Trilokinath Pandey was accorded the honour of being the ‘next friend’ of Shri Ramlalla Virajmaan in the Ram Janmabhoomi title suit.
He passed away in Lucknow on 24 September.
I think it was 2014-15 when I first saw Shri Trilokinath Pandey. He came to meet my senior, who was one of the advocates for Shri Ramlalla Virajmaan in the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court. I, however, came to know him from close quarters only during the final hearings of the Ram Janmabhoomi case in the Supreme Court of India.
In the 40-day hearing of the case, there was not a single day that he was not present in the court. Every evening after court, we, the lawyers, and the litigants for Shri Ramlalla Virajmaan, that comprised of Shri Champat Rai, Shri Om Prakash Singhal and Shri Trilokinath Pandey, would meet over evening tea and discuss the further course of action.
What set Shri Trilokinath Pandey apart from others was his ability to lighten the situations by sharing jokes or anecdotes from the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Shri Pandey was someone who could joke with everyone, including the late Shri Ashok Singhal, and no one ever felt slighted. That was his persona.
During those 40 days of hearing, I never saw him tense. An ever-smiling person, he was confident of winning the case. This was despite his ill-health and difficulty in walking (he would walk with the help of a quadripod walking stick).
Shri Trilokinath Pandey, a former Pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and a senior Vishwa Hindu parishad leader, fought as a litigant on behalf of Shri Ramlalla Virajmaan both in the High Court and the Supreme Court. He was the ‘next friend’ of Shri Ramlalla Virajmaan in the Ram Janmabhoomi title suit, an honour and responsibility he held since 2010. Shri Pandey came to Ayodhya in 1992, after getting relieved from organisational responsibilities of the VHP, and since stayed in the temple town to play a crucial role in the civil and criminal cases that were filed post the demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya. He was a repository of information related to the Ram Janmabhoomi movement and the related court cases. Shri Pandey was also imprisoned during the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi.
His health worsened in 2017 and that rendered him unable to walk. He was operated on for the same and his health improved substantially. However, it worsened again earlier this year and he was admitted to a hospital in Lucknow on 20 September.
He breathed his last on 24 September after a prolonged illness of six months. Though he couldn't see the grand Ram Temple getting completed on the site, he did witness the judgment in the Ram Janmabhoomi case delivered in his favour, after decades long struggle.
The ‘immediate friend of Shri Ram’ is on his way to meet him. May the friend find a place in His lotus feet.