Courtroom Falcons

In Conversation With: Meenu Padha- an Advocate, an Activist, and also the President (Jammu and Kashmir) of the National Child and Women Development Council, India & the Vice President (Women Empowerment and Child Rights Movement) of the National Council of News and Broadcasting, India

Meenu Padha

This interview has been published by Sonali ParasharOjuswi Sahay, and the SuperLawyer Team

You chose law as a profession. Do you believe that the legal profession has the power to shape society?

I strongly believe that Law is the only profession which has the power to shape society. Being a lawyer is a noble and honourable profession that requires a manner of conduct to be carefully followed.
Apart from fighting cases, lawyers provide their skills and knowledge to society by doing pro-bono cases and lending legal services to the poor and needy who cannot afford the services of the lawyer for the conduct of a case or legal proceedings in any court, tribunal or before any authority.

Lawyers can deal with all the fields of society including science, social values, human rights, banking, intellectual property etc. So I think only the law profession has the power to shape society.

You graduated from the University of Jammu, considering the prevalent situation there, how challenging was it for you to complete your studies. What is the current scenario in Jammu and Kashmir on this educational front?

Frankly speaking, there were challenges and still are there. But we should know how to overcome the challenges.
Law has been my passion since my school days. I always wanted to do law. But I am from a middle-class family so the first challenge was of course the fee for law school. When I cleared the entrance of the University of Jammu and got a seat in The Law School my parents got me admitted to The Law School despite all the financial problems they were facing.

As I am a first-generation lawyer, I know that there is always a fear among first-generation lawyers that it will take a lot of time to settle. But yes, later I realised that nothing is difficult when you give your best.

Indeed, students of Jammu and Kashmir do not have the same opportunities as the students who are from other parts of the country. Because of this reason, most J&K students go to other parts of the country to pursue their studies. And it is also true that everyone cannot afford to study outside J&K.

But yes I strongly believe that God helps those who help themselves. No obstacle can stop you if you have faith and you give your best on your goals.

You are an independent practitioner in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court and Legal Representative of IRCON, a PSU of the Ministry of Railways Government of India. Would you like to share your daily rundown with the readers?

Yes I am an Independent Practitioner and my main area of practice is Criminal Law. Besides I am also the Legal Representative of IRCON before the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court. To represent IRCON before the High Court is one of the best things. I feel delighted to represent IRCON International Ltd, a PSU of the Ministry of Railways Government of India.

And so far as my criminal practice is concerned, I generally represent the rape survivors before Court. Despite being a first-generation lawyer, I never joined any senior and starting my own practice, as an Independent Practitioner is a bit challenging. But with the blessings of Lord Krishna and my parents, I will overcome it as well.

Raising women and child rights matters accompanies appreciation and criticism too. How do you deal with the hurdles in the way of your goals?

Yes Working for the rights of children and women has always been my interest since my law school days. Women in J&K are not so aware of their rights. To create awareness to them about their rights and then help them through litigation to get justice is quite a satisfying thing for me. As I said, I usually represent rape survivors before the court and all the vulnerable sections of society like women, children, SCs, and STs. This is the most satisfying thing for me. That’s the reason I love my work.

You are appointed as the President (Jammu and Kashmir) of the National Child and Women Development Council, India; the Vice President (Women Empowerment and Child Rights Movement) of the National Council of News and Broadcasting, India. What responsibilities do you get in your respective capacities? Is the situation any better in J&K after your initiatives?

Working for the rights of children and women has been my dream since the days I was doing my law. As women in J&K are not much aware of their rights. So to create awareness about their rights and help them through litigation as well is a really satisfying thing for me.

I usually represent rape survivors & vulnerable sections of society like women and children before court. After being appointed as President of J&K, I conducted a number of awareness campaigns, workshops, webinars, seminars, and sessions for women and children in the outskirts of J&K. A number of women approach me because of the violation of their rights by their husbands, family members, people and sometimes by authorities. I try my best to help them to provide justice and to help every woman and child out there to get justice through Administration or Legally. Recently, I have also filed a Public Interest Litigation before J&K High Court because of rising cases of child abuse during COVID.

Recently, I have also met with the Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor of Jammu & Kashmir Shri Manoj Sinha Ji and submitted a memorandum on women and child rights issues. Hon’ble LG has taken immediate action on the main points of the memorandum like he has ordered for the fresh reconstitution of Child Welfare Committees in every district of J&K. And giving approval for the Women Commission for J&K which was abrogated after Article 360 in J&K.

What made you focus only on women and child rights? How close are we to ending the era of feminism?

The rights of women and those of children have been promoted in isolation from one another.

See women’s rights and child’s rights are human rights. These include the right to live free from violence and discrimination; to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; to be educated, to vote, and to earn equal wages in the case of women.

Feminism is a movement that fights for women who are facing monumental odds. But it is also paving the way for gender inclusivity and equality that benefit society as a whole.

Feminism is about supporting and empowering people which is something that is still needed even in 2022.

Education is the most powerful weapon in the world”. How true are these words according to you?

As Nelson Mandela says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Education is the key to eliminating gender inequality, reducing poverty, creating a sustainable planet, preventing needless deaths and illness, and fostering peace. I am also running a school for underprivileged children here in Jammu namely Masti Ki Pathshala a school for underprivileged children. It’s an evening informal School were out-of-school children who are mostly involved in some kind of child labour come during the evening time to get a basic education. So I believe education can change the shape of society. Children are our future. The right to education is their fundamental basic right, which should be implemented properly.

Would you like to share a few tips on how even a student can uplift the marginalised?

I want to tell the students that if you are doing law, then use your knowledge. Because what a law-knowing person can do, no one else can.

Get in touch with Meenu Padha –

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