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K. Parasaran, a man for all reasons

K. Parasaran

K. Parasaran  

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A one-time junior reminisces about his stint with the senior Supreme Court lawyer and former Attorney-General.

K. Parasaran, senior Supreme Court lawyer and former Attorney-General, was my senior. His leading arguments on behalf of “Ramlalla Virajaman” in the Ayodhya case has brought out his legal acumen and erudition in law and Hindu Shashtra and Puranas.

Professionals and laymen are appreciating his commitment to the case and his determination at the age of 93.

I started my professional career in his office in Chennai in 1976 and worked under his guidance till 1980. He is respectful to the court and patient with the judges, making them understand and appreciate his point.

He used to say that every case was as important as the other. But his legal analysis and erudition would come to the fore more in cases conducted without fee and in legal-aid cases. He used to tell his juniors that every case was a mental mortgage and he would like to redeem his mind from it at the earliest. The Ayodhya case was no different.

Despite his legal acumen and erudition, he would tell us juniors that only hard work pays. He would rebuke a junior only for bluffing without reading the full text of a judgment and by just going through the head notes and drawing inference. He used to tell us to read the full text, understand it, analyse it and find out the rationale of the judgment and examine the possibilities of its applicability to the case.

He is a devout follower of Lord Parthasarathy, but allowed atheists too as juniors in his office. He would say that one day, such persons would realise their mistake and become believers.

I remember occasions when his juniors did research spending considerable time and effort and make out a list of cases to support our argument. He would say, “Give a copy of the list of judgments to the other side also.” Sometimes, we would ask him why should we part with the list. He would tell us, “We must be fair to them also. We must give a list of citations in advance to them, so that if they can meet it, let them meet it, and we will answer.”

In 1982, there was an All India Bar Council Conference in Karwar. The Chief Justice of India, Justice Y.V. Chandrachud, and many others were present. The then Bar Council of India Chairman was to inaugurate the conference, but he was unable to participate.

The organisers requested my senior, who had recently assumed the office of the Attorney- General, to deliver the inaugural address. With little time to prepare a speech for the next morning, he delivered an impromptu address for 20-25 minutes. It was appreciated and applauded by everyone at the conference, and he received a thundering ovation for several minutes. In the speech, he spoke about law, the Constitution, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Vedas and the Puranas.

On returning to Bangalore, I received compliments on his behalf.

In his typical humility, he said, “Yes, some days it happens.”

One facet of his personality is his concern for, and contribution to, the development of law. He wants judges to lay down the correct proposition of law, set proper precedent and not get misled. Once, a poor widow from his home district of Ramnad was sent by a local advocate to prepare and file a second appeal before the Madras High Court. She had brought a crumpled hundred rupee note in her bag and gave it saying it is all she had.

A case in question

Mr. Parasaran asked my then colleague Nagappan to take care of the matter. We prepared a second appeal, filed and got it admitted. The case came up for final hearing and was listed before Justice V. Ramaswamy. She had filed a suit before the lower court for maintenance. The original court and the lower appellate court held that she could not ask for maintenance but could only seek her husband’s share of the property. Justice Ramaswamy also felt that she could only sue for a share of the property.

By then, there were amendments to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956, which enabled a Hindu widow to claim maintenance even after getting a share of the husband’s property. But Justice Ramaswamy was about to dismiss the second appeal.

That evening, our senior was so concerned that though he was then the Advocate-General, he volunteered to come, argued for more than half an hour and convince the judge.

He came to the court and argued only to see that the correct law was laid down and the development of the law was in the right direction.

(The writer is a former Karnataka High Court judge)

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 5:39:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/k-parasaran-a-man-for-all-reasons/article30232615.ece

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