With public interest litigations (PILs) playing an important role in the judicial process in the country, the city-based Indian Law Society has invited Zak Yacoob, former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, to frame a course for students, young lawyers and activists on strategies for effective PILs.
According to professor Sathya Narayan, director of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Justice Yacoob has been was invited by the Indian Law Society to hold the position of Ford Endowment Chair for Public Interest Law for three months till October.
Individuals, groups and movements have used the judicial process to settle struggles of the underrepresented and unrepresented groups and a need has been felt to design a certificate/diploma course on PIL which will be launched by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, professor Narayan explained.
On the sidelines of his interaction in the city with NGOs working on women’s and children’s issues, environmental concerns and others to identify areas of public interest, 67-year-old Justice Yacoob, who is visually challenged, told The Indian Express that PIL had emerged as an important strategy to achieve social justice through the judicial process.
Prior to 1980s, PILs were non-existent but now there has been a resurgence and a combined effort is underway to document cases, Justice Yacoob said.
Born in 1948, Justice Yacoob became blind at the age of 16 months as a result of meningitis. However, this did not prevent him from excelling in his field. He was appointed a judge of the Constitutional Court in 1998 and has been since involved in passing several landmark judgments to protect the rights of the weakest in the country.
‘Abolish death penalty’
Joining the debate sparked by the recent execution of Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon, Justice Yacoob said, “I have no doubt that if someone killed my son, I would say somebody should kill that murderer. That would be my response. But that should not be the state’s response. Every part of my being rebels against death penalty. The more terrorists you hang, the more the others will come to take their place.” He urged the Supreme Court of India and other countries abolish the death penalty.
‘Money to blame for the mess in cricket’
Justice Yacoob, who has recently been appointed by the International Cricket Council on its committee of code of conduct is excited about his new role. “I listen to the cricket commentary on radio and strongly feel that more money gets into cricket, the worse it gets! If there is less money, surely there won’t be huge problems like match-fixing,” says Justice Yacoob.
“The cricketing world is fascinating and I have yet to deal with my first case here,” says Justice Yacoob, who also had a word of praise for cricket officials. “They are better than old judges of South Africa who felt that the witness could not be assessed as I could not see.”
“Blindness is blindness, but at 67, I do not want to learn to start seeing again,” he said.