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| @ | June 11,2018

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]  he name “The Leaflet” takes us back to the days when we did all our writing on typewriters, went to the press, did our layouts and leafleted for gate-corner meetings, made announcements for demonstrations. Leafleting was a way of mobilising public opinion.

All that has changed.

Today, mobilisation happens on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. These modern-day digital ways have been found to be effective when large gatherings are to be organised, as they did during the Arab Spring. Closer home, the #NotInMyName movement was kick-started by Saba Dewan to protest the cow vigilantism in the country. But our street corner meetings are lost to us, our door-to-door campaigning is also lost to us.

We — Angshukanta Chakraborty, Anand Grover and Indira Jaising — chose the name together. The Leaflet — we thought — would perfectly encapsulate our aims and objectives for this exciting new venture, a platform for legal and political opinion in these troubled times. Our purpose is to not only curate, contour and cultivate fresh, progressive voices in the country but also to mobilise public opinion in the service of the Constitution and all the beautiful values of liberty, equality and fraternity that it espouses. The name “The Leaflet” takes us back to the days when there was personal involvement with every act of preparation for the mobilisation.

On one occasion, a young lawyer deputed to fetch Jaising for an event at a law school, made a stirring observation. When Jaising said to her that she was very lucky to have so many tools with which to do her research, the young woman said: “But ma’am, we are a very lonely lot.” Upon being asked why this was so, she said the only friends they had were on Facebook, no social or personal contact existed in their groups. While Angshukanta wasn’t quite born then, in the student days, we (Jaising and Grover) had launched so many movements through leafleting, organising canteen works in college for fair wages, protesting increase in fees, all through gate-corner meetings where we assembled, organised film clubs (no Netflix then), laughed and joyfully protested.

The name The Leaflet is a throwback to those days.

But why now? There is a need for a return to the days of agitprop, the need to organise students and lawyers and journalists and activists. It is absolutely central to organise public opinion about the rot in the legal system, the threat to independence of the judiciary which needs concerted action. As do issues such as freedom of the press, which must now be bolstered and fortified not only through new platforms for not just dialogue but also intervention via strong constitutional challenges.

Now more than ever before a new generation of lawyers needs to defend the rights of working people, defend those who have been arrested vindictively for having organised the Bhima Koregaon agitation, defend the rights of those who were murdered in Tuticorin by the State while protesting against the Sterlite copper-smelting factory, part of the rapacious mining conglomerate with deep pockets and enormous political influence — Vedanta. We need to defend upright doctors like Kafeel Khan, who was arrested and jailed for, ironically enough, saving lives of children in Gorakhpur’s BRD hospital, while a dastardly attempt on his own brother’s life was made on the evening of June 10.

We expect The Leaflet to stand by them and provide the support it takes to carry on. In times when to defend the undefended is seen as being “anti-national”, we will do what it takes to provide support — narrative, legal, and otherwise — to not only the protesters so brutally assaulted by the State, but also the lawyers who defend the rights of such marginalised peoples.

As Angshukanta says, “Today we eat law, breathe law, live law like never before.” Anand Grover says, “We are among a handful of countries in the world in which what we eat is dictated by the law, who we have sex with is dictated by the law and what we say is dictated by the law.”

Every aspect of our lives is governed by law; therefore, the need for a readable, accessible online magazine about law and legal affairs and its close connection with the politics of our times.

At our pre-launch meeting on May 18, over a hundred lawyers committed to upholding the rule of law, met to celebrate the coming of The Leaflet. Justice Jasti Chelameswar was felicitated on that occasion being his last working day in the Supreme Court of India, but surely not his last working day. He received a standing ovation. This gave us the confidence that there are enough right-minded people in the legal profession, ready and willing to defend the rule of law and the Constitution.

In a situation where the official bar associations of the country have more or less collapsed and lost their ability to resist the rot in the judiciary, we need an Alternative Bar, a meeting place for young lawyers who will say to Mr Fali Narimam when he says “Lump it” that “We will not”.

The judiciary cannot collapse unless the bar collapses before. Lawyers and now as we know, even former judges can be and are conduits for corruption in the judiciary. Our attempt in The Leaflet is to return ethics to the legal profession and the press, to stand by the Constitution of India and defend it with all it takes.

Over a period of time we will deal with issues such as whether the appointment of Yogis as Chief Ministers merits constitutional challenges, what kind of legislation is being passed in the name of a Money Bill, questions on the very legality of demonetisation, and many other unanswered questions.

The Cobrapost sting has disheartened many of us about the credibility of the mainstream press. If the judiciary too falls with the press, there will be no institution left to defend the rights of citizens. The Leaflet is a small attempt to visibilise the deep connections the “pillars of democracy” have with each other, and how one’s fall or steadfastness impacts the same in the other.

