The ISC – IJM – Shanmugam – Diaz Annual Memorial Lecture on Rule of Law and Access to Justice for the Poor

On 23 February 2019 former I.G.P C.I.D (Crime), Maharashtra State, who has also served as Commissioner of Police in Thane and Greater Mumbai, delivered an insightful dialogue on the Rule of Law and Access to Justice for the Poor at the ISC-IJM-Shanmugam-Diaz Annual Memorial Lecture. The Lecture was the first of the annual memorial lectureship in honour of the eminent criminologists- Professor T.E Shanmugam and Professor S.M. Diaz, organized by the Indian Society of Criminology (ISC) and International Justice Mission (IJM) in collaboration with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

The Indian Society of Criminology (ISC) was established in the year 1970 with the objective of advancing the study and application of criminology and allied sciences for the welfare of society and for facilitating co-operation among persons interested in the prevention and control of crime developed in a short period, into a pioneering national organization due to the efforts of the dedicated founders.

The contributions of Professor T. E. Shanmugam and Professor S. M. Diaz, IPS (Retd), to the field of Criminology, in general, and to the ISC, in particular have been significant. Their involvement and influence on society, especially during its formative years, in the early 1970s, was phenomenal and they nurtured the infant society to its present magnificent status.

The ISC-IJM partnership has the potential to provide opportunities in the future to discuss issues of justice and IJM’s theory of change. A formal association with an institutional body like ISC would also help provide a platform to write and present academic papers as a result of the amalgamation between our casework experience and the theory of change.

As a result of IJM’s institutional membership with ISC, the Lecture series with its academic foundation aimed at provoking thought and insightful responses on jurisprudence and criminology. It is thus befitting of the luminaries in memoriam of whom it has been established. An integral aspect of the programme is the annual memorial lectureship award which is to be awarded to a person of eminence, who has contributed substantially to the field of criminology and criminal justice.

This year’s awardee Mr. Satish Sahney, a stalwart of the Indian Police Service is renowned for his effective policing during the Bombay riots and implementation of police reforms. He graduated from University with an M.A in History, joined the Indian Police Service in 1963 and was allotted to the Maharashtra Cadre of the IPS. Mr. Sahney has served as Special I. G. P., C. I. D. (Crime), Maharashtra State and as Commissioner of Police in both Thane and Greater Mumbai. He is recipient of the President’s Police Medal for distinguished service, the Indian Police Medal for Meritorious service, and the Kathin Seva Medal. He retired from the Indian Police Service on 31 December 1996, and has worked as Chief Executive at the Nehru Center, since 1997.

In his lecture, Mr. Sahney explained the evolution of the concept of the ‘Rule of Law’ and its development in various regions of the world. Mr. Sahney explained that as it is based on the principles of justice and freedom, it enables that degree of law without which liberty becomes tyranny. The Rule of Law protects individual’s fundamental rights against one another but also against arbitrary governance.

Mr. Sahney further remarked that invocation of Article 356 had been problematic. This provision gave the Central government the power to dismiss the state government on the report of the Governor. Speaking about the blatant violation of rule of law principles, Mr. Sahney remarked about the demolition of the Babri Masjid done in broad daylight with 20,000 security personnel around. Mr. Sahney thereafter spoke about the case in which a Single Directive was issued to the CBI by the government proclaiming that any officer of the rank of Jt. Secretary or equivalent could not be enquired into without the permission of the ministry.

Mr. Sahney concluded his discourse by summing up the instances in which the upholding of Rule of Law in India had been a challenge and how it continues to be so. He concluded the lecture by quoting a passage from Robert Bolts play “A Man for all Seasons” and a quote by Justice Vivian Bose on the rule of the law.