By Anil Gujadhur
With the demise of Rajsoomer Lallah last week, there is an eerie feeling among those who sense the pulse of this country that yet another bit of those real values that have gone into the making of the more profound Mauritius has departed the scene. He was a jurist of the highest calibre, at the national level where he rose to become Chief Justice and at the international level where he served, amongst others, over a long stretch in the United Nations Human Rights Committee. He was recognized for his competence, probity and poise.
CJ Lallah was a person of great ponderation and one who knew the working of real things for having moved up the hierarchy of the profession at crucial moments in the life of the nation.
For having worked at the State Law Office (then Solicitor General’s Office, SGO) and as Parliamentary Counsel during his growing years in the judiciary, he deeply understood the working of institutions and the sort of considerations that go into the minds of a certain category of politicians who were working at the time with a deep sense of mission, something which now appears to have been heavily diluted if not devalued outright. At the SGO, he had the opportunity amongst others to give consideration to the framing of the Constitution of Mauritius, a witness to the country’s transition from its colonial past to its independent status. He had the satisfaction of having had a hand in the new course that was being charted out for the emergence of Mauritius as a nation.
For having occupied the highest office in the judiciary, a strong sense of responsibility, equanimity and poise inhabited him. He stuck to his duty of reserve in the face of events that looked utterly unfair and revolting in the life of the nation on quite a few occasions. He was trained to contain his sentiments. He lived up to this requirement fully not so much under constraint but more so by conviction that this was a value worth preserving. He might even have seen unfairness and incompetence among his brothers in the judiciary in the delivery of justice but there was a limit he could not cross. This self-imposed discipline to abide by the norms of good behaviour in his profession gave him a reward – a balanced and meticulous mind and a reputation for being one of the really learned of the judicial fold.
Shakespeare said in one of his plays: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, still others have greatness thrust upon them.” By steering the middle course and by dint of hard work, Rajsoomer Lallah came to deserve to belong to the middle category of those who achieve greatness. It will be a void after his departure but let us not despair that others will emerge from the ranks of the profession to which he devoted his life, who will fill up the void his departure would inevitably cause.
* Published in print edition on 8 June 2012