The USC Law & Global Health Collaboration hosted Anand Grover, Senior Advocate to the Supreme Court of India and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, for a talk on “The Global Right to Health: Success and Failure in the Fight Against Hate.” In this Q&A learn about his background, the success of the Indian court case decriminalizing homosexual sexual activity, and advice on how to move forward.
Tell us about yourself.
Anand: I am Anand Grover. I am a senior advocate in the Supreme Court of India. I’m also the director of The Lawyer’s Collective, which is an NGO working on various issues of interest and use to the communities, and I was the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health from 2008 to 2014.
How did you get into this work?
Anand: I became a lawyer because I worked during the Emergency in India, where people were imprisoned and I tried to get them out to help them and then I realized that law would have a big impact, and became a lawyer in ’81. We set up an NGO, the Lawyer’s Collective, which actually helps communities. And from that, I started working on HIV, and from HIV on health, and from health on other issues relating to same-sex issues, drug use, sex workers, access to medicines, now death penalty and civil rights, generally.
What challenges are you currently facing in your work?
Anand: Well, there have been lots [of challenges]. But the latest one is actually decriminalizing same-sex relations, where the Supreme Court agreed with us on September 6 after years of fight. And the fight started in 2001. It ran from the Delhi High Court to the Supreme Court, then back-and-forth twice. And ultimately we had won, and now gay people and the LGBTQI community are free to pursue themselves as themselves.
I do a lot of patent work and India actually had to change its laws after the TRIPS agreement came into effect and we changed the law — tweaked it in a particular way, which was a challenge. And I was the lead counsel; we upheld the law in the famous Novartis case.
What can people do to help?
Everybody wants people to be able to be free to pursue themselves, as themselves, with their own identity.
Anand: Everybody wants people to be able to be free to pursue themselves, as themselves, with their own identity. So, I think if you have issues on that you should be able to pursue them and USC and other people can ask and help you in navigating what you should do. And, more importantly, all over the world are the issues of access to medicines where we play an important role. And, I think if you want to get in touch with us, you’re welcome to do so.