THE STORY OF A GREAT JURIST WHO WAS AN EVEN GREATER HUMAN BEING.
Justice Rajindar Sachar was a socialist, an egalitarian, a defender of civil liberties, a deeply engaged citizen of India, and, above all, a humanist. A man who believed in standing for the last man in the line, he was 'armed' with a moral compass that never wavered.
Born into an influential family from Lahore in 1923, he witnessed the pain of Partition. Yet, amazingly, he never bore any animosity towards Pakistan or its people. Son of Bhimsen Sachar, a prominent Congressman and Gandhian in pre-Partition Punjab and Chief Minister of Punjab post-1947, Rajindar did not disclose his famous surname during his early life to ensure people would not give him special treatment.
He joined the Delhi High Court in 1970 but was transferred out of Delhi for voicing his opposition to the Emergency. During those dark days he shared a close bond with Justice H.R. Khanna, the lone voice of dissent in a Supreme Court that chose to side with Indira Gandhi. Brought back to Delhi after the Emergency, he rose to become the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court.
Post-retirement, Sachar helmed the People's Union for Civil Liberties for many years. However, what Justice Rajindar Sachar is most-remembered for is the Sachar Committee Report (2006) which documented the social and economic condition of Muslims in India. The Report drew both praise and criticism, with some radical elements even threatening to send him back to Pakistan. However, his fight to preserve the secular fabric of India continued till the day he died.
His autobiography comes at a critical time when India's democracy is under siege from within.
JUSTICE RAJINDAR SACHAR (1923-2018) started his law practice in the Punjab High Court, at Shimla. He joined the Delhi High Court as Additional Judge in 1970, but was given a punishment posting in Rajasthan for his open opposition to the Emergency. He came back to the Delhi High Court after Emergency and rose to become its Chief Justice. He delivered several landmark judgements during his time.
From before India's Independence, he was closely associated with prominent socialist leaders Dr Ram Manohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan. The socialist in him remained alive till his last day. After retirement, he championed the cause of human rights and civil liberties. He appeared and successfully argued several important cases for PUCL, like the mandatory declaration of assets/ criminal antecedents of MPs/MLAs, 'None of the Above' (NOTA) option for voters in elections, domicile requirement in Rajya Sabha, and telephone tapping, among others.
He also headed a committee which submitted a report on the 'Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community of India in 2006, widely known as 'The Sachar Committee Report.
It is impossible to describe the many splendored qualities of Justice Rajindar Sachar. Born in Lahore in 1923, son of Bhimsen Sachar, a prominent Congressman and Gandhian and Chief Minister of Punjab post 1947, Justice Rajindar Sachar was a socialist, an egalitarian, a staunch defender of civil liberties, an, above all, a humanist
He witnessed the pain and fangs of Partition. Yet, creditably, he never bore any animosity towards Pakistan or its people.
Sachar was appointed a judge of the Delhi High Court in 1970 but was transferred out of Delhi High Court for voicing his opposition to the spurious 1975 Emergency. He was brought back to Delhi High Court after Emergency was revoked. Thereafter, he rose to become the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. It was a pleasure to appear before him and assist him in delivering judgments which upheld the fundamental rights of India's citizens.
After retirement, Sachar headed the People's Union for Civil Liberties for many years. The reason Justice Rajindar Sachar is most remembered is the Sachar Committee report (2006) which documented the social and economic condition of Muslims in India. The Report evoked both praise and criticism, with some irrational elements advocating that he be sent to Pakistan.
However, his fight to preserve the secular fabric of India continued till the day he passed away. It is heartening that Sachar's autobiography comes at a crucial time when India's democracy is under strain from within.
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