Friday, December 14, 2012

Guest Lecture by Mr. Devesh Singh

           It was indeed a special day for DoMS, IIT Roorkee. Not only DoMS successfully conducted Vicissitude and Evangelist, two competitions of all India level but also we got a chance to learn about something which was beyond management studies. We were fortunate to get some insights from Mr. Devesh Singh. The speaker is an eminent lawyer and a visiting professor in IIFT Delhi. He has the vast exposure in the field and also worked with some of the most prominent personalities related to the legal profession. The subject was no less interesting either. We got a rare opportunity to listen speaker’s views on the Constitution of India, how judiciary functions and some important cases.

           The speaker began with some basic features of our constitution. He told us that Indian constitution is a vast document consisting 395 articles and 12 schedules. The constitution of India is also amended a total of 97 times to suit changing environment. We were provided a handout in advance which helped in our understanding. The speaker walked us through various terms as enshrined in the preamble of the constitution of India. The speaker also elucidated on the fundamental right mentioned in the constitution.

           Apart from improving our knowledge regarding various terms, speaker also gave us some valuable insight about role, status and functions of judiciary in India. He told us that role of courts is not to legislate but jurisdiction only. The legislation is done by parliament of India. As far as matters related to constitution are concerned, Supreme Court has been made final arbitrator as well as interpreter. The interpretation can be changed only by the Supreme Court and it did occur few times. The speaker also told us some interesting facts such as Britain doesn’t have a written constitution; Indian parliament can also enact extra territorial laws and so on. The speaker also touched upon how the authority is divided among different legs like legislative, bureaucracy and judiciary. There are instances when one leg tried to encroach upon the other’s area. However our forefathers were wise enough to contain it and make a preventive as well curative action plans.

           Mr. Devesh Singh also recalled some important cases which had a significant impact. One such case is Kesavananda Bharati vs Union of India of 1970s. This case was regarding
property rights and it came during land reforms. The case triggered a debate about what
constitute the basic structure of the constitution. Another important case mentioned was
the case of Sajjan Singh vs State of Punjab of 1960s. This case resulted in a noteworthy
outcome that any pronouncement of judgement by Supreme Court becomes law of the land.
The speaker also told us occasions when judiciary was sabotaged by elected leaders in order to fulfil their political goals. One such example is related to Mrs. Indira Gandhi. When her election was nullified by Allahabad High Court and subsequently her power was confined by Supreme Court, she amended the constitution to overcome it. Luckily this amendment was removed later. In summary, he talked about various checks and balances in the system.

          Lastly he gave his frank opinions on some of the vital contemporary issues such as Lokpal, FDI in retail, and shortage of judges. The speaker is not very supportive of Lokpal as the partiality of such idea is under the lens. He was also not very glad with calling everyone and everything corrupt. As for FDI, the speaker was positive and said this will be beneficial for operational and economic efficiency. For judge’s shortage, he said that a lot has to be improved since there is lack of budgeting for judiciary. With less numbers, it is impossible for judges to deal with all cases and hence queues are a natural outcome.
          Overall, it was an insightful and interesting session. It helped us learn new things which is not our forte and to expand the horizons. The speaker was also appreciative of more such interactions. This type of diversity would certainly help in our grooming as a future manager.