The Kesavananda Bench III: Pingle Jaganmohan Reddy

P. Jaganmohan Reddy was born into an aristocratic, wealthy, and prominent family in the former princely state of Hyderabad on 23 January, 1910. Although an uncle of Jaganmohan Reddy’s was a Lincoln’s Inn barrister, he never practiced law, so Jaganmohan Reddy was the first member of his family to practice law as a profession.

He was fifty-nine when he took the oath of office as an SC Judge on 1 August, 1969. Shortly after his arrival, CJI Hidayatullah asked him to accept the assignment as Chairman of the Gujarat (Ahmedabad) Communal Disturbances Inquiry Commission. That assignment meant that he was away from the SC from January through October 1970, with the result that he did not participate in the Privy Purses case. He was on the Bank Nationalization and Kesavananda Benches and was in the majority in both. On 23 January, 1975 he reached retirement age.

He was the author of a large number of books. His writings were often provocative and some provide a view from inside the SC, revealing information not found elsewhere in print. This is particularly true of ‘We Have a Republic – Can We Keep It?’, in which he wrote of the patrons of the Judges appointed during the 1971-3 years when the process of selecting SC Judges changed dramatically.

Jaganmohan Reddy died on 9 March, 1999 at age eighty-nine.

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Justice Jaganmohan Reddy records that once when Justice Hegde asked a question, Justice Ray immediately suggested a reply. Justice Hegde then said to Seervai that the difficulty was that his questions were being answered by his brothers while he wanted a reply from Seervai, and that he should address his arguments not only to those who agreed with him but also to those who did not. On this Justice Ray stated to Hegde, that it was most improper of him to say what he had said.

In so far as the hearing of the case was concerned from the day the case began on 31st October, 1972 and even before it had progressed a week it became clear that there was a sharp cleavage between these two points of view… I got an impression throughout that minds were closed and views were predetermined.

– The Judiciary I Served (Orient Longman) at pg. 229.

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