M.C. Chagla | Roses in december | Chief Justice Important Questions


The book “Roses in December” was authored by MC Chagla, a former Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court and diplomat. The book is a narrative of his life and experiences, from his youth in a small Gujarat hamlet through his distinguished legal and diplomatic career.

Table of Contents

About the Part “Chief Justice” in short

On August 15, 1947, I took charge of the office of Chief Justice of Bombay from Sir Leonard Stone. There was no obligation, legal or constitutional, on him to relinquish his office. He could have continued as Chief Justice after independence. As a matter of fact, some English judges did continue to function. Mr. Justice Falshaw, for instance, was Chief Justice of the Punjab High Court many years after our country became independent. But Sir Leonard Stone, although not a great lawyer, was a great gentle. man, and had a deep instinct for decency and propriety. He told me that it would not be right in a free India for an Englishman to be at the helm of affairs in a High Court, and it was but right that an Indian should take his place………………………..To sum up my tenure as Chief Justice, those eleven years f for me constitute the most fragrant rose in my life. The perfume still endures, and whenever the cold winds of December blow more severely than usual, I seek refuge and consolation in the memory of those years, when life seemed worth living, and existence had a purpose and a direction. (Roses in december)

Note : In every line where the use of word {i} Example : I vividly….I remember ….I discovered, reffers to M.C. Chagla

Short Answer Important Questions of Chapter Chief Justice | (Roses in december)

When m.c chagla took charge of the office of cheif justice of Bombay high court and from whom ?

On August 15, 1947 m.c chagla took charge of the office of chief justice of Bombay high court from Sir Leonard Stone.

Objects of chagla while writing a Judgement ?

chagla’s only object when writing a judgment was to be brief and to be clear, precise and lucid in whatever views he expressed.

who said this and to whom that, ” I accepted the judgeship because you asked me, if anyone else had done so I would not have accepted it”.

Mody to M.C. Chagla.

What were the three linguistic group in the Bombay ?

There were three linguistic groups, the Marathi-speaking, the Gujarati-speaking and the Kannada-speaking.

Who offered a judgeship of the federal court to the chagla ?

Kania offered a judgeship of the federal court to the chagla.

Who said to whom “Your worship is holding a pen”?

Advocate General Amin to Chagla

Who said , “politics are vulgar when they are liberalised by history”?

Sir John Seeley

When Mr. Chagla appointed state chief commissioner ?

In 1952 Mr. Chagla appointed state chief commissioner.

Write the name of the judgement given by Chagla against the government ?

Preventive detention act.

Who was Paul Robeson ?

Paul Robeson was a famous African-American athlete, singer, actor, and advocate for the civil rights of people around the world.

When was the india- Africa meeting held to support of Africans in East Africa ?

In June 1953 india-Africa meeting held to support of Africans in East Africa.

For how long did Chagla remain the Chief Justice of Bombay ?

Chagla remained the Chief Justice of Bombay for 11 years.

Who was the first attorney general of India ?

Motilal Setalwad was the first attorney general of India.

When m.c chagla joined the bench ?

In 1941 m.c chagla joined the bench.

What was the extra month salary for m.c chagla when he was chief justice of Bombay ?

I believed that when the court was sitting my place was there. My wife would often ask me in fun whether I received extra pay for sitting in court even when I was not well, and my answer was that a conscience that remains untroubled was to me as gratifying as an extra month’s salary, and that I would be utterly miserable if I stayed at home while the court was functioning.

What was the chagla’s though regarding closing of court ?

I have never believed in closing courts or government offices as mark of respect for someone who has died. To my mind, the best way of honouring his memory is to work harder than we did before. One may cancel parties and functions, if one likes, but I do not understand why one should cease working because some one has passed away.

What is meant of secularism according to m.c chagla ?

According to m.c. chagla Real secularism meant that one did not pass over the claims of those who were really fit, merely because they belonged to a particular community.

Long Answer Important Questions of Chapter Chief Justice | (Roses in december)

Which title was awarded to M.S. Subbulakshmi ?

