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The launch also featured a discussion with Justice (retd.) AK Sikri, Justice DY Chandrachud and AZB Managing Partner Zia Mody and ASG Madhavi Divan.
A book authored by Chintan Chandrachud titled “The Cases that India forgot” was launched on Saturday morning. The book launch event also saw a brief discussion featuring Justice (retd.) AK Sikri and Justice DY Chandrachud. AZB & Partners Managing Partner Zia Mody and Additional Solicitor General and Senior Advocate Madhavi Divan also spoke at the event.
The moderator for the discussion, journalist and co-founder of ThePrint, Shekhar Gupta, kicked off the event by commenting on why it is a positive development to see that books with legal commentary are increasingly being authored. He observed that scholarship on law and justice had declined for a while, but of late, it is good to see an improvement in the quality of legal writing and judgments as well.
“I think, scholarship and judicial practice are both linked. It’s very good, therefore, that we are having these books now that are bringing back these cases.”
Chintan Chandrachud, the author of the book, spoke of how the book is an attempt to make legal knowledge more accessible to a wider audience, including those who do not have a background in law.
“The primary impetus was to write a book that does explicate some sophisticated legal argument, but in a manner that is accessible to a wider audience. The broader impetus is to increase citizen engagement with the law and the Constitution."
Justice DY Chandrachud echoed the observation that the book is meant not only for lawyers and judges. He also spoke of why it is important that there is dialogue between institutions. Calling for the need for greater engagement between Constitutional courts and society, he said,
“Partly because of the nature of the judicial role, we [courts] are being insulated from society. I think that insulation is good in so far as your work is concerned as a judge - nobody can call you up and tell you what to do. But equally, that insulation should not be taken to a point where the meaning of the work which courts do doesn’t get transformed into the lives of society."
"... the book is not only a book for lawyers, for judges, it is written in a very simple style. The idea of these books… [is] to continuously remind us of the dialogical role which courts play.. as a part of this wider constitutional, socio-political institution.
Justice DY Chandrachud
During his address, Justice (retd.) Sikri made particular note of the relevance of the four broad topics that the book deals with i.e. politics, gender issues, religion and national security. He spoke of how these broad issues are significant even today, and how the same require a lot of discussion and debate, an aspect that the book also contributes to.
Madhavi Divan pointed out that Chintan Chandrachud had a unique vantage point as an author, being a third generation legal scholar and lawyer, (after Justices YV Chandrachud and DY Chandrachud). She spoke of how this unique perspective has been woven into the book itself through anecdotes and backstage stories. She added,
“I think it is a real service to the access to justice to de-mystify the court for lay people and sometimes even for lawyers…”
Zia Mody also weighed in, saying that a fascinating aspect of the book was that it has an element of storytelling. She remarked,
“… there are so many historical stories that we forget.. so many wonderful interjections…”
Responding to a question posed by Gupta concerning the need for judicial reform, particularly at the trial court level, Mody also commented,
“The reality is the reality… The hope is that just like in the Minerva Mills case, where it was just simply about a bank being nationalised, got woven into a very different story by the people who ultimately argued it … I don’t think there is an eternal solution but I do think there is an eternal hope. What I think Chintan’s book does is that it reminds us of the forgotten failures as also for the forgotten successes.”