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CHAGARI PADMANABHA REDDY

- I. Mallikarjuna Sharma
stronghold of the Congress Party with the present
Minister Diwakar Reddy as the leader. It is also true that
Diwakar Reddys brother is quite popular and developed
the town very well, and though relatively small, it is the
only town in Rayalaseema to have underground drainage
system.]

CHAGARI PADMANABHA
REDDY*: Son of OBULA
and
REDDY ( )
SOMAKKA

(
),

Born

18 March 1931 at Yadiki


(), Anantapur district,

Later from IV Form to VI Form (9th to SSLC)


I studied in the London Mission High School,
Gooty, having been taken there by my peddamma
(mothers elder sister) who is Justice Chinnappa
Reddys own mother. She was quite older than
my mother and it was she who brought up my
mother too. I passed my SSLC in 1945 and by
that time Sri Chinnappa Reddy had already got
his law degree, completed apprenticeship and was
practicing in the Madras High Court.
I was only 14 years old when I completed
my SSLC and as such was under-aged for
admission in Madras University. However,
I could join Intermediate in A.C. College, Guntur,
as in Andhra University there was no age
restriction. I took the Biology-Physics-Chemistry
(Bi-P-C) group and appeared for the final
intermediate examinations in 1947. At that time,
however, there was a lot of agitation in the course
of independence movement and disturbances in
Guntur too. One Mr. Sypes was the Principal of
the A.C. College, and due to disturbances the
College was closed. I could not do the Physics
Practical examinations and so I failed. However,
I appeared for the Physics Practical in September
Supplementary
examinations
and
passed
Intermediate. Thereafter I joined B.Sc. Chemistry
course in the Government College, Anantapur, in
1948 and passed the degree examinations in
1950.
My father, unlike Sri T. Bali Reddys father,
was never in politics; he never participated in the
national movement though he was not opposed to
it either. I too never participated in any students
movement or political movement.
Being a medical practitioner himself, my
father very much wanted that I become a Doctor.

Andhra Pradesh. My father


was a LMP (Licensed Medical Practitioner) and
had duly undergone the 4-year course to get that
diploma and was practicing at Yadiki in a Local
Fund Dispensary under the District Board.
Our native village, however, was Chaamaluru
( ) in Kadapa District. My father was the
hereditary village munsif of the village Talla
Proddaturu (  !"), 3 miles distant from
our native village. He employed some clerks to
look after his munsif duties there and hardly used
to go there. That munsif post devolved on me also
and I also used to get the work done through
clerks and I never went to that village or to our
native village at any time in my life. Later, after
the onset of the Telugu Desam government, the
hereditary village officer posts were abolished
and I was relieved of that burden. We did not
have any ancestral lands in our native village or
any villages in Kadapa district or anywhere else.
We had no properties in Yadiki either and were
solely dependent on my fathers income as LMP.
You can say ours was a lower middle class
family.
Up to 5th class I studied in a street school in
Yadiki itself. Later from 1st Form to III Form (6th
to 8th classes) I studied in the Municipal High
School, Tadipatri. [It is true that Tadipatri is the
*

Reprint of my interview dt. 21-03-09 with Sri Chagari


Padmanabha Reddy, Senior Advocate, A.P. High Court,
Hyderabad, first published in LAW, 15 September 2009.
Our profound condolences to Justice Sri Praveen, son of, and
other family members and friends of, Sri Padmanabha Reddy,
who expired on 04-08-2013. Emphases in bold mine. - IMS.

Law Animated World, 15 August 2013

Chagari Padmanabha Reddy (I.M. Sharma)

I applied for a seat in the Medical College but,


since I did not get the requisite marks in the
Degree examinations, I could not get admission.
And my cousin brother Sri Chinnappa Reddy,
who was practicing in Madras, took me there and
got me admitted in the University Law College.
I passed the B.L. examinations in 1952. During
1950-52, K.G. Kannabiran was my classmate; we
studied in the same section in the 1st year but in
the 2nd year he was in a different section. I was
non-political during my law studies too.
After passing my law, I did my apprenticeship
for one year under Sri Satyanarayana Raju,
practicing advocate in Madras at that time (later
he became a judge). I got enrolled in Madras
High Court in July 1953 and immediately started
working as Junior to Sri Chinnappa Reddy.
I was aware of the fast unto death undertaken
by Sri Potti Sriramulu in Madras in 1953 and also
visited him while fasting in the camp (tent) but
I did not participate in the agitation for Separate
Andhra State. Actually we thought Madras
(I mean North Madras) would be given to us
Andhras; and likewise Bellary would come to us.
However, in the end, we gave up (had to give up)
all those areas. I was sympathetic to Separate
Andhra demand but there were also many
Telugus who opposed that demand.
In October 1953 the Andhra State was formed
and Tanguturu Prakasam Pantulu was the first
Chief Minister of Andhra. He declared a General
Amnesty for all prisoners (convicts) and virtually
all the prisons were emptied. That G.O. was
challenged on the ground that it was not desirable
to release hardcore criminals serving life or long
terms of imprisonment, etc. and that since appeals
were pending in many cases it would amount to
interference with the course of justice. However,
the High Court upheld the G.O. saying that the
Government had the jurisdiction and power to so
release the prisoners but at the same time gave
option and opportunity to those of the convicts
who, though released, would like to get a clean
acquittal, to argue the appeals on merits. So in the
period October 1953 to April 1954, though most
Law Animated World, 15 August 2013

