A Resume of the Centenary Celebrations at Allahabad
By MR. JUSTICE SHIVA NATH KATJU,
Secretary, Planning Committee, Centenary Celebrations
The Allahabad High Court completed a hundred years of its existence in 1966. The three Presidency towns’ High Courts, which completed a century of their existence, celebrated their centenary a few years earlier. It was, therefore, decided that we should also celebrate the centenary of our High Court in a befitting manner. In pursuance of this decision, elaborate arrangements were made for such celebrations which were held at Allahabad on November 25, 26 and 27, 1966. A magnificent Pandal was erected under the supervision of Mr. Justice Bishambhar Dayal. It was beautifully decorated and had excellent light arrangement. The dais had an accommodation for about 400 persons; while the rest of the Pandal provided seating accommodation for nearly 2,200 guests. Some of them, including Mr. Bhagwati Prasad Sinha, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal, and Mr. Justice Dhanendra Bahadur Singh, Judge of that court, Mr. K. S. Hegde, Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court (now a Judge of the Supreme Court of India), Mr. Janki Nath Wazir, Chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, His Excellency Mr. Biswanath Das, Governor of U. P., as also a large number of distinguished members of the Bar ‘from Lucknow and other places in Uttar Pradesh, arrived here on 24th November. The President of India, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, accompanied by Mr. K. Subbarao, Chief Justice of India, Smt. Sucheta Kripalani, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, the Malaysian delegation consisting of Hon’ble Mr. Syed Shah Barakbah, Lord Presidtnt of the Federal Court of Malaysia, and Mr. Justice Ong along with Mrs. Ong, Mr. M. C. Setalvad, former Attorney-General of India, and Mr. N. C. Chatterji, M. P. and Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court, reached Allahabad on the 25th morning. Mr. Justice K. N. Wanchoo (now Chief Justice of India) and Mr. Justice V. Bhargava, Judges of the Supreme Court, had arrived here earlier.
It was originally intended that the foreign delegations should be accommodated at the Barnetts and the Royal’ Hotels. The accommodation in these hotels was, however, not quite suitable and sufficient. So, the Chief Justice of our Court made a request 10 the Governor to accommodate the distinguished guests in the newly built Circuit House. The Malaysian delegates were accordingly accommodated there, while the Nepalese delegates were lodged in a nearby private bungalow.
The Russian delegation, to receive whom Mr. Justice S. S. Dhavan had been especially sent to New Delhi, was unable to reach Allahabad on November 25, because their plane was held up at Moscow on account of inclement weather.
We required a Band for the inaugural ceremony and other functions. On enquiry; it was discovered that the only Band available at Allahabad was the Police Band. But it was not thought proper to have the Police Band for the occasion. I, therefore, made further enquiry from the local Military officials. They informed me that they did not have a suitable Bind at Allahabad and it would have to be brought from Lucknow or some other place. I tried to contact Lieutenant-General Dhillon, G. O. C.-in-Chief of the Central Command; but he was away from Lucknow at that time. Therefore I ‘contacted the Chief of Staff Major General K. Bhagwati Singh on phone. He was very helpful but he informed me that sending the Band involved troop movement for which special sanction had to be taken from the Army Headquarters at New Delhi. I sent a long telegram to the Hon’ble Sri Y. B. Chavan, the Defence Minister of India, requesting him to direct the sending of a Military Band to Allahabad during the days of the Centenary Celebrations. He very kindly acceded to my request and, within 24 hours, necessary instructions were sent to the authorities concerned at Lucknow. The Band of the Rajput Regiment from Farrukhabad reported to the Registrar of the High Court on the evening of November 24.
