People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 04

January 27, 2013





Striving to Bring Justice to People


Som Dutta Sharma


THE All India Lawyers Union (AILU) held its 11th biennial conference in New Delhi from December 27 to 29, 2012, with more than 600 delegates from 24 states --- representing lawyers, law teachers and law students --- deliberating upon subjects of vital importance to the public at large and to the lawyers fraternity. The Delhi state committee of the AILU, the host unit, had set up for the conference a reception committee with Justice R S Sodhi (former judge of Delhi High Court) as chairman and Som Dutta Sharma (AILU’s national treasurer and the host unit’s vice president) as its secretary. Twelve committees were formed to make preparations for the conference.




The Delhi state committee had the opportunity of holding an event after a gap of 27 years. It was in 1982 that a convention of eminent lawyers was held in New Delhi, in which the decision to form an all-India organisation of lawyers, law teachers and law students was taken. The 1982 convention was addressed, apart from others from the bar, by late Comrade Jyoti Basu, himself a Bar at Law, and by Justice V R Krishna Iyer, Justice A C Gupta and Justice H R Khanna, all retired judges of the Supreme Court.


The 11th conference, held at Rai Kedarnath Memorial Hall situated within the compound of Ramjas School No 4 on Chitragupta Road, Paharganj, New Delhi, began on December 27 morning, with AILU national president Hashim Abdul Halim hoisting the flag. The delegates entered the conference hall after offering floral tributes at the martyr column.


All roads leading to the venue of the conference and the venue decked with AILU flags, banners and flowers wore a festive look. The conference hall was decorated with flowers and flex boards displaying the message of the organisation and theme subjects of the conference.


The host unit’s president P V Dinesh said the Delhi unit felt proud of hosting the conference that had a special importance for Delhi unit as the All India Lawyers Union was born in Delhi 30 years ago. Holding of an all-India conference came as an opportunity to us to organise ourselves by reaching out to the maximum number of advocates in the city and that the unit took this opportunity as a challenge as Delhi unit is one of the small units. The Delhi unit stated gaining confidence from the response it got from the ten thousand lawyers of all shades including super seniors. The reception committee had also created its website as an interface between itself and the delegates. The speaker expressed confidence that the conference deliberations would be memorable.




Delivering his presidential address, Halim recounted the political situation in 1980 and the meeting he had at Justice Hari Swaroop’s residence with some friends and their resolve to form an all-India organisation for taking up the cause of working class, peasantry, dalits, women and children. He said the thought processes in the society are changing very fast with the advent of television, computer and internet. He asked the delegates to integrate with the people for their own purposes. Referring to the recent rape incident in Delhi, Halim said the police do not work the way they should and that the judicial system is bogged down with delays in deciding the cases. Young lawyers, in this scenario, have to come forward, take charge of the organisation and march forward. He hoped that the conference would identify the issues on which to move forward.  


Justice Ashok Kumar Ganguly, former judge of the Supreme Court, inaugurated the conference. He said some judgements and some developments made him to feel ashamed that he was a judge of the Supreme Court. Quoting Roscoe Pound, Justice Ganguly said “law is a tool of social engineering” and that the position of lawyers is crucial in our society. In a democratic country law has a very important role to play since the state is an all-embracing body affecting the life of the people when they are asserting their rights under the law. He asked the audience to understand why protests from the civil society are coming. Why women are treated like cattle in the backyard? Why infanticide? In one village of Rajasthan, no marriage has taken place for decades. Girls are killed immediately after birth. Justice Ganguly asked the audience to understand how the country came to acquire its constitutional values. He said each subject of the conference, viz quick and inexpensive justice, corruption free judiciary and human rights, is a constitutional right of the people. He also talked of the impact of globalisation on the legal profession.


Justice Ganguly said honesty is a basic assumption for a judge and the often-used expression that he or she is an honest judge is a sad commentary on the judiciary. He said justice reaches its finest moment when it stands firm in the fight between the rich and the poor, between the strong and the weak. He castigated the Supreme Court for engaging in corporate cases and relegating the common men’s cases to the background. He asked what would happen to the cases affecting the people’s human rights if the Supreme Court gets busy in deciding the cases of corporate siblings.


