Girish Patel is famous for his PILs,which saved many lives
Celebrating the movement of human rights and civil liberty in Gujarat,a group of social workers,academicians,trade union activists and lawyers is planning to felicitate Girish Patel,a senior advocate of the Gujarat High Court,for his contribution towards the cause.
Patel,said sources,is known to have used the tool of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) ever since it came into practice in Indian Judiciary,to initiate many human rights movements.
The group has now formed the Girishbhai Patel Sanman Samiti and is planning to release three books at an event in May.
One of the books will contain Patels views on various issues including those on important PILs. The other two books will be a compilation of his Letters to the Editors and articles on Patel written by 25 eminent personalities.
This could perhaps be the first incident in the state where a lawyer is being felicitated for his attempts to guard the rights of the underprivileged through the use of PILs.
Patel has till date filed more than 200 PILs in the Gujarat High Court on issues such as education,shelter,water,livelihood,health,atrocities on Dalits,tribals,women & children,and civil and political rights.
Manishi Jani,a member of the Sanman Samiti said: Gujarat has witnessed many movements since its inception . Whether it is the movement for bonded labour or for human rights of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes or the Nav Nirman Andolan,Girishbhai has played a key role in all of these.
Girish Patel,a native of Nadiad,is the son of a sanitary inspector. Patel did his LLM from Harvard University in the United States. Initially,Patel was the professor at the then New Law College in Ahmedabad. Later,he was selected as member of the Gujarat State Law Commission in 1972. After serving the commission for three years,he started practising law in the Gujarat High Court from 1975.
Patel says: Right from childhood,I had a soft corner for the down-trodden and wanted to do something for them. So,I made it a principle not to fight any case against Dalits,tribals,labourers and women.
He added: The introduction of the PIL in judiciary in 1980 gave me the greatest satisfaction and an opportunity to work for things I liked.
Patel has filed most of his PILs under the banner of the Lok Adhikar Sangh. He describes PILs as a means by which the voice of the poor reaches the Gujarat High Court.
Top five PILs
Girish Patel considers the following PILs filed by him to be the most important as they have directly or indirectly affected the lives of more than 10 lakh people.
* With the help of a number of PILs and Habeas Corpus Writs,Patel helped release around 300 bonded labourers from Vadodara and Bharuch. Rich farmers of Sabarkantha district used to bring these tribal labourers to their farms. Patel fought the legal battle on behalf of the Rajpipla Social Service Society.
* Patel helped a woman who was gangraped during her pregnancy by uppercaste people in a village in Surendranagar district. Instead of helping the woman,the police allegedly harassed her and forced her to leave the village. Reading the womans plight in a local newspaper,Patel filed a PIL and made sure that the accused policemen got their due. The woman,later,got elected as the village Sarpanch. At present,she runs a small business in the same village and owns two cars.
* After reading an article in a fortnightly about the sub-human conditions in which around 1.5 lakh sugarcane workers lived in south Gujarat,Patel filed a PIL in the High Court which helped increase the minimum daily wages of the workers. He,however,says that more could have been done for the workers,had the peoples movement continued.
* A committee formed at the order of the Gujarat High Court found that the textile processing industry in Surat,in which around 1.8 lakh workers were working,was lawless. The committee was formed following a PIL filed by Girish Patel. The committee suggested means to bring a change in the industry and some of them were also implemented. But,a lot could have been done, says Patel.
* Concern for the health of the
textile mill workers in Ahmedabad made Patel file a PIL against the Rokdi System adopted by the mill-owners. Under the system,the mill-owners used to employ the workers during holidays and recess time,which could have harmful
impact on their health. Following the PIL,the system was discontinued at many mills.