Social Justice Lawyering and the Possibilities of Change

Friday, May 17, 2013 - 6:15pm
The Brecht Forumn 451 West Streetn New York, NY 10014n United Statesn

May 17th, 2013 6:15 PM
Social Justice Lawyering and the Possibilities of Change
A Conversation with Colin Gonsalves

The Indian Supreme Court has often been defined as one of the most powerful judiciaries in the world. Known as one of the most accessible courts due to its famous Public Interest Litigation or Social Action Litigation that allowed any issue related to a violation of fundamental rights to be taken up by higher courts, it has been sometimes a useful tool of change for civil liberty and democratic rights activists as also sometimes enabling policies that violate the rights of the marginalized. How do social justice lawyers negotiate with such an institution?

Come and participate in a discussion with Senior Supreme Court Advocate Colin Gonzalves from Human Rights Law Network. One of the reasons why the Court has been responsive to the demands of the social movements is due to a long history of social justice lawyering in the Indian context and we have a unique opportunity to understand the interaction between progressive lawyers and the higher courts in India.

Colin Gonsalves began his career as an engineer but was drawn to the law through union work and concerns over labour issues and exploitation. Upon graduation from law school in 1983, Mr. Gonsalves co-founded the India Centre for Human Rights and Law in Bombay and developed it into a national network of over 200 lawyers and paralegals under the auspices of the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN). Since co-founding HRLN in 1989, Dr. Gonsalves and his colleagues have built the organization into India’s leading public interest law group, working at the intersection of law, advocacy and policy. Dr. Gonsalves strives to use the law as a shield to protect the human rights of the poor and of the marginalized communities in India.He is also the winner of the 2004 International Human Rights Award of the American Bar Association in public recognition of his contribution to the area of human rights.

Jinee Lokaneeta is an Associate Professor in Political Science, Drew University. She is the author of Transnational Torture: Law, Violence, and State Power in the United States and India (NYU Press, 2011). She is also a member of South Asia Solidarity Initiative which is an organization based in New York that is in solidarity with progressive social movements and democratic politics in South Asia.