Who was Fali S Nariman? A look at his landmark cases | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Who was Fali S Nariman? A look at his landmark cases

Feb 21, 2024 12:41 PM IST

Nariman, born on January 10, 1929, in Rangoon, began his legal career by enrolling as an advocate of the Bombay High Court in November 1950.

Renowned jurist and senior Supreme Court advocate Fali Sam Nariman passed away on Wednesday morning at the age of 95. He was suffering from multiple ailments, including cardiac issues.

Jurist Fali Sam Nariman (PTI)
Jurist Fali Sam Nariman (PTI)

Nariman was not only a renowned legal figure but also a prolific author. Among his notable works are "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.”

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Who was Fali S Nariman?

Nariman, born on January 10, 1929, in Rangoon, then part of British India, began his legal career by enrolling as an advocate of the Bombay High Court in November 1950. His stature grew, and he was designated as a senior advocate in 1961.

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

A former Rajya Sabha member, Nariman practised law for more than 70 years.

In 1950, Nariman became an advocate of the Bombay High Court and in 1961 became the senior advocate. In 1972, he moved to New Delhi to practice in the Supreme Court of India.

In May 1972, Nariman assumed the role of additional solicitor-general of India. However, he resigned a day after the Emergency was imposed on June 26, 1975. His son, Justice Rohinton F Nariman, formerly served as a judge on the Supreme Court.

The veteran lawyer was also the President of the Bar Association of India from 1991 to 2010.

Throughout his career, he held various prestigious positions including President of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration from 1994, Vice-Chairman of the Internal Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce from 1989, and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the International Commission of Jurists in Geneva from 1995 to 1997, among others.

What were some of Nariman's landmark cases?

The eminent lawyer represented Union Carbide in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy case and also played a significant role in striking a $470 million deal between the victims and the organisation outside the court.

Nariman played significant roles in landmark cases such as the Golak Nath case, establishing judicial review over constitutional amendments.

He was also a part of the NJAC verdict and the SC AoR Association case, which influenced the establishment of the collegium system.

He also participated in cases like the TMA Pai case, addressing the extent of minority rights under Article 30.

He was the lawyer of the Gujarat Government in the Narmada rehabilitation case. However, he resigned after several Christians were attacked.

Condolences pour in

Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences. He said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, “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.”

Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud condoled the death of Nariman before beginning the day's proceedings. He said, “We mourn the sad demise and passing away of Fali Nariman. He was a great giant of an intellectual.”

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan said to PTI in an interview, “The passing away of Mr Nariman is the end of an era of our legal history. He was regarded as the 'Bhishma Pitamaha' of our legal community. He had seen the whole unfolding of our Constitution and the judiciary from very close quarters and he had always been engaged with almost all the important battles in the court that have taken place.”

In a post on X, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi called Nariman a living legend who will forever be in the hearts and minds of those in law and public life. “Above all his diverse achievements, he stuck to his principles unwaveringly & called a spade a spade, a quality shared by his brilliant son….”

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