A world without Gandhian and humanist Justice Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari

The former Bombay High Court Chief Justice pronounced landmark judgments favouring women’s rights as well as the welfare of the marginalized, such as tribals, prison inmates and mentally challenged people since 1972. He passed away on Jan 3 at the age of 92.

Nagpur: Justice Dr. Chandrashekhar S. Dharmadhikari, Chairman of the Gandhi Research Foundation, passed away at 1.30 am on January 3 at the age of 92. As an Indian Independence movement activist and a Gandhian thinker, Dr. Dharmadhikari represented the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi for more than seven decades.
When Dada Dharmadhikari and Damayanthi Dharmadhikari were jailed during the Quit India campaign, their 14-year-old son, Chandrashekhar S. Dharmadhikari, engaging in the underground activity, helped sustain the movement for Swaraj. Since 1972, as a Judge of the Bombay High Court, and later as acting Chief Justice, he pronounced landmark judgments favouring women’s rights as well as the welfare of the marginalized, such as tribals, prison inmates and mentally challenged people. After retirement, he served as Chairman of the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal.
Throughout his long life, he acted as a torchbearer of Gandhian nationalism with a profound commitment for inter-communal harmony and inclusive development. Furthermore, gender justice and economic equitability were at the forefront of his writings and speeches. Believing in the innovative strength of the young generation, as a modern Gandhian, he enthusiastically engaged them through dialogic conversations and writings which were published in the form of 24 books and innumerable articles in different languages.
Until his very last breath, as a ‘mover and shaker’, he was associated with 29 organizations as President, Vice-President, Chairman and Trustee. Thereby he endeavoured to guide the nation on the path of nonviolence and Truth, a spirit he had imbibed from Mahatma Gandhi. Recognizing his services, the Government of India honoured him with the award of Padma Bhushan in 2003.
When Dr. Bhavarlal H. Jain envisaged intensifying his social commitment along Gandhian lines, it was Dr. Dharmadhikari who encouraged him to establish a Gandhi Centre that eventually metamorphosed into the Gandhi Research Foundation (GRF). Under his able stewardship as its longstanding Chairman, the GRF has emerged as a prominent organization promoting Gandhian ideals, effectively contextualizing Gandhi’s message and presenting it in an appropriate manner (for instance, through the ‘Khoj Gandhiji Ki’ Museum and at suitable venues such as workshops, international conferences, etc.), thus transforming the GRF into a dynamic institution of contemporary relevance. It was Justice Dharmadhikari at whose behest, Bhau guided the GRF to develop educational programs such as the Gandhi Vichar Sanskar Pariksha as well as rural regeneration initiatives. The latter is exemplified by an ongoing nationwide project, named Ba-Bapu150, at the behest of Justice Dharmadhikari, underscoring the importance of ‘Ba’ (Kasturba), as the Mahatma’s right hand, and thereby foregrounding the crucial impact of gender-parity in achieving Gram Swaraj.
The Jain family has said, “Justice Dharmadhikari’s departure deprived the nation of a conscience keeper, the legal fraternity of a noble counsel, the Gandhian community of a beloved leader, and we the Gandhi Teerth and the Jain family of a fatherly mentor. He was a man upholding the certitude of principles, clarity of thought, purity of emotions and spirituality of living. We are all going to miss him.”
While condoling with the nation the sad demise of Justice Dharmadhikari, the Jain family and the GRF pay tribute to the departed soul and make the solemn pledge to promote his ideas and endeavours which are highly relevant for contemporary times in the hope of a better future.”
His last rites were performed at Ambazari crematorium on Thursday with many Gandhians in attendance from across the state.

He was instrumental in installing the Mahatma’s statues in Singapore and Japan and has written many books, including Reflections on Indian Constitution, Shodh Gandhincha, Manjil Durach Rahili and Kalachi Paule.
He was born on November 20, 1927, at Raipur (then in Madhya Pradesh). After graduating in law from Nagpur, he enrolled as an advocate of the Nagpur bench of the high court in 1956. During his legal practice, he served as government pleader before being appointed a judge of the Bombay High Court in 1972. He retired on November 20, 1989.
Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao expressed grief over his demise and said the state has lost a staunch Gandhian and humanist. “Coming from the family of freedom fighters, Justice Dharmadhikari had imbibed Gandhian values right from his childhood. He distinguished himself as one of the finest judges of the Bombay High Court who was associated with some of the most important judgements,” he said.
Rao said Justice Dharmadhikari was an outstanding orator, writer and championed the cause of rural development, the dignity of labour and promotion of khadi. “He had spoken on the theme ‘Gandhian Values’ at the Raj Bhawan in Mumbai barely three months ago on Gandhi Jayanti (October 2). I pay my respects to the abiding memory of late Justice Dharmadhikari and convey my deepest condolences to his family,” the governor said.



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