Annual Report 2017-2018
Every year, since its inception, the Foundation invites an eminent person to deliver a lecture on the subject of women, children and human rights. Last year, noted intellectual and historian, Shri Ramachandra Guha delivered the twenty-third Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial Lecture on “Patriotism vrs Jingoism” on November 01, 2017 at the India International Centre, New Delhi. Shri Guha paid glowing tribute to late Justice Sunanda Bhandare, who worked hard to secure justice for the marginalized and exploited sections of our society.
Shri Guha discussed nationalism from a historical point of view. He said that both patriotism and jingoism were derived from the 19th century European model of nationalism, which was based on the theory of one religion, one language and a common enemy. “The citizens of a particular territory were united on the basis of their allegiance to a common language, a common religion and a common enemy,” he said. Guha gave the examples of Britain and France. The British people have English language as a unifying factor; they are by and large Protestants and they have a common enemy, that is France. Similarly, the French people who are overwhelmingly Catholics, have a common language -- French and a common enemy -- Britain.
Pakistan followed the European model, where an overwhelming majority followed Islam, people spoke Urdu and had a common enemy that is India. Guha made a reference to the speech made by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan's first Governor General, at the Race Course Maidan, Dhaka, then in East Pakistan, on March 21, 1948, “Let me make it very clear to you, it is no doubt that the state language of Pakistan is going to be Urdu and no other language.”
Indian nationalism is based on a set of values which include acknowledgement and appreciation of diversity—social, religious, linguistic and ethnic--, ability to be proud of one’s locality and country, to feel shame at the existing flaws and the desire to correct them. It is rooted in the native culture, but willing to learn from other cultures, said Ramachandra Guha. Indian nationalism did not entertain the idea that the British were our enemies. Since they were leaving India, there was no need to remember what harm they did to us. On the other hand, we must remember what good they did to us; they gave us the rule of law, the sense of fair play, and the English language. Even the great freedom fighter, Yusuf Meherally who coined catchy slogans such as “Simon Go Back” and “Quit India”, started to become soft towards the British towards 1946. Guha said that the Indian model of nationalism was based on principles enshrined in the Constitution. He termed it Constitutional patriotism. The greatness of Indian leaders was that they refused to identify Indian nationalism with any religion or language.
Guha outlined five features of Constitutional patriotism:
(i) appreciation of our inherited and shared diversity;
(ii) recognition of multiple levels at which patriotism must be practiced;
(iii) the recognition that no nation, no state, no religion is perfect or flawless;
(iv) the ability to feel shame at the failures of our nation and state, and the desire and will to correct them;
(v) the ability to be rooted in one’s culture and country while being open to learn from other cultures and countries.
Guha lamented that the Indian model of patriotism was being replaced by a new model of jingoism. He outlined four features of this jingoism – an Indian is supposed to be a Hindu, Hindi being the official language, which everyone is expected to speak. Indians have a common enemy that is Pakistan.
Addressing the issue why jingoism was on the ascendency in the country, he gave four reasons for the same. First, the hypocrisy of the Indian Left. He claimed that the Left always loved another country more than India, which ranges from the USSR to China and Vietnam. The other reasons he gave were corruption and cronyism in the Congress, the fact that jingoism was a global phenomenon and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in India's neighbouring countries.
Chief Guest Justice Madan B. Lokur, Judge, Supreme Court of India and Justice Gita Mittal, Acting Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, who presided over the meeting, reminisced their acquaintance with Justice Sunanda Bhandare. They all paid rich tributes to late Justice Bhandare on her 75th birthday. The meeting was attended by judges, advocates, professors, students, activists and representatives of civil society organisations.
Earlier, Ms Shreya Singhal welcomed the guests, and at the end of the meeting, a vote of thanks was proposed by Ms Manali Singhal.
1. Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation, in collaboration with Sur Nirman Educational and Cultural Society and All India Association for Women & Child Development, organised a Legal Awareness Programme on HIV and the Legal Rights of M.S.M on July 5, 2018 at the Community Centre, Sarai Basti, Sastri Nagar, Delhi. Mr. Nakul, Advocate, Ms. Aditi, Social Worker and Ms. Sajida discussed various aspects of the subject. Mr. Murlidhar C. Bhandare, Managing Trustee of the Foundation, delivered the valedictory address.
2. A legal Awareness Programme on Gender Justice and Women Empowerment was organised in collaboration with IMS Law College, Noida in the college seminar hall on September 4, 2018. Mr. Murlidhar C Bhandare, Managing Trustee of the JSB Foundation was the Chief Guest of the programme which was attended by students, teachers, advocates and members of the civil society. Addressing the participants, Mr. Bhandare said that equality, dignity and safety of women are the three major issues that need to be addressed. Every woman must have the freedom to choose and right to excel, he said. Dr. K S Bhati, Prof. J P Sharma, Ms Sneha Kalita Siddhant, Dr Niti Sinha and Prof Afzal Wani also addressed the participants. Dr. K S Bhati, Dean, Law and Mr. Takreem Ahmad, Administrative Officer of the Foundation coordinated the programme.
