Staff Reporter

Lawyers practicing in Madurai Bench launch campaign

MADURAI: Lawyers practising in the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court have kick-started a campaign on Friday to garner public support for bestowing the highest civilian honour of the country Bharat Ratna on former Chief Justice of India P.N. Bhagwati and former Supreme Court Judge V.R. Krishna Iyer.

As part of the campaign, they have planned to obtain scores of signatures on a cloth banner, besides sending postcards addressed to the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh. The Madurai Bench High Court Advocates Association (MBHAA) President, M. Ajmal Khan, was the first to sign on the banner.

According to him, the Indian judiciary is pushed to the back seat when it comes to recognising its service to the nation. "When artistes and scientists are being honoured with the award for the past 52 years, why not jurists?" he asked.

Nearly 40 persons have been given the award since its institution in 1954, and the awardees include former South African President Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. But not even one judge has been given the award, he said and added that it is the right time to honour the Indian judiciary by giving the award to the two stalwarts. Mr. Khan said that the two judges were among a few who led the legal rights movement and human rights movement in the country.

Mr. Bhagwati was a freedom fighter before his elevation as a judge and he served the United Nations Human Rights Commission in various capacities after his retirement.

Similarly, Mr. Iyer was a Minister in Kerala Government headed by the Communists and subsequently spearheaded the human rights movement during his tenure as judge of Supreme Court and even thereafter.

The Society for Community Organisation (SOCO) Trust, based in Madurai, also supports the campaign.