Indian Legal Luminaries on Tuesday launched the book ‘At the Pleasure of His Majesty: I.M. Lall and The Case That Shook the Crown’ by Chander M. Lall at the Delhi High Court Premises. The book narrates the remarkable story of Lall, who fought a historic legal battle against the British.
In 1937, I.M Lall invited the wrath of British Crown when he stood up to protect the national treasures. In 1948, for the first time in history a subject won against the British Empire. His victory also shaped the Article 311 of the Indian Constitution.
Article 311 of the Indian Constitution shields civil servants against being prosecuted for taking a bold and honest step.
According to Article 311, no person who is a member of a civil service of the Union or an all-India service or a civil service of a State or holds a civil post under the Union or a State shall be dismissed or removed or reduced in rank until he has been given a reasonable opportunity of showing cause against the action proposed to be taken in regard to him.
Inder Mohan Lall fought in the First World War and barely survived a deadly siege. He self-educated himself to eventually become a coveted ICS officer. Lall went on to put his job on the line to protect India’s heritage and did not cow down to the injustice of the Raj. He challenged the British Raj in a landmark legal battle in the ‘High Commissioner for India and the High Commissioner for Pakistan vs. I.M. Lall case’.
When he was in England fighting the British crown in the Privy Council, his family was on the wrong side at the time of partition. Along with the historic case, the book also narrates the story of Lall’s family which endured great ordeal in his absence and also lost a daughter to partition.
Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, former CEO of NITI Aayog commended the valor and conviction of I.M. Lall and said that the Indian bureaucracy owes a lot to him because many of us have the courage, determination, and passion to do the right things because we are protected by Article 311, enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
“It is a remarkable story of courage, determination, and an immense amount of belief in himself. Chander brings alive the personality of his grandfather. He is a remarkable man for several reasons… a young man from Mianwali village (present-day Pakistan) joins the Army and many of us don’t know, but 200,000 Indians fought the First World War, about 95% Indians got killed in that war while fighting for the Crown and here’s a man who went and fought for the Crown…and then he sits for the ICS, gets in, becomes in-charge, fights, loses his job for what he did was obviously right, he fights at all levels of the Crown and finally wins the case. ” Kant added.
This book is a first-hand account of history being made about an unsung patriot whose song must be sung. I hope the readers enjoy the music, the author Chander M. Lall who is also grandson to Lall said at the book launch.
Justice (Retd.) Sanjay Kishan Kaul at the book launch reminisced about the resilience of individuals at time of partition, saying, “I come from a family which has seen the onset of partition, my family was based in Kashmir when the partition took place. So, we never got an opportunity to get back. But I also had a storyteller in my grandfather and my memories go back only to what he told me about his experiences pre-Partition. There was a feeling that Lahore will not go to the other side. So, people were not ready for it. Nobody made any effort to go and retrieve anything. What was there was left behind… We have seen troubled times in partition, but people did retrieve their life, pick up their lives and got along. And that has been my principle in writing about Kashmir also, that society must move on, that it must restructure itself, it must forget the challenges and tragedies, and go on with life.”
Justice Hima Kohli also shared her reflections on reading the book and said, “A lot of memories came along, primarily those created by my father. My parents were from Pakistan (erstwhile unified Punjab). My father was young when he had gone to study in Lahore. When the partition happened, at that time most of the parents did not think that they will never come back. They all thought that there is big likelihood of Lahore being part of India. And they thought they were only going there for a short while and will be coming back to their homes, which never happened.”
The book was launched by Supreme Court’s Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Sanjay Karol, Delhi High Court Chief Justice Manmohan, Former Supreme Court Judge Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and Mr Amitabh Kant, the former CEO of NITI Aayog. The foreword for the book is written by P Chidambaram.
About the Author
Chander M. Lall is a designated senior advocate practicing law, mainly in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India. He founded the law firm Lall & Sethi in 1994 and was the managing partner till 2017. He has contributed as a writer to many publications, including Trademark Law and the Internet and Trademark Anti-Counterfeiting in the Asia-Pacific, published by the International Trademark Association. He is considered an authority on intellectual property law and has been the lead counsel in many groundbreaking decisions on the subject.