In April 1955. chagla presided over a very large meeting in Bombay to felicitate M. S. Subbulakshmi when she was awarded the title of “Padina Bhushan”. chagla called her the Mira Bai of South India.

What was the district court conditions when Mr. chagla went there ?

One of the things chagla noticed was the terrible surroundings in which the junior Civil Judges had to function. chagla found nothing that was conducive to the proper working of a court. There was no library, sometimes hot even elementary text books; an indifferent Bar and a ramshąckle building. However, chagla must, in passing, pay his tribute to these worthy men who, working in such conditions functioned very capably and to the satisfaction of the litigating public.

Describe M.C chagla views on appointing of Judges ?

Judges are often appointed who have no judicial experience, or who have been divorced from judicial work for a long stretch of time. chagla think this is entirely wrong Judges should be appointed from the body of practising advocates or from District Judges who are actually doing judicial work. chagla saying this not in disparagement of judges who have been appointed from the executive, as some of them may have made good judges; but the principle is wrong, and exceptions do not justify the violations of a principle. (Roses in december)

Who was the daphtary ?

Daphtary was also Advocate-General and appeared before chagla, but not in many cases, as he soon went away to Delhi, first as Solicitor-General, and then Attorney-General. He once told chagla that his philosophy in life was minimum work in return for maximum result, and he practised this philosophy to perfection. His arguments were always brief and to the point, expressed in his own inimitable style, and always lightened up by an unfailing sense of humour.

Why did pritt charged heavy fee from the capitalist ?

Pritt was a communist, and practised the communist faith openly, and without any restraint He replied, “I like to charge heavy fees to my capitalist clients, so that their capital should get less, and I can use the money to further the communist cause am now going to South Africa to defend some communists, and I will not a charge them any fee,because I have earned enough from my two capitalist clients.”

Tell something about J.C Shah ?

J. C. Shah was chagla’s student at the Law College; they practised together at the Bar; he was chagla’s colleague on the Bench when he finally went to the Supreme Court and ultimately became the Chief Justice of India. His one passion in life was the law. He used to tell chagla that even in the vacation, he read All-India reports and chagla said that that was a pity, since there were more interesting things to read in the vacation than law reports. He made the most successful judges in the Supreme Court, and was an acknowledged authority on income-tax cases. This is surprising because he had never had anything to do with income-tax cases either as lawyer or as judge at the High Court. But his industry is so great and his legal acumen so acute that he had no difficulty in acquiring a mastery over a subject which is not altogether simple. (Roses in december)

Name the members form orginal and appealte side ?

chagla appointed from the Appellate side of the Bar, Shah himself, Datar, Tarkunde, V. S. Desai and Dahyabhai Patel, all of whom had a large and flourishing practice on the Appellate side.

From the Original side, chagla appointed K. T. Desai, S. T. Desai, N. A. Mody and K. K. Desai, all of whom without doubt were earning much more than what they would draw as judges.

What was chagla thought about the ‘karma’ and ‘kismat’ ?

In November, 1947, the All-India Conference of Social Workers had its first-session in Bombay, and chagla, as Chairman of the Recep welcomed it. One major point in his speech was that both the great religions of India, the Hindu and Muslim religions, have inculcated a philosophy which has had the unfortunate effect of making man tolerate the worst social evils. The Hindu with his doctrine of Karma often believed that what a man suffers in this life is preordained, and that he is born in this world to expiate the sins that he committed in his past life. Equally, the Muslim, with his theories about Kismet, believed that suffering, if destined, is unavoidable and had to be gone through cheerfully.

This is the attitude of mind we had to fight against, There is nothing inevitable or ordained about poverty, disease or illiteracy. It is a comfortable and convenient philosophy which people, to whom the gods have been kind and who have been brought up in the lap of luxury, hug to themselves in order not to be reminded that millions of unfortunate men in this country are forced to live in the most abject poverty and in conditions which are a disgrace to any civilised society. (Roses in december)

Write the two confrontation of chagla with morarji Desai ?

The first confrontation with Morarji was with regard to the appointment of Lad, who was the Legal Remembrance. chagla had submitted the name of a District Judge who was junior to lad and Morarji replied by enquiring why Lad, who was the senior District Judge, had been passed over. chagla told him that Lad had been associated with the executive for many years, and it was necessary, before chagla could consider his claim, that he should go back to the districts and act as a District Judge. Only then could his claim be considered.

chagla conceded that Lad was an extremely able and efficient man, but chagla did not like the idea of someone steeped in the habits and outlook of an executive official coming to the High Court straightway. This made Morarji furious, but chagla refused to relent. Morarji threatened that if chagla did not accept his suggestion, he would not recommend any judge for the pending vacancy. chagla replied that he could afford to carry on with the existing strength of judges but he would not yield on what was to me a matter of principle. This contretemps continued for a considerable time till Lad went to the Government of India in some capacity or other.

chagla also had difficulty with Morarji about the appointinent of an Assistant Judge whom they wanted to recruit directly from the Bar. He was a member of the Hindu Mahasabha. Morarji wrote to chagla and said that he was surprised that chagla should recommend a man with such political complexion. chagla told him that he was not concerned with the politics of a member of the Bar. chagla was only concerned with his ability and efficiency to function as a judge.

Further, it would seriously undermine the independence of the Bar if chagla was to insist that only those who belonged to a particular party or believed in a particular ideology could aspire to become judges. chagla said that a member of the Bar had every right to hold any political views he thought proper, provided they were not seditious or subversive. So long as chagla was satisfied that a judge did not carry his politics to the Bench, chagla should consider his political views as utterly irrelevant to his fitness as a judge. After some correspondence, Morarji ultimately yielded, and appointed the man chagla had recommended who, chagla was happy to say, turned out to be a very good judge.

What was the difference between orginal side and appealte side in the court according to m.c chagla ?

The relations between the Original side of the High Court and the Appellate side were not very cordial. Those who were not barristers or had not passed the Advocate O.S. examination could not appear on the Original side. There was the dual system on the Original side, which meant that no one could argue a case unless he was instructed by a solicitor. This system prevails even today, but in those days only barristers and Advocates O.S. could appear on the Original side. Bands, also, were worn only by the members of the Original side.

I thought that this was all wrong and undesirable. We, therefore, decided that every advocate had the right to prectise on either side of the High Court, provided he observed the rules obtaining on that side. In other words, even an advocate practising on the Appellate side could appear on the Original side provided he was instructed by a solicitor. The difference, therefore, between advocates O.S. and barristers and other advocates was, for all practical purposes, done away with. This problem has plagued the Calcutta High Court for a long time, and I am told that even now the differences between the two sides are fully maintained.

What was the reason behind the lengthy of hearings according to m.c chagla ?

I have also dealt with the other important reason why hearings tend to be lengthy. This is the growing tendency to refer to-if I might use the word-authorities. If one reads some of the judgements today, one finds that there is no proposition which a judge can lay down without citing half a dozen or a dozen authorities. It used to be my practice to tell the lawyer at once that if he put forward a proposition, and I accepted the proposition, no further authority was needed to support it. If, on the other hand, he formulated an idea which I could not accept, I would make it a point to ask him if there was any authority to prove that my view was incorrect.

There the matter would end one way or the other, but I always discouraged the citing of unnecessary authorities. Authorities have now become like props without which it seems the structure of a judgment cannot be built. Further, I always tried, as far as it was possible, to keep an open mind till the very end, and sometimes even changed my mind at the last moment, if I found that some argument that had been previously advanced had not been sufficiently appreciated by me in coming to my conclusions. I refused to read any papers in advance to avoid forming an opinion before hearing counsel, lest it should become difficult to change that opinion, however tentative it might be. (Roses in december)

Explain about the sausage case ?

The first popular case came to be known as the “sausages case”.The Manager of the Ritz Hotel, a gentleman called Mario, had been convicted by a Magistrate and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for committing a breach of the sumptuary law by serving a course at a dinner in excess of what was permitted. The appeal came before me and Justice Dikshit. Daphtary, who was the Advocate-General, appeared before me to support the conviction, and he was opposed, I think, by M. P. Amin. What Mario had served were cocktail sausages, which are a very tiny variety of the real sausage.

