(1909 to 1990)
“From the musty Munsiff Court of Karkala to the mighty position of the speaker of the Indian Parliament” was the rise attained by Justice K.S.Hegde by his native intelligence, hard work and devoted pursuit of profession over a period of 50 years of public life, thus becoming a role model for any rural youth of India.
Justice Kowdoor Sadananda Hegde was born on 16th June 1909 to Sri Kowdoor Subbayya Hegde and Smt. Lingamma Shedthi of Irmady, at village Kowdoor of Karkala Taluk in South Kanara district of the erstwhile State of Mysore. He was educated at the Kowdoor Elementary School and the Karkala Board High School. Subsequently, he was an alumnus of the St. Aloysius College, Mangalore, the Presidency College, Madras, where he did his BA (Honours), and the Government Law College, Madras and got a degree in Law. In 1936 he began his law practice in Karkala upto 1940. During this period he married Nitte Meenakshi Adyanthaya, daughter of Sri Siddhu Shetty and Nitte Rukmini Adyanthaya. During the period 1940-48, he practiced in Mangalore and was appointed Public Prosecutor of South Kanara from 1947 to 1951. In 1955, he moved to Madras and practiced at the Madras High Court for a year. He was then appointed a judge of the Mysore High Court. After a successful tenure at Bangalore, he was appointed the first Chief Justice of Delhi and HP High Court. Later, he was elevated to the post of Judge of Supreme Court of India, in 1967, which he served with distinction. His judgments are well known for their lucidity, analysis and apt choice of legal terminology and are quoted quite often in Legal transactions.
On 30th April, 1973, he resigned from his post in the Supreme Court in protest against the suppression of senior judges in the appointment of Chief Justice of India, by the Ministry of Smt. Indira Gandhi. This act was followed by the imposition of “Emergency” in India and Justice Hegde was one of the leaders who fought against this ‘misrule’ and was instrumental in awakening and mobilizing the democratic values in the country. He was elected Member of sixth Loksabha winning the elections from Bangalore South constituency against the well known leader and the second chief minister of Mysore state, Sri. Kengal Hanumanthaiah. He became an important leader of Janata Party and was chosen as the speaker of the Lok Sabha – which post he adorned for a period of 3 years. As the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, K.S. Hegde made a distinctive contribution not only in upholding the high office of the Speaker but also in consolidating parliamentary institutions in the country. He travelled throughout the length and breadth of country presiding over conferences, giving lectures on democratic and legal subjects in assemblies of significant importance. He also travelled widely around the globe as part of delegation of the Parliament and attended many international assemblies on the parliamentary affairs.
He was a member of the first Council of States now known as Rajya Sabha from 1952-1957 and made outstanding contributions to its deliberations. He was a member of the Panel of Chairmen and also a member of the Public Accounts Committee and of the Rules Committee. In 1954 he represented India at the General assembly of the United Nations and served on its Second Committee with distinction. He was also a member of the Railway Corruption Enquiry Committee and of the Governing Body of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. He was chosen by the Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru as a member of delegation to UN to appear for the government of India in the “Kashmir affair” case.
Justice K.S.Hegde was very keen in the progress of the agricultural community to which he belonged and did whatever he could to advance their progress in educational and professional field. He was very active in building up of the ‘Bunts alias Nadava Sangha’ at Mangalore and their educational activities like building hostels in Mangalore and other Taluk headquarters. He was politically active from his young age and worked in the socio-political movements with leaders like Sri A. B. Shetty, Sri U.S.Mallya, Dr. Nagappa Alva and others during the period 1940-1955. After a distinguished career spanning five decades Justice K S Hegde retired from public life and settled at Nitte village to relentlessly work for the upliftment and empowerment of the rural people
His presence at Nitte triggered the starting of several educational and social activities by his sons and nephews and the village and surroundings prospered beyond recognition. The village now boasts of an Engineering college, a Polytechnic, a First Grade College, a PUC College and English Medium school and various other vocational courses and cultural institutions. The Lamina Foundries established in Nitte by the Lamina Group of Industries is a major industry employing several hundreds of people of the village. All these have changed the very face of the village which can now be considered as one of the progressive villages in the country. Justice Hegde was a Vice-President of BJP National Committee and his advice was sought by the political leaders of the country on various issues affecting the progress of the country. Locally, he was a respected leader, a friend, philosopher and guide for hundreds of his admirers in the district. He was much sought after for presiding over functions, for participating in meetings and seminars, political, social and religious, all over the districts.
Justice K S Hegde and Smt. Meenakshi Hegde had six children - three sons and three daughters are well settled in life. Capt. Prasanna Hegde, retired Captain of the Indian Navy is the Managing Director of Lamina Foundries. Sri Vinaya Hegde, the second son is the Chairman and Managing Director of Lamina group of companies and the President also of Nitte Education Trust and Chancellor of Nitte University, running 28 educational institutions. The third son, Justice Santosh Hegde is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India and retired Lokayuktha of Karnataka. The three daughters are married to worthy gentlemen who have carved niches for themselves in the society.
Justice Hegde died peacefully on 25th May, 1990.
A man of matchless honesty and utmost integrity, Justice Hegde was convinced that a just social order could not be built up by any society if it was corrupt. And no amount of sacrifice could build a Welfare State unless there was an efficient and honest administration. Always in pursuit of truth and excellence of human endeavour, Justice K S Hegde began a journey of exploration that continues with Nitte Education Trust and Nitte University. Justice Hegde is rightfully the founder of the Nitte group of institutions and his respected as such by the public. The earthly remains of Justice K S Hegde lie at “Sanmathi” in the Nitte Campus.