Biography of Justice Rajinder Sachar

Birth and education

Rajinder Sachar, born in Pakistan around 1923 to erstwhile Undivided Punjab chief minister Bhima Sen Sachar, was indeed a person of turbulent circumstances. He began practicing law in Shimla in 1952 after graduating from Government College and later Law College in Pakistan.

He carried his beliefs on his shoulder as a lawyer but also subsequently as a jurist, rarely hesitating to champion the cause of oppression or to make an exhaustive argument for just how India should be made a better country.

Career in judiciary

In 1960, Sachar began practicing law in the Supreme Court, where he gained experience by aiding a lawsuit against Punjab Chief Minister Pratap Singh Kairon’s corruption allegations. This helped him train for broader initiatives and issues that he would eventually support.

In 1970, Sachar was appointed as an additional justice of the Delhi High Court, and then in 1972, he was permanently appointed as a judge. He had been a judge in Sikkim before being transferred to Rajasthan in 1975 for defying the Emergency which was imposed by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi. His acquaintances saw his move sans his permission as ‘retribution’ for his support of civil rights and attitude to the Emergency. In 1977, Justice Sachar was transferred to the Delhi High Court once the Emergency got lifted. Sachar then served as Chief Judge of the Delhi High Court, retiring in 1985.

The Sachar committee

Rajinder Sachar, according to some close friends, stayed a socialist and reformist toward the end of his life. In much more contemporary memory, his task, heading the PM’s high-level working group on the socio-cultural, academic, and financial aspects of Indian Muslims, established by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005, was indeed a pivotal event. 

Through its ground-breaking study debunking illusions about minority appeasing, the panel played a pivotal role in molding the conversation surrounding the United Progressive Coalition’s views. It created a standard for looking at the issue of underdevelopment amongst India’s largest minority population, without depending on identification concepts instead highlighting actual concerns as Indian citizens, in addition to contributing to scholarly facts on the situation of Muslims.

The study proceeded further to demand an Equal Opportunity Commission and chastised both the incumbent Congress and the opposing BJP, as well as various liberal parties. Justice Sachar never shied away from taking a stance for a cause that was important to him or a battle that needed to be waged. His weak appearance may be deceiving, concealing steely nerves and a willingness to stick by anybody he believed needed his help.

The horrific Partitioning, he experienced as a teenage boy, and the psychological devastation it caused, served as little more than a constant reminder of the hopelessness of politics based on identity. His opinion that the Partitioning had a negative impact on minorities (both Hindus and Muslims) stayed his guiding philosophy and reflected why he had such widespread trust and loyalty amongst Indians. On November 17, 2006, he submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a study titled “Study on the Sociological, Economical, and Academic Condition of the Muslim Community in India.” The research documented the rising social and economic instability that Muslims had faced since obtaining freedom six decades before. It was discovered that Muslims, who numbered approximately 138 million in 2001, were under-represented in the public service, enforcement, armed forces, and administration. Muslims were much more likely than that other Indians to be impoverished, uneducated, diseased, and in legal problems. Muslims have been suspected of being terrorists and of working against the Indian state, and leaders who sought to aid them were concerned about getting suspected of “mollifying” Muslims. the Sachar Committee’s proposals intended to encourage the participation and equitable treatment of India’s different cultures. It emphasized broad-based activities instead of those unique to a single community. That was a watershed moment in India’s discussion over the Muslim issue. The pace of adoption will, of course, be determined by political issues, such as the level of Hindutva reaction. The Sachar Committee suggested that an Equal Opportunity Commission be established as an institutional framework. In February 2008, an advisory committee was formed and produced a report, which included a draft law to create such a commission. There had been a backlash. As an example, a participant at a symposium hosted by an organization called “The report is unlawful, according to the Bhartiya Vichar Manch, and “should be discarded altogether.” It is based on ethnic lines and therefore will result in the nation’s division. It’s the outcome of vote-bank elections “. 

Rajinder Sachar’s activism outside court

His activism persisted after he retired, and then he was a contributor to the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) research concerning Kashmir. During PUCL’s busiest years, he served as president, Justice Sachar provided his support to write civil rights legislation bills. He strongly campaigned in 2002 to abolish POTA, the anti-terror statute that was subsequently abolished in 2004. Sachar was a part of the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Prohibition of Discrimination as well as the Protection of Minorities and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Housing. Sachar was among the writers of the “Report on Kashmir Situation,” a study produced on account of the People’s Association for Civil Liberties, etc. on April 22, 1990. Sachar was among the contributors to an address to all Punjabis in January 1992, urging them to guarantee that the upcoming polls were democratic and transparent. They requested that no intimidation, pressure, or unethical methods be used to hinder citizens from voting for the administration of their preference.  Sachar was nominated to a high-level Advisory Committee led by Chief Justice Aziz Mushabber Ahmadi, which had been tasked with reviewing the Preservation of Human Rights Act of 1993 and determining if fundamental adjustments or revisions are required. The group drafted an amended bill that included the committee’s suggestions. Modifications towards the National Human Rights Commission’s composition processes to eliminate inefficiencies in following through on recommendations, and the committee’s jurisdiction were among them. By March 7, 2000, the proposals were presented to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Sachar appealed to the Supreme Court of India in April 2003 as a council member for the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) that the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (POTA) must be repealed because it infringed basic rights.

Death

Sachar was ailing from ischemic heart disease. He was brought to the Fortis Hospital in New Delhi in April 2018 after complaining of persistent nausea. He acquired pneumonia during his medication and succumbed on Friday, April 20th, at 12 a.m. He was 94 years old when he died and he was cremated at Lodhi road.

Rajinder Sachar was a luminary, a member of an era that predates India’s independence and is rare to come by. His Highness was going to be sorely missed.

References

  1. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/rajindar-sachar-former-chief-justice-dekhi-high-court-dead-5145810/
  2. https://hcs.gov.in/hcs/node/2026

Image Source: The wire

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