Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, delivers Justice P.N. Bhagwati Memorial Lecture at JGU

Inside JGU

March 2024

Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India, delivers Justice P.N. Bhagwati Memorial Lecture at JGU

Mr Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General of India, delivered on March 27 the Justice P.N. Bhagwati Memorial Lecture at JGU on ‘The Journey of the Supreme Court of India on the Fundamental Rights’.

In his address, Mr Mehta said: “The journey of fundamental rights has been a constant struggle, a constant fight, a constant conflict between the majoritarian government and the Supreme Court of India. It is important to note that the Government of India Act of 1935 was the foundational framework for the Constitution of India and we as a nation are fortunate that our visionary founding fathers and mothers drafted one of the most beautiful constitutions in the world. The Government of India Act 1935 had no chapter on fundamental rights. Today, fundamental rights have been deeply inlaid in the Constitution that no state shall make laws which take away or breach the rights conferred under fundamental rights.

“However, there have been instances when majoritarian governments have aimed to make amendments to the fundamental rights. But today they stand inviolable thanks to the basic structure doctrine.”

Mr Mehta narrated the evolutionary tale of the fundamental rights through many in-court and out-court anecdotes. He also emphasised the role of Justice Bhagwati in this scheme of things, saying, “It was with Justice Bhagwati and the Minerva Mills judgment that the law on fundamental rights became fairly settled.”

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor of JGU, welcomed Mr Mehta to the campus and observed, “We are grateful to Mr Mehta for agreeing to deliver the Justice P.N. Bhagwati Memorial Lecture and his constant encouragement and support to our university. Justice Bhagwati was one person who transcended the boundaries of law and justice in India and was also recognised for his contribution to the world. He served as part of the United Nations Human Rights Committee for many years and was responsible for the evolution of national human rights institutions around the world. It is our fervent hope that today we can honour the legacy of Justice Bhagwati and reaffirm our collective commitment to the ideals of justice, equality and dignity enshrined in the Constitution of India. We are confident that this lecture will serve as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue and introspection on the journey of the Supreme Court of India in upholding fundamental rights.”

Professor (Dr.) S.G. Sreejith, Executive Dean, Jindal Global Law School and Dean, Strategy & Institution Building at JGU, reflected on the life of Justice Bhagwati: “Justice Bhagwati was a voice of the voiceless, a representative of the unrepresented. And that made him the champion of PILs…. He had the broadmindedness to confess that the Supreme Court could have acted better during the days of the Emergency…. He had unwavering conviction in the power of law and in the mandate of the judiciary about which he would write later on, ‘one of the primary functions of the court is to share the passion of the Constitution’, an absolute necessity for a democracy.”

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