Supreme Court advocate Shri Joydip Roy rose from a grass roots worker of the Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad (ABAP) to its national organising secretary. He joined the organisation when he used to practice at Durgapur Trial Court in West Bengal and held various responsibilities like organising secretary of West Bengal unit, zonal secretary and then national secretary. He played a key role in expanding the organisation in north-eastern states, Kashmir Valley and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Organiser Senior Correspondent Pramod Kumar spoke to him in New Delhi to know the 25 years journey of ABAP. Excerpts:
What were the challenges when the Adhivakta Parishad was formed?
The ABAP was formed on September 7, 1992 in New Delhi in the presence of some eminent personalities including the late Dattopant Thengadi. During the Emergency, neither the Press nor the social activists was allowed to say anything. Most of them were behind the bars. At that juncture some distinguished lawyers in different parts of the country realised the need to have a formal organisation of lawyers who can come forward to protect the democracy and support the nationalist voices. At that time some likeminded lawyers in Calcutta formed the Nationalist Lawyers Forum in 1977. Later, Junior Lawyers Forum was formed in Nagpur in 1980s. Similarly some lawyers in Kerala formed Bharatheeya Abhibhashaka Parishad in 1987. In Andhra Pradesh, it started in the name of Bharatiya Nyayavadi Parishad. In Uttar Pradesh, it began under the banner of Uttar Pradesh Adhivakta Parishad and in Delhi as Adhivakta Parishad Delhi.
All these activities were confined to the states only and there was no collective voice at the national level. Hence, some eminent lawyers and also some social thinkers including Dattopant Thengadi sat together in New Delhi to discuss about having an umbrella organisation of the lawyers. The formation of ABAP was the outcome of that discussion. All likeminded lawyers organisations were affiliated to it. These State bodies function independently but the objective of all is same. In his inaugural speech, Thengadiji had stressed that the Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad should work as a Constituent Assembly. We started the journey with the affiliated organisations and then gradually expanded in other states.
25 years journey of Adhivakta Parishad
In how many states the Parishad now has units?
We have units in all the states and UTs from Kashmir Valley to Kanyakumari, Assam to Nagaland, Andmans and Lakshwadweep. We have active units in Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura also. There is so much diversity and peculiarity in north-east. We work there according to the local situations. Most of the cases in Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh are dealt with the customary or local laws. There is no written law. We are trying to codify those customary laws.
How do you look at this journey of 25 years?
It was definitely not so smooth, but full of hurdles that we crossed over. The team of visionary leaders and dedicated workers took lot of pain to penetrate the idea among the lawyers that apart from making money we also have duty towards the society, nation, legal fraternity and the judiciary. We had to face lot of legal tangles too. But in spite of that, because we are working for a noble cause, we overcame all the challenges.
Would you list some achievements of this long journey?
Our members have fought a number of cases for the benefit of the society and the nation. They are still fighting Sri Ramjanmabhoomi case. Our alertness could protect Sri Ram Sethu. We are still fighting against the reservation granted by State governments in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal on religious grounds. In Delhi also our workers fought cases against the NCERT textbooks which contained defamatory passages against the freedom fighters. We ultimately won that battle and all the defamatory passages were deleted from the textbooks. During Commonwealth Games, there was a conspiracy to serve beef in the food without the knowledge of the players. We objected and ultimately no beef was served during the games. We also fought for the cause of fishermen in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. In Calcutta, the State government built some flats and tried to allot them on religious grounds. We successfully fought against it and the court banned it. Still lot of matters are pending. By and large we are working as watchdog of the society.
How is Adhivakta Parishad different from other lawyers’ organisations?
Certainly, there are lot of lawyers’ organisations. But most of them have confined themselves to the cause of the lawyers only. But Adhivakta Parishad is the organisation of lawyers that mainly focuses on interest of the nation, common men and justice to the last men of the society. This is the basic difference. We believe the lawyers have a big role towards the society. We motivate them towards that role. Lawyers have enormous power. What lakhs of people cannot do through agitation, a lawyer can do through the court without any bloodshed. We are trying to promote that spirit among the lawyers. Since its inception in 1992 the Parishad is working towards the objective of resurrecting Bharatiya values and ingraining idealism in the hearts of Advocates for improving efficacy and standards of the Bar and the Judiciary of the country.
