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You Must Follow And Defend The Great Traditions Of Advocacy: CJI Khehar Delivers The Fifth NLU-D Convocation Address [Full Text &Video]

Chief Justice Of India Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar has delivered the convocation address in the fifth Convocation Ceremony at National Law University, Delhi.

In his address, Justice Khehar told the graduating students that a lawyer or a law teacher who does not understand or empathise with his or her society, can never be a good lawyer or a good judge or a good law teacher. He also said that “India is free but it is yet to taste the true glory of this freedom”, reminding the audience of lawyers’ duty to the constitution. He encouraged the graduating class to ensure that the country is governed justly, and to “make the people of India attain their glorious future”.

The Chancellor of the University Justice Gita Mittal presided over the function. The Vice Chancellor of National Law University, Delhi, Professor (Dr.) Ranbir Singh complimented the faculty and the students for their rich academic contribution. He assured all present that the students of NLU Delhi would “contribute as agents of change to the country’s mandate to achieve its future developmental goals.”

25 Gold Medals and 5 Cash Prizes were given to the students of B.A., LLB. (Hons). Notably, Ms. CV Aradhana was awarded 11 Gold Medals and one cash prize.

Here is the Full Text Of Justice Khehar’s Convocation Address 

I consider it a matter of great honour to have been invited to deliver the Fifth Convocation Address of the National Law University, Delhi.  This institution has grown into a great centre of learning within a short period of time.  I am happy to know that students who have graduated from NLU, Delhi have brought accolades to this institution.  It is also a matter of pride for this institution to see some of its students excelling in the Civil Services Examinations.  Students from this University have topped Delhi, Punjab and Haryana Judicial Services examinations.  Several others who have graduated out from here have been admitted to prestigious institutions, such as Oxford University, Cambridge University, New York University School of Law, Yale Law School and Harvard Law School for their post-graduate studies.  I take this opportunity to congratulate NLU, Delhi for these significant achievements.I consider it a matter of great honour to have been invited to deliver the Fifth Convocation Address of the National Law University, Delhi.  This institution has grown into a great centre of learning within a short period of time.  I am happy to know that students who have graduated from NLU, Delhi have brought accolades to this institution.  It is also a matter of pride for this institution to see some of its students excelling in the Civil Services Examinations.  Students from this University have topped Delhi, Punjab and Haryana Judicial Services examinations.  Several others who have graduated out from here have been admitted to prestigious institutions, such as Oxford University, Cambridge University, New York University School of Law, Yale Law School and Harvard Law School for their post-graduate studies.  I take this opportunity to congratulate NLU, Delhi for these significant achievements.

Getting a degree is only a step forward in your career, and your life.  It is an acknowledgement, that you are capable of the tasks which an LL.B., LL.M. or a doctorate degree holder, is required to perform.  This is a big responsibility, which each one of you owe, not only to yourself and your parents, but also to the institution that has conferred the degree upon you.  And to your country, which has contributed to your education.  How well you discharge your responsibility, is the next big test, ahead of you.  Indeed in some measure the future of the rule of law, rests with you, for shaping a constitutionally abiding India.

From tomorrow, you will be a part of a larger responsibility, where your performances will emerge, from the intellect and wisdom, you have had the opportunity to acquire.  Life really starts now, and the battle has just begun.  You will now enter a new world of competition.  In fulfilling your dreams, you have many options.  You could decide to start practicing law.  Litigation has a charm of its own.  You may alternatively confine yourself, to arbitration or mediation.  These fields also offer a complete career prospect.  You may take a different call, and become a legal consultant.  In that eventuality, you will have to acquaint yourself, with the present day economic and commercial developments.  You could join the corporate world, and be happy with an office job, which will surely bring home a large packet of money.  You could choose a career in teaching.  You will then manage young scholars, and take the responsibility to organize their careers.  In the options available to you, you will have to acquaint yourself, with all contours of emerging rights, trends, and legal challenges.  The choices open to you though multiple, are not simple.  They all require hard work for success and excellence.

