Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has been under medical observation for over 20 days now and her health is being monitored by intensivists. Reportedly, she is on respiratory support and there is a panel of experts to oversee her treatment. People, in Tamil Nadu as well as across the country, are holding pujas for her recovery, while she remains inaccessible for now. The hospital releases bulletins on her health regularly, which is the only source of information thus far.
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Among those wishing for her speedy recovery is former Justice Markandey Katju, who took to Facebook to reminisce about his meetings with Jayalalithaa; twice till date. In the post, he wrote that he first met the CM during his oath-taking ceremony as Chief Justice of the Madras High Court in November 2004 when she had a candid chat with his wife about where she could find saris in Chennai. The second time he met her was when he took an appointment to request her to sanction some amount to retired judges of the Madras High Court to engage a domestic servant, which she eventually did. He also wrote about how the CM is very fluent in Hindi, so much so, it would be “indistinguishable from the Hindi spoken by a U.P.ite”.
In another post, he shared a picture of him and Jayalalithaa captioned, “Sherni aur Sher”.
Here’s his full post.
My meetings with Jayalalitha
I have met Jayalalitha only twice, and would like to mention about those meetings
The first was when I came to take oath as the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court in November 2004.
I had been the Acting Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court when my notification as Chief Justice of Madras High Court came.
I went with my wife from Allahabad to Delhi by train, and from there we caught a flight to Chennai.
My plane was to land at Chennai airport at about 2 p.m. on a working day. I had been told that it was a practice of the Madras High Court judges to receive the incoming Chief Justice at the airport even if the plane was coming during working hours. I thought this was not proper, for what would people think of judges doing sycophancy of their Chief Justice by abandoning their Courts during working time ?
I had read in the autobiography of Justice M.C. Chagla, former Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court ( ‘Roses in December’ ) that when the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Earl Warren, came to Bombay by a plane reaching Bombay airport during Court hours, Chief Justice Chagla did not go to the airport to receive him, but instead sent the Registrar of the High Court with a note of apology saying he could not come personally as it was working hours of the Court. After court hours Chief Justice Chagla went and met Chief Justice Earl Warren, and explained again why he did not come personally to the airport. At this Justice Warren said ” You did correctly Chief Justice. That is our practice too in America “.
So from Allahabad I had telephoned Justice N.Dinakar, the then seniormost judge of the Madras High Court and requested him to tell all the Hon’ble Judges of the High Court not to come to the airport to receive me, though they were welcome to come any time after Court hours.
Accordingly, I was only received by lawyers and registry people at the airport, though the judges all came to meet me in the evening.
The next day my oath taking ceremony was held in the Raj Bhavan at about 10 a.m.
My wife and I reached the Raj Bhavan at about 9.40 a.m..and we were taken to a small room adjacent to the big hall where the ceremony was to take place. We found the Chief Minister Jayalalitha sitting there, and. after greetings we started talking. She speaks very good English, unlike her opponents, and even most of her own followers.
I told her all about my request to the Judges of the High Court not to receive me at the airport. She appreciated this, and smiled and said ” I am happy we are having a disciplinarian as a Chief Justice “.
Then she spoke to my wife for a while, and said that there were some very good places for shopping in Chennai.
This entire conversation lasted just a few minutes, after which we proceeded for the oath taking ceremony.
Thereafter I never met Jayalalitha throughout my tenure as Chief Justice of Madras High Court ( November 2004 to October 2005 ).
The second time I met Jayalalitha was when I was Chairman of the Press Council of India ( 2011 to 2014 ). I had gone to Chennai to attend some function, and I took the opportunity to meet Jayalaitha to request her to sanction some amount to retired judges of the Madras High Court to engage a domestic servant ( as the pension was inadequate ). When I was Acting Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court I had made the same request to the then Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, who immediately sanctioned Rs.5000 p.m.
I sought an appointment with the Chief Minister Jayalalitha, which was promptly granted.
I met her in her office in the Secretariat ( if I remember correctly it was on the second floor ). She was in her office when I entered it, and before the side wall were the senior officials, the Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, etc. There was no politician there apart from herself.
She introduced me to the officials, and then requested me to sit down. I told her that I respected her because when I was the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court she never asked me to recommend any name for appointment as a Judge of the High Court, nor did she interfere in judicial functions in any way. She respected the independence of the judiciary, just as I believed that the judiciary should not encroach into the domain of the executive.
Then I mentioned the purpose of my visit., and handed her a memorandum I had prepared requesting an allowance to retired judges of the Madras High Court. We discussed the matter, and she said she would consider it ( a few weeks later I came to know that she had sanctioned the amount ).
Then I said to her that I was told that she knew Hindi. At this she gave a great smile, and started speaking to me in fluent Hindi ( which would be indistinguishable from the Hindi spoken by a U.P.ite ).
I told her that Tamilians should learn Hindi, as they face great difficulty when they come out of Tamilnadu and go to other parts of India. She said that till the 1960s Tamilians were indeed voluntarily learning Hindi, but then some North Indian politicians sought to impose it, which created a huge reaction in Tamilnadu.
I said it was wrong on the part of those north Indian politicians to try to impose Hindi, but what has happened has happened , and we must now look at the future.
Our meeting ended in a very cordial atmosphere.
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