Former attorney general of India GE Vahanvati, who represented the government in high-profile cases such as the coal allocation scam, died in a Mumbai hospital on Tuesday following a heart attack. He was 65 years old.
The legal luminary, who had been unwell for the last three months, was admitted to Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital earlier in the day. "Mr Vahanvati passed away at 5pm on Tuesday. He had suffered a massive cardiac arrest," said Dr Ram Narain, executive director of the institute.
Born on May 7, 1949, Vahanvati obtained a law degree from Government Law College in Mumbai after graduating from St Xavier’s College. He began his practice in his father’s chambers in 1972, and became the advocate general of Maharashtra in 1999.
In 2004, he was picked as the solicitor general of India, a post he held for five years, before becoming the country’s 13th attorney general in 2009 under UPA-2. He resigned from the position on May 27 this year, following the regime change at the Centre.
Vahanvati’s tenure as the country’s top law officer was marked by several high profile and controversial cases, including the 2G case in which he was called to depose as a witness during the trial of former minister A Raja. Vahanvati had admitted that the AG’s post often became an “onerous responsibility”.
“The news is very shocking and sudden. He was a brilliant brain,” said Maharashtra advocate general Darius Khambata.
As advocate general of Maharashtra between December 1999 and June 2004, Vahanvati represented the state in the public interest litigation pertaining to the Rs 60,000 crore fake stamp paper scam. In this period, he also successfully fought the challenge to reservation for other backward classes (OBCs) in higher education, and vigorously defended the Maharashtra government in the case involving the Dabhol power project.
Vahanvati is survived by his wife, daughter and son. The funeral is likely to take place in Mumbai on Wednesday.