Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya

Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya

Malaviya – An Epitome of Ethical Values


G.K. Varma

Ex-Law Secretary, Govt. of Jharkhand, Ranchi.

Remembered on this earth are not those who were known for the unfathomable wealth they amassed but are those who chose to retrieve the mankind from the plight and darkness of ignorance and illiteracy with their spirit of nobility, devotion, humility and self-denial than to run after accumulation of only material wealth that they could have easily done.

Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya would always be recalled as a person who aptly fitted in the slot of such an ideologue who cared always for the betterment and enlightenment of the humanity, though he had every potential to emerge as a man of consequence in the legal profession.

Mahamana is known as a man of educational revolution in India and also as a great freedom fighter who was an inspirational force even for Mahatma Gandhi, but perhaps it is little known that Mahamana had chosen legal profession as his occupation not as a pursuit for earning wealth but had done so at the fervent request of Raja Rampal Singh, the King of Kalakankar who had engaged Mahamana  as an editor of a prestigious newspaper but had failed to abide by his promise never to try to meet or summon Mahamana in an inebriated state. Mahamana had earlier accepted the requests of the King to be the editor-in-chief of the newspaper with the mandatory stipulation of maintenance of the dignity of his office, as stated above, and by the sheer qualitative steering and leadership of Mahamana the newspaper rose to unparalleled heights in circulation and popularity, and there was no dearth of wealth for him if he continued to remain so; but adherence to the ethical values and principles led Mahamana to take the only decision to quit the job, even while the King apologized earnestly to him. It was only after great persuasion by the King that Mahamana agreed to acquire legal education and then join legal profession where he could have represented the cause of the common people as was he doing as the editor of the newspaper.

This itself shows that the choice of Mahamana to enter the arena of legal profession was not a pursuit of earning huge wealth but was to enable himself serve the common masses to rise above their plights and miseries and to raise their voice for justice. Ethics was certainly the very foundation of the Mahamana’s decision to join the legal profession.

It has been disclosed by none other than the own grandson of Mahamana. Hon’ble Mr. Justice Giridhar Malaviya , a former judge of Allahabad High Court, who has reminisced that Mahamana was so steadfast about his principles of not taking up or pursuing a false case that he used to return a brief even in the continuity of a court proceeding if he came to know that his client had actually duped him in accepting a false brief with false instruction. Hon’ble Justice Malaviya recalled one such matter of criminal appeal which Mahamana abandoned in the middle after the false instructions of his client got revealed to him and he did not heed to the imploring of his client who offered to pay any amount he wished. But Mahamana was not insensitive to the precarious situation in which his client had landed, and Mahamana himself went to Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, another eminent lawyer, and made him agree to take up the brief of that client by paying to him the entire fees that had been paid to him earlier.

Mahamana’s was a life replete with varied and high attainments, and it epitomized the values of patriotism, virtues, saintliness and religious adherence quintessential to the Indian ethical value system. Mahamana was renowned for his matchless eloquence and set an example for others by honesty, impartiality and unshakeable resolve to uphold the truth.

Mahamana left the Bar in 1913 while seeking to pursue his desire to set up a world class university at Benaras and to make priceless contribution in the country’s freedom struggle, but he chose to return to the profession after ten years only to successfully plead the cause of the 156 accused in the Chauri Chaura case. His eloquent oratory and skilful presentation of the case was so impressive that it moved Justice Grimwood Myers as much that he rose from his chair on three separate occasions to bow before Mahamana and express that it was an achievement of his life to have the opportunity to hear an argument of such a high standard and legal acumen.

So mesmerizing was the personality of Mahamana as an eminent lawyer that Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, who was himself a lawyer of great eminence, minced no words in admiring his qualitative stature, saying:

“Within a few years of it he built up a solid and substantial practice on the civil side which placed him immediately after the leaders of those days, namely, Pandit (afterwards Sir) Sunder Lal, Pndit Moti Lal Nehru and Mr. Chaudhry. In the profession he was known to be a lawyer of very keen intellect, extremely fair in the presentation of his cases, courteous to his opponents but above everything else his was the shining example which was quoted to us, the juniors of those days, of a lawyer who combined the scrupulousness to the last degree with ability of high order. I know it for a fact that successive Chief Justices and none more than Sir John Stanley and Sir Henry Richards held him in high regard not only for his ability but for his spotless character.