As soon as the case was called on, I told Daphtary: “Mr. Advocate-General, I am afraid no one in this case knows or has ever eaten cocktail sausages. My brother Dixit, the Government Pleader and your learned opponent are all, I am sure, innocent of this delicious snack. You and I are the only two who understand the meaning and significance of cocktail sausages. Do you seriously suggest that these constitute a course?” And Daphtary, with his usual fair-mindedness, immediately answered, “No, my Lord, I cannot in honesty say so”. That was enough. It finished the appeal. The conviction was set aside, and Mario was acquitted. (Roses in december)

What was the chagla’s view on the Hindu monogamy act ?

Hindu Monogamy Act was challenged before me on the ground of discrimination between one community and another. It was argued that it was discriminatory to place a restriction upon the Hindu community alone, when the Muslin community could indulge in polygamy. All my sympathies were in favour of this argument.

I had always thought that the Government had shown lack of courage in not passing a Monogamy Act which applied to all communities. With great reluctance I had to come to the conclusion that I could not strike down the law, as it was well settled that a social reform measure need not apply to all sections and that reform could be brought about by stages. Government was, therefore, justified in introducing this social reform as a first step applicable only to the Hindu community.

Describe about the first meeting of m.c chagla with the palkhivala ?

Palkhivala, to start with, appeared as Kanga’s junior until he took over himself. But if he did not surpass en I joined was his equal. It was the very first day he certainly the Bench in 1941, and was sitting in my chamber during the lunch interval, when my Secretary told me that an advocate by the name of Palkhivala wanted to see me.

I did rot know him then nor had I heard of him, but it was my invariable practice to make myself accessible to any lawyer who wanted to come and see me. I asked my Secretary to bring this young man in, and when I looked up I saw standing before me a shy, and diffident, young man. I was then a member of the Syndicate and all he wanted was a note from me which would permit him to read in the university library. I told him that I would be very happy to give him one, and I was happier still when I found that young lawyers did not merely read law, but were interested in other subjects like literature and history.

I did not know then that Palkhivala would achieve such a rapid and dazzling success at the Bar. Today, he is undoubtedly the most brilliant advocate we have in India. He has an unrivalled command over the language which he uses with mastery and skill and which he combines with vast knowledge of law and great powers of advocacy.

Apart from being an outstanding authority on income-tax, on which he has written what is truly a monumental book, k, he has also acquired a mastery over the principles of constitutional law. Indeed, he can handle with consummate skill almost any aspect of law. And it must finally be said to his credit that with all this he has remained essentially modest and humble. Success has not gone to his head, something that is rare with human beings. (Roses in december)

Tell something about seervai ?

Another lawyer who is outstanding and deserves to be noticed is Seervai, the present Advocate-General of Maharashtra. I have already referred to the case he argued before me when I was Puisne Judge. Seervai possesses intellectual integrity of a high order. He is most hardworking and conscientious, and never argues a point in which he does not believe, and which he thinks is untenable or inarguable. Judges can always depend on him not to mislead them, or to lead them astray. He is so sincere and so convinced about the validity of the argument he is advancing that sometimes he fails to realise that there can be equal force in the arguments of the opposite side, and that there can never be any positive certainty as to which of the two is right, and which will ultimately prevail.

Explain the 3 invitation received by the m.c chagla when he was in the court ?

When I received my first invitation to Government House for the usual At Home, I found that in order to get there before the Governor arrived, we would have to rise early from court. I, accordingly, wrote to the Governor to say that I meant no disrespect to him but it would be impossible for us to attend before he arrived as protocol required. I asked, therefore, that he should excuse me and my colleagues from attending the At Home. The Governor immediately wrote back that he fully appreciated my point of view, and he would not mind if we reached the Government House after he had arrived. This enabled us to attend the At Home despite the requirements of protocol.

