Sometimes in the 1990s, an old friend much a concerned citizen whose opinion I valued and continue to value, said to me,"Aren\'t you sailing rather close to the wind?" I had to seek an explanation to the nautical term and also why he dropped those words of caution. "Aren\'t you reading "Mudliyar" in the Times," he asked. I ha to confess, no, I had only occasionally glanced at the Mudliyar column. He raised an expressive eyebrow but sad no more. I commenced reading Mudliyar's weekly contribution with care from that week. It was a riveting and often nailbiting experience. A publisher's Caution is sometimes at cross purposes with what an intrepid editor wants for the newspaper from a columnist who tells it as it is.
So Some red pen Jottings were made. There was more agony, thinking of what official retribution could happen in the week to follow and on the other hand, whether both editor and columnist would say "the hell with it" and stop the column, which by then, I believed to be a valuable weekly comment on our legal experience and administration of justice, and therefore also to what extent democracy was functional.
Mudliyar was a practicing lawyer when he started his column in the Sunday times writing of old cases and some contemporary ones, running the risk of contempt of court as much as we did. It was like hanging on a razor\'s edge or more like the sword of Damocles over our collective heads.
Reading these columns now, in retrospect, I wonder how we got away with it. He had no restrictions on who he wrote about and it is a measure of their spirit those targeted by his pen were able to roll with the shots and let them ricochet off their broad shoulders.
That Apart how the legal scene evolved during that period, the personalities, passions provoked and tragedies and their consequences, all came back to mind. Thank to Mudliyar, for helping to relive that time and perhaps, to draw some lessons from it.
Chairman, Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.