(2013) 2 LAW

of such appeals had become infructuous with the


convicts-appellants being released, and those
appellants were not exactly interested in pursuing
the appeals, there was ample occasion and
opportunity for us newly practicing advocates to
argue the appeals on merits and gain much
experience in criminal law. So we in our office
[Sri Chinnappa Reddys office] argued all the
appeals pending with us on merits and Justice
Balakrishna Iyer who was hearing criminal
appeals used to patiently hear our arguments. He
was very reserved and never opened his mouth
and intervened while the advocates were arguing
cases; he used to just listen attentively. That was
how we got experience, we lost fear of the Court
and got entrenched in the bar.
In 1954 June we shifted to Guntur (Andhra
High Court) and later when Andhra Pradesh was
formed in November 1956, we shifted to
Hyderabad, and were mainly practicing in the
High Court, as juniors in the office of Sri
Chinnappa Reddy. In 1960 Chinnappa Reddy
became Public Prosecutor and then his entire
criminal work, we (I and Bali Reddy) used to do.
Of course, his civil work also we used to look
after but we got more specialized in criminal law
practice. Later when he became Judge in 1967,
we became independent.
In 1955 I married my maternal uncles
daughter Indiramma. She studied up to IV Form
and she is just a housewife. We have only one
son, Praveen, who is also practicing law.
Though I did not participate in any political
movements or parties, I had leftist leanings; from
our student days Bali Reddy and I had much
admiration for the communist leader Tarimela
Nagi Reddy and good personal rapport with him
too. And Chinnappa Reddy was also having
definite leftist views. You know his brother-inlaw Dr. Rajagopalan was a convinced communist
even by that time. So because of all these
influences I had leftist leanings from my student
days. And then our defence of detenus mainly of
the communist party also promoted our affection
towards leftist views. Not only during and after
4

(2013) 2 LAW

Chagari Padmanabha Reddy (I.M. Sharma)

Emergency, but even prior to that in 1962 and


1965 also I defended the communist detainees.
In the wake of the naxalite movement and the
increasing suppression of civil rights by the State,
Sri Ravi Subba Rao, Advocate, who used to
reside at Lakdi-ka-Pul, took initiative and formed
a [political prisoners] defence committee. He
headed the committee in which Sri Pattipati
Venkateswarlu, B.P. Jeevan Reddy (later became
Justice), Kannabiran, Manohar Raj Saxena and
myself were the other members. We used to
frequently meet at Sri Ravi Subba Raos
residence at Lakdi-ka-Pul, discuss and arrange for
defence of the needy under-trial/convict/detainee
political prisoners. Sri Ravi Subba Rao was from
Krishna district and an able and humane advocate
with great zeal and commitment to leftist ideals.
He was residing along with his wife and I dont
think they had children. He has passed away long
back. I dont know any further details about him.
During the Emergency I mainly defended the
political detainees in the High Court. Though
Kannabiran actively participated in the Tarkunde
Committee and later in the Bhargava
Commission, I did not play any role in either of
those.
However, after the demise of Sri Ravi Subba
Rao, I was elected the president of Democratic
Lawyers Association, a progressive lawyers
forum set up mainly by the CPI. This has later
become the Indian Association of Lawyers, of
which also I am the President of the State unit.
It so happened that in the late 1960s, some
four to five senior criminal lawyers like
Sri C. Krishna Reddy, R.V. Rama Rao, Adivi
Rama Rao, et al passed away within a span of 3-4
years and it created a big vacuum in the field of
criminal law practice in Hyderabad, mainly in the
High Court. That also gave a fillip to the rapid
development of the criminal law practice of
myself and Bali Reddy. And we started doing the
practice independently.
In my long and successful practice, I have
defended/pursued the litigation of several senior
civil servants like Nambiar, the first IG of Police,

