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NALSAR University of Law successfully organize ‘The Courts and the Constitution’ an annual conference

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Inaugural session of ‘The Courts and the Constitution: 2023 in Review’

The Courts and the Constitution is an annual conference organized by the NALSAR University of Law, Azim Premji University, and the Law and Other Things blog, highlighting recent developments in the field of public law. Every year, the Conference aims to bring together diverse viewpoints on constitutional issues that have a long-term impact on governance and the rights of the citizenry.

In her keynote address at the fifth edition of this Conference, held at the NALSAR University of Law on Saturday, March 30, the Honourable Justice B. V. Nagarathna, Judge of the Supreme Court, noted how the judicial process must withstand the scrutiny of the citizenry and conferences such as this are key to discussing the concerns of constitutional law.

Noting how the Supreme Court has just completed 75 years since its inception, she reflected on the judicial journey in realizing constitutional ideals. To that end, Justice Nagarathna presented an overview of key judgements of the apex court over the past year, which adjudicated contentious public issues like demonetisation, sealed cover jurisprudence, marriage equality, reproductive rights, and electoral bonds, among others.

She cautioned against instances of governors sitting on bills passed by popularly elected legislatures indefinitely, referring to the case involving the Governor of Punjab, and reiterated the high constitutional nature of the Governor’s office. She also highlighted the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly case as another instance of gubernatorial overreach, where the governor lacked sufficient material to declare the floor test. She concluded the address by noting how the strength of the judiciary emerges from their role in dispensing justice and how one needs to re-dedicate themselves to the Constitution, with the belief that the Constitution is everlasting and enduring.

Justice Nagarathna’s keynote address was part of the inaugural session of the Conference, which also included remarks by two other judges of the Supreme Court from neighbouring countries, namely Justice Sapana Pradhan Malla (Judge, Supreme Court of Nepal) and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah (Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan).

The session saw further remarks by Justice Alok Aradhe (Chief Justice, High Court of Telangana and Chancellor, NALSAR), Professor Srikrishna Deva Rao (Vice-Chancellor of NALSAR), and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat (Former Judge, Supreme Court of India and Chair of Comparative Constitutional Law Studies, M. K. Nambyar SAARC Law Centre for Advanced Legal Studies, NALSAR) Prof. K.Vidyullatha Reddy (Registrar of NALSAR) addressed the gathering on this occasion.

Over the two days, the Conference will see six panels. The first panel, titled “Electoral Laws and Democratic Legitimacy”, aims to discuss various issues concerning electoral laws that have gained traction over the last year, including the electoral bonds scheme, appointment processes for election commissioners, and anti-defection laws.

The second panel highlights developments in Indian federalism, such as the Supreme Court’s decisions in the case regarding Article 370, and explores themes such as asymmetric federalism in the Indian context. The third panel goes beyond our boundaries to review the adjudication of socio-economic rights across SAARC countries.

It discusses the lack of explicit constitutional protection for socio-economic rights in such jurisdictions and the role of the judiciary in realizing rights such as the right to education or housing.

The Conference will conclude with a book discussion by Arvind Narrain and Sitharamam Kakarala, based on the recently published volume, Of Law and Life: Upendra Baxi in Conversation With Arvind Narrain, Lawrence Liang, Sitharamam Kakarala and Sruti Chaganti.

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