Tuesday, August 21, 2012


The concluding part of the article:

Sir S. Subramania Iyer, an eminent freedom fighter, who along with Annie Besant formed the Home Rule Movement, was another top lawyer and jurist. After a successful practice as a vakil at Madurai, he came to Madras in 1884 and after a successful stint as a lawyer here, he was appointed an Acting Judge in 1891, before being appointed as a Judge in 1895. He also acted as the Chief Justice in 1899, 1903 and 1906, being the first Indian to do so. He was one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress. His residence, Beach House, on the Marina at Mylapore later became part of the Queen Mary’s College. It was here that the idea of starting a journal to report cases on the lines of already established law journals arose, thus leading to the formation of the Madras Law Journal, India’s oldest law publication, currently owned by the Wadhwa group, the Nagpur based leading law books publishers.

The name of Sir C. Sankaran Nair will forever be remembered in legal circles for being part of the bench that tried the famous Ashe Murder Case, which he as a Judge heard along with Mr. Ayling, the Chief Justice in 1911 and Mr. C.A. White, against Nilakantha Brahmachari and others. Sankaran Nair had risen to the post of Judge after a successful law practice which he setup in 1880. Besides his profession, he was involved in a number of political and administrative activities. He was appointed Secretary to the Raleigh University Commission in 1902 and made a member of the Viceroy’s Council in 1915 with the charge of Education Portfolio. As a member of the body, he made two dissentings in the Despatches on Indian Constitutional Reforms, pointing out various defects of the British Rule in India and offering suggestions, most of which were accepted. Besides these, he was an active Congressman, being appointed the President of its Amraoti Session. In recognition of his various services, he was decorated with a CIE in 1904 and was knighted in 1912. He passed away in 1934.

The multi faceted Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer was another doyen of the Madras Bar. Starting off as a lawyer, he rose to the position of Advocate General of the Madras Presidency in 1920. He was involved in a number of prominent cases such as the Ashe Murder Case and the Annie Besant Vs. Alcyone case, where he appeared against Annie Besant in the case involving custodianship of Jiddu Krishnamurthy, the famous philosopher. He was offered Judgeship of the High Court which he refused. He was also actively involved in the Home Rule League, serving as its Vice President and also editing New India, the newspaper brought out by Annie Besant, during her incarceration. He was nominated to the Executive Council of the Madras Government in 1923 with portfolios of Law and Order, Police, PWD, Irrigation, Ports and Electricity. In 1936, he was made Dewan of Travancore, a position he held for a decade. He was instrumental in the introduction of The Temple Entry Proclamation Bill which abolished the ban on low caste people entering into temples. Besides these, he served in a number of commissions and delegations such as the Press Commission of India, the UGC, the HR & CE of which he was appointed chairman between 1960 and 1962 etc. He was also the Vice Chancellor of the Annamalai and Benaras Universities at the same time. Parts of his sprawling residence, the Grove, today host the C.P.Arts Foundation, the Vennirul Art Gallery and The Grove School. He passed away in London in 1966.

Other famous Indians to have been involved with the Madras Bar include P.R. Sundara Iyer, Sir Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, Justice Sir M. Venkatasubba Rao, Justice P.V. Rajamannar, Sriman Srinivasa Iyengar, Sir C.V. Ananthakrishna Iyer and Justice Sir T. Sadasiva Iyer.

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