Sanjay Hegde is a Senior Advocate at Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court on 17th February, 2020 (Monday) asked Sanjay Hegde to talk to the protesters at Shaheen Bagh and try to persuade them on shifting the protest to some other site.
The Senior Advocate has been considered as the leading voice when it comes to fighting for civil rights, he is known for going against the popular grain. According to him, democracy without a dissenter in it, is not possible. In order to exercise free speech and thought, men should be free. The thought or the manner of abhorrence will be tolerated if it's a mature democracy. What he wants is that an imperfect thought needs to be voiced in a place full of ideas. He believes free men committing to the requirements of citizenship of a free country is what makes a country great.
Amid the 2002 Gujarat Riots, Hegde had filed a petition in the Supreme Court demanding higher compensation for the victims. He has been on Union of India's arguing panel before Supreme Court between 1996-2004. In 2015 he has been one of the leading lawyers for the Ahmedabad based NGO - Centre for Social Justice. In 2016, he was appointed as amicus curiae in the Supreme Court trial for the December 2012 gang rape and murder case. In 2017, when the country was witnessing many lynching incidents by the self proclaimed cow vigilantes, Hegde appeared as a lawyer for the political observer Tehseen Poonawalla who had filed a plea in the Apex Court seeking a ban on the vigilante groups. To this the court asked the Parliament to bring a law against lynching. In 2019 he represented Jamia's Kashmiri student Mohammad Aleem Syed in the Habeas Corpus petition case.
Another interesting thing to note is that - Sanjay Hegde's Twitter account was suspended in the year 2019 wherein he had posted an image of a man from 1936 whose arms remained crossed in a sea of Nazi Salutes. The image portrayed the resistance against dictatorship.
Hegde as a mediator is the perfect choice by the Supreme Court because of the very fact he believes in civil rights for a freer society. He understands why protests are necessary and should not be curtailed but a decorum should be maintained none the less while exercising them.
"We will be meeting all parties to assist them to resolve the issues in a manner that respects and safeguards both the rights to protest and the right to orderly civic life," he said.
Before putting forth a solution, he requested the citizens to put forth their voices and thoughts in bringing an effective solution. He was the person who had come at Shaheen Bagh on 19th February, 2020 to listen to the people.
"We have come here according to the order of the Supreme Court. We hope to speak to everyone. We hope to resolve the matter with everybody's cooperation," Sanjay Hegde said.
Administering the civil rights while having guaranteed their survival amid strong governmental authority is something that has kept the rule alive. It is because of these lawyers one can say that the pillar of democracy has yet not fallen.
Author - Dyuti Pandya