The Bar Association of India yesterday organized a conference and and an awards function on the occasion of Lawyers of India Day, 2019 to felicitate and honour several legal luminaries.
The event also marked the celebration for the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the 60th year of the Bar Association of India (BAI).
The event, which was held at The Lalit Hotel in New Delhi, was attended by lawyers from across India. The Chief Guests for the event were former Attorneys General of India K Parasaran and Ashok H Desai, who were felicitated with plaques of honour.
In his keynote address to the gathering, the Supreme Court’s Justice S Ravindra Bhat spoke at length on the impact technology has had on the legal profession.
Justice Bhat noted that changing technology had resulted in the way entities conducted businesses and such changes were visible even in the legal arena, with the introduction of e-filing, and mobile apps.
He thus questioned if the future of the legal profession was viable in the face of several disruptive innovations that were displacing existing markets. Taking the discussion forward, Justice Bhat concluded that although the role of a lawyer as an innovator could never be captured by technology such as artificial intelligence, embracing change would do us all a service.
The Supreme Court’s Justice Indira Banerjee spoke about her years as a lawyer at the Calcutta High Court and the functioning of the judicial system. She said,
“The best judgments come when there is good assistance from the Bar.“
She further remarked,
“Time has come that we unitedly strive to uphold the constitutional values which are summarized in the Preamble. There should be a joint endeavour to secure the liberty of thought, expression belief, faith & workshop, equality of status & opportunity and to uphold secular values.”
In his welcome speech, BAI President Lalit Bhasin fondly remembered the previous Presidents of the BAI and their contribution to the legal profession. He iterated that since its inception, BAI has stood for the maintenance of Rule of Law in the country and the independence of the judiciary. Bhasin revealed that December 3 was chosen as Lawyers of India Day in memory of the birth anniversary of the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who was also a lawyer.
Awardees at the fourth edition of The Lawyers of India Day for ‘Living Legends of Law Award’ were as follows:
Accepting his award, Prof Baxi spoke on the power of the Bar. Cautioning against its misuse, Prof Baxi remarked that the legal profession had slipped from being a learned profession to being a business or trade, which should be a matter of consideration.
BAI also presented awards to law officers of the Union of India, including Additional Solicitors General Vikramjit Banerjee, Madhavi Divan, Sanjay Jain and Maninder Acharya. Awards were also given to the Chairman of the Bar Council of India, the Presidents of the State and Supreme Court Bar Associations, the Supreme Court Advocates On-Record Association, the President of the Indian Society of International Law and the Director of the Indian Law Institute.
BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra spoke at length of the “hard realities” of the legal profession. Elaborating on the struggles faced by poor lawyers, Mishra urged the BAI and others to undertake the training of lawyers who could not get a good law college or a good Senior.
He also took the opportunity to speak on the quality of legal education in India, fake law degrees and the mushrooming of law colleges.
BAI also awarded posthumously awarded plaques of honour to Senior Advocates Arun Jaitley and Ram Jethmalani.
The vote of thanks was delivered by Senior Advocate Shyam Divan.