Justice Protik Prakash Banerjee has certain distinctive nay rare qualities endowed to him by almighty. His love for law students and junior lawyers alike, is well known. Myself is one such beneficial recipient of his magnanimity. In no manner, I read under him physically, but his impact on my sojourn from a law student in University of Delhi to a practitioner in Delhi High Court and my peculiar love for public law, is his influence. I vividly recollect to have first interacted with him in 2012 and thereafter to seek his inputs for my paper on Constitutional morality vis a vis Judiciary-A Requiem for Judicial Accountability. That was pre Manoj Narula era. I was surprised to visualise the academic spark in such a busy practising lawyer. Despite his pressing schedule he has offered his comments and allowed multiple conversations over phone for long time. When, after LL.B., I was in dilemma to join profession or to join LSE for Masters, it was he, who authoritatively told me – not to waste time, if ultimately I have to practice.
I was chamber junior of Ms. Pinki Anand Senior Advocate in 2014, having earned some confidence, I decided to practice independently. Again, I looked to Protik Da for advice if the time to be “independent” is not premature –given the fact that I am first generation lawyer. It was his confidence in me, which has kindled my spirit. Before I read Fali Nariman’s use of phrase “school of hard knocks” it was Protik Da who told me that bar is cruel place and it kills intellect if you cannot overcome fear for starvation, but life is pleasure if one relishes the struggle in corridors. Quest for briefs is also a part of enriching experiences of life. It is part of 3 Ps “patience, practice and performance” which determines the destiny of a lawyer. His love for my novice experiences of Courts in Allahabad and Delhi brought me closure to him –albeit from a distant place. Upon his elevation, I congratulated him, I said –probably I was late-if I could have visited Kolkata prior to his elevation, we may have free discussion without shackles of office. He responded in e-mail saying, though protocol binds him but courtesy meetings are not prohibited till I have no matter in his Court. I got chance to visit Calcutta High Court in May 2017 when I was briefed in complicated service matter to argue before Justice Talukdar. The kind of warmth and patient hearing afforded to lawyers and sense of ease with which professional work is conducted in High Court, impressed me. Twilight of happiness -approbation for my submission by Justice Talukdar and ultimately an unconditional stay in termination of professors of Presidency University and above all ceremonial direction to my briefing counsel to make sure that I am at ease in Kolkata and a prescription to me to see other courts. In my subsequent visit to High Court I visited Protik’s Da Court (by the time he was elevated to bench and was sitting in Division Bench with Justice Datta- as his lordship then was) and later went to his Chamber in High Court. He with his usual smile jokingly said: Anurag –No law only legal realism. His enquiry into nature of cases and general pattern of my practice ultimately ended in his blessings. He prescribed two books to me-The first edition of Law of Mortgage by Rash Behary Ghose for incisive legal originalism and another was Carl Joachim Friedrich’s Constitutional Reason of State. A teacher in him was always at forefront when he was with his pupil.
It seems, God is in dearth of noble soul; a Judge was commanded to honour God’s mandamus. His untimely departure has foreclosed the string of jural development, which he could have brought in. His short stings as Bencher has enriched the branch of public law. My deepest tribute to him. Like many, I have lost a pupil’s Master in true Sense.
* Advocate is practising Lawyer in Supreme Court and Delhi High Court