Vakilsearch Tributes India’s Greatest Legal Legends on the 70th Republic Day

Last Updated at: Nov 04, 2019
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January 26th is observed every year to commemorate the first day The Indian Constitution came into force. It stood out as a day to be remembered as it was the anniversary of ‘Purna Swaraj Day’ which was celebrated on the same day in 1930. Although India was declared independent in 1947, true independence was when the constitution provided the people the power to choose their own government which is celebrated as the Republic Day.

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As we step into the 70th year of our republic existence as a country, there is no better time to be talking about the unsung heroes of the nation who were fighting a silent battle of minds when the brave hearts showed us freedom in its most literal sense. As time flew by, history forgot to mention the lawyers who valiantly structured the Indian Judicial system that paved way for the proper framing of the constitution. Here are the country’s 7 great lawyers and their contribution for a better India:

Mahatma Gandhi: The person who was a mastermind in both the field and in the books and that is probably why he is called the Mahatma of the nation. But before he became a freedom fighter, he was a lawyer who led the Freedom movement in India and first fought against racial oppression in South Africa. His part in the freedom struggle was the reason the then divided country was able to unite as one. His words inspired many downtrodden Indians to gainstand and created a great impact on the nation. His life as a lawyer gave him the audacity to go against the South African discriminators and the British empire in India.

Govind Ballabh Pant: He was one of the ‘Architect of Modern India’ as well as a renowned freedom fighter. In his early years as a lawyer, he had influenced many people with his speech and campaigned against the British Raj without any political support. He Passed the Hindu Code Bill, which made monogamy compulsory for Hindu men. It gave Hindu women the right to divorce and inherit ancestral property. Along with this, he also stabilized the economic conditions of the state of Uttar Pradesh.

V.R. Krishna Iyer: Back in the days when there was no awareness of the legal practices, he pioneered the legal aid movement that has now gained momentum in reaching the needy. He was a recipient of one of the country’s most honorary award, the Padma Vibhushan and also referred to as the “Conscience keeper of Justice”. Justice Iyer was well known for his path-breaking judgements like the reforms made in the criminal justice system of India by bringing changes in the jails and police stations.

P.N.Bhagwati: He was the 17th Chief Justice of India and a Padma Vibhushan awardee. Justice Bhagwati pioneered the judicial activism movements in India. He also had the opportunity of being a part of the United Nations Human Resource Committee and The International Labour Organization. Without him, we would now not have the concepts of public interest litigation and absolute liability in India.

Nani Palkhivala: One of the most eloquent and articulate barristers of India, his works are still exemplary to the present generations. He was an Indian Jurist and Economist who gained such stature in a very short span. His skills as a lawyer were first recognized in the famous case of Kesavananda Bharati vs. The State of Kerala, by interpreting the constitutional aspects and the embedded concepts. He used to be the centre of attention in the court, where law students and younger members of the bar association would flock to watch him.

Cornelia Sorabji: In the short concluded list of women who came out of the kitchen during the early 1900s, she was the first to become an advocate and also the first woman to practice law in both India and Britain. She was the person who opened the gates of the male-dominated legal studies to equally competent women. She also helped hundreds of women and orphans in courts, often without charging them. The present-day legal world with equal number of women advocates would not have been possible if not for her.  

Dr. BR Ambedkar: There could be no other appropriate leader than Dr. Ambedkar, to be talked about on Republic Day. As the Father of the Indian Constitution, he had spearheaded the Drafting Committee as a Chairman. He was also the first law minister of India and of the Dalit movements. He fought for the rights of women and the labour community and advocated for reservations for the backward classes in all facets of life. He was indeed the greatest champion of socio-economic reforms in the country because of whose tremendous efforts the Indian Constitution was drafted.

The true spirit of independence was the republic day, the day Indian citizens were truly liberated and given an opportunity to be a part of a republic nation. In lieu of this conception, the true heroes of the nation were not only the knights who fought the war on the battlegrounds but also the hands that joined together to frame the constitution of India and free the people from the evil clutches of the existing lopsided laws.

Jai Hind!