Beyond its alluring blue beaches and verdant hills, Visakhapatnam boasts a vibrant tapestry woven with the rich tales of its people. Trailblazers from various fields have contributed immensely to the city’s progress, leaving their mark not just on Visakhapatnam, but on the nation and the world. At Yo! Vizag, we take immense pride in these stalwarts and are thus reviving stories of the city’s past through our series, “Eminent Vizagite,” previously published in our print editions. Yo! Vizag is breathing life into its print interviews, bringing you face-to-face with the city’s unforgettable characters and their timeless tales. We begin with the captivating story of the late Sri Yadavalli Venkata Sanyasi Row ( YV Sanyasi Row), a highly respected advocate from Visakhapatnam and the Andhra region.
Late Sri Yadavalli Sanyasi Row, (25 August 1927 – 8 December 2023)
At the esteemed Madras High Court, Chief Justice Sir Lionel Leach was highly impressed by a young man’s argument. Destined to become a brilliant lawyer and leading expert in Industrial legalities, the 18-year-old qualified Law graduate had been denied enrolment into the court. The reason – an ambiguous rule, as per which the minimum age for joining the rolls of the Madras High Court was 21 years. “I argued that when a person is considered a major after attaining the age of 18 and when I was allowed to sit for the Bar Council Examination, is it not unjust that I will be told at this juncture that the rule says that unless I am 21 years I cannot be enrolled?” When accosted with this lacuna, Sir Lionel Leach commented that he the young man in question would make a very good lawyer. And become a leading lawyer he did. Sri Y V Sanyasi Row attended court even when he was 85 years old, and addressed the legal issues of his various industrial clients. In legal circles, he gained much respect and was approached for his advice and immense storehouse of knowledge on legal matters.
The early years
Born and educated in Rajam, Sri Row often felt that he was ‘forced’ into studying law. The only significant aspect of Rajam back then was the presence of the District Munsif Court (the court of the lowest order handling matters about civil matters and controlled by the District Court), which served all the surrounding areas. His father, a leading advocate, fell ill and passed away when young Sanyasi was only 14. It was then that his uncle stepped up, managed his father’s offices, and educated the young boy, who graduated in Law from Bombay University at just 18 years old. When rejected for enrolment in the Madras High Court, on the advice of his Bombay lawyer-friends, Sri Row enrolled himself in the Bombay High Court and started practising law along with his uncle in Rajam in the year 1948. Hardworking and astute, he quickly made a mark as a significant criminal lawyer. Describing that facet of his career, he said, “I used to cross swords with luminaries like Justice Madhusudan Rao (from Parvathipuram who went on become a Supreme Court judge) and Tamada Suryanarayana (father of Justice Tamada Gopalkrishna) and received lots of encouragement from them.” But the challenge of civil cases enticed him to try his hand at Civil Law. “So, even though seniors suggested I continue in Criminal as I was already established in that field, I was soon arguing in civil matters as well. When judges questioned me as to how I, as a practising criminal lawyer, equipped myself with civil law, I told them that I worked till one in the night with all the digests, making notes”. Eventually, he established himself as a leading advocate at Rajam, successfully dealing with civil cases too.
Foraying into Industrial law
Around that time, after successfully handling a case for Satyanarayana Kahitan’s mining company in Cheeparpalli, he was approached often by clients from the mining sector. This eventually led him to become a consultant for most of the mining companies in Cheeparpalli and Vizianagaram. Back then industrial law was a nascent subject and Sri Sanyasi Row was soon accepted as a specialist in it to the extent that he even used to write articles relating to that field. “During that phase, I dealt with diverse aspects of law, including a merchant shipping-related case for the Yeduguris (of Y S Rajasekhar’s family). The points raised by me in that case were also upheld by the Madras High Court”.
His friendship with the FACOR chairman, Mr Umashankar Agarwal made it difficult to refuse the offer to join the FACOR industries as a legal advisor. “I practiced for about twenty years at Rajam when FACOR asked me to join. By then I was commuting often between three courthouses at Rajam, Cheerparpalli, and Pallakonda. Joining FACOR meant shifting to Garividi and wholly devoting my time to the company. When the question about the salary I would receive came up, I light-heartedly asked what the Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh was getting; I was assured five hundred rupees more than that, plus a bungalow and car.
Furthermore, my wife – a daughter of an IAS Officer was not too anxious to stay on at Rajam. Hence in 1968 I shifted to Garividi and stayed on there for 17 years.” The stint in Garividi honed his skill and knowledge in industrial law and made him widely accepted as an expert. He also went on to author four books on that subject, amongst which, one was highly appreciated by The Hindu as well.
Coming to Vizag
Post Garividi, Sri YV Sanyasi Row and the family shifted to Vizag at the insistence of his wife, Mrs Ratnamala. Anticipating a ‘retired’ life, he settled in Lawson’s Bay Colony, only to be pulled into teaching at Andhra University. He was invited as an honorary faculty and was teaching four days a week for two hours each. Many were surprised how this man could keep a roomful of generally restless teenagers and young adults in captive attention for so long. He was associated with the University for ten years before he quit as his workload and health interfered. “I was very happy to note that though my students rose into prominent positions, they continued to acknowledge my part in their education and knowledge”, said the proud teacher. At a later stage, he was also invited as faculty to the GITAM University and IIAM.
By this time, Sri YV Sanyasi Row was actively attending courts on behalf of many premier industries like HPCL, A P Paper Mills, Jindal Ferro Alloys, and GMR. An accepted monarch in industrial law, at the age of 52 years in 1982 he also completed his post-graduation, after a relative belittled his educational qualifications. “I did my MA Sociology from Mysore University and flaunted the degree in her face”, he humorously added.
Academics apart, Sri YV Sanyasi Row was an avid cricketer and a tennis player. He captained his law college cricket team and actively played tennis. “My father-in-law had great faith in me. Even though I came from an ordinary background and without a father, he offered his daughter’s hand in marriage after seeing my horoscope; though they made me wait for two years before we were finally married!” he adds with a twinkle in his eye.
Growing with the city
In closing, he comments on how Vizag has transformed over the years. “There is no doubt about the rapid growth of Vizag and there is no doubt about the pollution too! When I first built my house in Lawson’s Bay there wasn’t even a street. And today, with underground drainage, even the mosquito menace has been considerably reduced. But civic sense has to improve and the realisation of a citizen’s responsibility has to set in. I believe Vizag will be a heaven with time, once pollution reduces”.
Note: This was an interview given by Sri Yadavalli Sanyasi Row to Yo! Vizag in (April 2012) and written by Uma Chodavarapu.
Sri YV Sanyasi Row was the grandfather of Yo! Vizag Founder & Editor Shilpanjani Dantu. His encouragement was invaluable, and he took great pride in Yo! Vizag. With every edition, he provided both constructive criticism and appreciation for the content we curated. ‘Thank you, Tatagaru, for always being the strength behind us.’
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