“A great man is made up of qualities that meet or make great occasions”— James Russel Lowell.
He was indeed a man of great qualities who created a niche of his own and made a lasting impact on many who came across him. He was my uncle, my father’s elder brother, Late Justice Prabha Shankar Mishra, the former Chief justice of Hyderabad and Kolkatta High Courts.
Though he was a public figure and an inspiration for many, for me he was my very own ‘bade Babuji’ (as I used to call him). Being born and brought up in a small town (Chhapra, Bihar), it was not that easy for him to find the ways he had chosen for himself because of his keen interest in literature and poetry, despite being a Masters of Science and his LLB degree. He used to write for various magazines and newspapers of the then times and even recited his poems on all-India-radio.
He was the first editor-in-chief of the famous Hindi weekly ‘Pratyaksh’, who himself edited and published Phanishwar Nath Renu’s famous short story ‘Mare Gaye Gulfam’ which was later picturized as ‘Teesri Kaasam’. But his father, a famous advocate and a freedom fighter himself, wanted him to earn his name as a successful and respectable person but not as a struggling writer. So, he was abandoned from home and all the facilities of that well-to-do family was taken away from him and he was being told to earn his bread of his own.
That incident made the greatest impact of hurt on the emotional poet and he promised his father not to show his face until he would become a successful advocate. Within 5 years, he became able to create that impact of being the most respectable, noted, popular and successful advocate at Patna high court. During his law practice, he was being recognized as a social thinker and implemented his prowess to empower underprivileged.
He had got the most of fame and recognition in 1973 when he fought the much talked about criminal court case of that time against IAS Naagmani for killing his wife. Naagmani case was one of the most famous court cases in the legal history of India. It was the milestone court case of his carrier which proved his mettle as the most compatible, honorable and knowledgeable advocate in the law fraternity.
Later in 1980, he took the oath as a high-court judge at Patna High court and made the most impact as justice par excellence. Famous for his decision making powers and instant justice, he, many a times, implemented his judicial right by arranging court rooms even on the streets to reinforce law to help needy and underprivileged. I still remember an incident when he managed the chaotic traffic jam at Patna’s famous bailey road with the help of his personal guards and said to people there that it was his responsibility being a savior of India’s law and security.
Once, he turned a girl’s personal letter to him into a legal petition in which she pleaded to be rescued from an abusive married life and took legal actions against her husband without even calling the girl to the court. That time he was the chief justice of Hyderabad high court. And, his unique way to create impact on people’s life by granting justice to that needy girl is still remembered by the people of Andhra Pradesh.
Later, he was posted as the chief justice of Kolkatta high court in 1997 from where he resigned from the post of Honorable Chief Justice in 1998 because he didn’t want to lose his impact on people’s life of being recognized as a workaholic. He wanted to die while working hard and making a change in people’s life so he again started practicing law in Supreme Court, where he created one of his most powerful impact(s) by granting free legal aid for the needy and deprived.
He breathed his last on first July 2012 at his Hyderabad residence in Jubilee Hills and left behind him his impact on us, his family to stand strong despite all the adversities of life. Not only the Mishra family, but also those innumerable people still get inspired from him to work hard and leave their impact on others with their good deeds, sense of justice by adding smiles to others lives.