Excerpts from our Early History Files – 1939 to 1989
By Late Advocate Shri R. H. Kulkarni
In the glorious history of our freedom struggle, lawyers of Belgaum District have played a remarkable role. Distinguished Lawyers and freedom fighters of Belgaum, Bijapur & Dharwad districts realised the importance of legal education in North Karnataka. Legal Education then was very expensive & was not available here. To get a law Degree, one had to go to Bombay, Poona, Kolhapur or Madras. In 1939, this Society was formed & registered under Societies act in 1860. Later it was registered under Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950. The Law College was started in November, 1939. Shri G.H. Kelkar, silver tongued orator who had earlier mooted the idea of starting Law College at Belgaum became the first Principal, sacrificing his lucrative practice. Other founder members worked as Honorary part-time professors, prominent among them being shriyuts B.N.Datar, V.A.Naik, N.S.Shrikhande, Barrister R.P.Pandit, Y.N. Lele, D.R.Majali, V.A.Mujumdar & D.P.Karmarkar.
Within a short period the college acquired popularity & status of a prestigious institution on account of its high academic standard of teaching & good results. This attracted students from Andhra, Kerala & Madras. There were many occasions when then the college had to reject applications for admission on account of heavy rush of students
Members on whose sacrifice, sincerity & hard work this institution was built up included Justice N.S.Lokur, who was the first President of the society, Sarvashri Narayanrao Joshi, the then Deputy Speaker of erstwhile Bombay Legislative Assembly, S.N. Angadi, who later became Deputy Speaker of Bombay Legislative Assembly, B.N.Datar, a freedom fighter & Union Home Minister, Keshavrao Gokhale, a Freedom Fighter & a legislator from Belgaum, D.R.Majali, a noted senior lawyer & freedom fighter, Justice V.A. Naik Judge of Bombay High Court, N.S.Shrikhande who later joined judiciary & retired as District Judge, V.A.Mujumdar, an eminent lawyer from Belgaum, V.D. Belvi, Senior member of Belgaum Bar, V.G.Jamakhandi & Rao Bahadur Sawkar, Senior Lawyers from Dharwad. Barrister R.P.Pandit, Y.N.Lele & V.V.Albal later joined this august body
An application for affiliation of Law College was made to Bombay University. According to rules then prevailing, an amount of Rs 1 Lakh was required to be deposited with the University. Late Shri G.H.Kelkar who happened to be a close friend of late Shri Basavprabhu Sirdesai of Vantamuri ( son of late Shri Rajasaheb ) & Late Shri B.N.Datar, approached late Shri Rajasheb Lakhamgounda Sirdesai of Vantamuri for donations. He was a king among donors and a donor among kings. Rajasheb, the first Barrister at Law from Karnataka, without any hesitation contributed a huge sum of money in the form of Government Promissory Note. The college came to be named after him as ‘Raja Lakhamgounda Law College”. In 1939 the college started functioning with only 37 students.
It was a Glorious day in the infant life of the college when, the then Diwan of Mysore, Sir Mirza Ismail Formally Inaugurated the functioning the college in the new premises in 1940. The College was first housed in Doddannavar’s Bungalow at Belgaum Fort for during the second term in the academic year of 1938-39. It was later shifted to magnificent palatial building of Anant Bhat in Tilakwadi from November, 1939
On account of selfless services of founder members of the society & other who served as Honorary Professors, a Lot of money was saved and out of these savings, foundation stone for the Law College building was laid by Maharaja of Mysore in 1950 in the present premises of the Law College.
Consequently the management was able to start in 1954 its Commerce College of which Late Wrangler P.S.Katti became the first Principal. The heavy responsibility of managing these colleges soon brought the society into financial difficulties (and the same difficulty was also faced by Law College) as a result of which several attempts were made to collect funds to meet the situation. Good luck would have it the Management approached Raosaheb B. M.Gogte noted industrialist of Karnataka & Maharashtra for donations he donated sum of Rs 50,000/- to tide all over difficlites. In 1966 college was named after him, as “Gogte College of Commerce” and Raosaheb B.M.Gogte was made a Patron of the Society. Thanks to the Great philanthropist who again came to our rescue when the Society started its Engineering College in the year 1979. He gave a munificent donation of Rs. 10 Lakhs to the new Engineering College started by the Karnatak Law Society. It was named – “Gogte Institute of Technology”.
. . . . . and the magnificent journey has continued since.