20, Jul 2020 | Rajini Sondur, Shalini Prasad and Malini Kanal
When did the realisation dawn that our Dad was more than just a father? Growing up, he was just this wonderful person who treated us all with fairness, who would always have time for his family and who would rarely, if ever, lose his temper with us. We were brought up to think independently; yet always be considerate of the other person. Yet, he never preached; he encouraged. Ours was a house where discussion and debate were usually a part of dinner!
We had often seen him and our mother reach out to others. Helping the extended family, friends and neighbours. Our house was always open to everyone.
In his two terms on the bench, both as a judge of the City Civil and Sessions Court and at the High Court, Mumbai, he held an unblemished image. It gave him deep satisfaction whenever he could give justice to the less fortunate and the underprivileged. And post retirement, he could do just that!
We would joke that he was busier than all of us. He seldom refused an appeal for help. Someone said, he became the voice of the voiceless, and there could be no truer statement than that. Often, the places he’d visit, the sights he witnessed, would leave him very disturbed. And he would come home and share those horrific tales with us. He knew he could make a difference, and this is what kept him going.
It didn’t matter to him that he’d have to go deep into the country, in whatever transport was available. It didn’t matter to him what facilities would be available. Regardless of his age. He took it all in his stride, with a shrug and a smile. He’d come home, and with a twinkle in his eye, he would relate those experiences – the sleeping in the open on a ‘charpoi’, the makeshift brick-laid ‘commode’, the different kind of food he’d eaten. He’d come back from a trip, and there would usually be a ‘can-you-guess-what?’
Most people slow down with age, but he just would not. The stride slowed, but the focus was as strong as ever. He also wanted the younger generation to carry on the mantle of protecting people’s human rights. Last year, in 2019, he constituted annual essay competitions on Human Rights, with this aim. He would often talk to his grandchildren and their friends on these issues. Many a family function would see him passionately discussing current topics with the younger generation.
We were the privileged ones, for we grew up imbibing these ideals.
With this website, we hope his work inspires many to follow in his footsteps!