• Friday, April 19, 2024

INDIA

Indian legal doyen Fali S Nariman passes away at 95

Narendra Modi said Nariman had devoted his life to making justice accessible to common citizens.

Fali S Nariman

By: Pramod Thomas

LEGAL doyen and veteran advocate Fali S Nariman died in New Delhi on Wednesday (21) at the age of 95. He was suffering from multiple ailments, including cardiac issues.

Born on January 10, 1929, Nariman was enrolled as an advocate at the Bombay High Court in November 1950 and was designated a senior advocate in 1961.

Nariman was born in Rangoon (now Yangon) to a well-off business executive. The Nariman family fled to India in the face of the Japanese invasion in 1942 when he was 12.

He practised law for more than 70 years, initially in the Bombay High Court and since 1972, in the Supreme Court.

Nariman was appointed as the additional solicitor general of India in May 1972. He resigned from the post a day after the imposition of Emergency on June 26, 1975.

In his long and illustrious legal career, Nariman argued in several landmark cases, including the Bhopal gas tragedy case, TMA Pai case, Jayalalithaa disproportionate assets case and the famous case of the National Judicial Appointments Commission, which was struck down by the Supreme Court.

Nariman, who was often referred to as the Bhishma Pitamah (the supreme commander of the Kaurava forces in the epic Mahabharata) of the Indian judiciary, authored books, including Before the Memory Fades, The State of the Nation, India’s Legal System: Can it be Saved? and God Save the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

Nariman received the Padma Bhushan in January 1991 and in 2007, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan.

He was also nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha in November 1999. Nariman’s son, Rohinton Nariman, was a Supreme Court judge.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday condoled his death and said he had devoted his life to making justice accessible to common citizens.

In a post on X, Modi said: “Shri Fali Nariman Ji was among the most outstanding legal minds and intellectuals. He devoted his life to making justice accessible to common citizens. I am pained by his passing away. My thoughts are with his family and admirers. May his soul rest in peace.”

The Congress party condoled Nariman’s death, with Rahul Gandhi saying his contributions have not only shaped landmark cases, but also inspired generations of jurists to uphold the sanctity of the Constitution and civil liberties.

In a post on X, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the death Nariman is a huge loss to the legal system.

“A Padma Vibhushan recipient, his unwavering commitment to his principles remained steadfast and admirable. My deepest condolences to his family, friends and compatriots. May his soul rest in peace,” Kharge said on the microblogging platform.

Gandhi condoled the veteran lawyer’s demise and said it leaves a profound void in the legal community. “His contributions have not only shaped landmark cases, but have also inspired generations of jurists to uphold the sanctity of our Constitution and civil liberties. May his commitment to justice and fairness continues to guide us, even in his absence.”

Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud on Wednesday condoled the death of Nariman, saying he was a “great giant of an intellectual”.

“Mr Attorney General, we mourn the sad demise and passing away of Fali Nariman. He was a great giant of an intellectual,” Chandrachud told Attorney General R Venkataramani as he began the day’s proceedings in the apex court.

Reacting to the news of his death, senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi took to X and wrote: “End of an era’ #falinariman passes away, a living legend who will forever be in hearts and minds of those in law and public life. Above all his diverse achievements, he stuck to his principles unwaveringly and called a spade a spade, a quality shared by his brilliant son #Rohinton.”

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta said not only the legal fraternity, but the country has lost a towering figure of intellect and wisdom.

(Agencies)

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