The same problem arose when Warren Chief Justice of the United States, visited India. I received a telephone message from Delhi that I should go to the airport to receive him, but as the plane was due to arrive during court hours, I informed Delhi that it would be impossible for me to receive him, but I would go and call on him at Government House the first thing after the rising of the court. New Delhi was insistent; the officials feared that my not going might imply discourtesy on my part. But I was adamant, and ultimately had my way. I went to see Warren immediately after the court had risen for the day. I to him and told him why I was not at the airport to apologies. He readily agreed receive that what I had done was perfectly right. In fact, that precisely was what he had done in a similar situation in the United States. The President of the United States wanted him to attend some function when the Supreme Court was sitting, and he had declined to do so.

When Lord Mountbatten visited Bombay as the first Governor General of India, I was among those invited to the airport to receive him. The court was then in session and I naturally declined the invitation. After that I was never again invited to receive anyone, however high the V.I.P. might be. The Government apparently gave me up as incorrigible.

Relation of m.c chagla with morarji ?

I have already spoken about my relations with Morarji, and I have also mentioned that we later became the best of friends. I have also paid a compliment to him as a fine administrator. We both agreed that instead of exchanging letters and making notes on files, the best way to solve administrative problems was to meet, thrash them out, and come to an immediate decision.

It became a practice that almost every Sunday, or every other Sunday, Morarji would come and have lunch with me; and after lunch we would sit down with the files which contained the out standing questions to be decided between the High Court and the Government, and in less than half an hour, we had made our decisions, and the outstanding problems no longer remained out standing.

My wife would try to give him as good a vegetarian lunch as possible and both my wife and I became vegetarians for that one afternoon. Morarji would protest to my wife: “Why should you go vegetarian on my account? I am not all that sensitive. I have no objection to you or your husband eating non vegetarian dishes while sitting at the same table”. My wife had a ready answer: “A vegetarian cannot eat non-vegetarian food, but a non-vegetarian can certainly be vegetarian on occasion”. I had a selfish reason for giving Morarji a very good lunch. like most of us, he was more pliant and manageable after a good meal, and it became easier to obtain his assent to my proposals or, if I might put it that way, my demands.

One day Morarii said lie understood that I was very keen on bridge and played a good game. Morarji was also fond of bridge and said he would like us to play a game together. But there was a snag, for he quickly added: “I do not play bridge with stakes. li is a principle with me, and as you know I never depart from any principles”.

I said I knew that, but I too had my one of these was not to play bridge without stakes. Neither of us would principles, and yield to the other, with the result that we never played together and I lost the only chance I had of finding how well he really played. I always held the view-and it was also my practice-that while a man should not compromise on principles, he should be prepared to do so on minor points. But Morarji’s insistence on a principle when there was none, set my back up and made me almost as inflexible as Morarji himself.

Relations of chagla with the chavan ? (Roses in december)

My relations with Chavan were not of long duration. I swore him in as Chief Minister when I was acting as Governor. That was, I think, in 1957, and in 1958 I left the High Court. But when I was swearing him in, I remember he told me “Chagla, as far as matters about the High Court or judicial matters are concerned, I will strictly abide by your advice.” I must say to his credit, he fully kept his word. There never was any difference between him and me, and whatever advice I gave and whatever suggestions I made were accepted without any reservation whatsoever.

The only time when he did not accept my advice was with regard to my successor. I strongly pressed him to appoint Shah, who was then number two. I told him that if he appointed Shah, I would have the consolation that I was leaving the High Court in absolutely safe hands. But there was Chainani, who was an I.C.S. Judge, and was senior to Shah, and Chavan decided that he should succeed me. I reminded Chavan that the High Court of Bombay had never had an I.C.S. Chief Justice before, and there was no compelling reason to make a departure then.

Chavan then explained that passing over Chainani might offend the Sindhi community in Bombay, which constituted a minority. I told him I could only advise him on grounds of merit and not on political considerations. Such considerations would naturally weigh with a politician, but they should not and did not weigh with a Chief Justice.

