The Mahatma Award for Legal Excellence stands as a testament to the transformative power of the legal profession in upholding human dignity and promoting justice.
Mahatma Gandhi - The Lawyer
The Mahatma Award for Legal Excellence
This year, the world celebrates 154th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi Gandhi. As is well-known, Gandhi had worked in multiple capacities throughout his life such as being a writer, politician, lawyer, editor, columnist, and a journalist. He has also adorned the robes of both being a follower and leader of noble ideals such as non-violence, truth, Hinduism, Indic ideals, feminism, secularism, justice, self-reliance (Atmanirbharta), welfare, substantive equality (including gender and caste equality), anti-colonial ideals, and various forms of abolitionism. In this article, we shall discuss some of Gandhi’s views on law and legal matters through his life, as well as his tryst with the legal profession.
Mahatma Gandhi trained in the law at the Inner Temple, London, and was called to the bar at age 22 on June 10, 1891, Gandhi was called to the Bar and shortly enrolled as a Barrister in the High Courts, after passing his law examination. Gandhi was noted to remark that, “It was easy to be called, but it was difficult to practice at the Bar. I had read the laws, but not learnt how to practice law.” This is a statement that indisputably every practicing Advocate across generations will relate to.
Presented annually during the prestigious Mahatma Award Ceremony, this distinguished accolade recognizes the significant contributions made by individual lawyers, law firms, government attorney offices, corporate law departments, and other legal institutions in enhancing human rights and dignity through their exceptional legal services.
Enhancing Human Dignity
At the heart of the Mahatma Award for Legal Excellence is the core belief that legal services can play a pivotal role in enhancing human dignity. Legal professionals have the power to protect the vulnerable, advocate for justice, and foster social change. Through their tireless efforts, they help individuals access justice, combat discrimination, and seek redress for human rights violations. Their work contributes to the overall well-being of society and creates a more equitable and just world.
Recognizing Diversity in Legal Impact
The Mahatma Award for Legal Impact celebrates the diversity of legal impact across various domains. It acknowledges and applauds the achievements of lawyers and legal institutions in areas such as civil rights, environmental law, corporate social responsibility, human rights advocacy, pro bono services, and many others. By recognizing a broad spectrum of legal contributions, the award showcases the breadth and depth of the legal profession's potential to effect positive change.
Inspiring Future Generations
The Mahatma Award for Legal Impact serves as an inspiration and catalyst for future generations of legal professionals. By highlighting exceptional role models and their remarkable achievements, the award encourages aspiring lawyers to consider the profound impact they can make through their chosen profession. It reinforces the idea that the legal field is not just a career but also a powerful platform to uphold justice, champion human rights, and create a more inclusive society.
Gandhi’s bar enrollment certificate. Photo courtesy: Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon
Gandhi’s declaration for the bar. Photo courtesy: Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon