Colin Gonsalves (India)
Colin Gonsalves is amongst the most complete human rights lawyers of his generation. He is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India and the founder and director of the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), an Indian national network of public interest lawyers. Over three decades, HRLN’s lawyers have engaged in public interest litigation to hold the government to account and secure a broad spectrum of human rights.
Gonsalves’ clients have included India’s most vulnerable people including, bonded labourers, ethnic and religious minorities, refugees, slum dwellers, women and the poor. Gonsalves’ most significant victories in the courtroom include the 2001 “Right to Food” case, which saw India’s Supreme Court issue far reaching orders enforcing a free midday meal for all schoolchildren and subsidised grain for over 400 million Indians living below the poverty line. In 2016 and 2017, Gonsalves obtained landmark judgements from the Supreme Court that ended the longstanding immunity of the Indian Armed Forces from criminal prosecution. This is already having a significant impact in reducing the number of extrajudicial executions occurring in India’s Northeast.