The celebrations started with the release of the Allahabad High Court Centenary Commemoration Stamp, brought out by the Government of India (Postal Department), at 10 a. m. on 25th November. The function was to be inaugurated by the Hon’ble Mr. Nasirullah Beg, Chief Justice of the High Court, at 9.30 a. m. at the Sub-Post Office situate in the High Court building; but, as he was detained at the airport where he had gone to receive the President of India, I, as the Secretary of the Planning Committee, Centenary Celebrations, had to act on his behalf. The Postmaster-General, U. P., welcomed me on behalf of his Department. The Commemoration Stamp of the denomination of 15 Paise were formally released, and I became the first fortunate purchaser of such stamps on behalf of the Court, followed by my wife Shrimati Annapurna Katju as the second purchaser.
At 10.45 a. m., a seminar on “The Role of the Judiciary and the Bar in the Modern Democratic State” was held in the Chief Justice’s Court-room, in which a number of distinguished persons from India and abroad participated. ‘
The most important event of the day was yet to come. It was the inaugural Session to be presided over by the President. of India at 2.30 p.m. in the Pandal. Though the Pandal, as mentioned earlier, had an accommodation for about 2,500 guests, a very larger number of people had arrived, and, by 1. 30 p.m., it was full to its capacity. It had not been possible to restrict the issue of invitations, because a large number of friends of the Judges, members of the Bar and the ministerial staff and members of the public were anxious to be present at the Inaugural Session. The invitation and permit cards for admission in the Pandal had been issued liberally with the result that, by the time the President arrived at 2.40 p.m., there were more than 8,000 persons present inside and around the Pandal. Naturally, a very difficult situation was created, and I was filled with deep anxiety lest any disturbance or mishap may occur during the proceedings of the Inaugural Session.
The Judges of the High Court and the members of the Planning Committee assembled in the verandah of the southwestern end of the Court Building where they received the Governor of U. P., Mr. Biswanath Das, the Hon’ble Mr. K. Subbarao, Chief Justice of India, the Hon’ble Mr. Justice K. N. Wanchoo and the Hon’ble Mr. Justice V. Bhargava, Judges of the Supreme Court of India. Special arrangements had been made for the reception of the President of India, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, near the entrance of the Pandal, where he was received by the Hon’ble Sri Nasirullah Beg, Chief Justice of the High Court. The Governor and Chief Justice Beg came to the verandah where the Hon’ble Judges had assembled. Soon after, a procession headed by Sri B. B. Misra, Registrar of the Court, was formed. It consisted of Lt. Col. M. L. Bhatia, Brigadier, S. S. Maitra, Member of the staff of the President of India, the Secretary to the President of India and the Secretary to the Governor of U. P., Members of the Planning Committee, Judges of the Allahabad High Court, those of the Supreme Court of India, Chief Justice of India, Mr. K. Subbarao, Governor of U. P. Mr. Biswanath Das, and the President of India Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. At the end were the A. D. Cs. to the President of India and the Governor of U. P. The procession moved in two rows. As soon as it stepped down the verandah the Band played the slow mark. When it came to the dais and before the President took his seat the Band played the National Anthem. The Governor of U. P., the President of India, the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court and the Chief Justice of India were seated on the front row on the dais. On either side of them were distinguished members of the Bar.
The proceedings commenced with a report presented by me informing that the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad had completed hundred years of its existence. The report stated:
“This temple of Justice was consecrated in 1866. This lamp has given light in days of tranquillity and travail, peace and turmoil. The Court has produced Judges and Lawyers of imperishable fame. Like a peak of the Himalayas, the Court has stood high and aloof and firm in the midst of stormy and cloudy weather, dedicated to the sacred task of dispensation of justice. Now a landmark has reached in its history. An august assembly has gathered here. My Lord the Chief Justice, I pray that you may now declare that the High Court -of Judicature at Allahabad has completed hundred years of its existence.”
