Title : 'Recent Human Rights Controversies in the Supreme Court'
Speaker: Dr. Colin Gonsalves, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and Founder, Human Rights Law Network
Abstract: The talk will cover a spectrum of political and civil rights as well as economic rights in an effort to promote a discussion on the struggle for human rights taking place in India, and the role of students in building a more humane society and country. The lecture will take up particular issues such as the death penalty, personal law, Maoism, secularism, development and the environment to explore the role of the Supreme Court and constitutional law in protecting and expanding the rights of India’s most marginalized and vulnerable citizens.
About the Speaker: Dr. Colin Gonsalves is the Founder, Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) and Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India.
A graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Dr. Gonsalves started his professional life as a civil engineer but was drawn into the field of law through his work with the unions in Bombay. He commenced formal legal study in 1979 and litigated his first case, while still in law school, on behalf of 5,000 workers locked out of their jobs.
Dr. Gonsalves’ most significant victories in the courtroom include the 2001 ‘Right to Food’ case, which saw India’s Supreme Court issue far-reaching orders enforcing a free midday meal for all schoolchildren and subsidized grain for over 400 million Indians living below the poverty line.
His other prominent cases include the reinstatement of a teacher having cerebral palsy, stays on the demolition of slums, reduction in the prices of essential medicines and the enforcement of sexual harassment law throughout the country.
He was presented with the ‘International Human Rights Award’ by the American Bar Association in 2005. In 2010, he was conferred a Doctorate of the University, honoris causa, by the University of Middlesex, UK. He was also given the ‘Mother Teresa Memorial Award’ for Social Justice ‘in recognition of remarkable contribution in legal services addressing human rights’ in 2010. Most recently in September 2017, Dr. Gonsalves was awarded the prestigious Right Livelihood Award ‘for his tireless and innovative use of public interest litigation’.