Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture to be on 6 April by Justice Thipsay on 'Terror Trials'

This year's Advocate Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture will be on 'Terror Trials: Reflections on Fundamental Rights and Judicial Independence' by Justice (Retd) Abhay M. Thipsay

About the Speaker: Justice Abhay M. Thipsay retired as a judge from Allahabad High Court. For years, he was a judge at the Bombay High Court where he presided over several significant cases delivering judgments, which were seen widely as restoring people’s faith in the judicial process.

Justice Thipsay conducted the retrial in the Best Bakery carnage of 2002 on the Supreme Court orders, which led to the conviction of nine accused. In 2013, while granting bail to the members of the Kabir Kala Manch who had been charged under the stringent UAPA, he commended them for creating social awareness through their plays. “Speaking about corruption, social inequality, exploitation of the poor is not banned in our country”, he observed.  He forcefully reiterated the legal point, often overlooked in our courts, that “passive” membership without any involvement in acts of violence cannot be grounds for criminalization.

Known to be a fiercely independent judge, he has spoken out against MCOCA and the need for greater transparency in the judicial system. More recently, Justice Thipsay has also questioned the manner in which the accused in the Sohrabuddin Encounter killing have been discharged, terming it a “failure of justice and the justice delivery system”.

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About Shahid Azmi:

Shahid Azmi was a human rights lawyer, who in his brief and brilliant career defended and secured the acquittal of scores of innocent Muslims accused of terrorism. He was shot down in his office in Mumbai on 11 February 2010. Shahid had received death threats as early as 2006 and had approached the Mumbai police, which failed to provide him any security.  The MNS chief Raj Thackeray had also issued threats to lawyers who wanted to defend the accused in the 7/11 2006 local train blasts in Mumbai.

Shahid Azmi was arrested by Delhi police in 1995 for being a member of SIMI. In appeal, Shahid was acquitted by the Supreme Court. He graduated while serving his sentence, completing his law course after his release. He began practicing law in Mumbai upon his release from Tihar and took up many criminal cases and raised important legal issues before the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court.

He had pleaded in court against the application of MOCOCA as well as POTA for his clients and his successful pleading in the Ghatkopar blasts case of 2002 led to the abrogation of POTA. Shahid had also exposed the violence unleashed by the Arthur Road jail authorities who were torturing the accused in the Mumbai train bombings into confessing their role in the blasts. In his brief life of 32 years, Azmi made a lasting difference, but his untimely and violent death foreclosed rich possibilities that lay before him and, indeed for all of us interested in justice.

Previous Shahid Azmi Memorial Lectures:

The First Shahid Azmi memorial Lecture (11th February 2012): "The Illusion called Secularism" by Mukul Sinha, Human Rights Lawyer and activist.

The Second Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture (9th February 2013): "Capital Punishment: An Agenda for Abolition" by Dr. Yug Mohit Chaudhry, anti-death penalty activist and lawyer.

The Third Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture (5th April 2017): “Democratic rights and political responsibility in a conflict Zone” by Bela Bhatia, writer and activist, Bastar.


Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association and Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture Committee (www.jtsa.in)