Mr. Colin H. Gonsalves
(B.Tech., Civil Engg., 1975)

Mr. Colin H. Gonsalves received his B.Tech. degree from the Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Bombay. He began working as a civil engineer, but was drawn to the law through union work and concerns over labour issues and exploitation. In 1979, he started studying law at night school.

He is a fighter for social justice and a champion of the exploited. He has fought against government and big business interests. The Human Rights Law Network, founded by Mr. Gonsalves, has built 28 litigation centers in India. Through this Network, he has represented children in danger, villagers on the brink of starvation, and prisoners rotting in jails without the due process of law.

After hearing a petition filed by this Network, the Supreme Court directed central and state governments to implement several food security schemes. Mr. Gonsalves argued before the court that Article 21 of India’s Constitution enshrines the right to life, which can be broadly interpreted as the right to food, work and fair wages. Today, children in school get mid-day meals.

He pioneered public interest law in India by setting up a network of 200 lawyers around the country and is one of its most prominent human rights litigators. Disability laws, women’s rights, domestic violence, child labor and sexual harassment issues have all been revisited by his growing army of public interest lawyers, who act as a frontline or the eyes and ears for the Human Rights Law Network.

Mr. Gonsalves was honoured in 2004 by American Bar Association with the International Human Rights Award for his extraordinary contribution to the causes of Human Rights, rule of law and promotion of Access to Justice.