes, governmental and non-governmental organisations that regularly engage in specialized aerospace activities, regulation thereof and associated research.
The Centre intends to promote research and awareness among students of undergraduate and post-graduate levels about air and space law, and also conduct regular seminars, conferences and workshops, and focus on quality research output in the form of projects and publications in various national and international peer-reviewed journals of repute. Eventually, such research would be sought to be moulded into practically applicable tools of legal education and pedagogy. Various focused courses including certificate courses and diplomas relating to the core areas of research of the Centre would also be developed and offered in due course. Creating a popular platform and forum for exchange of scholarship and intellectual creative output of researchers and academicians working on similar ideas is yet another proposed objective of the Centre. The Centre would also like to initiate web-blog discussing various research ideas and subsequently, its own peer-reviewed journal showcasing quality inter-disciplinary academic research output.
Considering that NUJS has had its faculty members offering cutting-edge courses of contemporary relevance on aviation law and outer space law, as well as produced journals and publications of repute on related disciplines, the undersigned are of the opinion that having the Centre to explore the full depth of such richness and to utilize the same for the benefit of reforming and transforming legal education would be a highly logical and prudent choice. Hence, the Centre for Aviation and Space Laws is proposed to be established with the aforementioned objectives so as to contribute to the reputation of the University as an emerging leader of legal educational reforms and scholarly research in aviation and space laws.


There would be seven students annually selected for membership of the Centre from the various programmes offered by the University. One of the members would be selected as the Student Coordinator. The Vice Chancellor may also nominate other faculty members to the positions of members of the Centre. The Centre would also involve student researchers, as well as associates from within and outside the university in furtherance of the series of collaborative activities and research to be undertaken. In particular, people with active knowledge of and interest in various issues surrounding aviation and space laws and related research would be encouraged to engage with the Centre on a regular basis.


The Centre would work in collaboration with various governmental, non-governmental and academic institutions in pursuit of its objectives. In particular, liaison would be actively sought with organizations engaged in the regulation of and research on air and space activities and developments, both within the country and beyond. Government departments such as the Ministry of Aviation, the Department of Space, Airports Authority of India, Bureau of Civil Aviation and Security, and institutes such as the Indian Space Research Organization, the National Remote Sensing Centre, the Antrix Corporation etc. can be approached for securing funding for various research initiatives and dissemination and outreach programmes. Possibilities of private sponsorship may also be explored. The Centre would also like to develop focused courses including courses delivered in distance education mode, offered to candidates from outside the University, in order to raise the funds necessary for its various activities. State-sponsored schemes would also be given due consideration as potential sources of necessary funds. The alumni of the university might also be approached for both collaborative purposes as well as for raising funds for the various activities of the Centre. At this stage, the Centre does not seek any direct financial support from the University, other than permission to use existing infrastructure and human resources including working hours of the faculty and staff involved.