Justice Jag Mohan Lal Sinha, former Judge of the Allahabad High Court, died on Thursday at the age of 87. Many may not even have heard that name or might vaguely recollect it. But Justice Sinha goes down in history as one of the few judges who with a single judgement radically and dramatically altered the course of a nation or a people’s destiny. His judgement, delivered on June 12,1975, in the Rae Bareilly election case, where he declared as void the election of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to Parliament on the ground that she indulged in corrupt electoral practices, set off a train of events, political and social, beginning with the Emergency , the reverberations of which continue even today in the lives of generations born much later. Justice Sinha remains in my mind as a hero. So do two other people associated with that case, Raj Narain, the Socialist Party opponent of Indira Gandhi who filed the election petition and the redoubtable Shanti Bhushan, the lawyer appearing for the petitioner.
Yahoo contains an interesting report of Justice Sinha’s demise and I am providing the link : http://in.news.yahoo.com/indianexpress/20080322/r_t_ie_nl_politics/tnl-justice-sinha-who-set-aside-indira-g-0058794_1.htm
One more point must be stated. The rise of India’s opposition parties to political power after more than 30 years of unbroken Congress rule, in the Union and in many States, owes a lot to Justice Sinha’s judgement. Justice Sinha never attempted to cash in on this, something he could have easily done. He preferred life incognito after retirement. No further evidence is needed for his personal integrity and judicial urprightness.
N.B: In this context I should also pay my tributes to another fearless judge of those troubled times, Justice H.R.Khanna of the Supreme Court, who wrote the dissenting judgement in the preventive detention case which arose during the Emergency and was superseded for Chief Justiceship of the Supreme Court by Mrs. Indira Gandhi. He died hardly two months ago. The ‘New York Times; hailed Justice Khanna’s judgement in an editorial soon after it was delivered.