It was followed by a welcome address by the Hon’ble Mr.Nasirullah Beg, Chief Justice of the High Court. After he concluded his speech, the Governor of U. P., Mr. Biswanath Das and the Hon’ble Mr. K. Subbarao, Chief Justice of India, addressed the gathering. Then followed the Inaugural Address of the President of India, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. When he had concluded his speech Chief Justice Nasirullah Beg and Mr. K. L. Misra, Advocate-General, U. P. thanked the President of India for gracing the historic occasion. A copy of the Centenary Commemoration Volume was handed over to Chief Justice Beg by the Hon’ble Mr. Justice Gyanendra Kumar and the Chief Justice presented it to the President” of India. When the Advocate-General, Mr. K. L. Misra, finished his speech, the President rose; and again the National Anthem was played. There was a short interval of 20 minutes. The; President of India left the Pandal at 4.15 p. m. accompanied by Chief Justice Beg who saw him off at the Airport. The guests were entertained with refreshments and the Military Band played light music. After the interval, Mr. Justice V. G. Oak presided at the Session during the temporary absence of Chief Justice Beg. The Hon’ble Mr. Justice Syed Shah Barakbah, the Lord President of the Federal Court of Malaysia, the Hon’ble Sri Bhagwati Prasad Sinha, the Chief Justice of Nepal, the President of the Orissa High Court Bar Association Mr. Mahanti and the President of the Oudh Bar Association Sri H. K. Ghose delivered their speeches. I read out the messages, which had been received from distinguished persons from India and abroad including the Chief Justices of several Supreme Courts of foreign countries. The Inaugural Session then came to a close.
It was indeed a miracle that, even though there was a large crowd which overflowed the seating capacity, there was a hush and complete silence as soon as the President arrived in procession, and there was not the slightest disturbance during the continuation of the proceedings of the Session. It was indeed a silent but magnificent demonstration of the affection and esteem in which the High Court of Judicature is held by the public at large. The proceedings were conducted in a most solemn manner befitting the importance of the historic occasion.
The same night a delightful performance of instrumental and vocal music, as part of the Cultural Programmes organised by Mr. Justice K. B. Asthana, the- convener of the Entertainment Sub Committee, was given in the Pandal by some of the famous artists of the country. The music programmes were so fascinating that, though it went on for nearly five hours (8.30 p.m. to 1.30 a.m.), no person from the huge audience left the Pandal until all the items in the programme were finished.
The next day’s programme commenced with the function held in Pandal in connection with the opening of the Exhibition of Court Records and documents. I, as the convener of the Exhibition Sub-Committee, made an introductory speech in which I mentioned the steps that had been taken to collect the exhibits from the records of the High Court as also from the district courts in Uttar Pradesh. Along with the important Court documents a number of important Farmans were also included among the exhibits. Chief Justice Beg made a speech in which he emphasised the importance of the Exhibition and laid stress on the preservation of records of historical importance. The Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India in his speech laid emphasis on the importance of the Exhibition and the necessity of preserving the old records. After speeches were over, the distinguished guests, Judges and members of the Bar proceeded to the northern wing of the upper floor of the High Court building where the Exhibition had been organized. The Chief Justice of India formally opened the Exhibition. The Governor of U.P. and other distinguished guests then went round the Exhibition which also included portraits of all the Judges of this Court from the time of its coming into existence.
Later, a Festival Cricket Match between the Chief Justice of India’s XI and the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court’s XI was played from 11 a. m. to 1 p. m. on the Government Press grounds before a distinguished gathering. The Chief Justice of India’s XI was led by Mr. Justice D. S. Mathur, while the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court’s XI was captained by me. ‘The Band of the Rajput Regiment was in. attendance. Among those who participated in the festival game were the Hon’ble Mr. J. N. Wazir, Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir, Hon’ble Mr. Gopalji Mehrotra, Chief Justice of Assam” Mr. Syed Ali Zaheer, Minister of Justice, U. P., and Mr. K. L. Misra, Advocate-General, U. P. Among’ the distinguished spectators were the Hon’ble Mr. Bhagwati Prasad Singh, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal and the Hon’ble Mr. Dhanendra Bahadur Singh, Judge of the Supreme court of Nepal, the Hon’ble Mr. Justice Syed Shah Barakbah, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Malaysia and Hon’ble Mr. H. T. Ong, Judge of the Supreme Court of Malaysia. After the conclusion of the game, prizes were distributed by Mrs. K. Subbarao to various players who had distinguished themselves as batsmen, bowlers and fielders.
