Remembering Dipankar Ghosh, Barrister
by Pradip Kumar Das
Cite as : (2003) PL WebJour 14
My Lord Justice Ajoy Nath Roy, my Lords, members of the Bar and fellow mourners:
It fills my heart with grief unspeakable as I rise to mourn the passing away of an eminent member of the Bar and a very old, close and personal friend of mine. I refer to the recent death of Dipankar Ghosh, who was the Additional Solicitor-General of Your Lordships Court. His passing away has left for me a void which will be difficult to fill but that is only a personal matter. What is more important is that Your Lordships have lost a very eminent advocate and the Bar of this Honble Court has been deprived of a person who not only was well versed in the law, who was a good speaker, who was a friend of one and all and who had no enemies. I pay my respect and homage to a brilliant mind, to a keen intellect and to a lovable character. He rose to the top of the profession by dint of his hard work, and by sheer knowledge and willpower, he reached the pinnacle of success, having no godfathers in the profession. Personally, I will miss him quietly. He is happy now wherever he is, and I am content. Truly a prince among men, we shall not see the likes of him very easily or in the near future. He was loved by one and all in the profession, and his rise was meteoric, mainly because of his clarity of thought coupled with precision and elegance of expression, and an extraordinary ability to think on his feet which rendered him an irresistible force and all these were based upon thoroughness in the preparation of his cases. He was a versatile person, being well read in several disciplines, and his knowledge of a large number of subjects helped him considerably in the preparation of his brief and argument in court.
I have known him for near about the last 50 years and apart from what you have already heard I would like to add that he had his early education in Mount Hermon School, Darjeeling, at La Martiniere School in Calcutta and for a short spell he also attended a school in New York. Ultimately, he graduated from the University of Cambridge with a first class degree in the Law Tripos examination and was thereafter called to the Bar from Lincolns Inn in London. You will therefore, appreciate that my late-lamented friend studied in three continents before joining this Honble Court as one of its learned advocates. His early years at the Bar were spent in the chambers of the late Mr Subimal Roy, later a Judge of the Honble Supreme Court of India, and at the time when he read in the chambers to which I have just now referred, there were five of us there. We were all there together, and within a short time fame and fortune came to Dipankar Ghosh and he was an expert in both civil and criminal laws. When Dipankar Ghosh started practice on his own he admitted a large number of juniors into his own chambers and ultimately each of them became a winner.
Although Dipankar Ghosh is no longer with us, I would like to think that he is not dead, but just away. I would like to say that none of us should cry or weep or despair but all of us should hold back our tears because in the words of a poet of yesteryears, I quote:
I cannot say and I will not say that he is dead, he is just away; with a cheery smile and a wave of the hand he has wandered into an unknown land. Mild and gentle as he was brave, he gave his life to simple things. Think of him still as the same I say, he is not dead, he is just away.
So much for my friends achievements at the Bar, and of his facing up to so many problems which he solved with consummate skill. But what I would also like to say is that basically he was a man with a good name and I have yet to hear any other view about him from not only those who knew him intimately but also those who were casual acquaintances. He had the reputation of a man who was first and foremost a straight person and one always likes to deal with such a person because you can trust and rely upon him and speak freely with him. I here recall what Shakespeare said in Othello of
Good name in man and woman,
Dear my Lord,
Is the immediate Jewel of their Souls;
Who steals my purse steals trash,
It is something nothing,
It was mine, it was his,
And has been slave to thousands
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
But leaves me poor indeed.
There is one larger question which looms before us and that is also an oftrepeated one: Where did Dipankar Ghosh come from, why did he come to this world, and where has he gone? I am unable to answer the first and third questions because I have no knowledge as to his place of origin nor do I know where he has gone. But so far as the second question is concerned there is no doubt in my mind that he came to this world in order to spread kindness, love and good behaviour towards one and all and to do whatever job he was engaged in with the object of achieving as much perfection as possible. The years that he spent with us have been times of great joy and satisfaction for all those who came in contact with him and this I believe is the reason why he came here, but wherefrom I do not know and to which place he has travelled that also I cannot tell you. What remains, however, is the memory of this man who spread goodness and grace amongst all of us and who set a fine example in our midst and for that we shall be ever grateful to whoever has been responsible for sending him to us.
In this context I cannot but tell you what has been said over and over again, that there is no real gap or difference between life and death. He was with us a few days ago but now he is no longer in our midst. It is a question of attitude and of realisation, because where there is light today there may be darkness tomorrow, but we shall have to put up with both. Likewise in the case of life and death. If you have faith and belief in the great power that rules over us, then you will also believe that we are all travellers on the same path, whether it be in life or whether it be beyond life. The only thing, however, which is certain is that so long as there is life and so long as people like Dipankar Ghosh are in our midst, this world and the events that surround us will always be more pleasant and in view of what I have already recalled and told you about this good soul, life in this world for all of us became somewhat more bearable because we came into contact with a person like Dipankar Ghosh.
We have all assembled here this morning in order to mourn the passing away of an eminent lawyer and of a man whose interests in life ranged well beyond legal studies. But we should not mourn too much on the passing away of this noble soul. Because if our Upanishads are to be accepted as true, and I have no reason to doubt their veracity, the situation is aptly summed up in the well-known statement mrityur ma amritam gamaya, which means that he has left this temporary world and has gone to life eternal. Having shuffled off his mortal coils, he has passed away beyond this ephemeral existence to a life which is everlasting and where death does not come. We rejoice because he was born into this world, he lived in our midst for three score years and seven, he spread love, kindness and joy to one and all and he has gone to a place from where no traveller returns, but he has left his footprints on the sands of time for all of us to see and emulate.
Here was a man who batted a straight bat, who bowled a straight ball and who played a fair game whether it be in square one or in square sixty-four. The likes of such a man may not be seen for some time to come.
Having known my friend Dipankar Ghosh for near about half a century I would like to recite a little passage with which I am sure my friend would have wholly agreed. These lines may give all of us strength not only to find meaning in life, but to find happiness as well:
When I am dead, cry for me a little, think of me sometimes, but not too much. It is not good for you to allow your thoughts to dwell too long upon the dead. Think of me now and again, as I was in life, at some point which is pleasant for you to recall, but not for too long. While you live let your thoughts be with the living.
Now that our friend of the Bar, whom I would like to think as the best of us, is no longer with us, we stand at the crossroads at which he has taken one path and has disappeared into the unknown and we are left to follow another. He is not with us today, he will not come back, but grief and sorrow and suffering are never endured without meaning for there can be no loss without gain. At this juncture I feel that
The old order changeth yielding place to the new.
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Pray for me, more things are wrought by prayer
than this world dreams of:
Therefore let thy voice rise like a fountain for me night and day.
My Lords, which is the prayer which most readily comes to mind? It is none else than the Gayatri Mantra:
Aum bhoor bhuwa swaha
Bhargo devasya dheemahi
Dhiya yo na prachodayat
I conclude by saying that may comfort be with all of you, my fellow mourners, since the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. I also sincerely say with Horatio in Shakespeares Hamlet:
Good night, Sweet Prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.