What was the fatal incident in the life of chagla when he was chief justice of Bombay ? Explain. (Roses in december)

Few Chief Justices have had the dubious privilege of an attempt or, their lives. I was one of the few. On a Saturday morning, when the Court was not sitting, I was working in my office at Chief Justice House. At about 11 o’clock, my chopdar came in and told me that someone from Dhulia wanted to see me. I asked the chopdar whether he had an appointment with me. The chopdar said he did not, but the man had said that the matter was urgent. In my early days as Chief Justice I believed that I should be accessible to anyone who wanted to see me.

But I found that this experiment did not work in practice, as there were too many litigants who wanted to come in and discuss the cases pending in the Court. I, therefore, decided that if any member of the Bar wanted to see me, he could come in at any time without an appointment, but with regard to non-lawyers an appointment had to be taken and the reason for the appointment given to my Secretary.

In consonance with this practice, I did not want to see this man from Dhulia. But the chopdar came back again with the message that the man had come all the way from Dhulia, the matter was very urgent, and I should not deny him an audience. i was about to relent when my daughter who had gone out and had just returned, burst into my room and said, “Daddy, you should not see this man”.

I asked her with some surprise, “Why? He is a poor man, he has taken all the trouble to come here, and it would be very hard-hearted on my part to refuse to see him”. All that she could say in reply was “Daddy, I do not like the man’s appearance and so please do not see him”. Something in her voice made me uneasy. I, therefore, called my chopdar and told him to ask the man to see my Secretary in the High Court, and get an appointment after telling him of the nature of the business.

When the man found that I was not prepared to see him, he made a sudden dash for my office. The chopdar tried to prevent him, but he quickly whipped out a huge knife and stabbed the chopdar. In the meantime, my son and son-in-law also appeared on the scene, when the man tried to stab them also. Fortunately, there were two policemen with rifles outside the gate of Chief Justice House.

They were stationed there because of certain riots that had broken out in the city just before this incident. And although I had told the Government that I did not want any special security, since I did not see any reason any anyone should want to harm me, the Government insisted that for routine security reasons these policemen would continue at their posts till the situation in the city had calmed down. One of these police men came rushing in, and when he found that this man could not be overpowered without mortal risk, he shot him dead.

The Government instituted a searching enquiry into the back ground of this person and about his possible motive, but the enquiry did not yield any result. The surprising thing about the episode is that I had never seen this man, I had never known him, there was no litigation which he had in the court, and there was no earthly reason why he should have wanted to do away with me. The news of the attempted assassination spread all over the city.

Mr. Shantilal Shah, who was a member of the Bo Government, and living close to me, rushed to my house, and only left when I assured him that the situation, as we say, had been restored to normality. That evening I went to the Club as usual to play bridge, and everybody was surprised to see that I was there. I told them that I was safe and sound, and had not n had a shock, and I saw no reason why I should go into retire even ment because someone had threatened to take my life.

Describe MC Chagla’s tenure as chief justice ? (Roses in december)

Mc chagla took post of chief justice on 15 august 1947 from Sir Leonard stone. In starting of his new career as chief justice, he was very anxious about the new responsibilities as a chief justice. But he tried to manage them with all perseverance and dedication .He did not absented himself single day from the court which was more satisfying than extra month salary to him .

Secondly, he came to know about various difficulties of bench i.e., most of the judges were not having judicial experience or disconnected themselves from judiciary for a long time which was wrong according to chagla as he believed that judges should be appointed from practising advocates or from district judges who are actually doing judicial work. Moreover, as a chief justice he delivered several judgements against govt as he believed in citizen’s welfare.

In fact he abhorred the preventive detention act and released many detainees in case of any loophole in working of govt. He also tried to smoothen relations between appellant side and original side by stating that every advocate had right to practise from either side in court .He also removed distinction between pleader and advocate and changed appellation of subordinate judges to that of civil judge.

Related Post (Roses in december)

Refference (Roses in december)

M.C. Chagla : Roses in december : Mumbai : Bhatriya Vidya Bhavan, 2000.



Discover more from THE LAW JOURNEY

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Leave a Reply