Justice Sunanda Bhandare was an eminent judge of the Delhi High Court. Although she fulfilled many of the expectations of her, she died prematurely on 10 November, 1994. In a brief life-span she worked towards the establishment of a just and egalitarian society where women in particular and the weaker sections of the right to live in dignity. In her judgments and actions she sought to protect and promote the interests of women and other deprived sections.
It was Sunanda's belief that women had been deprived of independence. Since they were denied the right to choose, this necessarily meant that they were denied avenues in which they could excel and express themselves. She herself led a full life in which she proved that, given the opportunity and the freedom of choice a woman can be better than any man.
It was Sunanda's dream to see that every women was given the same choices she herself had . To perpetuate her memory and make an effort to complete her unfinished mission, the Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation has been instituted. The Foundation's first and chief endeavor is to ensure gender chief endeavor is to ensure gender justice in our society. Its motto is: The freedom to choose, the right to excel.
To this end Foundation has planned and embarked on the following activities.
Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial Lecture
The Foundation organizes an annual memorial lecture by eminent personalities on November 1, Sunanda's birth anniversary called the "Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial Lecture". This annual lecture, as far as possible, deals with different themes concerning gender Justice for women in legal, economic, social, cultural, civil and political areas.
The First Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial Lecture on "Judiciary and Gender Justice" was delivered by Hon'ble Ms. Justice Sujata V. Manohar, Judge, Supreme Court of India on November 1, 1995. The function was presided over by Hon'ble Mr. Justice A.M. Ahmadi, the Chief Justice of India.
The Second Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial Lecture on International Human Rights and ender Justice was delivered by Hon. Ms. Justice Silvia Cartwright, Judge of the New Zealand High Court and a Member of CEDAW, on 1st November, 1996. The function was presided over by Hon'ble Mr. Justice Kuldip Singh, Judge, Supreme Court of India.
The Third Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial Lecture was delivered by Hon'ble Mr. Justice V.R. Krishna lyer, Former Judge, Supreme Court on India on "Gender Justice-Dimensions and Frustrations and the March to the Future" Veteran freedom fighter Dr. (Captain) Lakshmi Sahal presided over the function. These lectures and all subsequent lectures will be published in the form of a book.
Center for legal Literacy
One of the main objects of the Foundation is to spread awareness of the legal rights of women so that they may be asserted effectively. The Foundation has undertaken intensive and extensive legal literacy campaign. "The campaign includes training of Para Legal Volunteers in legal literacy through a course of twenty lectures, "covering legislation in the field of women and law, visits to courts, mahila adalats and field studies. The duration of the course is one month. Successful participants are given certificates at the end of the course. The Foundation also organizes legal literacy work- shops and camps.
What is true of women is more so for disabled persons. The Center for Legal Literacy, therefor, conducts special course for the disabled, including those who are visiually impaired. The entire legal material is transcribed on braille and the participants are also given audio cassettes.The Foundation has organized the following legal literacy courses:
The first Legal Literacy programme for Para Legal Volunteers was arranged at Kamla Nehru College, New Delhi in March-April, 1996. The programme was inaugurated by Hon'ble Dr. (Smt.) Najma Heptulla, Deputy Chairperson, Rajya Sabha. Hon' ble Mr. Justice J.S Verma, Judge, Judge, Supreme of india was the Chief Guest and the function was presided over by Hon'ble Mr, Jusitice M. Jagannadha Rao, Chief Justice of Delhi High Court. Fifty eight candidates participated. Took test and the successful candidates were awarded certificates.
The second Legal Literacy Programme for Delhi University Students and Para Legal Volunteers was organised at Gargi College, New Delhi in September-October, 1996. The programme was inaugurated on Monday, 16th September, 1996 by Prof. V. R. Mehta Vice Chancellor, Delhi University. Hon'ble Ms. Justice Sujata V.Manohar, Judge, Supreme Court of India was the Chief Guest. The successful candidates were awarded certificates.
The third Special Legal Literacy Programme for citizens with impaired vision with National Commission for Women in March-May, 1997. The programme was inaugurated on 1st March, 1997 by Hon'ble Shri S.R. Bommai, Union Minister of Human Resource Development and Hon'ble Dr. Justice A.S. Anand, Judge; Supreme Court of India was the Chief Guest. Fiftythree visiually impaired candidates participated, took test and the successful candidates were awarded certificates.
A State level 4 day workshop on "Legal Awareness for Assertion and Action for Rights" for the visiually disabled women was organised in association for the Blind (KWAB) Bangalore and National Commission for Women, New Delhi at Bangalore from 1st November, 1997 to 4th November, 1997. Shri Roshan Bheg, Hon'ble Mayor, Bangalore City presided over the function and by Prof. N.L. Mithra,, Director, National Law School, Bangalore.
