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Case Laws covering Arbitration,Articles & Reviews,Banking Law,Community,Company Law Online,Consumer Protection,Crimes,Employment Law,Human Rights,Incometax,India Laws,Indirect Tax,News,Intellectual Property,SC Judgments,Sales tax About Madras Law Journal : Started in 1891 from Saturday Club, Mylapore still is a source of inspiration and instruction to the students of law and its notes and editorial reviews evokes admiration and respect. MLJLibrary for corporate and all professionals like lawyers, chartered accountants or practicing company secretaries or Law colleges, Law Universities, Student, Professors, Teachers etc.


The discerning readers may have noticed that MLJ comes to their hands in a greater bulk with wider reportage every week. Just as we have been working on a format to make MLJ- reading a wholesome experience, we were reminded by an article in a city newspaper as to how the worthiest of the men of our clan, who founded MLJ literally wrested the right to publish the High Court judgments in 1892 from the unwilling English Judges. That the salvo was fired from members of Saturday Club, a society of sorts comprising of eminent vakils of Mylapore makes us feel all the more proud that we share the same profession as those great men and walk along the same corridors of court buildings that they strode by.

Here, then, is the interesting chronicle of how the first issue of the Madras Law Journal went for print and how they established the journal and their right to publish. This reprint is made possible by the benign consent of NEWS TODAY from its publisher and author.,

Read on, you will realize, as we did, that we are the torchbearers of a great tradition of just not law reporting, but a whole spectrum of activities that included bringing out books and making critiques of judgments to make for sound interpretation of laws. "

A BEACON ON THE SEA OF JURISPRUDENCE

By: V. Sundaram*


That a lighthouse beamed from one of the minarets of the Madras High Court guiding ships on the Bay of Bengal is perhaps known to many. But how many are aware that from below that beacon worked a few legal luminaries who started a legal journal that has been beacon and guide to those sailing in the sea of jurisprudence for the past 114 years?

But then, the Madras Law Journal, the first such publication in India, that put Madras on the world map of judiciary through its ruthless objectivity and fearless reporting, had to sail through choppy waters in the court, particularly when the Madras High Court turned down the request for covering the proceedings of the High Court in 1892.

Putting up a stiff resistance, the editors of the journal, in the second issue observed: 'This surprised us not a little as' we could not but remember how much England was indebted to private enterprise for the publication of those, valuable series of reports to which the healthy development of the law of England is so much due. We could not on any hypothesis, account for the strange conduct of the judges.

A judge who has set much diffidence as to be afraid to permit his judgments to receive the light of public discussion cannot expect to command confidence as a dispenser of justice. A wrong decision which is carefully criticized loses much of its power for mischief. It would give us no pleasure to be 'persistently vilifying any body of persons, and especially a body for whom we have nothing but respect, though we occasionally disapprove of their acts and decisions'. Soon thereafter the journal was permitted to cover the proceedings by the High Court, which was a moment of not just a legal victory but also a moral victory for the editors.

The idea of journal, which has faced so many odds during the past 114 years, however, was born in Mylapore, which is more famous for the Kapaleeswar temple. An informal eponymous club called The Saturday Club, that met at 11 a. m. every week, was started at the house of the Vakil Bar's senior member Sir S. Subramania Iyer in Mylapore in 1888 with all leading members of the Madras Bar taking part.

At one of these meetings it was decided to start 'The Madras Law Journal', which was inspired by the then newly established periodicals like 'Law Quarterly Review', started by Sir Frederick Pollock in England in 1885 and 'The Harvard Law Review' established by Harvard Law School Association in 1887.

Of course, the Madras Law Journal had a predecessor, which, too, was born in Madras 25 years earlier. The Madras Jurist was published under that name till 1876 and in 1877 its title was changed to 'The Indian Jurist', which became defunct in 1882.

But then, the founders of Madras Law Journal ensured that their project did not meet the same fate of the Jurist. Its first editor Rao Bahadur Salem Ramaswamy Mudaliar died within a few months making Sir C. Sankaran Nair to take up the mantle till 1892. Three leading lawyers were joint editors of the journal. V. Krishnaswamy Iyer from 1891 to 1909 till he was appointed as High Court Judge in 1909, P.R. Sundara Iyer from 1891 to 1911 till he was appointed as High Court Judge and P.S. Sivaswami Iyer from 1893 to 1907 when he was appointed as Advocate General. Thus, it is fascinating to note that all those joint editors reached the top-most position in the legal profession in Madras Presidency.

The objectives of the journal were laid out in the preface of the first issue: 'In addition to giving our own reports of the decisions of the High Courts in Madras and other places, we hope to place before our readers translations of various Hindu Law Books which remain yet untranslated, insofar as they have bearing on questions which practically arise for decision every day in our Courts of Justice. We propose further from time to time, to place side by side the conflicting decisions of the various Courts in India on the same point in the hope that such procedure will enable the Courts to act in greater harmony than they do at present in the interpretation of Acts and enunciation of general principles of law and when this is not possible, to enable the Legislature to bring about such harmony by removing the ambiguities which may have given rise to such discordant views'.

Right from the beginning, The Madras Law Journal was a source of inspiration and instruction to the students of law and its notes and editorial reviews always evoked admiration and respect. It achieved well-deserved fame throughout India, in England and America and indeed throughout the British Empire for its quickness and accuracy in reporting and discrimination in the selection of cases to be reported. It came to occupy a premier place among non-official legal periodicals and its weight and authority were consistently considerable with the Bench and the Bar in all parts of India.

Indeed, the Madras High Court and Madras Bar produced outstanding men of integrity, knowledge, wisdom and eloquence 1887 to 1947. Alas! It is a tragedy that nobody now looks up to either the Madras High Court or the Madras Bar for any new vista of enlightenment or nuances of law in the boundless sea of jurisprudence. We have destroyed all old institutions in the field of law with democratic gusto and enthusiasm as indeed we have done in every other field.



* The writer is a retired IAS and a famous columnist


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