Govinda Rajan and many other top civil servants,


police officers and even politicians. Irrespective
of any party or political affiliations all the
aggrieved persons used to come to me, and still
come to me, for legal advice and defence.
About the important political cases, I may
mention the Hyderabad (Nagi Reddy) Conspiracy
Case involving Sri Nagi Reddy, Devulapalli
Venkateswara Rao, and many other senior leaders
of the Revolutionary communist party in Andhra
Pradesh; and especially the Parvathipuram
Conspiracy Case involving important naxalite
leaders like Choudary Tejeswar Rao, Bhuvan
Mohan Patnaik, Nagabhushan Patnaik, et al.
Almost all the accused in the Parvathipuram
Conspiracy Case personally came to me and
talked with me. The lower court had sentenced
many of them to life or long terms of
imprisonment but when the matters were argued
by me and others in Criminal Appeals which
came before a bench consisting of Justices Sri
Sitarami Reddy and Sri Raju, many of them were
acquitted. But the judges differed as to the
decision on the rest of the convicts and hence the
matter was referred to a third judge, before whom
also I and others argued the matters in extenso.
Sri Muktadhar J, the third Judge, acquitted all the
rest.
Apart from court work, there was no other sort
of active participation in civil liberties movement
on my part except for participating in
organization of certain civil liberties associations.
I was and still am the President of the Indian
Lawyers Association (IAL), which was originally
styled as the Democratic Lawyers Association. It
mainly consists of supporters of the CPI but it
was headed by eminent jurists and judges like Sri
V.R. Krishna Iyer, Sri Desai, Sri Chinnappa
Reddy, Sri Bhagwati. There is another
progressive lawyers association All India
Lawyers Union (AILU) supported by the CPM.
On the problem of huge pendency of cases due
to disposal delays I feel more number of Courts with
talented judges selected on the basis of merit and
efficiency alone are needed. If senior lawyers with much
5

Law Animated World, 15 August 2013

I am not for any sort of election of judges.


I think present justice delivery system is better than
our age-old panchayat justice system especially in
the present scenario. Nowadays villages are very
factious and have turned quite corrupt. So it is
better to continue the present system.
However inordinate delays in disposal of
criminal appeals (now taking 3-4 years) and
corruption cases (now taking 7-8 or even more
years) have to be tackled and overcome. Delays
are ruining the present system. But as for filing
and the connected delays, as far as criminal
appeals are concerned, I dont think there is any
serious problem.
I fully support the recent 5-judge judgment of
the Andhra Pradesh High Court delivered by
Justice G. Raghuram. I think it is necessary that
FIRs should be registered and investigation taken
up against the connected police officers in every
case of encounter in which death or serious
injuries occur. However, I also think that the
present Human Rights Commission has to be
given more powers. The National and State
Human Rights Commissions are to be
complimented for doing considerable useful work
for the protection of human rights. But the
Human Rights Courts set up under that Act have
to be specifically conferred with original
jurisdiction so that they can by themselves take
cognizance of cases involving human rights
violations. The Act has to be amended
accordingly. In that case, all encounter cases
could be investigated under and tried by the
Human Rights Courts.

work-experience and talent are appointed, there will be


quick disposal of cases.

I dont find fault with the decision to establish fasttrack courts. Of course, since retired persons are
appointed and the tenure is not fixed/regular,
there is scope for corruption. Experience proved the
correctness of having recourse to these fast-track courts

and many or most of the criminal cases on the


original side are disposed of. But whats the use,
appeals from those judgments are pending in the
High Court for years together, thus doing
irreparable damage and injustice to the interests
of the accused/convicts. By the time High Court
gives some judgment in many cases it can be of
acquittal the convicts prospects and family
situation would have been ruined.
As for the selection of High Court and Supreme
Court Judges, there is no transparency in the
proceedings of selection and it is a big drawback. It is
basically wrong. For example, in my own case,

I have reliable information that I was considered


for appointment as High Court Judge in 1980 and
that the High Court, the State Government and
even the Supreme Court approved of my
candidature, but due to adverse intelligence
reports against me alleging that I appeared in
defence of naxalite prisoners in courts, and also
that I was a member of an organization (reference
to Democratic Lawyers Association which is now
called Indian Lawyers Association) supported by
a communist party, as if both were treasonable
acts or illegal measures! The Intelligence
officers conveniently suppressed the facts that
eminent judges like Krishna Iyer, Desai,
Bhagwati headed the same organization and that
a lawyer is obligated to defend a client
irrespective of his (lawyers) own political and
other convictions. As such I differ with the
opinions of Justice Chinnappa Reddy also and
strongly support the demand for establishment of
a National Judicial Commission with members
from different walks of life. I think that will be a
better alternative for selection of judges. But in

*****
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my opinion it may be difficult to subject the selection


procedure to accountability since there is no statutory
right or even legitimate expectation for a person who is
considered for the post of judges.
Law Animated World, 15 August 2013

(2013) 2 LAW

Chagari Padmanabha Reddy (I.M. Sharma)

P.O. Hijli Cooperative, KHARAGPUR - 721 306.

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