The nation mourns a great citizen, a brilliant scientist and one of the country’s most popular Presidents. It wasn’t in Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam’s nature to be a mere figurehead. Throughout his stint as the 11th President of India, he had exercised his powers showing strength, mercy and wisdom in equal measure..As India bids farewell to an ignited mind, we take a look at five instances where the People’s President rubbed shoulders with the legal world..1. His Toughest Decision.In May 2006, during Kalam’s first tenure, amendments to the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 were passed in Parliament. The amendment sought to exempt 55 posts, the holding of which usually disqualifies members of Parliament..When the Bill came to Kalam for Presidential assent, he sent it back, citing the lack of a clear definition of “office of profit” in the Bill. He also wanted it to be implemented uniformly across all states. The Bill was criticized as a machination to protect Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s disqualification for holding an office of profit..Despite these concerns, the Rajya Sabha passed it again two months later, with the Lok Sabha following suit. Due to the constraints under Article 111, Kalam was left with no choice but to give his assent..2. Missile Man on a Mission.Kalam spearheaded the Pokhran- II tests amidst threats of sanctions from other countries, back when India was reluctant to join the Missile Test Control Regime. He had also wanted to develop a law on Indian Missile Technology. To achieve this end, he worked with the current RMLNLU Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Gurdip Singh..In an interview with Bar & Bench, Singh recounted the experience..“Back in the 1990’s I would work day and night with Dr. Abdul Kalam who was the director of DRDO. Prof. Kalam wanted to give legal infrastructure to the Indian missile technology when the US threatened to impose sanctions. Once he was convinced that I would be able to justify the development of the missile, he sanctioned the project on Indian missile technology and International Law to me.”.3. The Man Who Would Never be President.Advocate Charan Lal Sahu is notorious for desperately trying to be President of India. Unfortunately for him, on the four occasions he has tried, his nomination papers have been rejected. All four times, he has filed election petitions against the eventual Presidents, the last one being APJ Abdul Kalam..In a 2002 judgment, the Supreme Court came down heavily on Sahu for constantly filing frivolous election petitions. Justice Ashok Bhan imposed costs of Rs. 50,000 on Sahu, who was not allowed to file petitions till the fee was paid..4. To Err is Human.Kalam was never a man to shy away from accepting mistakes. In 2005, Bihar Governor Buta Singh recommended President’s Rule in the state. He claimed that attempts were being made to cobble a majority by illegal means in order to form the government of the state. The Council of Ministers endorsed the Governor’s view and proposed the same to President Kalam..Kalam, who was then in Russia, decided to trust the Governor’s report and issue a notification proclaiming emergency in the state. However, the Supreme Court in Rameshwar Prasad v. Union of India would later quash the notification and restore the assembly, criticizing the Governor’s heavy-handedness..Later, in his book Turning Points: A Journey Through Challenges, Kalam would express his regret at making that decision..5. To Forgive, Divine.Kalam is known to have sent dozens of mercy petitions back for reconsideration during his tenure. Though some may criticise Kalam for failing to exercise his Constitutional duty under Article 72, the fact is that he was not in favour of the death penalty, having expressed so on a few occasions..He noted that most death row convicts belonged to underprivileged backgrounds and advocated for a comprehensive policy on the death penalty. During his tenure, he rejected one mercy petition (Dhananjoy Chatterjee in 2004) and commuted one death sentence to life imprisonment (Kheraj Ram in 2006)..Image taken from here.