• Indira Jaising, A Trailblazer

    Seema Mustafa

    July 12, 2019

    Indira Jaising is a trailblazer. A lawyer with a heart, so big that she has fought cases without charging a dime, held hands, and wiped tears, and embraced all those who were fighting for rights that she empathised with. Nothing is too small for her to take up, no one too big to challenge.

    I have had the good fortune to know her for a long while. More so, as stories we were chasing and cases we were following invariably led to her door. As she was the lawyer taking up causes, and raising a strong voice for the victimised and the defenceless not just in the courts but outside as well. For her every establishment is equal –she did not kiss the boots of the Congress when it was in power and certainly not of the BJP today —and perhaps that is the one reason as advocates, and scholars, journalists, and even politicians are coming out in her support. As the consensus is that she has been targeted for her work as a human rights campaigner. Work that has earned her national and international accolades, with even the disparate lawmakers coming together to write to the Prime Minister against this “intimidation and gross abuse of power.”

    Jaising has always been blunt in her views, and speaks her mind regardless of who the person might be. Forthright, honest, courageous, fiery are all adjectives that highlight her personality, as she does not mince words, and fights for the underdogs and the oppressed inside the courts with the same ferocity as she speaks up for them outside. As many –indeed hundreds, maybe thousands— at the receiving end of the stick know, it is because of the kindness and generosity of Jaising that they have been able to fight court cases, that they would not even have dreamt of initiating let alone winning. Unlike the senior advocates who charge lakhs for one appearance, Jaising waives the fees when it comes to those who cannot afford to pay. And to my mind her greatest contribution has been to make court redressal affordable for the common person who needs it the most.

    One only has to read her articles, to realise the depth of her passion, and the wide range of her interests. She started the Lawyers Collective, and then the Leaflet —invaluable for journalists and others looking for quick and informed information on important cases, and of course the law. Jaising, a sound and professional lawyer, has always married her conviction to her work. Some hate her as they find her honesty difficult to fathom, most love her as they can see the compassion and the idealism shining through, but all have tremendous respect and admiration for her.

    It is amazing, after so many years in the field and that too in the courtrooms, Indira Jaising’s eyes still sparkle with idealism. Cynicism has not corroded her being, and fear or trepidation never halted her step.And hence she appears far younger than her physical age of 78 years, She has a huge body of work behind her, experience that would make the judiciary and a government proud. Instead her home and office is being raided in a cavalier fashion even though she and her husband Anand Grover have been cooperating with the concerned departments in their investigation of alleged foreign exchange violations. Sad when governments do not recognise India’s assets even though the world does, with Fortune including Indira Jaising in its list of 50 Great Leaders of the world.


     

    First published in The Citizen.

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