Legal literacy of women in India will ensure access to justice: Justice Surya Kant inaugurates Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer Centre for Legal Education

Legal literacy of women in India will ensure access to justice: Justice Surya Kant inaugurates Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer Centre for Legal Education

IANS Photo

New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) "Legal literacy of women in India is a stepping stone for ensuring access to justice and this underpins the inauguration of Jindal Global University International Academy and Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer Centre for Clinical Legal Education," said Justice Surya Kant, Judge, Supreme Court of India.

Justice Surya Kant further added that, "Another commendable initiative of O.P. Jindal Global University is in creating awareness among children about protection against sexual offences and to sensitize them about their rights and remedies in case they fall victims of harassment.

"The university, with the support of its distinguished faculty, has extended its activities into the real world as well. It runs an active Legal Aid Cell which has initiated society oriented litigations which have benefited the ones who most desperately require legal assistance. I appreciate the sincere efforts of this clinic in attaining a significant ruling from the High Court of Allahabad which guaranteed around six lakh seats for the children belonging to economically underprivileged sections of society. These activities undertaken by Jindal Global Law School are of utmost importance in building a well-informed society.

"The advocacy manual on abortion titled, 'Legal Regulation of Abortion in India: Complexities and Challenges', is really an important initiative and is likely to invite discussion and deliberation on this issue. I hope more centres of this kind will proliferate across the country, as they are vital in increasing legal awareness and access to legal aid for the poor. Clinical legal education of this nature focuses on the practical application of law at the grassroots level and investigates its actual impact on society. Such an approach to legal education and the university's efforts in this regard are creditable."

The event witnessed the presence of India's legal luminaries of the legal fraternity in New Delhi. It had the august presence of Justice Sanjay Karol, Judge Supreme Court of India; Lavu Nageswara Rao former Judge, Supreme Court of India (Rtd.), Gita Mittal, former Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, R. Venkataramani, the Attorney General of India; Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General of India; Vijay Vardhan, Chief Information Commissioner of Haryana, Vijay Dev, Delhi State Election Commissioner, Naveen Jindal, Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University and Shalu Jindal, Chairperson, JSPL Foundation with Savitri Jindal, Chairperson O.P. Jindal Group; and many distinguished parliamentarians, members of the legal profession, industry and academia. 

The event paid homage to Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, who epitomized humanism through his thoughts and actions in his various roles as an eminent judge, a self-motivated minister, a socially-oriented lawyer, a prolific author, and last but not the least, as the earliest voice of "access to justice" to all. Justice Krishna Iyer had the vision to make legal aid a public good and the naming of the Jindal Global Law School's Centre for Clinical Legal Education after Justice Krishna Iyer is a step towards fulfilling his vision and is quite opportune. 

R. Venkataramani, Attorney General for India in the Guest of Honour's address observed, "Legal education must be transformed into justice education. This means, moving as quickly as possible from the ills of the adversarial justice system into a system where justice is not merely affordable but makes you feel at home and brings you comfort and solace. The feeling of being an alien or feeling alienated in an institution or a system is not good for a country.

"When I talk about Indian jurisprudence, I would not talk from a hegemonic point of view. Not that India would become another colonial centre of the world in thought and power but if it moves away from colonialism of all kinds-of space and mind, I think they will be able to open a space of equality."

Founding Chancellor and Benefactor of O.P. Jindal Global University, Naveen Jindal in his recollections stated that, "The story of JGU started in 2006 when I spoke to the Vice Chancellor for the very first time. The idea came through for an institution of law and at a time when I was exploring the possibilities of law to obtain the right to fly the Indian National Flag for the citizens of India. The judiciary, lawyers and the law strongly supported and strengthened me.

Jindal further added, "Teachers are the backbone of every institution, and teachers at O.P. Jindal Global University are very passionate about the future of students, which speaks volumes about the commitment to our students, of our faculty and the staff at the university."

In his welcome address, Professor Dr. C. Raj Kumar Founding Vice Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University said, "The establishment of the JGU International Academy coincides with the establishment of the Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer Centre for Clinical Legal Education. It reflects the wider commitment and dedication that our Chancellor Mr. Naveen Jindal has demonstrated towards the promotion of higher education.

"The Academy will give an opportunity to connect the university to the wider society in India and it will be an intellectual forum for holding conferences, lectures, workshops and seminars. Through the Centre for Clinical Legal Education, we want to pay tribute to an outstanding legal luminary who inspired generations of judges, lawyers and academics. O.P. Jindal University represents an extraordinary idea for building something new which has the potential of impacting the life of young people.

"The vision of the university was to connect with the world and the next part is to have a strong interdisciplinary focus which even the new national education policy also focuses on. We are one of the youngest but more importantly the only non-stem, non-medicine university that has been given the status of an Institution of Eminence which is a stellar honour for JGU."

Ruminating on the richness of Indian jurisprudence, Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India said, "The present trend is that Indian students go and study in other countries to learn the laws, especially the constitution, of those countries. Why can't there be a shift such that students from across the world come to India to study Indian jurisprudence and develop perspectives based on it for comparative studies? This is particularly relevant given that judgments of Indian courts, especially on the Constitution of India, are cited by the courts in other jurisdictions of the world."

Professor (Dr.) S.G. Sreejith Executive Dean, Jindal Global Law School explained the vision of JGU International Academy: "This space, which was born with for the purpose of becoming a 'private space for fostering public good', will be a site for socializing in ideas and action. This space will an agora for all public conversations This will be a site for willing and acting: a site for remembrances, thanksgivings, ideating, contestation, dissent, and debates. All conversations will be held in the spirt of discursive democracy and deliberative justice. The space guarantees constructive speech and fair representation to everyone".

Prof. Dipika Jain, Vice Dean, Clinical Legal Education, JGLS reflected on the achievements of the Centre for Clinical Legal Education of JGLS and mapped its future course of action. She said, "The experience of studying at Clinics has been transformative and immersive for students, subverting the traditional norms of the law school classroom.

"There is no 'one size fits all' approach for legal empowerment or access to justice for communities that invariably experience intersectional discrimination based on various aspects of their identities. The clinics are reimagined beyond the 'sensitization' of students, to make it reflective in nature for students and therefore, sustainable for communities. The clinics are focused on systemic and structural change-making by centering communities and learning and unlearning from them."

Prof. Dabiru Sridhar Patnaik, Registrar of the University gave the concluding remarks and the vote of thanks.