President Ram Nath Kovind and Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday lauded former Chief Justice of India P N Bhagwati’s contribution to Public Interest Litigation jurisprudence.
Justice Bhagwati was CJI from July 12, 1985 to December 20, 1986.
Speaking at the launch of the festschrift ‘Law, Justice & Judicial Power – Justice P N Bhagwati’s Approach’ here, Kovind said Justice Bhagwati “strived to expand the concept of justice and make justice that much more accessible to common people”.
The President said it “is not without reason that Justice Bhagwati has been called the father of public interest litigation in India”. He said, “The idealism and simplicity of the highest court in the country responding to even a petition filed on a postcard is worthy of appreciation. This practice had far-reaching implications. It unshackled the courts from a narrow definition of locus standi and allowed a friend of the affected person, or any other concerned individual or institution, to approach the court on behalf of a citizen who had been denied justice.”
CJI Gogoi termed the late Judge as “a legal craftsman who utilised his tenure in the Supreme Court to turn it into an opportunity to give shape to the aspirations of the Indian Constitution”.
He said it was his “dedication coupled with the empathy for the underprivileged that led him to gravitate towards unshackling access to justice” for the masses.
Justice Bhagwati along with Justice V R Krishna Iyer “led a nationwide movement for promotion of legal services… organised legal aid camps in distant villages… and mobilised High Court judges to do padayatras through villages to solve people’s grievances…”, the CJI recalled.
Attorney General K K Venugopal also spoke on the occasion.