He lived the typical life of a pious and orthodox Hindu and yet his orthodoxy never stood in his way when the country demanded that he should cross the seas and go on its behalf to the Second Round Table Conference, I was present all along with him in England and I can say from personal knowledge that there was no Indian who commanded the respect of English politicians in England in a greater measure than Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. He was known as the ‘silver tongued orator.’

The one thing for which he was noted was not his intellectual gifts great as they were and his political fervor which knew no bounds but character pure, high and solid, and sense of devotion and sacrifice in the service of his motherland.”

Professional ethics may be defined as a code of conduct written or unwritten for regulating the behavior of a practising lawyer towards himself, his client, his adversary in law and towards the court. Thus, ethics of legal profession means the body of rules and practice which determine the professional conduct of the members of the bar. When a person becomes an advocate his relation with men in general is governed by the general rules of law but his conduct as advocate is governed by the special rules of professional ethics of the Bar. The main object of the ethics of the legal profession is to maintain the dignity of the legal profession and the friendly relation between the Bench and the Bar.

The above edifice of ethics was deeply imbued in the total personality of Mahamana, not only in his professional pursuit as a lawyer but also in all his activities. He displayed very strict adherence to the ethical values which catapulted him to great heights as a revolutionary educationist and an ardent political leader. Well known are the ways in which Mahamana made the dream of ‘Benaras Hindu University’ a reality brought to ground by amassing land and donations from the people of varied beliefs and ideologies, the most interesting of which is the manner in which he compelled the Nizam of Hyderabad to build a colony for university teachers by threatening to auction-sale of the pair of shoes very derogatorily donated by the Nizam when Mahamana met him and sought donations for Hindu university; and this despite Mahamana very clearly explaining to him that the word Hindu had been used to denote all the citizens of India, as he had been so addressed by the Persians for being the natives of the areas around the Sindhu river. This only shows the calmness and greatness of Mahamana’s wisdom to convert any odd/adverse situation to the society’s benefit.

Such was the greatness of thought and practice in the core of Mahamana’s personality that his ideals and philosophy still constitute the fundamentals of ethical value system in all human activities including the legal profession. The same precepts have for long been recognized and upheld by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in its several decisions.

An advocate is expected to act with utmost sincerity and respect. In all professional functions, an advocate should be diligent and his conduct should also be diligent and should conform to the requirements of the law by which an advocate plays a vital role in the preservation of society and justice system. And advocate is under an obligation to uphold the rule of law and ensure that the public justice system is enabled to function at its full potential. Any violation of the principles of the professional ethics by an advocate is unfortunate and unacceptable. Ignoring even a minor violation/misconduct militates against the fundamental foundation of the public justice system. An advocate should be dignified in his dealings in the Court, with his fellow lawyers and to the litigants. He should have integrity in abundance and should never do anything that erodes his credibility. An advocate has a duty to enlighten and encourage the juniors in the profession, has an element of service also and associates with legal service activities. Most importantly, he should faithfully abide by the standards of professional conduct and etiquette prescribed by the Bar Council of India in Chapter II, Part VI of the Bar Council of India Rules.

As rule, an Advocate being a member of the legal profession has social duty to show the people a beacon of light by his conduct and actions rather than being adamant on an unwarranted and uncalled for issue.

We hope and trust that the entire legal fraternity would set an example for other professionals by adhering to all the above-mentioned principles.”

It would be most apt to conclude here itself and to give opportunity- both to those adorning the noblest profession of law and those planning to join soon to mull over the ideals and philosophy propounded by Mahamana and long established by the highest Court of the Land.

Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya