By Manzar Imam
New Delhi, 14 March 2023: In a show of legal solidarity against increasing lawlessness, over one hundred lawyers from across the country gathered and vowed to fight against growing violation of laws and breach of public order during the 2nd national convention of All India Practising Lawyers Council (AILC) at India International Centre, New Delhi on Saturday.
The convention was attended by practicing advocates, a former Supreme Court judge, advocates, former high court justices, eminent public figures, senior retired police officers and other dignitaries.
Speaking on the occasion, Justice Ashok Kumar Ganguly, former judge of the Supreme Court of India remembered the glorious role of the lawyers who had created the Constitution paving the way for swaraj, or a right of self-determination, a right of a people to govern themselves on the basis of laws formed, and written by them. He therefore called the lawyers the “crusaders for justice.”
Justice Debasish Kar Gupta, former chief justice of Calcutta High Court, in his address, after being elected president of the AILC for the next term, said, while quoting Dr. Radhakrishnan that sovereignty implied subjection to law and that no one was above it. He said that AILC is looking forward to a flourishing year and years ahead, promising to keep the relationship with all the members and strengthening it. He regretted the role that certain kind of politics had played, asserting that “it is the lawyers who are the mouthpieces of the courts. They have to take up the issues, take good decisions and go ahead.”
Dr. P.A. Inamdar, Chancellor of Dr. P.A. Inamdar University, Pune and one of the patrons of the AILC, briefly mentioned the reason for the RSS’ stand against minorities, because of their failure to participate in the debates of the Constitution following the murder of Mahatma Gandhi and the subsequent arrests, stating that lawyers have challenges, but “as and when the basic premises of the Constitution are there, let us stand there.” In order not to be afraid of being called a minority, Inamdar said, “Everyone is a minority under different situations” – either religious or linguistic, or based on one’s identity with a particular region.
In his brief presidential address, the outgoing present of AILC, Justice Ravinder Singh said that the Council is working for the nourishment and protection of the Constitution. We are simply “guided by our Constitution and ethics of the profession.”
Ten resolutions, focused on the modalities of the AILC, a voluntary organization, conceived with the idea to take up the cudgels on behalf of the victims against any act of injustice throughout India, were read out and passed. Genuine dissents are met by unreasonable and oppressive actions of arrests and detentions for which the group resolved to “strive to create conducive atmosphere to sensitise the judiciary to prevent illegal and undemocratic actions.” A resolution stated to “stand against custodial deaths and third degree tortures.”
With innumerable cases of unlawful and selective misuse of bulldozers and forcible demolition of buildings of people and organisations who oppose the undemocratic activities of BJP-led governments, we resolve to “fight against fascist activities and to endeavour to secure rehabilitation and compensation to the victims and also to bring the culprits to justice”, read another resolution. About the spree of arrests and detention of human rights and civil rights activists which culminated even to death of activists like Stans Swamy, a resolution read, “We resolve to strive to fight against such dictatorial tendencies.” To identify cases where person charged under UAPA are made to languish in jail without trial and cases of fair trial, which is a fundamental right, being denied, the resolutions sought their redressal. Yet another resolution sought to “strive to draft suitable legislation for preventing hate speech” as was also directed by the Supreme Court.
Adv. H.R.A. Choudhury, Adv. Dr. Pawan Kumar Arya, Adv. Lakshmi Raja, Adv. Adil Sharfuddin, Adv. P.K. Ibrahim, Adv. P. Chandrasekhar, Adv. Abdul Azeem Khan, Adv. Mohammad Rafiq Chauhan, Adv. S. S. Tamilarasan and Adv. Haider Ali read the resolutions and sought approval, all of which were approved through resounding applauses of the house.
The Term Report (2020-2023) of the Council, formed on 8 February, 2020 was released by Justice Ravinder Singh along with Wajahat Habibullah and Mohammad Wazir Ansari.
Adv. Sharfuddin Ahmad, secretary general of AILC, moderated the proceedings of the programme attended, besides members of the Central Committee and State representatives of the AILC, by Wajahat Habibullah, former Chief Information Commissioner and chairman of National Commission for the Minorities; Mohammad Wazir Ansari, former DGP, Chhattisgarh; Bijendra Singh, Former ADGP, Uttar Pradesh; Kamal Farooqui, former chairman, Delhi Minorities Commission; Justice BG Kolse Patil, former judge, Bombay High Court.