The fourth Legal Literacy Programme for Women Officers in public enterprises is currently going on and will end on 28th February 1998. The programme was inaugurated by Hon'ble Justice Leila Seth, Former Chief Justice of Himanchal Pradesh. Thirtyfive candidates are participating in this Programme.
The fifth Legal Literacy Programme for the Disabled is being inaugurated on 9th February, 1998 by H.E. Dr. P.C. Alexander Governor of Maharashtra with Hon'ble Mr. Justice M.B. Shah, Chief Justice of Bombay High Court as the Chief. The function is being presided over by Hon'ble Mr. Justice P.N. Bhagwati, former Chief Justice on India and Chairman of Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation.
This year the Legal Literacy programmes are being extended to other centres like Chennai, Calcutta and Indore. To spread legal literacy to rural areas the Foundation is organizing in villages legal literacy camps in local languages with the help of lawyers, professors, students and social voluntreers as also audio visual cassettes.
Center for Counselling & Legal aid
The Foundation has established its first Counselling and Legal Aid Center in New Delhi. Assisted by a panel of professional counselors, doctors, psychologists, lawyers and a host of volunteers, the Center is aimed at rendering speedy and time bound justice to women. It also serves as a referral centre for women in distress who have access to the Centre's expert panel of professionals. This Centre provides complete back up to the para legal volunteers trained by the Foundation.
Centre for the Empowerment of Women
On 7th September, 1996 the Foundation conducted a National Seminar on "WOMEN AND MEDIA" in association with the Press Council of India to discuss the two key issues of the portrayal of women in 'Print and Electronic Media' and "the problems faced by women working in these media".
The inaugural address was delivered by Mr. Justice Ranganath Mishra, Chairman, National Human Rights Commission. Mr. Justice P.B. Sawant, Chairman, Press Council of India, who presided over the Seminar, delivered the Key-note address. Mrs. Margaret Alva was the Chief Guest. The Seminar was concluded by Shri M.C. Bhandare, Managing Trustee, Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation by highlighting the recommendations of the Seminar . The Seminar was attended by over 200 Journalists from different parts of the country. Foundation is working for effective implementation of the recommendations with the concerned authorities.
The centre for the emprovement of women is organizing a National Camp for training "Mahilla Panchis" and " Sarpanchis " for their empowerment. The participants in the national camp will be Mahila Sarpanchis and Panchis from different states in Northern India. The seventy-third Constitutional Amendment and the ensuing State legislation have provided one-third reservation of women in all three tiers of Panchayati Raj Institutes. Institutes. The Foundation believes that such awareness and training will empower the women to effectively discharge their functions. This programme will also be extended to other parts of the country in different languages.
Centre for health of Women and Children
A physiotherapay Camp through multiple dimensions of physiotherapy was organised by the Centre in association with the Indian Association of Physiotherapist, New Delhi on 3rd January, 1998. 20 Physiotherpists, specialized in diverse fields, from A.I.I.M.S Safdarjung Hospital, the Parliament Annexe Medical Centre . Institute for Physically Handicapped, Mehrauli T.B. Hospital took part in the Camp. 325 patients of all age groups consisting of 200 women, 75 men and 50 children were examined, diagnosed, treated and home management explained. 50 deserving patients were also provide aids and appliance free of cost by the Foundation.
Centre for Functional Education & Employment
To better the lot of socially and economically weaker sections of women, the Foundation feels that both employment and basic education are necessary to empower women to be placed on a footing of equality with men. The Centre seeks to achieve this through suitable programmes combining employment with functional education. At the instiative of women's organisations, particularly National Commission of Women, a road adjoining Delhi High Court has been named JUSTICE SUNANDA BHANDARE MARG
To work towards the general well-being of children, the Foundation is setting up a children's Park in South Extension where Sunanda resided.Internationally renowned artist and architect, Shri Satish Gujrat has designed this park. Further the Foundation distributes toys amongst children who do not have access to toys.
On a more long-term basis the Foundation proposes the following:
- To create a Justice Sunanda Bhandare Chair at any of the more well-known universities or institutions in the country or aborad.
- To institute fellowship,scholarships and prizes particularly as an incentive for women lawyers and students in law school and other academic institutions.
- To organize seminars on the theme of gender justice and other issues that concern women and weaker sections of society.
- To secure thorough public interest litigation in courts, justice and redress against wrongs done to women and weaker sections of society.
- To set up a centre to monitor fund allotment by the central and state governments for welfare of women and their utilization and to prepare an annual report on the status of women in India.