N. Arunachalam, whose birth centenary falls on Friday, was a many-faceted legal luminary who distinguished himself also as an academic and sharp-witted writer on Constitutional Law.
An alumnus of Presidency College, Madras, he graduated in law at the Madras Law College before doing a post-graduation in Constitutional and International Law.
Mr. Arunachalam, in 1939, enrolled as an advocate of Madras Bar Council —where he would later become a flag bearer of discipline and ethics as a member of its executive council —and was also an advocate on record in the Supreme Court. He filed, argued and won first appeal from the Pondicherry District Court in 1964 after Pondicherry became part of Union of India and moved inside the ambit of Indian laws.
In his legal practice, Mr. Arunachalam regularly dealt with French law in conjunction with Indian law with respect to succession and partition suits, and argued several landmark cases in Appellate Side of Madras High Court. He was also secretary of Madras High Court Advocates Association.
Mr. Arunachalam's keen interest in academics led him to join the Madras Law College as part-time professor from 1952 to 1969. He was also instrumental in establishing a department of law at the University of Madras for granting a Masters degree in international law and constitutional law.
His students, who include several leading senior lawyers of the Madras Bar such as R. Krishnamoorthy, A.L. Somayaji, N.R. Chandran, Masilamani, Aligiriswamy and Venkatachala Moorthy, would probably remember their teacher as much for his erudition and command over English as his manner of presenting lucid insights into the mechanics of Constitutional Law. Mr. Arunachalam has also authored a book on Constitutional Law in 1951 —when the Indian Constitution was just born —in which he extensively compares Indian Law with American, British and Australian laws. The book, though outdated in the context of over 94 amendments effected to the Constitution, is nonetheless a rare gem in terms of providing guidelines on interpretation.
Among his six children, A.A. Mohan is an advocate of the Madras Bar Association specialising in Intellectual Property Law.