The match was followed by a lunch party held in the courtyard of the southern wing of the High Court building. It was also joined by the Russian delegation consisting of Mr. V. I. Terebilov, Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Court of U. S. S. R., Mr. S. R. Rajabov, Chairman of the Supreme Court of Tadjik Republic; Madam S. E. Allieva, Deputy Chairman of the Azerbaijan Republic, Mr. V. A. Samsonov, Chairman of the Presidium of Moscow City Collegium of Lawyers and Mr. A. Y. Sukharev, member of the Supreme Court of Russian Federation.
After the lunch was over, a function of the High court employees was held in the Pandal at 2 p. m. It was presided over by Mr. Justice D. D. Seth and was addressed, among others, by the Chief Justice of India. The same day, at about 4 p. m., a Garden Party was held on the eastern lawn of the Court buildings, which was very largely attended. The proposed dinner had already been . cancelled on account of the prevailing food shortage in the country. Later a very entertaining and instructive Sanskrit Drama was staged by a dramatic society in the Hall of St. Joseph College. It was “ABHIGYAN SAHAKUNTALAM”, the famous play of Kalidas. The dialogues were all in Sanskrit. The acting was superb and the play was greatly appreciated by the audience. In the night a grand Mushaira was also held in the Pandal.
The last day’s functions included the unveiling of the portrait of Mr. Justice Mahmood, and the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the new High Court building, followed by a Seminar and cultural programmes. The proceedings began with a speech by Chief Justice Beg on the life and achievements of Mr. Justice Mahmood, the first Indian Judge of this High Court, followed by high tributes paid to the great Judge by Mr. K. L. Misra, Advocate-General, U. P., and the Chief Justice of India, who later unveiled the portrait of Justice Mahmood, which had been installed on the dais of the Pandal.
Speeches were made also by members of the Russian delegation who also presented a Russian Sculpture to the High Court.
Thereafter, the function connected with the Golden Jubilee of the High Court Building was held. After the speeches of Chief Justice Beg, Dr. K. N. Katju and Hon’ble K. Subbarao, Chief Justice of India, were over in the Pandal, an impressive procession consisting of the Judges of this Court and distinguished guests, and followed by the members of the Bar and others proceeded to the Marble Hall, where the Chief Justice of India unveiled the Tablet commemorating the Golden Jubilee of the High Court building. In the afternoon at 2 p. m. a Seminar was held in the Chief Justice’s Court-room presided over by Mr. M. C. Setalvad, the former Attorney-General of India. It was attended, amongst others, by the members of the Nepalese and the Malaysian delegations.
This day’s cultural programmes included RANGVANI and a KAVI SAMMELAN held in the Pandal at night. The Kavi Sammelan was presided over by Mr. Justice Harish Chandra Pati Tripathi, and was very largely attended. The Cultural programmes ended with the distribution of Medals to various artists at the closing function. The Hon’ble Mr. Nasirullah Beg, the Chief Justice of the High Court, and myself, as Secretary of the Planning Committee, Centenary Celebrations, thanked all those who had contributed to the success of the celebrations. The Chief Justice made a very touching speech on this occasion which was highly appreciated by the audience.
In the end, at night, a large number of distinguished guests, Judges and members of the Bar highly enjoyed the Walter Morgan to Nasivullah Beg dinner, a Variety Entertainment including an Exhibition of the Brides of India, and an interesting magic show, all at the residence of Mr. K. L. Misra, Advocate-General, U. P., Allahabad.
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