A former barrister and Indian freedom fighter who was disbarred 106 years ago has been formally reinstated to the bar.
At a meeting at Downing Street today, a representative from Inner Temple, justice minister Shailesh Vara and David Cameron formally presented a certificate to India prime minister Narendra Modi (second from right) posthumously reinstating the lawyer.
Shyamji Krishna Varma, a prominent Indian nationalist, was peremptorily disbarred for conduct ‘unbecoming of a barrister,’ in 1906 after he spoke against British rule over India.
But the Inner Temple decided to reinstate Varma ‘in recognition of fact he did not receive a fair hearing by modern standards’.
Varma was the founder of the Indian Home Rule Society and established India House in Highgate, London, as a base for Indian students studying in England.
He published several critical articles about the British rule in India in a magazine he founded, Indian Sociologist.
Varma was disbarred after he published a letter in The Times arguing for Indian home rule, and insisting on his right to erect a memorial to ‘Indian martyrs’ within India House.
Inner Temple has now decided his cause was not incompatible with membership of the bar.
The inn said his reinstatement was intended as a mark of its commitment to freedom of speech, and hopes it will further strengthen links with its Indian members in the UK and abroad.
Justice minister Shailesh Vara (pictured second left) said: ‘I am delighted that Shyamji Krishna Varma has been posthumously reinstated to the bar. 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.
'My team and I have worked closely with the Inner Temple, and it is fitting that we can make this presentation as part of prime minister Modi’s historic visit to Britain’.