ObituariesOP. ED.

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

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Background

Protik Prakash Banerjee, (born June 1, 1969) son of Late Mukul Prokash Banerjee, Senior Advocate and past Secretary of the Bar Association of the High Court at Calcutta, and the late Lekha Banerjee, Advocate, was educated at Calcutta Boys’ School and University College of Law, the University of Calcutta.

Between 1984 and 1994 he compered Western Music on All India Radio Calcutta and Yuva Vani. He regularly wrote on matters unconnected with the law, between 1989 and 1994 in the Economic Times. Enrolled on January 25, 1995 he practised initially as an Advocate-on-Record on the Appellate Side of the Hon’ble High Court at Calcutta and then as counsel in both the Original and Appellate Sides, in Civil, Constitutional Writ, Company, Labour, Commercial, Testamentary and Intestate jurisdictions, and reveled in trial law and arbitration, but had limited exposure in criminal matters and appeared only once in a revenue matter.

His pleasure was drafting and appearing in cases representing the ostensibly weaker side. He was the first Advocate in India to have won a Judgment in favor of his client that an arbitrator under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 is amenable to jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. While at the Bar, he wrote commentaries on several subjects, including the Bengal Excise Act, the Essential Commodities Act, the Original Side Rules and the Appellate Side Rules, which went into more than one edition.

He was retained as Junior, the Standing Counsel of the State of West Bengal from June 9, 2011 until the demitted office, declining the position of a Senior Government Advocate, on March 9, 2014. He was named a Member of the Governing Body of the Surendranath Law College (the oldest Law College in India, which was initially known as Ripon College) on December 8, 2009 and served till 2011.

Interested in debate from school days, he continued the practice while at the Bar, and was awarded the Best Speaker Award twice in the Annual Debates of the Indian Law Institute by its West Bengal Unit, and was awarded the Most Outstanding Emerging Lawyer Award by the Indian Law Institute, West Bengal State Unit in 2009, the only occasion when it was awarded. He was elected the Vice President of the Bar Association of the High Court at Calcutta and took office on July 31, 2015 and demitted office on July 31, 2017.

He was appointed as an Additional Judge of the High Court at Calcutta on September 19, 2017 and took oath as an Additional Judge on September 21, 2017. His favourite pastime included reading, and as an avid bibliophile, he had more than 4.5 lakh books in his personal library apart from electronic books. Very active on social media, he has taken a sabbatical from Facebook since elevation.


Justice Banerjee has passed interim protection to IPS, Rajeev Kumar in the Saradha Chit Fund case in May, 2019. [Rajeev Kumar v. CBI]

In one of the cases he also recused himself, as the lawyer representing a party was his Facebook friend.


Calcutta HC | Appointment of Protik Prakash Banerjee as an Addl. Judge

Cal HC | Saradha Chit Fund case | Interim protection from arrest for WB cop Rajeev Kumar; petition to be heard by regular bench on 12th June

Cal HC | Substantial questions of law as to interpretation of Constitution of India: Validity of CBI, DSPE Act to be determined

Calcutta HC lambasts NUJS’ decision to cancel online courses of students already enrolled without offering any prior notice or refund of fees