From the archives of the Hindustan Times: January 29
MPs pledge allegiance to new Constitution (1950)
New Delhi- Though without any spectacular ceremonial, the opening of the first Parliament of the sovereign Democratic Republic of India this morning was impressively solemn. Members were in a happy mood and excitedly cheered the Prime Minister and other Ministers as they pledged allegiance to the Constitution the keynote, however, was simplicity.
The House, in spite of the predominance of familiar faces, presented a new appearance. Members were dressed soberly, but with obvious care. There were warm hand-shakings and even affectionate embraces as M.P.s met one another. A new woman member was warmly welcomed by Shrimati Amrit Kaur.
“Freshers” in the House went about paying their respects to the “elders,” including some Ministers and the Congress President. The silvery beard of Babu Ram Narain Singh, a feature acquired by him since the last session, and the lounge suit of the usually dhoti-clad Mr. Ram Narain Goenka were noticed as novelties.
When the Speaker’s arrival was announced there was an excited hush. Ministers hurriedly stepped to their seats. Maulana Azad, who had arrived simultaneously with the Speaker, must have been embarrassed while going to his seat as the House stood. The Prime Minister was not in his seat when Mr. Mavlankar sat down after bowing to all sides of the House.
Before the Speaker could open the proceedings Mr. B. Das shouted Bande Matram and the House repeated the salutation after him. Mr. Balkrishna Sharma used his bass voice to lead the House in shouting Mahatma Gandhi Ki Jai. Though not in the programme these expressions of the members’ joy and gratitude provided a fitting start for the proceedings.
The Speaker next called upon the House to stand in silence for two minutes. It was, he said, fit and proper that the first Parliament of the Republic should begin with two minutes of prayerful silence. The members and along with them the visitors in the galleries stood up and there was complete silence for two minutes.
Judiciary’s vital role in nation’s progress (1950)
New Delhi- After the ushering in, on Thursday, of the sovereign Republic of India, the people’s highest court in the land under the new democratic Constitution - the Supreme Court opened today for its inaugural sitting in its high oak-panelled, semicircular chamber in Parliament House.
The occasion was solemn and dignified, as befits the legal luminaries and among those assembled were Ambassadors and Ministers of various countries, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and other Cabinet Ministers, Chief Justices and Advocates-General of the various States of the Indian Union, and eminent jurists and parliamentarians.
Above the seats of the six Judges of the Supreme Court, near the ceiling where the Royal British insignia was mounted on the wall a huge Tricolour was stretched hiding the emblem from view.
The replica of the Court’s seal, the Asoka Chakra -in gold on a red background, was set on the wall behind the Judges’ seats with the inscription “Satyameva Jayate” in Sanskrit.
The Chief Justice, Mr. Harilal Kania wearing his striking deep-red Peshwa cap, pledged that the Supreme Court “will stand firm and aloof from party politics and political theories.”
“It is unconcerned,” he added “with the changes in the Government. The Court stands to administer the law which is in force, has goodwill and sympathy for all, but is allied to none.”
Beg appointed Chief Justice (1977)
New Delhi- President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed today (January 28) appointed Mr. Justice Mirza Hameedullah Beg of the Supreme Court as Chief Justice of India to succeed Mr. Justice A. N. Ray who retires tomorrow.
Mr. Justice H. R. Khanna, another Judge of the Supreme Court, who has been superseded in the process, sent in his resignation to the President in protest against his supersession.
Mr. Justice Beg will take over as Chief Justice tomorrow. The President is understood to have accepted Justice Khanna’s resignation.
Mr. Justice Ray, who has been a judge of the Supreme Court since 1969 had also superseded three of his colleagues-Mr. Justice J.M. Shelat, Mr. Justice K S. Hegde, and Mr. Justice A. N. Grover - when he was appointed Chief Justice on April 25, 1973. The three superseded judges had also resigned.
Mr. Justice- Khanna was to have retired in July 1977 on completion of 65 years of age whereas Mr. Justice Beg will retire in February 1978
The principle of seniority in the matter of appointing the Chief Justice of India was thus given a go by in 1973. In the appointment of Mr. Justice Beg to this high office, the President has not set a precedent or broken any convention, it is pointed out.
In terms of Article 124 of the Constitution, Mr. Justice Khanna “by writing under his hand addressed to the President” resigned his office. The same article provides that every judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by tte President “by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary for the purpose and shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-five years”
Recently, the Supreme Court Bar Association had suggested that seniority should be respected in appointing the Chief Justice. It felt that in order to maintain the independence of the judiciary, the appointment of the Chief Justice of India should not depend on executive approval and the best way of excluding executive interference was to appoint him on the basis of seniority.