ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Judge as a Philosopher

A Tribute to Justice P N Bhagwati

The sheer audacity of Justice P N Bhagwati’s vision, philosophical rationale and futuristic imprint of judicial activism appear to be unparalleled. It provides a beacon of hope to us that much desired changes in the Indian legal system are possible. This can happen if conscientious judges with wider horizons can marshal ideas that are duly guided by taking the Constitution as an organic beacon of hope for betterment of the society at large.

This article was earlier published in the Web Exclusives section of the EPW website.

In the legal annals of independent India, very few judges have left an indelible imprint on justice delivery system and legal mechanisms for societal betterment. One such iconic judge left, after a lifespan of 95 years, for his heavenly abode on 15 June 2017. In fact, Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati, who was born on 21 December 1921, was a restless legal crusader, who turned his tenure as a judge of the Supreme Court into a unique opportunity to give effect to some of the embedded aspirations of the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution. His illustrious father, N H Bhagwati, served as a Supreme Court judge (1952–59) as well as vice chancellor of the University of Bombay. Known popularly as P N Bhagwati, he served on the Supreme Court for 13 long years. He became the 17th Chief Justice of India (CJI) and served from 12 July 1985 until his retirement on 20 December 1986.

Understanding Bhagwati

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