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Legal doyen Fali Nariman passes away

Last updated on: February 21, 2024 12:38 IST

Legal doyen and veteran advocate Fali S Nariman died here on Wednesday at the age of 95.

Photograph: ANI Photo

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 Fali 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" 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.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled Nariman's 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 prime minister said.

Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud said Nariman was a "great giant of an intellectual".

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.

"The country has lost an epitome of what righteousness stood for. A doyen, paragon and a legend in his own lifetime has left us, leaving the jurisprudence enriched by his immense contribution. I have always learnt something new by merely appearing even against him," the law officer said in his message.

Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan said Nariman's death was an enormous loss to the country.

In a post on X, Bhushan wrote: "Very sad news. Eminent Jurist Fali S Nariman Passes Away. He was also regarded as the Bhishma Pitamah of the lawyer community. A great lawyer and close friend of our family. His passing away at this critical juncture is an enormous loss for our country."

Fali Nariman's son, Rohinton Nariman, was a Supreme Court judge.

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