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Home > Life-at-sol > Activities-at-sol > Anhad-session-28 >

ANHAD : 28TH SESSION

Event: Anhad - Date: 14th September,2019

Anhad- a discussion forum of NMIMS KPMSoL powered by law students organized a lecture on ‘The Transformative Constitution' on 14th September 2019 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM in Mithibai Seminar Hall. The guest speaker was Mr. Gautam Bhatia, a Delhi-based lawyer and legal academic known for his detailed scholastic insights into the Indian Constitution. He is an alumnus of NLSIU, Bangalore, and a Rhodes Scholar. His recently published book "The Transformative Constitution: A Radical Biography in Nine Acts” explored the transformative jurisprudence through a doctrinal, comparative and philosophical perspective.

The guest was heartily welcomed by the members of team Anhad, faculties and the enthusiastic audience. Mr. Harshal Shah, Mentor, KPMSoL felicitated the guest with a bouquet. Mr. Rakesh Nambiar, Assistant Professor – KPMSoL, introduced the speaker and the topic of the lecture to the audiences. Manan, Member Anhad explained about the idea of Anhad and its relevance and importance in the contemporary times.

In his 40 minutes address, Mr. Bhatia touched many important constitutional issues and related it with the transformative jurisprudence of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court of India stood out in 2018 for several landmark verdicts which included decriminalising homosexuality (certain provisions of 377 were struck down), decriminalising adultery and allowing women's entry into Sabarimala. Although, these verdicts touched upon the "transformative" part of the Constitution, Mr. Bhatia argued in his lecture that not only colonial laws, but also post-independence laws that conflict with fundamental rights need to be revoked.

Bhatia contended that contrary to conventional wisdom the Constitution is an evolving document which must evolve constantly to keep pace with the times.

Mr. Bhatia said that, "by a ‘Transformative Constitution', I mean a Constitution that set out to transform not merely the political structure (by transferring political power from an alien, colonial regime to an elected government of the people), but also to transform oppressive social practices centred around caste, gender, and religion. A Constitution that set out also to democratise the relationships between individuals and social groups, as well as between individuals themselves.”

A very big critique of the workings of the Supreme Court Mr. Gautam Bhatia while answering a question on absentee constitutional courts, he reiterated that, "Some recent judgments – such as Section 377 and the Sabrimala judgment – that specifically invoke the transformative

constitutionalism – give cause to hope. At the same time – judgments like Adhaar suggest more of the same story.”

Mr. Bhatia also talked about the fact that why the Constitution must be treated as an evolving document, with judges bearing the responsibility of updating it. In addition to it he said, " The ‘updation’ is not about judges applying their own sense of right or wrong, or contemporary morals but but the ‘updation’ should be of the core values of the Constitution and applying it to an always-changing world.” He further explained this concept while citing the examples of Article 14 (equality), Art 15 (non-discrimination), and so on.

Mr. Bhatia also looked very keen on the provision of the "restitution of conjugal rights”, "it is something I’ve discussed at length in the book”, he said while talking about democratising family relations. It will be interesting to see if the Court reconsiders its original judgment from 1983 that upheld it.

"The phrase ‘transformative constitutionalism’ is South African in origin, referring to the Constitution that was drafted at the end of the Apartheid era. The Constitution is attempting to reconstruct society itself - democratising not just vertical relations between the individual and the State but also horizontal relationships,” he explained.

At the end of his lecture, Bhatia confessed about his other love – Science Fiction. "Look into a new and animated arena of Sci-Fi and Law,” he asked the students.

It was an enthralling and illuminating lecture for the Constitution lovers with young law students at Anhad's 28th session. The questions were sharp which kept the guest on his toes throughout the lecture. Good to see where India is headed.

The vote of thanks was given by Dr. Alok Misra, Dean, KPMSoL and Anunay, Member, Anhad. Dr. Misra also presented the memento to our valuable guest.

As per the feedback received from the students it was an excellent learning experience, the lecture helped them in their understanding of the transformative jurisprudence of the Constitution.

The session was concluded and followed by a customary high tea and snacks reception in the Dean's office where Mr. Bhatia also signed the copy of his book for the students.

-Vaidushya Parth

On behalf of team Anhad

 

           
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