REMEMBERING JUSTICE TARKUNDE: FIGHTER AND EXPOUNDER OF CIVIL LIBERTIES
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Justice Vithal Mahadeo Tarkunde, the man who devoted his life for civil liberties movement, involved in independence movement, contributed in the struggle of making judiciary independent and what more one of the biggest protester during emergency period, he and J.P. Narayan had become the great challenge to then congress government. Justice Tarkunde has performed all the roles in his life for the betterment of people whether it is being Jurist, Political Activist, Social Activist or Founder of PUCL (People’s Union of Civil Liberties ) in each role he had given his full strength as a result of which on his 108 birthday he has been remembered with as much freshness as he was live on the legal and social field.
Justice Tarkundae was born in Saswad, Maharashtra on 3 July 1909. His father Brahmin by caste had fought against practice of untouchability. He went to London where he qualified as Barrister in law. He returned to India in 1933 and started his career. Let’s have a glorious and inspirational glance of eminent Jurist:
- In the year 1933-34 he was elected to All India Congress Committee which was starting of his contribution for the freedom struggle of country.
- He joined the Congress Socialist Party(CSP) in the late thirties and successively became General Secretary of Radical Democratic Party. This period marks his great contribution in political field.
- N. Roy had founded Radical Democratic Party for independence war and Justice Tarkunde left his legal profession.
- After Independence the party dissolved as their motto was accomplished and Justice Tarkunde returned to his legal practice in 1948.
- Within 10 years he was elevated to Bombay High Court Judge and famous for his justice and equity. He resigned from bench and came to Delhi in 1969 and joined Supreme Court Bar as Senior Advocate.
- Country at that time was witnessing continuous attack on the fundamental rights of people. Moreover independence of judiciary was in danger as Supreme Court judges were working for government and trade union rights were curtailed so for the sake of prevention of fundamental rights and independent judiciary Justice Tarkundae and J.P. Narayan form Citizen for democracy with latter as President and former as General Secretary.
- This organization had weakness of making it a forum of non political party background people only. This weakness they felt in June 1975 when black day of Indian democracy is embarked that is emergency period started. With the start of this period they felt that their forum Citizen for Democracy is lacking behind the people from political fraternity and without them they are unable to resist the government and make them realize their mistake. Therefore viewing the need and effectiveness of situation People’s Union For Civil Liberties and Democratic Right was formed in October 1976.
- PUCLDR was formed with Jay Prakash Narayan as President and Justice Tarkundae as working President. PUCLDR provide a platform to all political activist to resist against the black regime of emergency.
- Justice Tarkunde fight for the release of then famous journalist Kuldeep Nair who was imprison for criticizing government during emergency period.He and his team with their persistent efforts they release Nair but the judges who gave their decision in favor for the journalist were transferred and one of then demoted to the district court judge, situation of judiciary can be clearly understand from this instance which clearly depicts the picture of pressure on justice during emergency period.
- In 1977 Tarkunde was appointed as chairman of Red Cross Society where he look in the fake encounter matter in Andhra Pradesh and investigate the matter with the coordination of DGP. He was also the head of civil liberties where he took the incharge of matter of fake encounter in Punjab which crosses the mark of 80 incident.
- In 1979 he made the strong base of PUCL with many volunteers who fight for many struggle for civilians of deprived class.Most famous case was of Singhbhum district where they helped and worked for landless labourers for their minimum wages from landlords.
- In 1984 operation blue Star and killing of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi shock the whole nation and after that Sikh riots broke out where they were removed from Delhi. Massive killing of Sikh community took place but PUCL came forward boldly helped the effected people of riot.
- In his last leg of life he worked in J&K and for the people of J&K he was a big and only man who can make them move on develop road rather than to be misguide as terrorist.
If Justice Tarkunde would alive in present world then surely we would see him with farmers of Mandsaur, with youths of Kashmir, with people of Gorkhaland, with Najeeb parent, with protest of #Not in my name and many more incident from which our country is going on.
Taking the words of Ramadas Rao secretary of PUCL Karnatka that “ Shri Tarkunde was one of those who kept alive “the hope of a new day dawning” with the “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and unalterable rights of all the members of the human family in the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” It is a fitting tribute to the indomitable spirit of V.M.Tarkunde to keep green his memory and sustain his vision, “to keep alive the hope of a new day dawning.”