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Dr. Justice AR.Lakshmanan 2 – January 1st, 2008
Dr. Justice AR.Lakshmanan, Chairman of the Law Commission, gives his views candidly, in this interview.
1. Can you kindly explain on the nature of your position as ‘Chairman, Law Commission of India’ to our readers, please?
I am the Chairman of the 18th Law Commission of India. Our function is to advise the Government of India on all legal matters and also suggest enactment of new legislations, deleting unwanted statutes from the statute book and also suggest amendments to various laws and also to introduce new legislations as and when required. Apart from the Chairman, there are three full time Members, who are all retired High Court Judges or Supreme Court Judges and six part-time Members selected from the bar.
2. What inspired you to take up law as your career?
Even as a high-school student, I used to read the judgements published in the newspapers, which inspired me to become a lawyer. I was also inclined to become a judge and, therefore, took up the noble profession.
3. How were the initial years of your profession?
I cannot claim any heredity in the legal profession. I had a humble beginning in the profession. I had to strugle hard in the profession.
4. What are the various positions, that you have held in your law career?
I was enrolled as a lawyer in the year 1968. In the year 1989 I was appointed as Government Pleader for the State of Tamil Nadu to represent their matters in the High Court of Madras and in the Supreme Court. I was appointed as a permanent Judge by the President of India in the year 1990 and I served in the Madras High Court for 7-1/2 years. Thereafter I was transferred to Kerala and served there for 2-1/2 years and also as Acting Chief Justice on three occasions. Thereafter I was transferred to Rajasthan High Court as Chief Justice and served there for two years. Again I was transferred to Andhra Pradesh as Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court. In the year 2002 I was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court representing the State of Tamil Nadu. I retired as a Judge of the Supreme Court on 22nd March, 2007 and in May 2007 I was appointed as Chairman of the 18th Law Commission of India, which post is held by a Judge in the rank of a sitting Supreme Court Judge. I am the first Nattukottai Chettiar to be appointed as Govt. Pleader, Judge, Chief Justice of three High Courts and Judge of the Supreme Court of India and now as the Chairman of the Law Commission of India.
5. Can your share with us the turning points in your career, that has led you here?
Though I was selected as an officer at the interview conducted by Indian Bank and Indian Overseas Bank, I did not join in those posts and continued as a lawyer through out my carrear till I was elevated as a Judge. The turning point in my life is my meeting with the then Chief Justice K. Veeraswamy, who was the Chief Justice of Madras High Court. He hails from Devakottai, my native town. As a Secretary of the Old Students Association of Nagarthar High School at Devakottai I invited him to our School for inaugurating the Association. He asked my father whether I was practicing Law at Devakottai. My father told him that I being his eldest son, he wanted my presence at Bangalore, Mysore, Madras and other places to look after our business. However, Justice Veeraswamy persuaded my father to send me to Chennai to practice law at the Madras High Court. I started my practice with Shri G. Ramanujan, the then Government Pleader and then as a Judge of the Madras High Court. I was also a junior under Mr. K. Venkataswami, former Judge of the Supreme Court and Mr. R. Krishnamurthy, former Advocate General of the Madras High Court. I have learned a lot only through them. But for my meeting with Chief Justice Veeraswamy at Devakottai, I would not have become a lawyer, a Judge, Chief Justice of three High Courts and Judge of the Supreme Court and later Chairman of the Law Commission of India. This is the turning point in my life.
6. Which posts have your enjoyed the most? Why?
I enjoyed my carrier as a Judge of the Madras High Court and as Chief Justice of the Kerala, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh High Courts. I enjoyed most my judgeship at the Supreme Court. In the Supreme Court I had many opportunities to try cases of various nature and varied branches which comes from different parts/States of India. In short, I can say I enjoyed every minute of my stay in the Supreme Court and because of my hard work, I was able to deliver several landmark judgments during my carrier.
7. Which of your judgement do you think as a milestone in your career?
I delivered 98,676 judgments on various subjects such as Tax Law, Matrimonial Jurisdiction, Testamentary, Patent Law, Trade Marks, Insolvency, Company Law, Civil Laws, Criminal Jurisdiction, Writ Jurisdiction and all other subjects. I deem it a milestone in my carrier of the judgements delivered from Kerala High Court sitting with another Judge in a Division Bench which banned smoking in public places such as railway stations, parks, bus stations, etc. etc., which according to us is a health hazard and it affects the health of the public who inhale the smoke. There are many other judgements too.
8. Have you ever felt guilty or dissatisfied for any of your judgement?
I never felt guilty or dissatisfied for any of my judgments since every judgment of mine was prepared with meticulous care and devotion.