Symbiosis Law School, Pune, a constituent of Symbiosis International (Deemed University) celebrated Law Day on 16th March, 2019 . A long-standing tradition at the Law School, ‘Law Day’ is celebrated to affirm the most important goals of the legal profession: to advance equality and justice, encourage observation and enforcement of the law and to foster respect for law and an understanding of its essential place in the life of every citizen. In addition to Law Day, SLS-P also conducted Justice Y.V. Chandrachud Memorial Public Lecture, in the honour of Late Justice Y. V. Chandrachud.
The programme commenced with the lighting of the auspicious lamp by the dignitaries, including Hon’ble Justice (Retd.) Dr. Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi, Former Judge, High Court of Bombay, Prof. Dr. S.B. Mujumdar, Hon’ble Chancellor, SIU; Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, Fulbright Scholar, Director, SLS-P, Dean, Faculty of Law, SIU, Tejaswi Sevekari, Director, Saheli and Dr. Bindu Ronald, Deputy Director, SLS-P.
Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, Fulbright Scholar, Director, SLS-P, Dean, Faculty of Law, SIU in her welcome address, traced the history of the Law Day celebrations, which is an initiative that was introduced by public intellectuals like Dr. S. B. Mujumdar, and Adv. Ram Jethmalani, Professor Emeritus, SIU who suggested changing the date for Law Day celebration in order to accommodate the students’ availability to pay unique tribute to constitutional values. She also put forth the intent of this celebration, which was for it to be a tribute and an affirmation of the constitution of the country and hence welcomed the audience as the custodians of the constitution.
The booklet of Justice Y.V. Chandrachud Memorial Public Lecture, 2018 and LexET, the bi-annual college newsletter were released by the Chief Guest Hon’ble Justice (Retd.) Dr. Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi.
Prof. Dr. S.B. Mujumdar, Hon’ble Chancellor, SIU began his address by congratulating Dr. Shashikala Gurpur for taking SLS-P to great heights. Dr. Mujumdar also spoke about the pertinent problem of the neglect of the concept of fundamental duties in the Indian sphere. He mentioned the importance of implementing these duties more often, and making sure that the Fundamental Rights and the fundamental duties go hand in hand. He concluded his address by quoting the former President of the USA, Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose”.
The honourable Chief Guest, Hon’ble Justice Dr. Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi (Retd.), delivered the Justice Y.V. Chandrachud Memorial Public Lecture on “Gender, Human Rights and Indian Judiciary”. She spoke about how the Indian Constitution has been a product of the fight for not only freedom but also equality. It conferred, from its inception, equal rights upon men and women, being thus an important movement towards the cause of gender equality.
Justice Phansalkar-Joshi elaborated on the various provisions of the Constitution that have been construed over time to provide protection, equality and basic human rights to women. She stressed on the importance of the Fundamental Rights, in particular Article 14, 15 and 16 along with Article 51 A and Directive Principles of State Policy in the cause of legal recognition of women and their rights. Moreover, the special legislations passed for the specific purpose of gender equality allowed for the improvement in the social status of women. However Justice Phansalkar-Joshi emphasized that while these provisions give legal recognition to women and their rights, such legal provisions, without interpretation prove to be dormant.
Justice Phansalkar-Joshi recounted verdicts of various cases like Air India v Nargesh Mishra and Madhu Kishwar v State of Bihar which have been successful in their attempt of upholding the rights of women as the judiciary was prompt to ensure that women get their due. However, a lacuna still prevails in personal laws which continue to deny women an equal status. She highlighted that the Vishakha Judgement has been able to project the efforts of the judiciary to deliver judgments that uphold women’s rights even during absence of laws by implementing international conventions such as Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) within the ambit of domestic sphere to uphold gender equality.
Justice Phansalkar-Joshi also mentioned the various anecdotes of female legal luminaries, such as Adv. Cornelia Sorabjee, Adv. Mithan Tata, Hon’ble Justice Indu Malhotara and Adv. Indira Jaisingh to name a few. She concluded by saying that with the guidance in law colleges, the day is not far when increased women participation in the courts of law will be seen. The Chief Guest then proceeded to administer the Law Day Oath.
Ms. Sevekari further put forth her views on the theme of the lecture. She spoke about her experience of collaborating with the faculty and students of the college, on various projects. She also mentioned her experiences of dealing with the sex workers, in her years of association with the Saheli NGO. This involved her experiences of rescuing these workers, their lack of acceptance in the society and then spoke about how law has various shades when it comes to sex workers, as it both facilitates them while in some cases creates problems for their development.
Ms. Sevekari also mentioned the relevant problem of the lack of acceptance of these sex workers in the feminist sphere as well as feminist jurisprudence.
The programme concluded with a Vote of Thanks by Dr. Bindu Ronald, Deputy Director, SLS-P.