Constitutional Czars Constitutional Czars

Constitutional Czars


For a compulsive writer, availability and willingness of a companion writer in V Lakshminarayanan, was a god send. We hit upon the theme of a book on Constitutional Czars in the Hall of Fame - (Musings, Anecdotes & Episodes). To make it interesting, informative and illuminating, in no specific order. It was not easy to identify the ‘chosen’ ones.

We went ahead and ignored the hazards in zeroing in on our ‘favourites’. We decided that we shall stick to those, who were not in our midst, in India. Outside Bharat, we breached the code line. The Sandra Day O’Connors, David Souters, Michael Kirbys, and Lady Hales, entered easily. If this self-imposed restriction is appreciated and understood, the reader will realize why some obvious choices do not find a place. Anyway, it is OUR choice to the hall of fame. You may have yours.

Be that as it may, whom did we pick as a Constitutional Czar in the Hall of Fame? Those who made a lasting impact and reverberating with life even today. They were pioneers in the interpretation of the Constitution. As Nani Palkhivala said, “The Constitution constitutes the nation”. It is the very core and essence of what makes a democratic nation in the free world.

Nani KNEW the Constitution. Ours and others’ too. And he said, “The essential purpose of Constitution is to ensure freedom of the individual and the dignity of man, and to put basic human rights above the reach of the state and of transient politicians in power whose naked juvenile chatter is covered by the fig leaf of demagogic claptrap”. Each one of the Czars between the covers of this venture meet this standard.

And go beyond, as several of them put together the very instrument called the Constitution as its framers. And they all had something in common running in their blood and veins. Love of their land and brethren. Some of them were slave owners like Thomas Jefferson. Yet they genuinely sang, “All men are created equal”. It would be imbecile and illiterate to attribute them with hypocrisy and indulge in idiotic cancel culture from the puerile vantage of wokeism, ignoring the timelines and environment in which they lived in.

Let us judge them in their times. They were as ‘liberal’ as they came. As Justice V R Krishna Iyer said, “Never judge from the prism of black or white. No one is pure of either shade. Each and all of us are grey and we better be aware”. Our chosen Czars may not be lily white. But they produced magic in, from and out of the Constitution. Be they branded as ‘Originalists’ or ‘Conservatives’ or ‘liberals’, they saw what we mortals could never see. And they let us see from their shoulders. Higher highs we could never dare to aspire.

This work is not a compilation of the biographies of the constitutional czars. It is not a dissertation on their scholarship or pronouncements. It is a musing. An entertaining constitutional trip on the anecdotal and episodical plane. We got to read a lot. Hear a lot about them. About their scholarship and outputs. There were pearls and gold and diamond strewn across territories and jurisdictions. We strung them together to offer an ornament that dazzles.

Not necessarily from our efforts but from the inherent and intrinsic worth of the inputs. We thoroughly enjoyed and reveled in the journey with the czars. They shone so bright that they showed the way. We were always behind. So it did not blind us. It was a fascinating flotilla in serene constitutional waters. We were dumbfounded with the array of choices on offer. We kept our nerve. Made our choices. The product was liked by our Publisher OakBridge Publishing, who, unhesitatingly, chose to add this to their proud and charming stable from many an intellectual. We felt good to join the ranks. We are grateful to the Publisher for packaging the product deserving of the czars inside.

We enjoyed the effort. We learnt a lot. We have shared the best from our exercise. It shines brighter in print. We trust it appeals to the readers. Be they lawmen or laymen, as we have made efforts to cut out the legalese and let the constitution live among us We the People.

Having made the choice, in the 73rd year of our Republic, come 26 November, 2022, on Constitution Day, we are keen, ready, able and willing, fully padded up, helmets to boot, to meet bouquets and brickbats of all hues. We shall take them on by swaying, if need be, from even bouncers and beamers, that may be hurled at us, on our chosen lot or rather typically, the omitted ones. They shall be YOUR choice.

We shall not fail in our duty to thank Justices P N Prakash, G R Swaminathan and N Anand Venkatesh, puisne judges of the Madras High Court, for their ready consent to provide their Special Contributions in a timely fashion without compromising on erudition and content, on their chosen czars. Their Special Contributions add verve, zest and illumines our effort to let it sparkle and taste better, for the reader to partake in the fare.

We trustingly serve while promising a constitutional feast to the discerning reader’s entire constitution, in an enjoyable tête-à-tête with the Constitutional Czars in the Hall of Fame.

23 October, 2022

N Vijayaraghavan,
V Lakshminarayanan,

Advocates, Madras High Court

N Vijayaraghavan

Author: N Vijayaraghavan

N Vijayaraghavan is a practising Advocate, Madras High Court, with over 3 decades of experience. He has authored several books like Constitution and its Making: Musings, Anecdotes and Episodes & Constitution and its Working: Musings, Anecdotes and Episodes. He has been a resource person with TN Judicial Academy, and National Judicial Academy, Bhopal, run by the Supreme Court of India.

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