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Messenger of Legal Knowledge- Memoirs-Events-Views and Expressions

Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah (Former Chief Justice of India and former Chairman, National Human Rights Commission) – My memory takes me back to the year 1994 when I wanted to seek an appointment to meet the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India Shri M.N. Venkatachaliah to present him a copy of our publication “The Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir” authored by Justice (Dr.) A.S. Anand (who was later elevated to become the Chief Justice of India and Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission). I contacted the learned author if he could accompany me to present the book to the Chief Justice, but he responded “Mr. Arora, you do your job as a Publisher and I will do as an Author at the appropriate time”, and further advised me to follow the protocol to seek an appointment through the Registrar-General of the Supreme Court. I then contacted the Registrar-General Mr. M.S.A. Siddiqui (who later rose to become a Judge of the High Court and Chairman, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions). He told me that the Chief Justice had a busy schedule since he was going on a foreign tour and therefore my request would be considered only on his return. I explained the urgency and requested to do the favour. He asked me to wait till lunch break when he accompanied me to the Chamber of the Hon’ble Chief Justice. That was the day when I met Justice Venkatachaliah face-toface. I introduced myself and thanked him for giving me an opportunity to present him a Book and expressed my gratitude as he was kind enough to write the Foreword which enhanced the value and utility of our publication. I was asked to tell about my journey in the Book Industry which I proudly explained right from the day as a Salesman in a Law Bookshop at Allahabad, touring extensively in various States of India, establishing close contacts with Members of the Bench and the Bar, and finally opening my own Bookshop in Delhi in 1956 with almost no capital or asset and now entering into Publishing. I also mentioned about the painful period of my life when I was arrested during the days of Emergency in 1975 because of my active participation in the Movement headed by Lok NayakJaiprakash Narayan. I said, “Sir, then I was the only bread earner in the family. My eldest son Pradeep, yet a minor, was a student in higher secondary school, but assumed charge of the situation and managed the Bookshop.” “Sir, now my worthy sons – Pradeep, Sanjeev and Manish have taken the responsibility in full measure and hope they will keep the flag high and move forward in the service of legal fraternity.” Justice Venkatachaliah, inspite of his busy schedule, attentively listened to me and wanted to know more about Universal’s future publishing programme. I responded, “Sir, Universal is now venturing to undertake reprinting of foreign books with an objective of making them available at affordable low prices. Some of the titles, we have already published.” I then diverted his attention to the side rack of books in his Chamber where I spotted three titles published by Universal i.e., Brooms’ Legal Maxims, Glanvile William’s Learning the Law and Shapiro’s No Pitty. He appreciated my vision, encouraged me to continue and suggested some foreign titles to acquire reprinting licence/rights to publish in India. Justice Venkatachaliah retired in October 1994. I recall the day when I happened to meet him at his official residence to congratulate him for being appointed as Chairman, National Human Rights Commission. He smiled and asked me to sit on his side, enquired about my health and business particularly about the foreign titles reprinted and forthcoming. When I left, he was courteous to come out bare footed to see me off. After retirement he settled at Bengaluru but was a frequent participant in various conferences, seminars, lectures and law functions where I often met him. I remember the day when he was in Delhi staying at Karnataka Bhawan and I accompanied my son Manish to meet him, and as usual he enquired about the progress of Universal’s Publishing. On 7th September, 2013, I was honoured with the “Capital Foundation Award” presented to me by Hon’ble Vice-President of India in the gracious presence of Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah. Recently on 1st December, 2014, Justice Venkatachaliah released a Book at India International Centre. Unfortunately I missed the opportunity to attend that function, but Justice Venkatachaliah did not forget to enquire from my son about my health and activities. How humble he is, as humility and courtesy are inseparable part of his life. I am proud of carrying his good wishes which stand as a source of inspiration to me.

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