Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Legendary Alladi of Mylapore

When the proper history of the Madras bar gets chronicled, the lawyers hailing from Mylapore will find a special place. Starting from the Luz corner, if one travels due West on Luz church road bound for Alwarpet turning, we will see to our right , "The Ashrama" once the abode of V.Krishnaswamy Aiyer, and little further ahead on the left besides what was once known as "Aratikuttai" is the house of K.Srinivas Aiyangar. Continuing our journey for a few yards on the left we see the mansion of Sir Alladi Krishnaswami Aiyer, the luminary who undoubtedly dominated the legal firmament for three decades (1917-1947) being the unquestioned leader of the Madras Bar during that period.

Several of his apprentices, juniors, who later became judges, advocate generals and chief justices have expressed accolades to the astonishing prodigy among lawyers that i feel small and puny, to write this short note for publication in the reputable blog Ekamra Nivas. However, I shall do my best to narrate a few instances in the life of my great father which will stir the minds of your readers particularly those belonging to the younger generation , to read a great soul who has sanctified the name of "Alladi" a relatively unknown place , now non existent near Kumbakonam in Tanjavur district.

Let me start with an example of Alladi's outstanding advocacy, cited in Justice Rajagopala Aiyangar's article published some time ago. Alladi was appearing before the full bench of the Federal court at Delhi presided over by none other than the famous Sir Maurice Gruyer Chief Justice of India.This case was taken up for hearing in the morning and went on till lunch time. Sir Maurice was so much impressed by Alladi's brilliant advocacy that he requested Sir Alladi to repeat his arguments in the afternoon so that Sir John Simon who was visiting the federal court in the afternoon could hear Alladi speak! Chief Justice Rajamanar in a matchless obituary made a reference to Alladi thus;

Sir Alladi Krishnaswami Aiyer was supreme as an advocate, his advocacy was of the highest order, powerful and selective......
He never overstated his case, he presented in such a way that the judges would feel that their reputation would be at stake if they decided against him!

Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer regarded Alladi as a living legend, a professional wonder, a constitution maker, and an authentic embodiment of jurisprudential versatality. He was a "statesman among jurists and a jurist among statesmem" Krishna Iyer summed up.

Towards the end of his brilliant legal career as a lawyer, the Government of India headed by Prime Minister Nehru invited him to be one of the principal members of the drafting committee deliberations,particularly regarding fundamental rights and directive principles. A brief survey of the Indian Constitution must convey every reader that it was based on sound principles of democratic government.The Indian Constitution can be proud that it can be in line with the greatest democratic constitutions of the world and considered by many as a model for the rest of the democratic world. Justice Sethuraman has remarked that Madras can be legitimately proud of having sent one of its brightest jewels to adorn this country with its constitution which deserves to be handled with care by all concerned.

In private life Sir Alladi was simple and capable of the warmest friendship. He was generous with his money for every good cause and relieving the needs of friends, and he was most hospitable seldom have we known a person with lovable disposition. Alladi was a rare blend of genius,exceptional ability and overflowing mercy and kindness.

There are lots of episodes of Alladi's bouts of absentmindedness. Alladi had a phenomenal memory regarding case law and there are instances of judges being amazed by his ability of recalling cases and references from various texts and law reports of bygone days. One of his juniors Mr. Ramani who wrote about Alladi in an issue of Kalaimagal recalls how Alladi invited two eminent personalities Sri Anantha Sayanam Aiyangar and speaker of Lok Sabha and Sri Santhanam Union Minister for lunch and forgot all about the engagement. He had his lunch as usual and he was very embarassed when the two distinguished guests turned up for lunch at the appropriate hour. Covering his embarassment he asked his eldest son Mr. Kuppuswami to sit with the guests for lunch even though his son had lunch already. This story became well known later, illustrating Alladi's bouts of absentmindedness.

It is a pity there is no appropriate and fitting Memorial in Madras city for this great man. The constitution of India with its records of debates and detailed proceedings published by various publishers are by themselves a fitting memorial for this great son of India who bestrode the legal word like a Colossus for three decades.

Alladi Prabhakar
Former Principal,Dean
Osmania University,
Director of International Programmes
Principal,Manipal Institute of Technology,

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