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Parsram M. Mukhi - In Memoriam

Parsram Mangharam Mukhi
29 Nov. 1918 - 6 Sept. 1976

"Parsa Mukhi: More than a brother, much more than a judge"
(an article by his brother Jai Mukhi)

This page is dedicated to my father, the late Parsram M. Mukhi. It is offered in loving memory of one who left this world on 6 September 1976, at the relatively young age of 58.

The fourth child of Mukhi Mangharam and Rukmini of Hyderabad Sind, Parsram Mukhi was the husband of Sarla Mukhi, father of Anil and Sunil Mukhi, father-in-law of Sreedevi Mukhi, and grandfather of Rajiv, Karun and Akshay Mukhi. His siblings were Saraswati (Lo) Chablani, Vidya (Vidi) Sujan, Gopi Gauba, Jai Mukhi and Lajpat (Laju) Mukhi, of whom only Jai Mukhi survives.

Known as Parsa to his friends, he was a fearless and upright man who believed passionately in the principles of natural justice. He was enthusiastic and principled in everything he did, and he enriched the lives of all those who knew him. He spent most of his life in the practice of law, being elevated to Judge of the Bombay High Court in 1972.

I have made a small beginning by starting this webpage today, on his 31st death anniversary. I am in the process of including biographical information, photographs and a family tree, as well as articles by/about him. Short comments by friends/relatives are also welcome. If you would like to contribute something to this site, please email me at the address given below. Below you will find the text of a speech that he delivered in 1972. The thought process and choice of words are characteristic of the person that he was.

If his many friends, relatives and admirers are moved to remember him by viewing this page, I will feel rewarded for my effort.

Sunil Mukhi

Mumbai, 6 September 2007

Speech by Mr Justice Parsram Mukhi

High Court at Bombay, Tuesday, September 12, 1972

On the occasion of the "reference" on his becoming a High Court judge.


I must thank you for the kind words that you have spoken about me which are prompted more by your courtesy and generosity than by my having deserved them.

This reference, is a new experence for me even though I have been a Judge before. That was way back in 1945 when only a few years after commencing my practice in Hyderabad (Sind), I was appointed a Civil Judge and posted in a sub-divisional town nearby. There was no practice of a reference like this but the dozen or so lawyers who practised in that town welcomed me in my chamber and tea was served by the Court canteen.

When I wanted to know the origin and significance of a reference, a knowledgeable member of the bar suggested that I read a speech made by Mr Justice Beg of the Supreme Court when he was Chief Justice Himachal Pradesh.

According to Mr Justice Beg, when Article 215 of the Constitution says that every High Court shall be a Court of record, it means that all the proceedings of the Court are recorded and preserved for future generations. A reference is a non-judicial proceeding of the Court, which sits formally as a Court and the speeches made form part of the Court's official record.

In Allahabad the Reference is held before a Division Bench and the Senior Judge or Chief Justice speaks first on behalf of his brother Judges and himself.

In Delhi the Reference is held before the Full Court.

If then the Reference is a method of recording an event like the appointment of a Judge, does it serve any other purpose? I think it does. It is a form if introduction and lends a human touch to the event. The new Judge is welcomed and on his part he speaks about himself, his life and his hopes. Instead of a name to many who have not known him, he becomes a person.

Coming back to 1945, I had hardly settled down and was beginning to acquire some judicial experience and know-how when the holocaust of partition took place. The events were so swift that everyone was taken aback and a migration of enormous proportions began to take place.

It was against this background that about 25 Judges from the Sind Judicial Service including myself came to India as refugees, or, to use a better word, as Displaced Persons. Some of them settled down in Delhi or wherever a job was available, but like most of the Sindhis, I gravitated to Bombay, which, as you know, has been a second home for my community. As a matter of fact, till only 1938 Sind was a part of the Bombay Presidency.

I must say that both the Government and people of this State extended a real welcome. And it is this welcome that helped the displaced persons like me to feel as much at home as was possible in the unsettled conditions which prevailed at that time.

The cosmopolitan atmosphere of this great city and that of the Bombay Bar soon made me and the other displaced lawyers feel optimistic. The shock had passed but I knew that it was going to be a struggle and that full rehabilitation was indeed a long way ahead. There was nothing to fall back upon except hard work and determination. With God's grace and perhaps a little bit of courage I settled down and recommenced practice in the Bombay Courts.

I must tell you that with my initial experience in a district town and judgeship in a sub-divisional town I found the atmosphere here somewhat overpowering. At that time I was not familiar with notices of motion or chamber summonses. To us in Sind an application was an application. You took a sheet of paper and wrote an application under order such and such and rule such and such. Your clerk produced a stamp which you licked and affixed. Then you handed it to the Judge across the Bar.

For some time I felt hesitant, unsure and even apprehensive. But as I began to make friends at the Bombay Bar I gathered hope and soon got into stride; there was always someone to guide and help if you asked for it, and the early apprehension gave way to hopeful confidence. For this I am indebted to the members of the Bar.

I have had the good fortune to appear before some of the most eminent Judges of this Court. I saw these great Judges at work and marvelled at their capacity, courage and courtesy. I saw eminent counsel arguing difficult cases before them and I felt gratified that I was a member of the Bombay Bar and that I could learn by observing such great people at work.

I think you are all aware that the Bombay High Court is held in great esteem by other High Courts not only in this country but even in Pakistan. I have been to Pakistan many times after the partition. I remember while appearing in the West Pakistan High Court in Lahore, I had occasion to cite a judgement of this Court. It was an Income-tax Division Bench judgement of Chief Justice Chagla and Justice Tendulkar. The two judges of the Lahore Court had disagreed and had referred the matter to a third Judge. After going through the Bombay authority one of the Judges said "Mr Mukhi, we have great respect for the judgement of your great Court. If this decision had been cited before us earlier, we would never have disagreed with each other."

Now I suppose I could refer to some of the problems which face the Courts. That there are problems no one can doubt, but I do not think that this is the occasion for that.

But I would like to say that like all problems these can also be tackled if the members of the Bar move themselves to do so. In other words, if they participate in the effort.

As Mr. Justice Chandrachud said the other day in a slightly different context, the cause of justice can only be helped by your participation. I believe that if the lawyer and the Judge can work together as a team then many of the defects in the system as it exists today can be overcome. The material is there. We have only to work it.

I may touch on one point regarding the system. I believe that the adoption of pre-trial procedures (even without amendment of the Civil Procedure Code) could in some significant measure help in reducing the delay in the trial of suits. I do not wish to elaborate on this but those of you who feel interested could read two articles on the subject which my brother judge Mr Justice S.K. Desai and I wrote three years ago and which have been published in the Bombay Law Reporter.

Well, the time has come to get on with the task. Tradition gives to my task a tinge of onerousness, but with your cooperation, as in the past, I hope to succeed.

There is an Islamic proverb which says that an hour in doing justice is worth a hundred in prayer. I shall be doing a lot of prayer.

Thank you once again.

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