Four years after the Maharashtra government had announced that it will remove the portrait of Justice Dinshaw Davar, which hangs in the Bombay High Court; the matter has again come to haunt the state government as the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed by a social activist to remove the portrait from a courtroom to the newly inaugurated museum.
Presently, the portraits of Justice Davar hangs in courtroom no. 40 and the state government announced on July 23, 2008 that it will be removed as Davar had punished freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak a century ago.
On July 22, 1908, Davar had convicted Tilak to six years imprisonment on charges of sedition for his article in Kesari, a Marathi newspaper founded by him.
Minister of State for Law and Judiciary Hasan Mushrif had earlier given this assurance in the Legislative Council after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Madhukar Chavan raised the issue during a discussion. Davar, an authority on Parsi law whose orders in the historic Parsi Punchayet Case (Davar-Beaman judgment) are still being cited by advocates.
However, according to a PIL filed by Nitin Deshpande, while convicting Tilak on charges of sedition, Justice Davar had observed, “The two articles are seething with sedition, they preach violence and only a diseased mind, a most perverted mind, which can think that the articles that you (Tilak) have written are legitimate articles to write in political agitation.”
The petitioner has submitted that he will withdraw the PIL if the portrait of the judge is removed from the court and put up in the museum which has been inaugurated on the occasion of sesquicentennial celebrations of the Bombay High Court.
“On the death anniversary of Tilak, on August 1, all the judges pay respects by offering floral tributes to the leader. The portrait of Justice Davar should have been removed soon after the independence on August 15, 1947, as Tilak had fought the British rule by writing bold articles in Kesari. Patriotism required the removal of portrait of Justice Davar with immediate effect as it has lowered dignity and patriotism of Lokmanya Tilak and citizens in the country,” the petitioner said.
The matter will be heard by the division bench comprising of Justice Sharad Bobade and Justice Mridula Bhatkar on August 21.