In corporate law, law usually follows practice.  Therefore lawyers in corporate jobs have to be very innovative and aware of the legal systems around the world, to ensure that the market keeps on functioning, till the time, law through legislation or court decisions, catches up with it.  The advisory function of a lawyer is crucial.  And the execution of the advice, outside or inside the court, determines the local and the national profile of justice.  The cardinal value is honesty of advice, and integrity of execution.

Joining the bar however, has its own charm.  The challenge to argue a complicated case, sometimes against an established precedent, is an incomparable experience.  It is the bar, that aids in developing groundbreaking laws.  We quote Keshvanand Bharti’s case for the basic structure doctrine.  However, the establishment of the basic structure doctrine, has been derived from the innovative arguments, of several leading lawyers.  The bench needs assistance of a hard working bar, to interpret the law according to the needs of the time, and thereby, to keep the law relevant for the society.  As a member of the legal fraternity, I can assure you that judges always encourage young deserving lawyers at the bar, to carry on the torch of great advocates, who were responsible for assisting courts to lay down, many of the precedents, that we use today.  A successful and deserving lawyer, may also get a chance to be at the bench, if he or she so wishes.  In future, you may find yourself deciding on important political and social matters, thereby moulding the destiny of the country, through the values you exhibit.  But let me remind you, that to know, that you do not know, is the beginning of wisdom.

And in case you choose litigation as your career, let me remind you of what you must do.  You will have to represent clients who may, or may not, have a good case.  But no matter how hopeless the case… the unmeritorious the client… notwithstanding the apathy of the judge… irrespective of the risks to your own reputation… and despite the other pressing concerns that may be prying on your mind… this is what you must do.  You must follow and defend the great traditions of advocacy… to make mountains out of  molehills… to find a point of law where none had previously known to exist… to ensure that the client does not lose the case without everything possible being said on his behalf… and on some occasions even something impossible (inspired by the lyrics of ‘the impossible dream’, by Frank Sinatra/Elvis Presley, and by the judgment of the House of Lords in Medcalf vs. Weatherill).

I wish you luck for achieving your dreams.  At the same time, I also want to tell you not to forget your role.  A lawyer or a law teacher who does not understand or empathise with his or her society, can never be a good lawyer or a good judge or a good law teacher.  Law is a living embodiment of fundamentals of ethics, morality and everything that is good.  The legal profession is a vast reservoir of wisdom, strength and courage.  “Law is no trade briefs no merchandise”.  It is “a part of the social reality.  The social reality consists also of the economy, the political structure, religion, morals, customs, etc., each of which operates on a different, though often inter-connected, plane.”

The theories and concepts which you have learnt and acquired, and the values imbibed in your personality, will enable you to successfully navigate the unexpected ahead.  Having chosen law as a career you may guide policy makers, balance the interest of various stakeholders, expand the space for those left out in the society and be a compass for the nation in its voyage.  In the profession of law, you will provide hope to many, you will counsel, arbitrate, settle and liberate.

An academic convocation, is a conclusion, and also a new beginning.  It is a joyous day for the students who have worked hard for getting their professional degree, for teachers who have laboured unceasingly, and the administration which has ensured that the university functions in a peaceful and ordered manner.  I congratulate all those concerned, for successfully ensuring students to complete their courses during this academic year, to enable them to receive their well deserved reward.

I would like to conclude by saying, that India is free, but it is yet to taste the true glory of this freedom.  Lawyers participated at the forefront in the freedom movement, they also deliberated in the Constituent Assembly debates, in drafting the Constitution, – and therefore, played an important role in deciding how India was to be administered.  Lawyers have remained at the forefront to ensure that the country is governed according to the provisions of the Constitution.  And, that the people live a cherished life in enjoyment of the fundamental rights promised to them.  The process must be taken forward.  The task that law professionals must now perform, is to make the people of India attain glorious freedom.  May you thrive with success in your careers, and may you have a role in the progression of your country.

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