Tej Bahadur Sapru

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Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, KCSI, PC (8 December 1875 – 20 January 1949) was a prominent Indian freedom fighter, lawyer and politician. He was a key figure in India's struggle for independence, helping draft the Indian Constitution. He was the leader of the Liberal party in British-ruled India.[citation needed]

Early life and career[edit]

Tej Bahadur Sapru was born in Aligarh in the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh). He was born in a Kashmiri Hindu family.[1] He was educated at the Agra College. Sapru worked in the Allahabad High Court as a lawyer where Purushottam Das Tandon, a future nationalist leader, worked as his junior. He later served as a Dean of the Banaras Hindu University.[citation needed]

Political career[edit]

Although initially a member of the Indian National Congress, India's largest political party, Sapru left it to join the Liberal party of India. While he supported Swaraj (Self Rule) and civil disobedience against British colonial rule, as a constitutionalist, Sapru advocated for greater political rights and freedoms for Indians to be achieved through dialogue with British authorities.[citation needed]

Sapru and Indian Liberals collaborated with the Congress after the ascent of Mahatma Gandhi, who advocated non-violent civil disobedience against British rule. Sapru supported the Non-cooperation movement (1920–22), the Salt Satyagraha (1930–31) and the Quit India Movement (1942–46). Sapru and other Liberal politicians, eager to achieve independence through dialogue, participated in the central and provincial legislatures set up by the British, even though they were opposed by most Indian political parties and ignored by the people, who considered the legislatures to be unrepresentative "rubber stamps" for the Viceroy of India. Sapru served in the Legislative Council of the United Provinces (1913–16) and the Imperial Legislative Council (1916–20) and as a member for law affairs in the Viceroy's Council (1920–23). He was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India (KCSI) in the 1923 King's Birthday Honours list,[2] and was appointed a member of the Privy Council on 26 February 1934.[3]

Many Congress politicians respected Sapru as an eminent jurist, as he was a valuable and effective mediator. Sapru mediated between Gandhi and the Viceroy Lord Irwin, helping to forge the Gandhi–Irwin Pact that ended the Salt Satyagraha.[citation needed] Sapru also mediated between Gandhi, Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar and the British over the issue of separate electorates for India's "Untouchables", which was settled by the Poona Pact. Sapru was chosen as the representative of Indian Liberals at the Round Table Conferences (1931–33), which sought to deliberate plans over granting more autonomy to Indians. His efforts along with those of his contemporary M. R. Jayakar at the Round Table Conferences for bridging the differences between the British administration and Congress are well known.[citation needed]

Sapru supported the Viceroy's decision to bring India into the Second World War in 1939, even as the Congress criticised the decision as unilateral and made without consulting the representatives of India's people. Sapru was also one of the main lawyers engaged to defend captured soldiers of the rebel Indian National Army, raised by nationalist leader Subhas Chandra Bose with the aid of Imperial Japan during the war.[citation needed]

As early as 1927, Sapru organized an All Party Conference to begin drafting the Indian Constitution. In 1928, he helped draft the Nehru Committee Report on Constitutional Reforms. It is acknowledged as the most important document related to the evolution of the Indian Constitution. For the first time in the history of India, it proposed uniting the princely states with the rest of India as a part of the federal polity. The Constitution was finally ratified in 20 years later.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Sapru was the only son of Ambika Prasad Sapru and his wife Gaura Sapru (nee Hukku). Sapru's mother Gaura was the sister of Niranjan Hukku, whose daughter Uma was married to Shyamlal Nehru, a first cousin of Jawaharlal Nehru. Sapru was also an eighth cousin Allama Iqbal, national poet of Pakistan and a Muslim ideologue who was among those who formulated the very idea of Pakistan in the 1930s. Allama Iqbal's grandfather was Sahaj Ram Sapru, a Hindu Kashmiri Brahmin who was a distant (but agnatic) relative of Sapru.

Sapru and his wife were the parents of five children. Their three sons were Prakash Narain Sapru, Trijugi Narain Sapru, and Anand Narain Sapru and their daughters were named Jagdambashwari and Bhuvaneshwari. Sapru was the grandfather of Jagdish Narain Sapru, former chairman of British Oxygen and of The ITC conglomerate.

Sir Tej bahadur Sapru died on January 20, 1949 in Allahabad, barely seventeen months after India gained independence.


  1. ^ Mohan Kumar. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru: a political biography. Vipul Prakashan. Retrieved 2007-03-25. Even now there are many distinguished scholars of Persian among the Kashmiri Brahmins in India. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru and Raja Narendranath to mention two of them.
  2. ^ "No. 32782". The London Gazette (4th supplement). 1 January 1923. p. 4.
  3. ^ "No. 34168". The London Gazette. 7 June 1935. p. 3691.