Indian students participate in a silent protest to mourn the death of a gang rape victim, in Guwahati on Saturday. Indian police have charged six accused with murder after the woman died in a Singapore hospital where she had been flown for treatment. Courtesy AP Photo
Noted Chandigarh-based lawyer Hira Lal Sibal, father of union minister for communications Kapil Sibal, passed away at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) here on Saturday morning. He was 98.
According to PGI officials, Sibal breathed his last at around 10.30 am. He was critical and was suffering from pneumonia and heart-related diseases. He was admitted to the hospital on December 20.
Another of Sibal's sons, Kanwal Sibal, had served as India's foreign secretary.
Sibal's legal practice spanned 67 years. He was among the few lawyers to have turned down the offer of becoming a judge of a high court.
Interestingly, Sibal had defended celebrated Urdu writers Saadat Hassan Manto and Ismat Chughtai in cases of "indecent writing" filed against them in the pre-Independence era in Lahore. He defended Manto in two cases and in both Manto was acquitted. This year in May, during Manto centenary celebrations, Sibal told the media that the cases were filed against his stories 'Kali Salwar' and 'Boo'.
A Punjab government press release said Sibal was a legal luminary and eminent jurist besides being an able administrator with the rare qualities of head and heart, who was bestowed with Padma Bhushan and Punjab Rattan awards for the distinguished services rendered by him in the arena of law. He practised at the Punjab and Haryana high court and the Supreme Court for over five decades.
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said Sibal's death had created a void in the legal fraternity, which was difficult to fill. He said Sibal as an advocate general of Punjab left an indelible impression of his farsightedness, legal acumen and forthright approach. The chief minister termed the passing away of Sibal as a personal loss saying he had warm ties with the Sibal family for years.
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said it was an irreparable loss to the legal world.
Condoling the death, Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh said he had known Sibal for long and his contribution to the legal field was unparalleled. He said the country had lost an eminent and distinguished jurist.