Talk Summary

"What do we talk about when we talk about justice?" 


Justice is not something that is the exclusive domain of courts; and, indeed, that law and justice are often at odds and have nothing to do with each other. Justice is at one level a societal compact or contract, and it binds every one of us. It takes various forms, from the legal justice we know of to gender, race, class, urban planning ('spatial justice), and more. 


At another level, it is an individual commitment, because like any contract, it involves two players: society one the one hand and individuals on the other. The 'society' could be anything, from a large and amorphous ideal to a more tangible neighbourhood-watch group. 


What defines us, as human beings, and as a society, is this concept of justice. 


There are only two things that separate us from the animal kingdom: justice and torture; for humans are the only creatures that derive pleasure from the deliberate infliction of pain, for its own sake, on their own kind; and, like justice, torture takes many forms. Torture is injustice. Racism is both injustice and torture. 


if we are to advance towards 'civilization' -- not retreat from it -- then we are required to hew to increasingly difficult and higher standards of justice, following an ever-advancing evolution of what, in law, and in the Bible and other ancient texts including Buddhism, is essentially the 'neighbour principle'. 


"Justice is what Justice does"


Born in Mumbai on 26th April 1962, Mr Justice G. S. Patel is a graduate of St. Xavier's College and Government Law College. He started practice in 1987 in Mumbai, working on commercial, corporate and civil litigations and also appearing in a large number of environmental public interest litigations including those relating to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, protection of mangroves, town and country planning issues, Melghat National Park, the Mill Lands, protection of open spaces, etc.


In 1994-1995, Mr Justice Patel received the First international Fellowship at Pacific Energy & Resources Center, Sausalito, California in environmental law. This included course work at the University of Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law and an internship with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund.


He served as the Honorary Secretary of the Bombay Bar Association for two three-year terms from 1999 to 2005 and served on the Association's Standing Committee till his appointment as a High Court judge.


From 2008-2011 he was a part-time lecturer in Administrative Law, Constitutional Law and Environmental Law at Government Law College.


Mr Justice Patel wrote a weekly newspaper column in the Mumbai Mirror for three years. He has also contributed articles to articles and reviews to the Economic & Political Weekly, TimeOut Mumbai, the Mumbai Reader, Seminar, INTACH, the Urban Design Research Insitute, the commemorative volume published by the Bombay Bar Association on completing 50 years, among others.


Mr Justice Patel has previously served as a trustee on several public charitable trusts and foundations in the fields of education, environment and the hearing-impaired.


Mr Justice Patel has delivered several public lectures, including: 

- "Community Responsibilities: Some Thoughts on Article 51A of the Constitution", The Professor TK Tope Memorial Lecture, Mumbai, 27th February 2018;

- "A City Betrayed", the 'Remembering Charles Correa' lecture delivered on 6th September 2018 at Panaji, Goa at the Z-Axis 2018 Conference hosted by the Charles Correa Foundation;

- "Mumbai's Architecture: the Shifting Lens", an address at the inauguration of photographs of Mumbai by Foy Nissen, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sanghralaya (the Prince of Wales Museum), on 14th March 2019;

- "Mephisto in Mantralaya", the first JB D'Souza Memorial Lecture, at the Nehru Centre, Mumbai, on 3rd June 2019; 

- "Between Scylla and Charybdis: Institutional Autonomy in Democratic Governance", the Third Annual Lecture (2019) for the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy on 17th December 2019 at the India International Centre, New Delhi;

- "Aliens and Predators", a keynote address at an international seminar at the National Law School University of India, Bengaluru on 14th February 2020

Tel: 040-66360000




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