The dawn of independence was two decades away, the national movement for independent and sovereign Bharat had entered into a historically decisive phase and the roots of colonial rule on the Indian Soil had been considerably weakened, if not completely shattered.
In the contemporary world also, the slogans of Liberty, Equality and Justice were becoming popular in the masses in some of the Asian and African Nations struggling for independence from Colonial Rule. At home in the State, the Great Ruler of J&K, Maharaja Hari Singh, who had ascended his throne in 1925 had coined a new concept of justice saying that “My religion is justice” and the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir was established an year ago in 1928, birds were beautifully singing on the banks of silent flowing river Madhmumati and people of the area were fully perpared for a harsh winter, when D.D.Thakur was born in two times rising sun village Batroo located on the 5000 feets from the sea level in the Pogal Paristan valley on 9th of December, 1929.
His father Moti Ram was a prominent person of the area and was known for his honesty, intergrity and impartiallity. Panchayats became popular democratic institutions at the grossroot level after Maharaja Hari Singh established Panchayats by an Act of law. Most often Panchayat meetings were held in a varanda adjacent to the residential house of Moti Ram. During the meetings land and property disputes and as well as matrimonials cases were also decided. D.D.Thakur, as a student also used to watch and listen the deliberations of the panchayat meetings and also some times would serve water to the panchayat members and assist his father in recording deliberations of the meetings. In this natural course, the house of Moti Ram located on the bank of river Madhumati became school of justice which greatly influenced the thoughts and ideas of D.D.Thakur in his childhood. However, after long 86 years the grandson of Moti Ram adorned the highest seat of justice of largest democracy of the world with 125 Cr. population in the year 2015. Though neither Moti Ram nor D.D.Thakur had seen T.S.Thakur becoming the Chief Justice of India but, they had sown the seed of justice and Madhumati river is witness to all the events of last 100 years.
D.D.Thakur was married on 12th of May, 1946, with Saraswati Thakur, when he was only 16 years old and had passed marticulation examination only. Sarawati Thakur was very pious, visionary, intelligent and truthfull and credit also goes to her for nourishing and supporting these tall trees of justice.Thereafter, he proceeded to Srinagar and completed his Graduation from Amar Singh College, Srinagar in 1950. After graduation, he was appointed as Head Master in the Central School Pogal and there were seven more teachers serving in this school. Though his family had lot of hopes and expectations about his carrier and were not happy for him to join as a teacher after being a graduate, but relcutantly, he joined the service prior to his joining as Head Master in this school, there was a bad and unpopular practice, where students were asked to bring foodgrains at the end of every month and 500gm milk everyday which was distributed among the teachers. He strongly objected it and discontinued this unpopular practice as a result of which his teacher colleagues got annoyed with him. This was his first encounter to fight against corruption, but finally he quit the job after one year and decided to pursue L.L.B., but this job was also not easy.
On the one hand, D.D.Thakur had strong passion and burning desire to serve the poor people, particularly those living in far flung and remote areas of the State by getting a job in the administration, but at the same time there was financial constraints of the family coming in the way moreso as he was married four years back. Finally, he managed expenses for higher studies. Some where in June, 1952, he boarded a bus for Jammu from Magarkote and send off by his family on this ocassion was full of emotions, anxities and hopes. Intially, he was interested to get admission in Delhi University for L.L.B, which could not materialise and finally proceeded to Lucknow where he got admission in L.L.B course, which was completed in 1954. Becoming a law Graduate in the year 1954 from Pogal Paristan was really a matter of pride and previlage for his family and as well as peoples of the area. After 18 years practice in legal profession in the State, he was elevated as Judge of the J&K High Court in the year 1973. He believes that delivering Justice is next to Godliness and those gifted with this responsibiliy should be very fair, honest and impartial.
However, after serving as a Judge of J&K High Court for two years, he resigned and became as Cabinet Minister in the year 1975 and was allocated portfolios of Finance and Planning. He served as a Cabinet Minister of the State for about 10 years and served as Deputy Chief Minister of the State besides, Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Power Development, Food and Civil Supplies, Transport, Law and Justice and Industries and Commerce Departments.
As a Minister for Planning and Development Department, he visited all the farflung and remote areas of the State and introduced system of District planning for balanced regional development. Besides, as a representative of the State Government under the seasoned and able leadership of the then Chief Minister, he always presented a clear and true picture of the State Economy and pressing need of the resources for development of the State before the Planning Commission and Finance Commissions as a result of which sufficient funds were made available to the State. He was also sucessfull in getting the release of Rs.10 cr.(Rs.05 cr.each for Jammu and Srinagar) for construction of High Court buildings at Jammu and Srinagar cities as the old buildings housing the High Court were constructed under Maharajas Rules 150 years back.
As a Finance Minister of the State, he took lot of the initiatitives for streamlining the functioning of the Finance department, besides Excise and Sales Tax Departments. Prior to 1975, the accounts of Provident Funds of the employees were maintained by the Accountant General but thereafter, were taken over by the Finance Department for better management. The Excise and Sales Tax Departments were merged with the Finance Department for effective supervision and control over their working. He also enunciated an amendment in then Sales Tax Act, whereby, the dealers used to retain tax after their collection were to pay interest @ of 2% monthly and 24% yearly in the event of default and delay in payment of the tax. Besides, in order to ensure fairnees and transparency in the working of Excise and Sales Tax departments, some KAS Officers known for their integrity and honesty working in other departments were brought and posted in these departments, after seeking approval of the State Cabinet. This act not only demonoplised the clout of departmental officers but also resulted into huge increase in the Tax revenue. For ensuring better accountability and honesty and as well as performance based posting of the officers in the working of Excise and Sale Tax Departments, a system of rotational transfer and postings of the officers was introuduced.
Being an eminent Constitutional Jurist of the National Repute, he was consulted in important constitutional matters. In famous Kesavnanda Bharti case, the Union of India had filed review petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. The J&K State alongwith Tamil Naidu State decieded to file objections against the review petition. D.D.Thakur, who was holding a constitutional postion as a Finance, Planning and Law Minister of the State was deputed to New Delhi for appearing before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. After seeking permission of the CJI, he alongwith Advocate General of the State argued against review petition in the case which was dismissed. Besides, he also apprised the Prime Minister of the Country with cogent reasons that the judgment of the Supreme Court is in the interest of the people of the country for strengthing the roots of democracy and also necessary to maintain unity, integrity and social economic and secular fabric of the Country.
(The author is Additional Secretary, J&K PSC)