This will also in some way remind our readers of the print magazine we published on law and legal affairs several years ago. The Lawyers — the forerunner to The Leaflet — will be kept alive in archives and memory, and through constant engagement with the questions we raised then — on rights of construction workers, pavement dwellers, women, sexual minorities, and many more still on the margins of our highly unequal society.

We hope, dear reader, The Leaflet and you will soon become inseparable.

In hope and solidarity,

INDIRA JAISING

ANAND GROVER

ANGSHUKANTA CHAKRABORTY

 

 

26 Comments

  • Scharada Dubey Scharada Dubey says:

    Much needed. Thanks for this forum and look forward to it being an important part of the movement to restore democratic values in coming days.

  • Avatar Pamela Philipose says:

    Let the old typewriter hammer away in these new, clueless times! Welcome to The Leaflet, and congratulations to its team.

  • Avatar Mohammed Noushad P A says:

    A welcome move. Very much the need of the hour. People need to stand up for what they believe is right in every profession. And I highly appreciate the stand taken by distinguished three.

  • Avatar Muneer says:

    Good Wishes ! Thank you ! Keep the good work going for Posterity !

  • Avatar Govind Shahani says:

    May your tribe increase!

  • Avatar Madhavan Kutty Nandeilath says:

    IN SOLIDARITY & SUPPORT

  • Avatar John Mathai says:

    Best wishes .

  • Avatar Rita Srivastava says:

    Very commendable. Please help Ravan and the five so called urban Naxalites.

  • Avatar RAVINDRA MALVE says:

    Keep it up

  • Avatar Muralidhar Sajjanshettar says:

    “Every aspect of our lives is governed by law”. I endorsed this point and in my opinion, it is a point of one thing or view among many views. Starting from June 1st I waited for this platform and now I am very happy. Thank you, thank you very much all of you .

  • Avatar Debashish Tarafdar says:

    Excited and hopeful. This comes as a flicker of hope.

  • Avatar Rohit says:

    I have turned political over the last 5 years from apolitical/disinterested all thanks to goons in power. I think its high time that rationality re-enters discourse and cuts down the cancer before it does more damage. All the best to you…. One another thing, could you reconsider the font, don’t think that it’s the most readable.

  • Avatar Smruti Koppikar says:

    Hugely needed in the times we live in. The Leaflet could be the moral-legal anchor that so many have felt the need for. All the best to a well-respected team.

  • Avatar Ammu Abraham says:

    Good wishes; I know you will be one of the strongest pillars in support of the survival of Democracy in our country

  • Avatar Masooma Ranalvi says:

    The Leaflet, the name itself is a call for action. I hope in todays India the leaflet will inspire people to be watchdogs for our constitutional rights and values. Really look forward to this publication from team Lawyers Collective

  • Avatar B K Choudhary says:

    Hope, together we survive

  • Avatar V. Ramarao says:

    Very laudable, Mrs. Jai Singh. I am again optimistic that people of integrity determined to uphold the ‘real law’ are still around and making their presence noticed. Thank you. I am a prisoner of the blatantly illegal, contemptible tactics of corporates, the SBI. They filed false affidavits in High court at Hyderabad, &even in hon’ble supreme court! I am almost an invalid & near bankrupt, fighting corrupt bank executives for 30 years. I have faith in judiciary only because if decent people like you. Jai Ho, The Leaflet.

  • Avatar Asha Rao says:

    The leaflet is the need of the hour. I only hope and trust that really this communication will serve the purpose of underprivileged. The only organisation who have stood by them is MAJLIS. This organisation has worked in letter and spirit.I wish good wishes to the organizers. A suggestion is to invite people who are victim of judicial corruption. Regards.

  • Avatar Samya Chatterjee says:

    Wonderful initiative. As a lawyer, I look forward to reading the most stimulating discussions on legal issues facing our country in these troubled times.

  • Avatar Neeraj Hans says:

    Bravo ! Heartening to see the legal fraternity rise to resist the fast eroding credibility of the pillars of democracy ! Gives one hope that all is not lost and there is a huge constituency of people who are ready to speak up/out against fascist forces threatening the very core of our constitution and democracy ! All power to you and may God bless you !

  • Avatar Rakhi Banerjee says:

    How this initiative will be able to create awareness for the major sections of society who lives in rural area, uneducated and poor ?

  • Avatar Amit Shah says:

    Very good attempt. Wish you all the best.

  • Avatar Dunu Roy says:

    Marvellous! When is the next gate meeting ?? 🙂

  • Avatar Amitaabh says:

    Many congratulations and welcome to the world of alternative media. Fully support this new initiative.

  • Avatar Rina Kamath says:

    At a time when key institutions, organisations and individuals have dropped down on their hands and knees to crawl, thank you for having the conviction, determination and guts to stand up and be counted. Welcome, The Leaflet – all power to your team.

  • Avatar Amar Correa says:

    Leaflet has come at a time when most needed. Hope I could contribute to the cause in whatever manner possible.

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