Symbiosis Law School, Pune, a constituent of Symbiosis International University, celebrated its Law Day & 6th Justice Y.V. Chandrachud Memorial Public Lecture 2016 on the 16th of January, 2016 at SVC Auditorium, Viman Nagar, Pune.
The event commenced with the traditional lighting of lamp by the chief guest Dr. M. Sridhar Acharyulu, Central Information Commissioner, Government of India & Former Registrar, NALSAR, Hyderabad, along with other dignitaries present on the dais.
In her welcome address, Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, Director, SLS, Pune and Dean, Faculty of Law, SIU, spoke about the significance of Law Day and its importance in contemporary times. While quoting Arundhati Roy, Richard Posner and Noam Chomsky, she defined public intellectualism as a dying breed but one that is of high relevance in today’s times. She apprised the audience that Symbiosis Law School, Pune, began celebrating Law Day since 1984, which is originally celebrated on the 26th of November, to recapture and instil the values and messages that were always associated with this day. She spoke about both, the quantitative and qualitative achievements of the college and the vision & mission of the same to renew its goals from year to year. Dr. Gurpur highlighted the niche that Symbiosis Law School, Pune had created in legal education, which allows it to be described as a ‘classic’ law school. She threw light on the efforts of the college in striving towards their goal of international collaboration. These efforts comprised of student exchange programs, faculty exchanges and several other opportunities for international exposure. She gladly declared the exemplary research and consultation statistics that the law school regularly exhibits. Elaborating upon the legal-aid achievements and efforts of the college, Dr. Gurpur highlighted major events like the Maha Lok Adalat which 128 students visited along with the law school’s efforts to revive the Mediation Centre in the District Court and the college’s collaboration with NGO’s for addressing the legal needs of children and commercial sex workers.
This was followed by Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar, Principal Director, Symbiosis and Dr. Rajini Gupte, Vice Chancellor, SIU; felicitating all the dignitaries.
Dr. Vidya Yeravdekar, welcomed the dignitaries on the dais. She expressed her elation regarding the selection of the topic for the day being, “Right to Information: an intrinsic part of Freedom of Speech and Expression” and described this right as a tool to hold people accountable. She reiterated the transformation of Symbiosis International University into a world class institution, which she defined as a university that produced aware, global citizens. She handed the baton to the students, giving them the responsibility of contributing to the mission of international collaboration, through active participation in different spheres of academic & professional life.
Dr. Rajini Gupte, Vice Chancellor, SIU, in her address highlighted the importance of the faculty of law within the umbrella of the university as a whole, on account of the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary nature of law. She commended the efforts of Dr. Shashikala Gurpur in encouraging the formulation of courses in a similar way. ‘The success of students is the success of Symbiosis and these students – the alumni of tomorrow, will have a major role to play in making our university a world class university,’ she said. She consequently concluded her speech by giving her best wishes to the students in all their future endeavours.
Adv. Ram Jethmalani, Sr. Advocate Supreme Court of India, Professor Emeritus, SIU, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), then presented the “Ram Jethmalani Trophy” on Evidence Law to Gourav Mohanty (V Year, 2011-16 batch), for scoring the highest marks in Law of Evidence which carried a medal and a cash prize of Rs. 50,000.
The audience then saw release of the booklet of Justice Y.V. Chandrachud Memorial Public Lecture 2015 by the Chief Guest, Dr. M. Sridhar Acharyulu and the other dignitaries on the dais.
Dr. M. Sridhar Acharyulu proceeded to deliver the Justice Y.V. Chandrachud Memorial Public Lecture 2016 on the topic, “Right to Information: an Intrinsic part of Freedom of Speech and Expression”. He described Justice Y.V. Chandrachud’s views on transparency in jail administration and paid his tribute to the great personality. He described his transition from a journalist, collecting and analyzing information, to the Central Information Commissioner, directing the same. Touching upon the topic at hand, he said it would be difficult to imagine a rule of law as validated by the Constitution, without the Freedom of Speech and Expression; emphasizing the importance of the Right to Information. He then shared an anecdote about the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru in which a single question from Nathu Singh Rathore changed his perspective. Henceforth, he encouraged questions to be asked regarding policy making to ensure active participation in decision making; he also elaborated the consequent role of the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression in ensuring the same. He then proceeded to describe an experience he had when he worked as an investigative journalist where he faced hurdles in exposing the corruption present in the richest Temple in India and succeeded because the judiciary upheld the Right to Information under the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. He described the dynamic conflict that exists as a result of the coexistence between the Right to Information Act and the Official Secrets Act; and prayed for the repeal of the Official Secrets Act. Throwing light on the Right to Information Act by calling the day of its enforcement as ‘India’s second independence day,’ he assured the gathering that most of the questions raised through the Right to Information, were in public interest and that it was an excellent way to empower simple Indian citizens. He described the judiciary as the pillar of Freedom of Speech and Expression, and hoped that they would accept and uphold the great responsibility given to them. He concluded his enlightening speech by expressing the importance of public awareness in ensuring that the Right to Information flourished in our country
Adv. Ram Jethmalani administered the law day oath. He expressed his pride at the creation of democracy in India and defined it as the rule of the citizens themselves. He highlighted that the Right to Information Act was conceived not by the government but by the judges in courtrooms. He expressed his views on the same by describing the Right to Information as being an implicit freedom bestowed to every citizen in an Indian democracy. He condemned any restriction placed on citizens gathering information about the working of the government that they had elected. He reiterated that a democracy could not possibly function without the right to know, as education about affairs of public interest was the fulcrum of a democracy. He went on to describe the conception, evolution and spread of Law Day, right from its American roots and described the celebration of Law Day as a constitutional duty to express the ideals of the constitution to the people of the nation. He expressed his pride in the secular nature of the Indian constitution, describing it as the ‘greatest gift’ of the constitution. His remarks were a fitting conclusion to this momentous occasion.
Following his insightful speech, Dr. Bindu Ronald, Deputy Director, Symbiosis Law School, Pune gracefully concluded by proposing the Vote of Thanks.
The ceremony closed with the national anthem.