A seminar on Empowerment of Women for visually impaired students was organised in collaboration with the Enabling Unit of Daulatram College, New Delhi in the college conference hall on September 10, 2018. Dr. Savita Ray, Principal of the college, inaugurated the seminar which was attended by about 150 visually challenged students from various colleges of Delhi University, other students, professors, advocates and police officers.
Mr. Ram Avtar Singh, SHO, Maurice Nagar spoke how to lodge an FIR. Dr. Megh Raj, Dr. Baskinand Dubey, Dr. Priti, Dr. Anju and Mr. Dalip Singh, Advocate spoke on topics such as POSCO Act, Criminal Law, Rape Law, Homosexuality and Rights of the Third Gender. Dr. Asha enlightened the students on how to file sexual harassment complaints in colleges. Mr. Murlidhar C. Bhandare, Managing Trustee, JSB Foundation inspired the audience to treat visually-impaired citizens with a spirit of equality and distributed certificates to the participants. Mrs. Manjula Rath of the Enabling Unit of Daulatram College and Mr. Takreem Ahmad, Administrative Officer, JSB Foundation coordinated the seminar.
The Foundation’s Centre for Counseling and Legal Aid, assisted by a panel of professional counselors, lawyers and volunteers, rendered speedy and effective justice to women in distress. Cases of harassment were referred to the Foundation in workshops, consultations and by volunteers working in the field. The legal experts offered them advice free of cost. They helped them in filing cases and seeking legal remedy to their suffering.
The Foundation pursued in the Supreme Court the case for differently-abled persons who were not getting their entitlements granted by the Constitution. Hon’ble Supreme Court has delivered judgment for the implementation of the statutory provisions for Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, which will bring great dignity with all facilities to visually-challenged citizens. The Foundation further filed an application for modification of judgment only to the extent that the Central Government, State Governments and Union Territories be directed to file a quarterly/ half yearly status report to the Hon’ble Court.
Hon’ble Supreme Court vide its Order dated 25.04.2017 observed that the 2016 Act was noticeably a sea change in the perception and required a march forward look with regard to the persons with disability and the role of the States, local authorities, educational institutions and companies in extending benefits to them. The statute operates in a broad spectrum and the stress is laid to protect the rights and provide punishment for their violation.
It has been observed that several states and union territories have not reported compliance of the provisions of the Rights of Persons of Disabilities Act, 2016. It has also been observed that there are deficiencies in the compliance made by various states. Hon’ble Court vide its Order dated 18.9.2018 wanted charts of deficiencies be furnished to states/ union territories concerned. The Court also directed the Chief Secretaries of those states/ union territories to ensure the compliance of the provisions of the 2016 Act and file affidavit in the Court in this regard within a period of three months from the date of the order. The case was listed on 09.01.2019.
The Foundation has instituted Annual Justice Sunanda Bhandare Award to be bestowed on a woman or an organization showing outstanding courage and dedication to the cause of empowerment of women. The award, which carries a citation and a cash prize, is given away every year to an individual or organization that displays extraordinary courage and dedication in furthering the Foundation’s goal of gender justice.
In 2013, the first annual Justice Sunanda Bhandare Award was given away to Ms Laxmi, a remarkable young woman who braved all personal odds as the victim of a heinous acid attack for rebuffing the undue advances of a man and displayed extraordinary courage by seeking relief for her as well as other victims through a public interest litigation against such terrible attacks in the Supreme Court that resulted in enhanced punishments under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. It was because of her indomitable spirit, the wholehearted efforts of her dedicated lawyer and the unstinted support of the press and public, acid attacks are considered a grave crime punishable by a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum fine of Rs 10 lakhs. Moreover, restrictions have been imposed on the sale of acid.
In 2014, this award was given to Ms. Ratnarashi Pandey, who lives in a small town of Madhya Pradesh. Married at the age of 14 and divorced after 13 years, this mother of two children wanted to stand on her feet and applied for M.P. civil service but was found ineligible as she had married before she attained the age of 18. She fought for her right and the rights of such other women and succeeded in her efforts.
In 2017, the Justice Sunanda Bhandare Award was conferred jointly on the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan and the Bebaak Collective for their sustained campaign for the rights of Muslim women in India in order to give them their rightful place in the family and society which culminated in the landmark judgment on triple talaq delivered by the Supreme Court. The Foundation recognized their consistent endeavour to secure dignity and justice for women and their relentless effort to abolish the abhorrent and discriminatory practice of instant divorce which resulted in a landmark judgment delivered by the Supreme Court of India declaring talaq-e-biddat unconstitutional.