Challenging the legal system

The Modern Conscience of India

Savannah Wisdom has been pleased to support Indian human rights lawyer Colin Gonsalves and his organisation, the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), and their innovative use of public interest litigation to secure fundamental human rights for India’s most vulnerable and marginalised citizens.  In recognition of his work, Colin has been awarded the 2017 Right Livelihood Award, seen as the Alternative Nobel Prize.

Public Interest Litigation is revolutionary in its approach and is effective in securing access to justice for marginalised communities. Individuals who claim a violation of their fundamental rights can bypass local courts and appeal directly to one of the State’s High Courts or the Supreme Court.  The court can make a judgement designed to relieve constitutional rights violations or it can take a more legislative role in dealing with rights disparities.  Examples of HRLN led PILs are the ‘Right to food Act,’ security of the right to healthcare  by expanding the list of essential medicines and putting a ceiling on the price of medicines deemed essential, and current cases on maternal and reproductive rights, domestic violence and sexual harassment.

As well as supporting those using public interest litigation, Savannah Wisdom supports organisations which strengthen the system for access to justice in India.  This can be done in a number of ways;

  • making laws accessible and comprehensible for legal empowerment.  This includes grassroots training as well as community initiatives such as centres that provide safe spaces and collective action
  • ensure high quality legal aid
  • find ways to streamline the legal system so that cases are heard in a timely manner and that there is accountability and transparency in case management.  legal processes must be managed with sensitivity but also dealt with swiftly and cost effectively to benefit those most vulnerable.

Through funding in this way, Savannah Wisdom is supporting changemakers who are catalysts for change themselves and challenging the existing narrative and legal structures that don’t work for the more vulnerable in India.