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Kailash Nath Katju (K. N. Katju) (17 June 1887 in Jaora – 17 February 1968) was a prominent politician of India. He was the Governor of Odisha and West Bengal, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, the Union Law Minister, the Union Home Minister and the Union Defence Minister. He was also one of India's most prominent lawyers. He was part of some of the most riveting cases of his times, including the famous INA trials. Dr Katju joined the freedom struggle against the British rule in India early on and spent several years incarcerated with fellow freedom fighters.

Early life

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Kailash Nath Katju's family were Kashmiri Brahmins who had settled in the princely state of Jaora (in the present-day Madhya Pradesh). He studied in the Jaora School till March, 1900, when he was sent to Lahore. He passed his matriculation examination from Punjab University in 1901 and passed his B.A. examination from the Christian College, Lahore in March, 1905. In July, 1905 he joined the Muir Central College at Allahabad. In September, 1907 he passed his L.L.B. Examination from the Allahabad University, standing second in the province. In 1908 he passed his Master of Arts examination in History also from the Allahabad University. He started his career in the legal profession at Kanpur in 1908. In 1914 he shifted to Allahabad. In 1919, he took L.L.D. degree.

Political career

He defended the accused in the Meerut Conspiracy Case in Allahabad High Court in 1933 and later the military officers accused at the INA trial at Red Fort in Delhi. On 17 July 1937, he became the Minister of Law and Justice and Parliamentary Affairs of the United Provinces in the Govind Ballabh Pant's cabinet. The ministry resigned on 2 November 1939 and soon he was imprisoned for 18 months. He was again imprisoned in 1942. He also served in the Constituent Assembly of India. Following the independence of India, he held many high political positions. Initially he was the Governor of Odisha from 15 August 1947 to 20 June 1948. He became the Governor of West Bengal on 21 June 1948 and was in office till 31 October 1951. In 1951 he was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Mandsaur constituency, joining the cabinet of Jawaharlal Nehru as Law Minister in 1951. In November 1951 he succeeded C. Rajagopalachari as the country's third Home Minister. In 1955 he was made the Defence Minister. He became the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh on 31 January 1957, remaining in office till 11 March 1962. He retired from politics i[1][2]

Personal life

Katju's son B.N. Katju served as chief justice of the Allahabad High Court. Katju's grandson, Markandey Katju, served in the Supreme Court of India and is (in 2014) chairman of the Press Council of India. Katju's daughter married into a Bengali family; her daughter, Tilottama Mukherji Tharoor, was the first wife of Shashi Tharoor and is a professor at New York University.


Dr Kailash Nath Katju wrote many books, some of which are the following:

  • Experiments in Advocacy: A Colossus in the Courts of Justice
  • The days I remember
  • Reminiscences and experiments in advocacy

He also wrote many articles and delivered many memorable speeches, including the following:

  • Some Judges and Lawyers whom I knew[3]
  • Speech delivered on 27 November 1966, on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the High Court Building.[4]

Articles and speeches about Dr Kailash Nath Katju


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