Senior Supreme Court Lawyer and Founder-Director of Human Rights Law Network Dr. Colin Gonsalves, called upon the young fraternity of law students to pick up social justice litigation as a career after their law school.
On the occasion of 68th Republic Day, Nyaya Forum for Courtroom Lawyering, a students' initiative at NALSAR University of Law hosted Dr. Colin Gonsalves, He delivered a talk on "Human Rights and Courts" to a gathering of roughly 150 students and faculty members at the packed MK Nambyar SAARC Law Centre. Students from Symbiosis Law School Hyderabad also attended the public talk. The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. (Dr.) Faizan Mustafa was in attendance as well.
Dr. Gonsalves spoke of his experiences with human rights oriented litigation and how combining social activism with law sharpens legal ability and breeds spontaneity as a result of one's engagement with the people. He advised the students to break out of their cocooned existence and prepare themselves for a turbulent political and economic future by attempting to decipher reality and think for themselves. He also touched upon how young lawyers should build up their own style of delivery and communication, as opposed to imitating their seniors.
While recalling his experiences as a young activist, Dr. Gonsalves stressed on the importance of keeping one's conscience and spirit alive. He credited his understanding of labour law to his interactions with workers and seeing the world through their eyes.
By taking Mahatma Gandhi's example, he asked students to learn to determine when and where law is redundant and go ahead to freely break the law in such cases. Dr. Gonsalves' belief that no country could be run on hate and fear, without the goodwill and collective participation of the people resonated with the audience.
He spoke of the fundamental changes coming about in the lives of young people and cautioned the students against getting into the rut that lawyers often get into.
Dr. Gonsalves further apprised the students that it is possible to do choose a different career path that involves engaging with people and evolving a human rights practice. He attempted to mitigate the popular perception that human rights litigation does not provide for a decent living, adding that the largest volume of work could be found in the human rights sphere. Praising India's constitutional law system, he stated that India is the global center of jurisprudence for human rights.
Dr. Gonsalves briefly discussed various pertinent judgments in the sphere of human rights. These included the judgment on Right to Food, the AFSPA case, Chattisgarh's Salwa Judum case (Nandini Sundar case), the Singur Land Acquisition judgment, the on disability, judgment on the commutation of death sentences in the case of Shatrughan Chauhan, and the Supreme Court's order to Sikkim regarding protection from sexual harassment at the workplace. Dr. Gonsalves concluded that in a world where no one is willing to take up the cases of the poor, if the students as future lawyers keep their doors open and take up the cases of the marginalized, this would in turn yield the unmatched reward of great peace of mind and satisfaction.
The Nyaya Forum for Courtroom Lawyering at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad– a students' initiative seeks to further the purpose of establishing universities exclusively providing legal education in India, and help budding students take their first steps into courtrooms as the future doyens of the bar and the bench. The Forum's approach to achieve this is to join disjointed activities that happen in law school, right from academic courses to guest lecturers to internships. This is with the purpose of providing leverage to the upcoming generation of budding lawyers currently in law schools in pursuing a career in litigation or lower judiciary immediately after graduation.