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Human rights vis-à-vis human duties COVID-19 crisis

The Constitutional Society of National Law University Odisha, under the aegis of Hon’ble Vice Chancellor (I/C) Prof. (Dr.) Yogesh Pratap Singh successfully organized a webinar on “Human Rights vis-à-vis Human Duties During COVID-19 crisis”. The event was graced by some of the eminent legal luminaries of India, which included Mr. Salman Khurshid (Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and an eminent jurist), Dr. Lokendra Malik (Advocate, Supreme Court of India, and eminent jurist), Prof. (Dr.) R. Venkata Rao (Former Vice-Chancellor, NLSIU Bangalore), Mr. Sanjiv Sen (Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India), and Prof. Manoj Kumar Sinha (Director, Indian Law Institute, New Delhi). The discussion was moderated by Dr. Sangeeta Roy Maitra (Assistant Prof. Hoogly Mohsin College).

The event started with a welcome address by Dr. Lokendra Malik as he set-forth the discussion to take place around the importance of the need for people to be aware about their rights and its correlated duties. Mr. Salman Khurshid, who was the keynote speaker, based his opinion on this pertinent issue by laying down the proposition of welfare rights vis-a-vis individual rights during a pandemic emergency (Individual v State). In the backdrop of this proposition, he expressed his concern regarding the dire need to resolve the jurisprudential issue in ADM Jabalpur case. He was followed by another eminent panelist, Mr. Sanjiv Sen, who furthered Mr. Khurshid’s points to state that “emergency can’t be used to suppress dissent”. He also stressed the need for cooperation between the state and its subjects, to achieve the desired objectives; because each has a set of rights and obligation in the form of duties towards each other.

When Prof. Venkata Rao addressed the audience, he expressed concerns of COVID-19 which largely focused on the impact on students in the educational sector. Issues like digital education and the lack of substantial progress in legal education were discussed at length. Prof. Manoj Shukla then touched upon some of the important international organizations like the UN (that India is a member of), and treaties like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; to highlight how these documents have recognized the duty of a state towards its citizens along with the need for the state[s] and its subjects to collaborate in protecting human rights. Prof. Yogesh Pratap Singh, summed up the entire discussion to highlight on three broad concerns- a) how not only rights but also duties of every individual along with that of the state is important during an extraordinary challenge; b) that human rights can’t be discussed in isolation, and this is where it becomes important to realize the importance of the objectives of Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties; c) and, that we all have a right to do our karma (i.e. duty). In furtherance of this, he touched upon all kinds of issues that worsened during the pandemic, be it the educational sector or migrants’ crisis.

After the highly academic discussion on various constitutional law aspects by some pioneers of the field, the vote of thanks was given by Prof. Sangeeta Roy, acting as the moderator for this event. This event was attended by interested students and other members of the legal fraternity, who must feel privileged to get an opportunity to hear the opinions of some of the finest minds in the field of constitutional law.

National Law University Odisha

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