[dropcap]R[/dropcap]AM Jethmalani, one of India’s finest lawyers and a former union minister, died this morning at his home in New Delhi, six days short of his 96th birthday.
He is survived by his son, noted lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani and a daughter based in the US. His other daughter Rani Jethmalani had passed away a few years ago.
The legal veteran died at 7:45 am at his official residence in New Delhi, his son Mahesh Jethmalani told news agency PTI. He said Jethmalani was not keeping well for the last few months.
At 94, Jethmalani had announced retirement from the legal profession to fight corruption in the country. A six-time Rajya Sabha member, he served as the Law Minister and the Urban Development Minister in the Vajpayee Government. He also served as the chairman of the Bar Council of India.
Born in Sindh on September 14, 1923, he had obtained a law degree when he was just 17 and started practising law in Karachi until the partition, says his official website. “The partition led him to move to Bombay as a refugee and he began his life afresh with his family,” it read. “Ram Jethmalani, known as a maverick lawyer with many distinctions to his credit, obtained a law degree at an early age of 17 and started practising law in Karachi until the partition of India.The partition led him to move to Bombay as a refugee and he began his life afresh with his family.”
Recalling Jethmalani’s role as a firebrand human rights defender, senior Supreme Court lawyer and former additional solicitor general of India, Indira Jaising said, “He defended the assassins of former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi besides Afzal Guru in Parliament attack case. He appeared in several important cases concerning constitutional matters…”
“Jethmalani remained a strong votary of India-Pakistan friendship all through his life. Both of us belonged to Shikarpur, Sindh in undivided India,” she recalled.
Ram Jethmalini is no more , we belonged to the same town Shikurpur Sind. We had a common dream, to see India and Pakastan friends ,that was his unfinished agenda , he was there for every one who needed him including Afzal Guru. Our politics differed but we loved each other RIP
— Indira Jaising (@IJaising) September 8, 2019
Jethmalani came to prominence with his appearance in the KM Nanavati vs State of Maharashtra case in which he was the prosecutor. He fought many other high-profile cases where he defended high-profile cases of corruption and scams involving several top politicians, including RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav. He also defended Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh in stock market scams, Manu Sharma in the Jessica Lal murder case and DMK leader Kanimozhi in the 2G scam. He also defended Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a defemation case filed by late Arun Jaitley.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah visited Jethmalani’s residence to pay his respects . “Deeply pained to know about the passing away of India’s veteran lawyer and former Union Minister Shri Ram Jethmalani ji. In him we have not only lost a distinguished lawyer but also a great human who was full of life.,” Shah tweeted.
From Prime Minister Narendra Modi to leaders across political and social spectrum, and prominent civil society members joined in to pay tributes to the 95-year-old eminent lawyer. Here’s a collection of Twitter reactions:
In the passing away of Shri Ram Jethmalani Ji, India has lost an exceptional lawyer and iconic public figure who made rich contributions both in the Court and Parliament. He was witty, courageous and never shied away from boldly expressing himself on any subject. pic.twitter.com/8fItp9RyTk
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 8, 2019
Deeply condole the passing away of the veteran lawyer and former Law Minister Ram Jethmalani. His brilliance, eloquence, powerful advocacy and sound understanding of law will remain a worthy example in legal profession. My profound condolences.
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) September 8, 2019
Extremely saddened at the passing away of legendary lawyer Ram Jethmalani ji. An institution in himself, he shaped criminal law in post-independence India. His void would never be filled and his name will be written in golden words in legal history.
RIP Ram sir
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) September 8, 2019
Even the sky must learn to say goodbye to the stars . I thank you sir for touching my life. 🙏🙏🙏. Ram Jethmalani passes away at 95.
— Mahesh Bhatt (@MaheshNBhatt) September 8, 2019
Ram Jethmalani was brilliant, fiesty and fun. His 2006 interview with Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN is a must-watch for the bulldog he was, and for what television journalism was. https://t.co/TFAitX20gZ pic.twitter.com/e54x4QDedi
— churumuri (@churumuri) September 8, 2019
Attorney General KK Venugopal said with the passing away of noted jurist Ram Jethmalani, the country has lost its finest lawyer who was bold and handled the most sensational criminal cases and constitutional matters.
“His passing away is a great loss not only to the Bar in the country but also to Parliament and the country as a whole,” Venugopal told PTI.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy also bid his “friend” farewell and said, “My friend turned foe turned very good friend Ram Jethmalani passed away today at 95 years age. Farewell friend.”
His last rites will be performed in the evening at the Lodhi Road crematorium at 4 pm.