Date: 25th August, 2012
Justice Ganguly calls upon lawyers to contribute to the
new freedom struggle waged by social movements
Conference of Lawyers for Social Change begins at Indore:
More than 300 lawyers, activists and law students converge
Indore: “The Constitution of India, drafted around the same time as the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights is essentially a human rights document. The Constitution is the Red Book which alone can liberate this country, feed the hungry millions and clothe the masses”, said Hon’ble Justice (Retd.) Ashok Kumar Ganguly, addressing a packed hall of hundreds of lawyers, activists, law students and farmers from over 14 states and various districts of Madhya Pradesh at the Conference of Lawyers for Social Justice, co-organized by the Indore Institute of Law and the National Alliance of People’s Movements. Hon’ble Justice Ganguly, presently Chairperson of the State Human Rights Commission, West Bengal called upon the community of budding lawyers to join the “second freedom struggle”, by engaging with the mainstream of social movements in order to ensure that all the constitutional doctrines and judicial principles are protected and carried forward.
He was joined by Justice (Retd.) Shri P.D Mulye, Former Judge, Indore High Court, who lamented that notwithstanding the ‘glorious’ legal regime in the country and bountiful judicial pronouncements, the implementation of these is very tardy, be it the case of the Bhopal Gas victims or the Narmada Project oustees. Shri Satish Chandra Bagadiya, Senior Advocate, High Court of M.P, Indore who has for many years been associated with the legal causes of social movements, welcomed the idea of the Conference and saw this as an opportunity for two different streams i.e. judges, lawyers, social activists and the emerging group of lawyers to interact with each other. He stated that at a time when the legal profession itself is becoming ‘corporatized and ‘commercialized, and most young lawyers are assessed by the firms they represent, fat packages they receive and fees they charge, this Conference provides a real scope for reflection, both by the social movements and also by the legal fraternity.
Dedicating the Conference to the memory of legal luminary, Late Shri Shankarlal Bagdiji, who, through his entire life represented social causes in the Courts, well-known Gandhian thinker and Senior Advocate, High Court of M.P, Shri Anil Trivedi, said that this Conference is linked to the burning ground realities of this country, be it corruption or social inequalities vis-à-vis our positions and actions that should be based on these realities. Shri Trivedi said that the life of a lawyer is never about his own, but is to fulfil the rights and aspirations of others, especially the downtrodden. Explaining the vision and content of the Conference, Madhuresh Kumar, National Organizer, NAPM stated that all the sessions have been planned to facilitate interaction by the participants on some of the critical questions before the Indian society and the Indian legal system and engage the emerging community of ‘new Indian lawyers’ in this debate.
Later in the afternoon, senior lawyers and activists spoke to the participants on a range of issues, through two plenary sessions. The first plenary was on the “Indian Legal System, Judicial Accountability and Peoples’ Movements: National Experience” wherein Shri Ravi Kiran Jain, Senior Advocate , Allahabad High Court, Shri Bhagwandas Raiyani, President, Forum for Fast Justice and Ms. Indira Unninayar, Advocate, Supreme Court together addressed the participants on various challenges within the present legal and judicial system. These included the huge backlog of cases, the vacancy in judicial posts, the attitude of the judiciary, minimal state expenditure on judiciary, discrimination in the disposal of cases, abuse of contempt power, judicial mismanagement etc. Shri Jain also emphasized that although Courts are an important forum, they should be approached very thoughtfully and certainly should not be in a manner that would alter the pace and vigour of the grassroots people’s movements.
The second plenary was held on the issue of Democratic Rights and Civil Liberties vis-à-vis Repressive Laws: Role of Lawyers, wherein prominent people’s advocates Shri Nirmal Kumar, Suryavanshi (Dhule) and Ms. Sudha Bharadwaj (Chattisgarh) dealt with the serious loopholes in the criminal justice system, the changing face of the Indian State from ‘welfare state’ to a ‘Police state’, increasing enactment and use of repressive laws etc. Sudha stated that it is only sustained people’s organized pressure, implementation of progressive legislations like the PESA Act in the scheduled adivasi areas and a co-ordinated action by lawyers and activists that can ensure the rights of the disadvantaged communities. The session was moderated by Comrade Vineet of Progressive Writers Association, Indore. Both the speakers called upon the legal and social action community to streamline their efforts, in order to ensure that the rights of the marginalized millions are not muted and suppressed.
Later in the evening, the participants broke up into five different groups and discussed various important issues, through parallel sessions including:
· Corruption: Role of Law, Judiciary, and Peoples’ Movements
· Environmental Law: Challenges for People’s movements and lawyers
· Atrocities against disadvantaged communities: Possibilities and constraints of legal action
· Urban Poor, Unorganized sector and Legal Justice
Women’s Rights: Legal and Judicial Interventions The participants later presented the summary of the discussions in the Evening Plenary. Well-known lawyers and activists from across the country including Shri Rajendra Purohit (Gujarat), Shri Pravin Patel (Orissa), Shri Rahul Chowdhury (New Delhi ), Ms. Kusum Karnik (Pune), Adv Shakeel (Mumbai), Ms. Shamim Modi (Betul), Ms. Jaya Mehta & Ms. Kalpana Mehta (Indore), Adv. Keeshwaran (Kerala), Adv Darshana Mitra and Adv Shantanu (Bangalore) etc. are participating in the two day Conference. Organizer and NAPM National Convenor, Medha Patkar was also present during the course of the entire proceedings and shall deliver the valedictory address tomorrow. Shri Akshay Bam, the host and co-organizer shall also address the gathering on behalf of the Indore Institute of Law tomorrow.
Indore Institute of Law, Indore &
National Alliance of People’s Movements
Contact Persons: Pramod Bagdi Partyush Mishra Vibhor Airen Shrikanth
09827021000 09425958043 09827305150 09179148973