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V.M. Tarkunde

Cite as : (1977) 2 SCC (Jour) 5

[We felicitate Shri V.M. Tarkunde, Bar-at-Law, Member, Supreme Court Cases Editorial Board for being selected for the 1978 Humanist Award. The following press release was issued from the headquarters of International Humanist and Ethical Union, Urecht, Holland on August 23, 1977.]

The Board of Directors of the International Humanist and Ethical Union has decided to give the 1978 International Humanist Award to Mr V.M. TARKUNDE for his contribution to the defence of democracy, human rights and humanist values in India.

Born on June 3, 1909, Mr Tarkunde studied at the Ferguson College and Agricultural College, Poona and later at School of Economics, London. He enrolled as Advocate on April 13, 1933. He was associated with the late M.N. Roy from 1936. He left legal practice in 1942 to work whole time for the Radical Democratic Party, started by Roy, and was General Secretary of the RDP from 1944 till its dissolution in 1948 because of the view that party politics was not congenial to the stabilisation and functioning of genuine democracy.

After the dissolution of the R.D.P., Mr Tarkunde, started practising in the Bombay High Court, became a Judge of that Court in 1957, resigned the post after 12 years in 1969, started practising as a senior Advocate in the Supreme Court in Delhi, and is now President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

The Radical Humanist Movement which replaced the Radical Democratic Party and in which Mr Tarkunde was an active participant, was given an organisational shape in 1969 and became the Radical Humanist Association. Mr Tarkunde has been its President since 1969.

In April 1974 Mr Tarkunde, in co-operation with Mr Jayaprakash Narayan, started an organisation called Citizens for Democracy for the purpose of defending and strengthening democracy in India through popular education in democratic values and conventions and by other means. Mr Narayan is the President and Mr Tarkunde, the General Secretary of that organisation. During the emergency, when Mr Narayan was in jail, Citizens for Democracy under the active guidance of Mr Tarkunde did valuable work in protecting civil rights and liberties.

In September 1976, during the period of the emergency, another organisation called the People's Union for Civil Liberties and Democratic Rights was formed with Mr Jayaprakash Narayan as President and Mr Tarkunde as Working President. That organisation was also very active till the emergency was lifted after the victory of the Janata Party at the polls in 1977.

Throughout the period of the emergency, Mr Tarkunde appeared in a large number of cases to defend civil liberties, when few advocates were available to do this work. The cases related to punitive detentions under the MISA, jail conditions of the detenues, and freedom of the periodical and the daily press. The cases were conducted without fees.

The Radical Humanist, under the editorship of Mr Tarkunde, upheld the cause of freedom and democracy throughout the period of emergency. The journal's prestige and popularity were greatly enhanced during that period.

Mr Tarkunde is also the Chairman of the Civil Rights Committee which is investigating the deaths of alleged Naxalites, and Covener-Member of the Experts Committee of the Indian Renaissance Institute which recently published a plan for economic development, called People's Plan II.

The Award will be presented to Mr Tarkunde at the Seventh Congress of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, which will be held at the University of Surrey, Guildford, England from July 31 to August 4, 1978.

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