Former CESTAT Vice-President IJ Rao passes away
DECEMBER 21, 2017
By Vijay Kumar
DEATH lays its icy hands on kings and it did on IJ Rao last week.IJ Rao was the first directly recruited Class-I officer of the Central Excise Department and retired in 1991 as the Vice-President of CESTAT (then CEGAT) which he joined in 1983. In one of his articles for us, he stated,
I joined the Central Excise Department in October 1955. It was a historic occasion because I was the first to join as a direct recruit in the Department. For the first time, such recruitment was made.
That was not a help to me. There was no training scheme and the then Collector, Mr. Neale, chalked out an ad-hoc training schedule with the intention of finishing my training in six months. None knew what my position was as I joined as a Probationary Superintendent (class I) and the Assistant Collectors and the Deputy Collectors were all class II officers. Mainly to get rid of the embarrassment, the Collector sent me to various divisions and ranges. None knew what to do with me. Some superintendents and Inspectors did help me to get an idea of what the Department was all about but on the whole, it was not at all an ideal situation .
He worked as Collector of Customs at Kolkata and Chennai, before joining the Tribunal. Mr. Rao was a prolific story writer in Telugu. I could persuade him to write three articles for us – even after he stopped writing.
1. My life in Central Excise : A reminiscence
2. A student's view of two SC judgements : Z B Nagarkar and Duli Chand
3. Looking back; Some reminiscences
He even wrote a story on the humble paper-pin called gundusudi in Telugu. (which were in abundance in our offices in those days).
He used to be in touch with me through e-mail and it was always educative and informative, for me. Just last month, I sent him a mail;
Once you told me that Gollapudi Maruti Rao1 called you over phone and asked you to write a story quickly. Suddenly you noticed the humble pin (gundusudi) on your desk and you asked whether you can write a story on gundusudi, which you ultimately did and this incident spurred the interest in me on what could be the story on gundusudi. Now when I got the book with the gundusudi, I find Gollapudi saying that he sat in your office and asked you to write a story and on your asking what story, he suggested that you write on gundusudi. Now this is a literary mystery for me whether he asked you to write on gundusudi or you suggested the gundusudi. I think both of you should sit together, recall the incident and come to a unanimous conclusion for the sake of literary precision. I am ready to host the literary tea party, not very particular about tea, which can be substituted with any choice liquid.
1. Gollapudi Maruti Rao is a famous writer and a former director of All India Radio.
On 12.11.2017, he mailed me,
I will be delighted to spend a little time with you. Recently I had a fall in my bedroom and had a small fracture; my left foot is plastered. So, I am somewhat chair and bedbound. But I would like to spend a little time with you, preferably in the afternoon after 3 p.m.
I am sorry I have to deny myself a long chat with you but I love to see you and exchange views for a little while. Old age is punishing but has its own rewards!
I planned to meet him during the first fortnight of this month, but that could not take place due to a death in my family and now it's too late. I missed him.
His last mail to me was on 10.12.2017, in which he mentioned, "The advantage of exercising every day is that you die healthier." He died on 13.12.2017
I am sure he died with a smile.