A Humble Tribute

The All India Reporter Pvt. Ltd. was founded by Late Shri V. V. Chitaley in the year 1922. It was because of his vision, perseverance and hard work that All India Reporter Pvt. Ltd. has blossomed into the Premier Law Reporter and Publisher in the Country.

Shri V. V. Chitaley (Appasaheb - as he was fondly known) was born on July 25th, 1885 in Ratnagiri District of Konkan (Maharashtra) in a family with humble means. From his childhood, he had a zeal for learning and dreamt of scaling heights. After completing his primary education, he completed his matriculation at Dapoli village. After his matriculation, he decided to go to Jodhpur as college education was free there. Under adversities he completed his graduation by giving tuitions during the day and studying in the night. After graduation he completed law at Nagpur and started practising at Katol (Maharashtra) and later at Nagpur as a junior to Sir Moropant Joshi. Soon Appasaheb developed his own practice and was recognised as one of the few leading lawyers practising at the High Court at Nagpur.

However practising law and amassing a fortune was not his aim. And very soon he plunged into the service of the legal fraternity - which probably was his aim all along. Being a practising lawyer himself, he experienced the difficulties faced by lawyers because of the absence of a reliable journal reporting cases from all over India and the Privy Council. Thus was conceived a law journal which would combine the functions of an All India Journal and of a provincial journal - the All India Reporter. It is this unique feature of the AIR journal which has made Appasaheb's name familiar throughout the length and breadth of India in legal circles. Also, today, AIR is more or less synonymous with law reporting in India and the Commonwealth countries.

It is said that all great things are in their nature simple. The same tiring can be said about Appasaheb's concept of an All India Journal. Though it was of such obvious value for the country and the legal profession, the idea had not occurred to any of his predecessors at least in the form which was envisaged by Appasaheb. In that sense he can be truly accorded the position of a pioneer, nay, a public benefactor.

He started the institution more out of his love for the profession and to serve the legal fraternity than making a fortune for himself. And to cater to the convenience of the subscribers, he introduced the two columnar form of printing because he felt that reading running matter would probably be inconvenient to the patrons.

Appasaheb will be remembered not only as the founder of the All India Reporter and other All India Journals, but also as the author, inspirer and promoter of a new model of law Commentaries and other publications like Digests and Manuals. In all the publications, the same thoroughness and systematic approach can be seen.

Everywhere his object was maximum usefulness to the lawyer and to make the journal and other publications easily affordable. And thus today, reliability, usefulness and affordability have come to be recognised as the hall mark of all AIR Publications. It was because of Appasaheb's untiring efforts, that All India Reporter and its allied journals have the distinction of being quoted authoritatively not only in all the Courts in India, but also in certain foreign Courts like the Federal Court of Malaysia.

It must also be mentioned that Appasaheb had taken upon himself the cause of freedom of law reporting in India, and whenever there was a threat to such freedom it was he, who stood in the forefront and took upon himself the brunt of the struggle. He sincerely believed that there must be absolute freedom of law reporting, if there is to be proper development of law in this country, and his work in this field is one of his most important contributions to the development of law in India.

In personal life Appasaheb was simple to the point of austerity and sometimes astonished people by his ways of living. His heart was always touched by poverty and he never stinted help to the poor and the needy. His humility of behaviour was something absolutely genuine and he was a gentleman to the core in every sense of the term. He was always very hospitable in his home. He was a true "Grihastha" in the Hindu sense of the term and kept open house where his relations and friends were always welcome. He used to support a number of poor students, in the olden days, even at a time when he had just begun his career and could not be said to be rolling in money.

Appasaheb was a deeply religious man and a staunch believer in Hindu rites and ceremonies which were scrupulously performed under his orders in his house till the end of his life. Inspite of being religious minded, he was not superstitous. And to prove his abhorrence for superstitions, he started All India Reporter on January 13, 1922 at 13 minutes past 1 O'clock (which can also be written as 13:13). He believed that there was no substitute for hard work, and one must do his work (Karma) to the best of his ability, not in anticipation of a reward, but as his pious duty/obligation. Appasaheb felt that he owed the Society for all that It had given him, and so to repay his debt to the Society, he made generous donations to various charitable institutions, but never made these donations public.

The dedication with which Appasaheb worked for his goal/ideal, is something which only his colleagues and collaborators will know. The AIR as it stands today is a living monument of his unceasing efforts. Almost till the last breath of his life he was thinking only of the giant concern which he had built up and how its services towards the legal profession could be improved and developed. Late Shri Appasaheb was unquestionably one of the greatest Indians of his time in his own way. As he was not active in political life or public life, the general public did not have an opportunity of knowing about his real greatness, work and achievement. Even when he came to know that he had cancer, he made light of the matter and never allowed it to affect, his usual routine of work, reading, business discussions, enquiring minutely into the working of different departments of AIR and so on. He chose to utilise the little time which he had, to complete the mission he had chosen-serving the legal profession to the best of his ability.

In 1922, Appasaheb started the institution with a team of very few trusted hands numbering not more than 25-30. Over the last 85 years, the organisation has grown into a strong family of nearly 250 people each of them contributing to the progress and upliftment of the Company. The loyalty and dedication of the staff members to the organisation was unquestionable, and once when the Company was reeling under a severe liquidity crunch, the employees on their own offered to work at half wages. Initially All India Reporter had a meagre strength of 1000 subscribers, but over the past 85 years, with the dedicated energy of the management, staff and a strong team of more than 40 representatives, the Company despatches approximately 1,00,000 books every month and can boast a readership of nearly 1 million readers for its various publications.

The All India Reporter has come a long way in these 85 years. Treading on the path of Late Shri Appasaheb is no doubt difficult, but not impossible. And this difficulty can be overcome by drawing inspiration from the life, philosophy and the goal of the founder.