Justice Ganguly reminded the audience about the role played by lawyers in the freedom struggle, in framing of the constitution and later on in its radical interpretation by judges like Krishna Iyer, Chinnappa Reddy, B K Mukhrjee and Vivian Bose which activism is found missing today.


Justice Ganguly said people are losing faith in judiciary because of delays in and the cost of getting justice. Not many can come to the Supreme Court today; it is a place of luxury for the rich who can afford it. The poor can’t. To ameliorate this situation, much can be done by lawyers and their organisations like the AILU.


Earlier, Justice R S Sodhi’s address (read in his absence because of his indisposition) welcomed the delegates and recalled the how formation of AILU in 1982 when H A Halim and other leaders used to meet in the Lawyers Chamber No 66 of the Supreme Court for the purpose.


In his pre-recorded address to the conference, Justice V R Krishna Iyer asked the delegates to bring justice to the have-nots and through alternative redressal mechanisms since justice to them brooks no delay. He asked the conference to devote time to discuss as to how colonial laws could be converted into swaraj. Wishing grand success to the conference, Justice Krishna Iyer asked the delegates to organise legal aid programmes for the downtrodden.




The inaugural open session of the conference was also addressed by three distinguished speakers on the subjects of the conference. Dr C P Chandrasekhar, professor in economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, spoke on corruption in the neo-liberal era. Dr J S Chhokar, retired professor of IIM, Ahmedabad, spoke on electoral reforms and Dr Arun Mohan, a senior advocate, spoke on access to justice.


The ideological thrust of the conference was on four subjects:

(1) Restructuring of justice delivery system towards quick and inexpensive justice through a decentralised and democratised judicial system.


(2) Corruption in judiciary and political system.


(3) Human rights and Indian constitution.


(4) Impact of globalisation on legal profession.


The delegates thoroughly discussed these subjects in four different commissions, each one of which was chaired by one member of the organisation’s secretariat. The Commission on Restructuring of Justice Delivery System was chaired by E K Narayanan, all-India vice president; the Commission on Corruption in judiciary and in political system by Kolli Satyanarayan, joint secretary; the Commission on Human Rights and Indian Constitution by Joginder Singh Toor, vice president, and the Commission on the Impact of Globalisation on Legal Profession was chaired by Nisith Adhikary, vice president. The chairman of every commission then placed the quintessence of discussion in his commission in the delegates session. Discussion on the theme subjects of the conference by delegates in different commissions was a new experience for a majority of the delegates who participated in the commission deliberations with great enthusiasm.


Presenting the draft of the work and organisation report in the delegates session, AILU general secretary D K Agarwal emphasised the importance of the subjects chosen for discussion in the conference. He highlighted the work done by the centre and the state units during last four years, underlined the weaknesses of the organisation and also dwelt on the tasks before the organisation. He recounted the difficulties faced by the centre in bringing out and distributing the Popular Jurist. He asked the delegates to comment on the report objectively and critically so that the organisation’s functioning could be improved in the next two years. Delegates discussed the report presented by the secretariat for ten and a half hours on December 28 and 29.


The conference adopted resolutions on price rise, decentralisation of judiciary, violation of human rights, all-India bar examination, formation of a National Judicial Commission, problems of junior lawyers, central welfare fund for lawyers, crimes against women, foreign direct investment, incident at a temple in Udupi, and the Delhi gang rape case.


The conference elected a National Council of 171 members which immediately thereafter elected an executive committee of 81, including 33 office bearers. Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharya from West Bengal was elected the AILU president, Som Dutta Sharma from Delhi was elected general secretary and Ms G Chamkiraj was elected the treasurer. There will be 14 vice presidents, nine joint secretaries and seven secretaries, while one post is vacant.


The newly elected president and general secretary addressed the delegates in its concluding session on December 29 afternoon when nine veterans of the organisation, including the outgoing president and general secretary, were presented shawls and mementos. The conference then concluded with the resolute determination of the delegates to take the organisation to the mass of the lawyers, law teachers and law students.