Pioneering Restorative Justice in India: Urvashi Tilak and CSJ’s Revolutionary Approach

In an enlightening presentation, Urvashi Tilak, the Director of the Restorative Justice Team at Counsel to Secure Justice (CSJ), painted a vivid picture of the ongoing evolution of justice practices in India. Supported by Kshipra Marathe, a counsellor dedicated to aiding children who have caused harm, Tilak delved deep into the groundbreaking initiatives undertaken by CSJ in its pursuit of justice that heals.

Established as a beacon of hope for the traumatized, CSJ stands out as one of the scant few organizations in India championing the cause of restorative justice. Their efforts shine brightly in a landscape where traditional legal methods often leave the aggrieved feeling unheard and unhealed. The foundation of CSJ’s transformative journey was its unwavering dedication to children who suffered harm. As the organization delved deeper into understanding what justice meant for these young souls, it became undeniably clear that conventional legal systems were, more often than not, insufficient in addressing their needs.

This epiphany spurred a paradigm shift within CSJ. The focus transitioned from merely understanding victims to exploring healing-centric practices that cater to both the harmed and those causing harm. Marathe, in her role as counsellor, began offering psychosocial support, paired with restorative talking circles, to children in protective and custodial care settings. The goal was clear: to pave a path for healing, reconciliation, and eventual reintegration of these children into society.

Under Tilak’s leadership, CSJ expanded its restorative justice initiatives, focusing on comprehensive reintegration and healing processes tailored for children. The organization’s impact is palpable. With over 250 children in institutional settings benefitting from their initiatives and having facilitated multiple restorative justice and reintegration processes, CSJ’s influence on restorative practices in the Indian legal landscape is undeniable.

Tilak’s presentation went beyond merely outlining CSJ’s milestones. It provided an insightful look into the intricate processes they’ve facilitated, revealing the profound transformations they’ve witnessed in the lives of children they’ve aided. From children burdened with guilt finding redemption to victims discovering a sense of closure, the stories shared were a testament to the transformative power of restorative justice.

However, the journey hasn’t been without its challenges. Introducing restorative practices within the framework of the Indian legal system, with its longstanding traditions and established norms, is a colossal task. Tilak shed light on the hurdles faced by CSJ, from resistance from traditional legal practitioners to the logistical challenges of implementing restorative processes in institutional settings.

The presentation culminated with an earnest appeal for a broader acceptance of restorative justice practices in India. Urvashi Tilak and Kshipra Marathe’s experiences, shared with passion and conviction, underscored the urgent need for a justice system that doesn’t merely punish but heals and restores.

In a society where justice often feels distant and impersonal, the endeavors of CSJ, led by visionaries like Tilak and Marathe, illuminate a path towards a more compassionate and restorative future. Their presentation was not just an account of their journey but a clarion call for change, urging all stakeholders to consider a more healing-centric approach to justice.