Free Press Journal

UK minister presents Modi Shyamji’s reinstatement certificate


London: The reinstatement certificate of Indian barrister and nationalist leader Shyamji Krishna Varma, who was disbarred from one of Britain’s leading law society for advocating independence for India over a century ago, has been presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UK’s Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said today.

Varma was disbarred by London’s Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court which determine who can practice law at the Bar of England and Wales in 1909 for conduct unbecoming a barrister following the publi ation of a letter in ‘The Times’ in which he protested the right of Indians to free themselves from British rule.

“I am delighted that Shyamji Krishna Varma has been posthumously reinstated to the Bar. It is the right thing to do. He was from the Indian state of Gujarat, and as Britain’s first Gujarati Minister, and a lawyer myself, I am particularly pleased at his reinstatement,” Vara said. “Given that he is admired by Prime Minister Modi and millions of fellow Indians, it is fitting that the presentation of the reinstatement certificate was made to Prime Minister Modi on his historic visit to Britain,” Vara added.

Modi is a great admirer of Shyamji and tweets about him every year on the anniversary of his birthday. He also travelled to Switzerland in 2003 as the Chief Minister of Gujarat to repatriate the ashes of Shyamji and his wife Bhanumati Krishnavarma, who wished only to return to India once it was a free country.

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple recognised that a miscarriage of justice had taken place and the presentation was made at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the presence of UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron and Patrick Maddams, Sub-Treasurer for the Inner Temple. Shyamji, who was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, established India House in Highgate, north London, as a base for Indian students studying in England and was the founder of the Indian Home Rule Society.

He was the first Indian ever to be called to the bar in 1884. He published several articles critical of British rule in India in a magazine, ‘Indian Sociologist’ which he had founded. In his letter in ‘The Times’, he had also insisted on his right to erect within India House a memorial to those whom he described as Indian martyrs.

Shyamji was born on October 4, 1857 in Mandvi town of Kutch district in Gujarat where a university has been named after him. He died on March 30, 1930 in Geneva.