Advocate Dibyanshu Pandey is a righteous lawyer and founder of the PLC Advocates. He started his journey as an engineering student but later found his passion in the legal field. He has started two social action platforms called NAMAN India and Project POSH to initiate civil and social action against several wrongs in society. In this Interview, Advocate Dibyanshu Pandey opens up about his journey and talks about his perspective on social issues prevailing currently.
Kanika Goswamy: Starting your journey started as an engineering student, what inspired you to pursue law and what were the major difficulties you ensued in that process?
Adv. Dibyanshu Pandey: I joined engineering when it was considered very difficult to secure admission in an engineering course, let alone be securing admission in a tier 1 engineering school of India. I have worked in top manufacturing companies in the country as well as the in-service industry. Living in different parts of the country for a substantial period for the purpose of education and work gave me priceless exposure to different cultures and various problem prevailing in the society and the same was instrumental in the discovery of my own strength and in choosing the legal profession as a career. I leveraged my engineering background and stepped into the legal industry as an IPR professional and then became a litigator for protecting victims’ rights.
What I have faced in my salad days of the legal career is not something I would per se call “difficulty”, I call them challenges. The major challenge I faced is the conflict that what I really want to do as a lawyer to get individual justice and what the conventional practice, the textbook method is. It didn’t take much time to gain the escape velocity as “justice” has always been the constant for me and the rest of everything variable.
Kanika Goswamy: NAMAN India and Project POSH are two organizations founded by you to aid social action and work against sexual harassment of women at the workplace. Do you think the current legal framework and policies devised for the same are adequate and what changes do you recommend in the same? Do you think educating law students right from their graduation years about these laws could bring significant change?
Adv. Dibyanshu Pandey: The two said initiatives are my self-financed initiatives with a determination to bring a much-needed change in the legal framework and the policies. I must say that the current legal framework is inadequate and the law with regard to sexual harassment at the workplace needs an urgent overhaul. Ironically most of the people working for the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace de facto safeguard the interest of corporates who are under obligation to comply with the statutory mandate. My experience has been that there is a conflict of interest between the employer and the employee when it comes to POSH and there is a need for independent support to the employees. It is essential that law students are educated, trained and prepared to advocate the cause as there is a dearth of Advocates who have the courage or interest to stand for people who really need legal support to fight a bully. There is a need for an army of such young lawyers.
Kanika Goswamy: Project POSH and NAMAN India’s foundation seems heavily influenced by cases of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. How do these organisations function and what kind of aid, if any, do they provide?
Adv. Dibyanshu Pandey: NAMAN India works for rights awareness and provides legal aid to the victims and Project POSH is a campaign directed to end gender discrimination at the workplace. Both the initiatives fundamentally work to protect the human rights of individuals. I wish to make both the initiatives obsolete in my lifetime hence we are working with much vigour so that we are able to create millions of batons and hand them over to millions of people. Law students’ community is going to be the strongest pillar as they are the ones who are going to lead the fight for justice, as Advocates, in times to come.
Kanika Goswamy: The “Mission Shakti” initiative launched by Uttar Pradesh Government aims to establish a help desk for women across the police stations in the state and also conduct campaigns to spread awareness about the safety of women at the workplace. What do you think about this initiative and how beneficial do you think it is?
Adv. Dibyanshu Pandey: The initiative Mission Shakti is a great initiative and the government’s intent must be appreciated emphatically. However, any initiative has to be implemented by human beings and that’s where the initiative faces the insurmountable hurdle. It is important that every stakeholder is trained and well equipped, and the implementation of the initiative is duly monitored to ensure its success.
Mission Shakti primarily intends to address the issue of women safety in Uttar Pradesh. However, the root cause i.e. gender discrimination is what I believe equally needs urgent and long term attention.
Kanika Goswamy: Recently, the Hathras Gang Rape case shook the entire country. Many people, after this case came to light, started spreading the news that it was a fake case and the victim was not actually raped. What are your views about this situation and how do you think such claims can hamper the delivery of justice?
Adv. Dibyanshu Pandey: In Hathras case one thing was certain and that was the unnatural death of a girl as a result of the assault. Furthermore, the manner in which the victim was cremated at around 2.30 a.m. further aggravated the issue and the matter became political and finally, CBI took over the investigation. CBI has filed the charge sheet wherein it has been concluded that the victim was raped. The social media campaigns, in this case, were polarized wherein one set of people claimed that the victim was not brutalized and the other emphatically blamed the government. Ironically, while all this continued, it was the victim who got further victimized. I firmly believe that such cases must never be seen through the prism of politics as it completely distorts the facts and the cause takes a backseat. Social media campaigns do not affect the court of law but justice being multifaceted, such campaigns do cause damage.
Kanika Goswamy: Lastly, many students face a dilemma while choosing their specialization in this field especially when it comes to criminal law. Many believe that a moral connotation is attached to criminal law and if they want to be successful they might have to indulge in malpractices. What are your views about this?
Adv. Dibyanshu Pandey: The notion that choosing criminal law requires indulgence in malpractices is as misplaced as is the notion that criminal law practice is not suitable for women. It is important to understand that the human rights of an individual cannot be divorced from the criminal justice system, therefore, we need courageous and competent criminal lawyers in society to protect the rights of individuals. Law students must explore, without prejudice, as many domains of law as possible as specialization eventually comes from one’s strength. Specialization and success are interdependent and the foundation of both is one’s strength.
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