Obituary

A stalwart passes away

Print edition : October 16, 2015

Sadhan Gupta.

With the passing away of Sadhan Gupta, eminent lawyer and parliamentarian of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), on September 19, the Left Front lost one of its most respected figures, who, in spite of being visually challenged, rose to be a stalwart of the communist movement and an inspiration to his comrades. He was 98 and had been suffering from age-related ailments. Gupta was the first visually challenged person in the country to be elected to the Lok Sabha and to hold the post of Advocate General.

Born in Dhaka on November 7, 1917—the day the Provisional Government of Alexander Kerensky was overthrown by the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia—Gupta’s long connection with the communist movement appears to have been right from the time of his birth. His father, Jogesh Chandra Gupta, was a well-known barrister practising in the Calcutta High Court and an eminent Congress leader. When he was just one and a half years old, an attack of small pox rendered Sadhan Gupta blind forever. Educated at the Calcutta Blind School, Gupta distinguished himself academically right from the start. He ranked among the top 10 in the school final examinations and excelled in Presidency College from where he graduated with honours

in economics. He did his postgraduation in economics from the same institution. It was while in college that he got involved with the leftist movement, and in 1939 he became a member of the undivided Communist Party of India.

In 1942, he enrolled as an advocate in the Calcutta High Court after getting a bachelor’s degree in law from Calcutta University. In 1947, he was called to the Bar from Middle Temple, United Kingdom. In India’s first general elections, Gupta contested the Calcutta South-east Lok Sabha seat against Syama Prasad Mookerjee and lost. However, after Syama Prasad’s death in 1953, he contested the same seat in the byelection and won against the internationally renowned jurist Radha Binode Pal. In 1957, he won from the Calcutta East Lok Sabha constituency. In 1969, he was elected to the West Bengal Assembly from Kalighat, and in 1986 he was appointed Advocate General of West Bengal.

Sadhan Gupta’s legal career was outstanding. Right at the beginning, he gained distinction with his argument in “Emperor vs Shibnath Banerjee” (1945). The case caught the attention of Mahatma Gandhi, who complimented Jogesh Chandra Gupta on his son’s legal acumen. Throughout his career Gupta, took up the cause of the downtrodden and the oppressed, particularly workers and peasants, all over India. During the CPI(M)-led Left Front government’s massive land reforms programme in 1977, Gupta’s efforts in courts against the challenge of large landowners, was an important factor in the success of the programme. He was an active trade unionist and president of different unions in various sectors. He also worked indefatigably for the rights of the disabled.

Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay

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