6 NUJS L. Rev. 1 (2013)

handle is hein.journals/nujslr6 and id is 1 raw text is: 




             CONVOCATION ADDRESS


                  Prof Dr. Partha Chatterjee*

            Hon'ble Mr. Justice Altamas Kabir, members of the General
Council of the University, Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr. P. Ishwara Bhat,
members of the faculty, distinguished guests and, last but by no means the
least, the graduating students of the University:

            The Chancellor and members of the General Council have
done me a great honour by inviting me to be the Chief Guest at the Seventh
Convocation of The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. As
a lifelong resident of Kolkata, and a member of the academic community of the
city, I have watched with some pride the nation-wide reputation that NUJS has
achieved in the last decade or so as a premier institution of training in law. It is,
therefore, particularly gratifying for me that I have been given the opportunity
to address the graduating students at this convocation. I am also delighted to
be sharing the dais with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who was my
fellow student at the Presidency College, Calcutta, in the mid-1960s and whom
I am meeting after forty-five years. I have many fond memories of those years,
not all of which can be shared in this august gathering. Allow me only to make
the remark that even though they say that morning shows the day, Altamas
Kabir at the age of twenty did not display any of the gravitas of a future Chief
Justice of India. He was jovial, fun-loving, sometimes mischievous and always
a very loyal friend. The lesson that I will draw for you, the graduating class of
this university, is that the youthful frivolities and indiscretions that all of us
have indulged in as college students are no impediment to achieving the highest
levels of excellence and distinction in professional life.

            I know I am expected to speak today on matters concerning the
relation between law and politics. However, it is impossible to do so without
taking note of the remarkable outburst of public emotions over the brutal rape
of a young student in Delhi and her subsequent death. I cannot recall another
incident where the procedures of law and justice have come under such intense
public scrutiny, leading to the beginning of the trial of the accused and the
submission by the Committee headed by Justice J.S. Verma of an entire report
recommending comprehensive amendments to the criminal laws on sexual vio-
lence, all within the extraordinarily short time of around a month. During that
period of public outpouring of grief, frustration and anger, one heard many
unrestrained expressions of opinion on what people thought should be the
proper punishment for such acts and which are the most effective procedures
for achieving justice. I do not wish to review all of these opinions. But I do
   Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York; Honorary Professor of Political
   Science and Former Director, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta.

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