The portrait of Annam Subba Rao was unveiled by Asiriyar Dr. K. Veeramani. Dr. Justice A.K. Rajan, Prof. Ravivarma Kumar, Advocate A.D.N. Rao and Dr.Suresh I.A.S. were present – Chennai 3rd May 2022.
Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India
Annam Subba Rao was born on 1.1.1936 to Respectful. A. Tirupatamma and A. Narasiah. He joined the Government High Court Press in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh on 1.7.1954 and thereafter on the formation of the State of Andhra Pradesh shifted residence to Hyderabad on 1.11.1956. While working in the Press, he developed interest to study Law and hence did LL.B course in Osmania University, Hyderabad, during the period 1958-1960.
Having passed the Law Examinations in 1961, he joined the office of the late D. Narasaraju, the first Advocate General of Andhra Pradesh. He was his devoted Junior. Narasaraju used to come to office by 7.00 a.m., Subba Rao made it a point that he should be at office at 6.00 a.m. and keep all the files and books ready on his table. He would come back home by 5.00 p.m., have his food and go back to the Office by 6.00 p.m. He would come back home only after finishing all work. He worked very hard with devotion and sincerity. As the result he became the much admired junior of Narasaraju. As Narasaraju used to frequently travel to Delhi to represent the State of Andhra Pradesh at the Krishna Godavari River Water Disputes Tribunal, he preferred to rely on Subba Rao, despite the fact that his son-in-law late Suryanarayana was also a junior in his office.
Narasaraju shifted to New Delhi on 15th March 1967 on the assurance that he would be appointed as Additional Solicitor General of India. But for some reasons unknown, Lal Narayan Sinha, the Attorney General raised objection. He was appointed as Senior Standing Counsel for the Central Government in the Supreme Court. This irked Subba Rao, and he requested Narasaraju to come back to Hyderabad. But Narasaraju preferred to continue in Delhi. In 1970 Narasaraju passed away at Hyderabad due to severe heart attack.
Subba Rao decided to stay in Delhi for some time to complete the pending affairs of Narasaraju. But due to the support extended by the Late Anwaraulla Pasha, the Late Shri T. Anantha Babu and the Late Y. V. Anjaneyulu who were good friends of Narasaraju, Subba Rao decided to continue his practice in the Supreme Court at New Delhi.
He passed the Advocate on Record Examinations in 1969 and built up good practice from the State of Andhra Pradesh. He had practised civil and criminal affairs and prepared exemplary Notes. He was an expert in Rent Control matters.
Upon my becoming Advocate on Record, I recommended to publish my father’s Notes in the form of a book. Today it is one of the best books on A.P. Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act. Similarly when I requested my father to write a book on Rent Control Laws in Andhra Pradesh, he refused to do so on the ground that the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Rent Control matters was not consistent and varied in each case.
He was strict in punctuality. He was a voracious reader and a subscriber of all the leading Law Journals. His Library was the best in Delhi. His submissions before the Court were forceful, yet humble. He chose the course of reason to meet the arguments of the other side. He would read the mind of the judge and depending upon the response of the judge, would continue his arguments in Courts. He was able to convey his points which were appealing to the Judges.
As the Central Government Standing Counsel, he represented it in a large number of cases including the Indra Sawhney case.
Once, while I was briefing the Late Ashok Desai, former Attorney General for India after he demitted the Office, a client came and informed him that a very important matter for which he appeared many times was being listed on the following day. Ashok Desai initially told the client/Advocate that since he had read the brief a couple of times earlier, he need not have any conference to prepare himself. But when the Advocate informed that the Central Government was being represented by Subba Rao, the reaction of Ashok Desai, (who was not aware that I was his son) was – “if Subba Rao is appearing for the other party, then he would need an elaborate and detailed conference as Subba Rao would be prepared and ready in all respects and he, is a hard nut to crack.”
That the Law Offices who were briefed by Annam Subba Rao were always of the opinion that they could totally depend upon him in respect of preparation for the cases. Because of the vast knowledge which he had and being readily prepared he was called as a “walking encyclopaedia” available 24 x 7.
A number of Law Officers would call him early in the morning to know about the relevant laws in respect of the matters listed on that day.
The Indra Sawhney case arising out of Mandal Commission Report catapulted him into a national avenue. He was thereafter appointed in all the cases relating to Reservation for SCs/STs/OBCs/Muslims. He was specially engaged by the Government of Andhra Pradesh to represent the State in respect of Muslim Reservation matters.
He was not only a hard working, brilliant lawyer, but also a great human being. He was compassionate and went too far to defend the rights of the down-trodden. In fact he would always give a chance only to such people to become Juniors in his Office. He was forthright in his views and would express the same without even thinking for a while as to what others would feel. In fact once a matter was sent to him for drafting the Special Leave Petition. But on going through the files, he realised that as a matter of right, in view of the provisions of the concerned Act, an Appeal would lie at the Supreme Court and the law officer without examining the same, had given the opinion for filing the Special Leave Petition. He immediately called the Law Officer concerned and told him that his opinion was wrong and was given without looking into the legal provisions. He blatantly told him that he would be returning the file and the Law Officer may rewrite his opinion that the Department should file an Appeal in view of the provisions of the Act concerned. Accordingly he returned the file and drafted the appeal only after the Law Officer changed his opinion.
He was against dowry system and did not demand dowry for any of his three sons.
He valued friendship and remained loyal not only to his friends but also to their families till his last breath.
His youth was spent in a newly born independent India. As such he looked forward with hope and pride for a good future for India. He not only motivated his juniors and the family members but also lived with a strong sense of duty and service to both the profession as well as the country. His life is an example which all of us should emulate.
* The author of the article is the elder son of Annam Subba Rao