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When Prof Deb asked district collector to kill him before shooting students

DURING HIS tenure as judge, senior judge and Acting Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, Justice Prem Shanker Gupta delivered judgement of over four thousand cases in Hindi.

india Updated: Oct 21, 2006 21:53 IST

DURING HIS tenure as judge, senior judge and Acting Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, Justice Prem Shanker Gupta delivered judgement of over four thousand cases in Hindi.

Had he wished, he too could have comfortably delivered these judgements in English without any problem.

But, it was only out of love for Hindi that he resolved to do justice with not only litigants but also with the mother tongue. Interestingly, he had to work hard to translate his dream into reality.

His initiative assured a large number of lawyers and judicial officers of the subordinate courts that they could succeed in the profession by adopting Hindi.

Since his step was bold and rare, it was lauded by many people and several institutions felicitated him.

He became one of the torch-bearers and proved that strong will power is a must to achieve any goal.

After serving the Allahabad High Court as judge for 15 years, Justice Gupta did not accept any government offer to head any panel or organisation. The reason behind his reluctance in accepting any post-retirement position was simple, he wanted to serve Hindi and interact with litterateurs and literature lovers.

He is not only a lover of Hindi but also a votary of promotion of all Indian languages and co-ordination among them. Besides, he is deeply associated with his home district - Etawah. Though he is at present residing in Allahabad, he treats the city as his second home and the first slot is permanently reserved for Etawah. He set up Etawah Hindi Sewa Nidhi and organises functions in Etawah every year to felicitate litterateurs.

After doing High School in Etawah, Gupta shifted to Allahabad for getting higher education. He studied at Ewing Christian College and Allahabad University and after doing BA and LLB, he went back to Etawah where he earned fame as a leading lawyer.

He became the District Government Counsel of Etawah when he was only 34. Later, he was appointed the Government Advocate and in this capacity he worked at the Allahabad High Court and its Lucknow Bench.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) engaged him as a special advocate in famous Anand Marg case and Lalit Narain Mishra case.

Recipient of many prestigious awards, including 'Hindi Gaurav Samman' of Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthan, 'Tulsi Samman' and 'Mahamana Madan Mohan Malviya Samman', Justice Gupta remained president of Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sahitya Sammelan from 1993 to 1996 and was honoured with 'Sahitya Vachaspati' by the Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Sammelan in 1993.

The excerpts from the interview:

An incident, which took place in Allahabad city a few years before the nation achieved freedom, is unforgettable. In Civil Lines area, workers of a cinema hall and some university students clashed and one of the students got seriously injured. Inmates of all AU hostels decided to teach a lesson to the workers of the cinema hall.

The next day, hundreds of students went to Civil Lines. They were agitated and some teachers who wanted to stop them from indulging in violence also failed in their efforts. Ultimately some teachers followed the students up to the cinema hall.

When the students reached near the cinema hall, the then collector, a British officer, who was notorious for his cruelty, was already there along with a large number of armed police personnel. He warned the students but to no avail and as the students proceeded further, the cops trained their guns on them.

Without wasting time, a teacher emerged from the crowd and went straight to the collector and said: "You kill me before shooting these students. Since the teacher was renowned and commanded great respect, the collector was left speechless and signalled the cops to stop and thus another massacre was averted. The students too were taken aback and dispersed immediately. This teacher was the then Head of the English Department, Professor SC Deb.

Another incident imprinted on my mind is about a hockey match between Bombay University and Allahabad University. It so happened that during the game some rules were violated by one of the players and this led to a brawl.

The spectators too jumped into the field and sided with the local team.
The Bombay players were vastly outnumbered and it appeared that they were going to get a sound thrashing by their hosts.

However, before any harm could come to them a person suddenly appeared in their midst and scolded the locals for trying to attack their guests. This had a tremendous impact on everyone and crowd thinned out and peace was maintained. This intrepid individual was Prof SK Rudra, the noted economist and the then AU Proctor.

I always cherish such memories which are umpteen in number and are a constant source of inspiration for me.

First Published: Oct 21, 2006 21:53 IST