Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair


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    Recently, it has been decided to produce the biopic of Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair.

    About Sir Chettur Sankaran Nair

    (Image Courtesy: NPG)

    • Birth: On 11th July 1857 in Mankara village of Malabar’s Palakkad.
    • He was an acclaimed lawyer and judge in the Madras High Court and one of the early builders of the Indian National Congress (INC).
    • Early Life
      • He belonged to an aristocratic family and his great grandfather was employed by the East India Company (EIC) to enforce peace in the Malabar region.
      • He was drawn towards the subject Law while he was completing his graduation from Presidency College in Madras.
      • After completing his degree in Law, he was hired by Sir Horatio Shepherd who later became the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court.
      • Since his early days as a lawyer, he was known for his defiant attitude.
    • Work Chronology
      • 1897: At the 13th Session of INC at Amaravati, he became the youngest president of the INC in the history of the party till then and the only Malayali to hold the post ever.
      • 1902: Lord Curzon appointed him a member of the Raleigh University Commission.
      • 1904: He was appointed as Companion of the Indian Empire by the King-Emperor.
      • 1908: He was appointed as a permanent judge in the Madras High Court.
      • 1912: He was “Knighted”.
      • 1915: He became part of the Viceroy’s Council, put in charge of the education portfolio.
    • Major Contributions
      • He resigned from the Viceroy’s Council in protest of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre which came as a shock for the British.
        • The massacre took place on 13th April 1919, when troops of the British Indian Army, under the command of Brig. Gen. Reginald Edward Harry Dyer fired machine guns into a crowd of unarmed protesters and pilgrims who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab’s Amritsar on the occasion of Baisakhi.
        • The crowd had assembled peacefully to condemn the arrest of Satya Pal and Saifuddin Kitchlew and to peacefully protest against the Rowlatt Act, which authorised the government to imprison or confine, without a trial, any person associated with seditious activities.
      • He famously fought a courtroom battle against Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, Michael O’Dwyer, accusing him of atrocities at the massacre.
        • He lost the case and was held guilty for defaming O’Dwyer because of the biased jury.
      • He opposed the resolution stating that no Indian vakil would work as a junior to an English barrister, on the principle that no lawyer should be denied the right to choose a senior that his client liked.
      • In 1908, when Montague-Chelmsford reforms were being discussed, he criticised the English jury for being partial towards Englishmen.
        • The reforms were outlined in the Montagu-Chelmsford Report, prepared in 1918, and formed the basis of the Government of India Act 1919.
        • These were related to constitutional reforms and the important features of this act were
          • The Imperial Legislative Council was now to consist of two houses: the Central Legislative Assembly and the Council of State.
          • The provinces were to follow the Dual Government System or dyarchy. Bicameralism in India started with the introduction of these reforms.
        • The measures in the 1919 reforms were far more liberal than what was originally proposed by the government in 1916 and the credit for this goes to Nair and his uncompromising stance as part of the Viceroy’s Executive Council.
      • In the Budasna versus Fatima Case of 1914, he passed a radical judgement when he ruled that those who converted to Hinduism cannot be treated as outcasts.
    • Philosophy and Ideologies
      • He upheld inter-caste and inter-religious marriages.
      • As a fervent freedom fighter, he firmly believed in India’s right to self-government and self-determination.
      • He was critical of Gandhi’s methods, especially those of non-violence, civil disobedience and non-cooperation and believed that any of these movements was destined to lead to riots and bloodshed.
      • As a Madras High Court judge, his best-known judgments clearly indicate his commitment to social reforms. 
    • Major Literary Works
      • Gandhi and Anarchy
      • Autobiography
      • Founded and edited the Madras Review and the Madras Law Journal.
    • Death: On 24th April 1934.

    Source: IE