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Mainstream, VOL LIII, No 10, February 28, 2015

A Personal Debt Recalled On Republic Day

Sunday 1 March 2015, by S G Vombatkere


On the 65th anniversary of our Republic Day, I remembered my father and recalled our family’s debt to the Constitution of India and the Supreme Court of India. To elaborate, my father, Vombatkere Gurunandan Row [better known as V.G. Row, Barrister-at-Law (04.04.1907 to 05.04.1980)], was the General Secretary of the “People’s Education Society” registered in November 1947, which had, for its objects, (a) to encourage, promote, diffuse and popularise useful knowledge in all sciences and more especially social science; (b) to encourage, promote, diffuse and popularise political education among people; (c) to encourage, promote and popularise the study and understanding of all social and political problems and bring about social and political reforms; and (d) to promote, encourage and popularise art, literature and drama.

On March 10, 1950, the Government of Madras declared the People’s Education Society as an unlawful association, arguing that it had, for its real objects, interference with the administration of law and the maintenance of law and order, and constituted a danger to public peace.

Starting on September 14, 1950 [V.G. Row vs. State of Madras], my father fought the charge in the courts of law up to the Supreme Court before a five-judge Bench including the CJI, and on March 31, 1952 [State of Madras vs. V.G. Row (1952)], won his case on the basis of the freedom of expression and freedom of association, which the Constitution guaranteed every citizen. Indeed years later, on October 16, 2008, Justice K. Kannan (Judge, Punjab & Haryana High Court, Chandigarh UT) noted thus: “The triad of fundamental freedoms of expression, movement and association found the first affirmation in A.K. Gopalan and V.G. Row, the names that are etched into constitutional history via the Madras High Court.”

If my father had not fought for and won his freedom on the basis of the Constitution of India, he would have been imprisoned, changing everything in a big way for my mother, my brother and me way back in 1952, when I was still a child. That is the debt I and my family owe to the Constitution of India, and to the Supreme Court of India which recognised and enforced its freedoms.

Long live the Republic of India, and may the values it enshrines always remain valid in India’s multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual society!

Sudhir Gurunandan Vombatkere
[Maj Gen S.G. Vombatkere (Retd)]
475, 7th Main Road
Vijayanagar 1st Stage
Tel: LL:0821-2515187
E-mail: sg9kere@live.com 
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