Famous Personalities of India : W.C. Bonnerjee
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BONNERJEE, WOMESH CHANDRA (1844-1906). Bonnerjee presided over the first session of the Indian National Congress in 1885 and again in 1892. He belonged to the Bengali Bhadrolok or high-caste, English-educated, and wealthy Bengali family, who maintained pressure on the British to permit basic English freedoms in their Indian empire. In many respects, Womesh Chandra was typical of' his class. He Studied law and qualified for the Bar council Middle Temple, London. He was the first Indian to be appointed standing Counsel to government and -attained fame in his spirited defense of Surendranath Bannerjee. He maintained a lavish lifestyle, and his wife was converted to Christianity. He declined offers to appoint him as a judge and continued his legal practice. He became President of the Law Faculty at Calcutta University in 1886.

Bannerjee had great faith in the British sense of justice and in constitutional reforms the path to self-government in India. He pressed for representative institutions in India and for much greater administrative responsibility in the hands of Indians. He believed that personal relationships could transcend artificial barriers of race and creed, which is demonstrated in his own life. He did not take an active interest in issues of social reforms but supported the Indian National Congress as an "institution of dignity and respectability," that could command British respect.

In 1902 Bannerjee moved to England where he argued cases before the highest court in the British Empire, the Privy Council. He also advised the Parliamentary Standing Committee on India and financed a journal.

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