Justice Madhukar Narhar Chandurkar (M.A., LL.B) was born on 14th March 1926. He completed his education from Somalwar Academy, Nagpur. Later went to join Hislop College, Nagpur and then University College of Law in Nagpur. His Lordship was enrolled as an advocate of Nagpur High Court on 13th of December, 1954. Justice M.N. Chandurkar had expertise in handling Civil, Criminal and Tax matters. On October 28, 1967, he was appointed to the position of Additional Judge for the Bombay High Court. He was appointed a permanent judge in 1968. On January 2, 1984, Justice Chandurkar was promoted to the position of Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court.  From 2 April 1984 to 13 March 1988, he was the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, where he was moved.
His Lordship, M.N. Chandurkar was also recommended for appointment to the Supreme Court in 1982 and 1985, a few months before his own retirement by Chief Justice YV Chandrachud. There was a time before the 1970’s when the political philosophy of a judicial candidate was not really a factor in the nomination of judges. A judge may have been appointed to a court for political reasons occasionally, but as we have seen, political patronage rather than ideology was more often the driving force behind these appointments, according to the Law Commission’s famous 14th report from 1958. Things started to change, though, when an eleven-judge Supreme Court panel ruled in “Golak Nath v. State of Punjab” that Parliament lacked the authority to amend the Constitution in order to eliminate or restrict fundamental rights, such as the right to property, by a razor-thin margin of six judges to five. In the Privy Purses case and the Bank Nationalization case, the Supreme Court also handed down “two catalytic setbacks” to the Indira Gandhi administration.
The aftermath of this was that ministers in the Indira Gandhi administration began seeking to pack the court in an effort to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Golak Nath as soon as judicial nominations began to be handled by the law ministry in the government rather than the home ministry. Thereafter, while deciding whether or not to appoint someone as a judge, the government started to look for person’s political ideology, specifically whether they identified with the opposition party? If yes, according to Asoke Sen, who served his second term as law minister between 1984 and 1987, the government during that time would not appoint anyone with anti-congress views but they were also not looking for minions who would agree with the government on everything. The administration was seeking for judicial candidates who would back it generally, according to Chief Justice YV Chandrachud. The government would examine a judge’s decisions and background, paying great attention to whether he had ties to or participated in events hosted by opposition organisations, like the RSS, in the past. Then, the government turned down candidates they felt did not share their view.
When CJI YV Chandrachud recommended Mr. MN Chandurkar’s name for SC appointment in 1982 and 1985, Justice Bhagwati was not in favour of this appointment. Justice Bhagwati “torpedoed” it by complaining about Chandurkar to the prime minister. Even though Bhagwati had assured Chandrachud that he would support Chandurkar’s appointment, this nonetheless occurred. The government informed Chandrachud that Chandurkar had attended MS Golwalkar, a prominent member of the RSS, burial and had given a eulogy at the service. Chandurkar’s father developed a friendship with Golwalkar. Chandrachud believed it was absurd that Chandurkar should have been called an RSS man for no other reason than that he attended a funeral. Chandrachud was informed by Prime Minister Gandhi that “my party people think he’s not good” and that “Chandurkar is not likely to be beneficial to us” for the first time ever (i.e. to her Congress government). Thus, Justice Madhukar Narhar Chandurkar could never be appointed to SC and was only chief justice of the Bombay High Court in early 1984 and thereafter the Madras High Court between 1984 and 1988. His lordship passed away on 28th February in 2004.
Some Judgements by Justice Madhukar Narhar Chandurkar-
In “A.M. Paulraj v. Speaker, Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly”, the petitioner was penalised for disobeying the previous assembly. The current assembly opted to arrest him and hold him for two weeks, as opposed to the previous assembly’s punishment of just one week of simple jail. According to the petitioner, his basic right under Article 21 had been infringed upon. The court ruled that since a new House of Commons in the United Kingdom has the authority to penalise a person for contempt of the previous House of Commons, the same would hold true in India. The Court, however, decided not to comment on the petitioner’s arbitrary extension of his or her sentence.
“Narhar Damodar Wani vs Narmadabai T. Nave”, On September 1, 1973, the landlord filed a lawsuit, claiming possession in accordance with Section 12(3)(a) of the Bombay Rent Act. Although the plaintiff had refused to accept the full amount of rent, the trial court found that the defendant-tenant had continued to pay the rent irregularly. On the first date of hearing, he requested permission to pay the rent due as of October 31, 1974, but that sum of Rs. 305/- was deposited only on June 8, 1976. It was discovered that the tenant continued to miss rent payments after that, and as a result, the learned trial judge determined that the tenant did not qualify for protection under Section 12(3)(b) of the Bombay Rent Act. In an appeal, the lower appellate court ruled that the tenant was ineligible for protection under Section 12(3(b) of the Bombay Rent Act since he had never been consistent in making rent payments after the complaint was filed. As a result, the possession decree was upheld. The petition later came to High Court. According to the facts, it was determined that based on the finding recorded, the landlord’s refusal to accept the full amount of rent demanded by the notice under Section 12(2) of the Bombay Rent Act must be treated for the purposes of Subsections (1) and (2) of Section 12 as being equivalent to payment. Based on this finding, the landlord was unable to file a lawsuit for the recovery of possession for failure to pay those arrears and no decree for possession could have been issued. Consequently, the decision to grant possession made by the trial court and upheld by the appellate court as well as the decision to assess costs against the current petitioner are both reversed. Given the ambiguous legal situation, we believe that each party should be responsible for paying its own fees throughout.
“V. Ganesa Nadar vs K. Chellathai Ammal”, the facts of the current case demonstrate that the judgment-debtor was able to make instalment payments for the debt. Indeed, the learned District Munsif decided that since the judgement debtor forfeited his right to submit a counter, it must be assumed that he has the financial resources to pay the decretal amount even though he is only paying it in instalments rather than in full. It is correct that Exhibits A. 4 and A. 5 were discovered to show that the judgment-debtor owned two homes. However, an order for a judgement debtor’s incarceration in a civil prison cannot be imposed for his inability to pay simply because he owns immovable property. The decree holder is free to submit a petition for the immovable property’s attachment and sale. In this case, the decree-holder has not resorted to those clauses. It is clear that he is using Order 21, Rule 38, C.P.C. regulations purely as a barricade to compel payment without resorting to the immovable property attachment and sale proceedings. It is abundantly evident that the petition is totally fraudulent. In the judgement held, the decree holder’s request to commit the judgement debtor to civil prison was denied, and the learned District Munsif’s order was reversed. The expense of this amendment, which was 250 rupees, was the responsibility of the decree holder.
- Official website of Bombay High Court, https://bombayhighcourt.nic.in/jshowpuisne.php?bhcpar=amdldGlkPTE2NyZwYWdlbm89OQ==
- The right man for the job, Abhinav Chandrachud, THE INDIAN EXPRESS (May 19, 2018 12:15:12am), https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/books/the-right-man-for-the-job/
- Narhar Damodar Wani vs Narmadabai T. Nave (1984) 86 BOMLR 310
- A.M. Paulraj v. Speaker, Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly AIR 1986 Mad 248
- V. Ganesa Nadar vs K. Chellathai Ammal AIR 1989 Mad 8, (1987) IIMLJ 25
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