Delay in justice is a serious matter now. What are you doing for speedy justice?
We train the advocates how to avoid unnecessary delay. We also try to convince the bar associations not to press upon suspending the work of the courts on irrelevant issues. We are sure that the time will come when people will get speedy justice. If the common man loses faith in the judiciary, that will be an alarming situation. In that case they may go to the third party for justice. And that vacuum may be filled up by anti-national outfits. We are very much afraid of that. We are training the advocates in that manner also.
How do you educate the advocates?
Our micro unit is court unit. Each of the court unit conducts Study Circle every month. Out of 12 Study Circles in a year, we take up any legal issue during eight of the Circles to update the advocates. While in rest of the four Study Circles national, social or the local issues are taken up to eradicate the problems being faced by the society. This experiment has proved to be highly beneficial. Apart from Study Circles, we also conduct regular awareness campaigns. Since our objective is to ensure justice to the last men of the society, we work for the faceless men of the society. There are lot of people who work for money and muscle men. But there are very few who work for the faceless people. In order to spread basic legal awareness, we conduct awareness camps. Recently, we have also opened some legal aid centres or Nyaya Kendras in slums. In Delhi and other States also we have such Kendras. In this Silver Jubilee year we have decided to expand these Nyay Kendras up to the district level all over the country. Parishad is continuously publishing its quarterly bilingual publication Nyayapravah since 2001, which has a circulation throughout the country.
Need for Legal Protection to Downtrodden and Helpless
“No legal protection or social justice can be available to those who cannot organise themselves into violent pressure groups. It is precisely such sections of “the wretched of the earth” who need such protection and justice most like the Shah Banos, victims of dowry-murders and other atrocities, the unfortunate women forced to become prostitutes, devdasis, women workers, working housewives, the divorcees, the eunuchs, the orphans, the innocent children working under callous employers, children kidnapped, maimed and used by professional goondas for begging, and the children of divorced persons; the Vanvasis deprived of their traditional rights in forest areas, victims of the conspiracy of contractors, conservators and politicians, and displaced on a large scale in the name of developmental projects like dams; the denotified communities or the ex-criminal tribes and all the nomadic and semi nomadic tribes; the bonded labour; the dalits and the backward classes; those affected by natural calamities, such as, floods, fire, droughts, earthquakes, epidemics etc. or by extraneous factors such as terrorism, riots, wars, accidents, violence, sabotage etc. Families of military personnel or members of police and other forces killed while discharging their duties; rural artisans, and hadicraftsmen, millions of illiterate unemployed and underemployed. The educated unemployed, workers retrenched on account of high technology, victims of occupational hazards and occupational diseases of the violation of environmental law and safety measures, as well as the law relating to cruelty to animals, the homeless and slum- dwellers. The unsuspecting, illiterate consumers. The destitutes; the disabled; the handicapped; the crippled; the mentally retarded, the juvenile delinquents and the lunatics; the blind, the deaf, and the dumb; the beggars and the victims of dreadful diseases. Refugees as distinct from infiltrators. Prisoners who become victims of lust or the sadism of jail authorities. As representatives of the moral and social conscience of the society, the activists of Akhil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad are expected to do the needful to provide appropriate relief to them.”
What are the preparations for Silver Jubilee year of ABAP?
The main function will be organised in Delhi on September 7. The inaugural session will be in Siri Fort Auditorium from 4.00 to 8.00 pm. Delegates from all over the country are coming. We are trying to reach maximum number of advocates during this year though literature and different other activities. Our idea is to motivate them to work for the country and the society.
How many advocates are associated with the Adhivakta Parishad now?
The membership data is maintained by the State units. Being the apex body of all these organisations we normally don’t go on figures. We believe in quality of the professionals. Today we are the largest lawyers’ organisation in the country.
Since 1992, how many visionaries from the society and the legal fraternity have been associated with the ABAP?
There was a time when we were not able to even attract the senior lawyers of trial courts at our programmes. But now senior lawyers and sitting judges from Trial Courts, Tribunals, High Courts and Supreme Court share dais in our programmes. The late Suryakishanji, Uttamchand Israni, VKS Chowdhury, Kalidas Basu, UR Lalit, Justice Parvath Rao, Justice Adarsh Goel, Bhupender Yadav, Bharat Kumar, etc played key role in shaping and accelerating the work of Adhivakta Parishad.