The well-known legal scholar Professor Upendra Baxi, in an obituary on Jain in Delhi Law Review in 2004, wrote thus: “M.P. [as he used to be called fondly] inspired affection, but never a sense of awe, usually associated with and distinctively Indian law school modes of wielding often tyrannical academic institutional power and authority; in this, it must be said, Mahavir [as Baxi called him affectionately by his first name] differed from many of his luminous contemporaries. As a teacher, researcher and author, Mahavir remained accessible to all; he wrote clearly and cogently. He did not believe that simplicity in writing betrayed the complexity of the field. He made the law bare in all its august yet technical, turgid, and prosaic detail….”
According to Baxi, “M.P.” believed that the law had an autonomous life of its own and that the stories concerning the development of the law had to be so told as to foster legalism – a public ethic of rule following.
Legalism as a virtue is best understood as a judicially imposed corpus of restraints on executive and legislative power, and as Baxi puts it aptly, is irritatingly irrelevant to the task of making India ‘safe’ for the community of foreign investors, an aspect of contemporary Indian globalisation.
To describe the sixth edition of Indian Constitutional Law as “revised” by Justice Ruma Pal, former judge of the Supreme Court, and her husband and senior advocate, Samaraditya Pal, two illustrious legal practitioners, is a misnomer. The book needs periodical updating in order to keep pace with the changes in the constitutional law, and the authors have taken extreme care to keep the basic text intact while not missing the latest case laws.
The Pals admit in the preface that they expected a revision of Jain’s book to be a daunting task not only because of its size but because of the author’s formidable reputation as a scholar. Jain’s views on the various aspects of the Constitution, they said, were erudite yet simply articulated and balanced yet definitive.
The Pals claimed that the opinions earlier expressed by Jain and the format adopted by him were maintained though they had some reservations. They also justified the addition of a new chapter on education, in view of the introduction of Article 21-A as a fundamental right guaranteeing the right to education.