Constitutional Frameworks are the Roadmap for Individual Conduct: Attorney General R. Venkataramani at Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer Memorial Lecture

New Delhi, 15 April 2024: “Four contemporary aspects relate to our innate propensity to be in the search of being in right, which include Violence of mind and conduct; Technology as an enabler and disabler of life; Constitutional frameworks and ideas as the roadmaps and guidelines for individual and collective conduct; and the challenges in drawing lines and balances in sustaining a stable social order. We live in a world which is packed both with conflicts and communion of thoughts. While wars and aggressions have not faded away, their recourse and relevance are not endorsed, said, the Attorney General of India, Mr. R. Venkataramani on the occasion of the Justice V R Krishna Iyer Memorial Lecture on the theme: In Search of Being in Right: Citizens, Governance and Court. The lecture was organised by the Jindal Global Law School at O.P.  Jindal Global University as a special tribute in memory of Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer who was a leading lawyer, thinker, political leader and renowned Justice of the Supreme Court.

“History tells us that mere assemblies of people without rules of conduct or limitations can be anarchic, incoherent, and regressive. So we talk about the relevance of democracy and the necessity of external institutions to whom we entrust the task of being in the right for all of us where relevant or for chosen sections of the community namely economically deprived, who need the assistance of governance institutions to be in right for them. Democracy can only be a platform for facilitating consensus.”

He also philosophised about the subject by examining the relationship between truth and rights. “Are truth and rights complementary? How do we go about in our search for doing the right thing in dealing with crime and punishment? Neither individuals nor ideologies nor faiths are free from excesses or defaults; only we try to minimise them if we are ethically strong or we tend to mitigate their effects by compensatory measures. Both moral instincts and law converge on this aspect. Morality and law are mutually reinforcing loops. Should we not therefore say that the search of truth and being in right by individuals are intimately connected to the same search by governance and both relate to the same search by courts? There are some rules to be obeyed in order for the peace and order in the community. The task of governance is also a journey in search of being right.”

In a wide-ranging speech, which touched upon the complexity of the law and its application for social justice to the pursuit of truth, the Attorney General, Mr Venkataramani spoke at length about contemporary legal discourse and the ongoing quest for justice. He dwelt on several issues which influence our search for justice and truth and how global events and even climate change can impact the lives of individuals. “The impact of Globalization may reach its new challenges very soon. Democracy within a country may not remain immune to these challenges. Two frameworks of thought and conduct now surround us. One that which has roots in our nature namely moral and ethical. The other is law. Law today can be broadly designated as constitutional as all legal norms emanate from constitutional springs and are expected to serve means and ends of freedoms, attainments and abilities, fairness and equal regard, and stable community.”

The Attorney General also reflected on the contribution and life of Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer who left an indelible impact on jurisprudence in India through his judgements, public service and his scholarship through more than one hundred books that he published. “Justice Iyer’s contributions to law, justice and public reasoning do not admit for easy comparisons. His reflections on life, laws, social changes, the nation, the impoverished, and the great appeals of our nation’s history, are voluminous. Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer is too large a persona, to be capsuled merely within the common genre of a great or a famous judge. He was a messiah of the masses!”

The special event took place in the presence of Supreme Court Justices Hon’ble Mr. Justice Suryakant, Hon’ble Mr. Justice C.T. Ravikumar, Hon’ble Mr. Justice K.V. Viswanathan who made memorable remarks from their own association with the late eminent jurist and former top court judge, Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer. They underlined and recognised his long association with the law in India and its application and his outstanding jurisprudential contribution. In their special addresses they recalled how Justice Iyer brought public interest litigation to help the wider public to access justice and law. Justice Ravikumar spoke about Justice Iyer’s deep understanding of the law and its application and gave examples of his landmark judgements which have influenced jurisprudence in India. Justice Kant shared how the late judge’s philosophy on the expansive interpretation of Article 21 of the India Constitution consistently influenced his decision-making in courts, Justice Viswanathan called Justice Iyer a “one-man pressure group” with exceptional progressive views and judicial activism.

Welcoming the distinguished gathering of law experts and practitioners, the founding Vice Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University Prof. (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar recalled the encouragement that Justice Krishna Iyer had given when the Jindal Global Law School was established in 2008 and had written, “O.P. Jindal Global University and the Jindal Global Law School are an institutional twin of terrestrial glory! Sky high and sea deep in jurisdiction and jurisprudence, a cosmic wonder of learning and wisdom in every dimension and an expanding universe of erudition, embracing in its rich plurality, the art of living and the science of being. Exalted excellence is its supreme ambition. Law and life will reach their finest hour when this great goal gains profound locomotion through this unique university.”

The memorial lecture was also marked by the presentation of a special certificate to the Jindal Global Law School by Mr Ashwin Fernandes, Executive Director (AMESA), QS Quacquarelli Symonds which recognised the global ranking of the law school in the recently published QS World Rankings by Subject 2024.  The Jindal Global Law School at O.P. Jindal Global University has been ranked the No. 1 Law School in India for the 5th year in a row and is also placed at the 72nd rank in the world, making it the only law school in India to be featured among the TOP-100 in the world.

The event concluded with reflections by several members of the founding faculty of the Jindal Global Law School and the Registrar of JGU, Prof. Dabiru Sridhar Patnaik giving the vote of thanks.