Ram Jethmalani

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Ram Jethmalani
Ram Jethmalani.jpg
Minister of Law and Justice
In office
16 May 1996 1 June 1996
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded by Kotla Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy
Succeeded by Ramakant Khalap
In office
June 1999 23 July 2000
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Preceded by M. Thambidurai
Succeeded by Arun Jaitley
Minister of Urban Development
In office
19 March 1998 14 June 1999
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha
In office
8 July 2016 8 September 2019
Constituency Bihar
In office
5 July 2010 4 July 2016
Constituency Rajasthan
In office
2006–2009
Constituency Nominated
In office
1994–2006
Constituency Maharashtra
In office
3 April 1988 2 April 1994
Constituency Karnataka
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
1977–1984
Preceded by Hari Ramchandra Gokhale
Succeeded by Sunil Dutt
Constituency Mumbai North-West
Personal details
Born(1923-09-14)14 September 1923
Shikarpur, Bombay Presidency, British India
(now Shikarpur, Sindh, Pakistan)
Died8 September 2019(2019-09-08) (aged 95)
New Delhi, India
Political party Rashtriya Janata Dal (After 2016)
Other political
affiliations
Bharatiya Janata Party (1980–85)
Janata Dal (1989–93)
Pavitra Hindustan Kazhagam (1995)
Bharatiya Janata Party (2010–2013)
Spouse(s)
Durga Jethmalani
(m. 1941;his death 2019)

Ratna Jethmalani
(m. 1947;his death 2019)
Residence2, Akbar Road, New Delhi, India [1]
Alma mater S.C. Shahani Law College, Karachi- University of Bombay
Profession Lawyer, Jurist, Professor of Law, Politician, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
Website www.ramjethmalanimp.in

Ram Boolchand Jethmalani (14 September 1923 – 8 September 2019) was an Indian lawyer and politician. He served as India's Union minister of law and justice, as chairman of the Indian Bar Council, and as the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. He was noted in the Indian legal fraternity for his forte in criminal law and high-profile civil cases.

Bar Council of India statutory body that regulates the legal practice and legal education in India

The Bar Council of India is a statutory body established under the section 4 of advocates Act 1961 that regulates the legal practice and legal education in India. Its members are elected from amongst the lawyers in India and as such represents the Indian bar. It prescribes standards of professional conduct, etiquettes and exercises disciplinary jurisdiction over the bar. It also sets standards for legal education and grants recognition to Universities whose degree in law will serve as a qualification for students to enroll themselves as advocates upon graduation.

Contents

Jethmalani obtained his LL.B. degree at the age of 17 and started practising law in his hometown, Shikarpur, until the partition of India. The partition led him to move to Mumbai as a refugee where he began his life and career afresh. He announced his retirement from judicial profession in 2017.

Shikarpur, Sindh City in Sindh, Pakistan

ShikarpurŚikārpūr) is small city and the capital of Shikarpur District in Sindh province of Pakistan. It is situated about 29 km west of the right bank of the Indus, with a railway station, 37 km north-west of Sukkur. According to the 2017 Census of Pakistan, its population is 195,437.

Partition of India partition of British India into the independent states of India and Pakistan in 1947

The partition of India was the partition of British India in 1947 which accompanied the creation of two independent states, India and Pakistan. The Union of India is today the Republic of India and Dominion of Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People's Republic of Bangladesh. The partition involved the division of two provinces, Bengal and the Punjab, based on district-wise Hindu or Muslim majorities. It also involved the division of the British Indian Army, the Royal Indian Navy, the Indian Civil Service, the railways, and the central treasury, between the two new dominions. The partition was set forth in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and resulted in the dissolution of the British Raj, or Crown rule in India. The two self-governing countries of India and Pakistan legally came into existence at midnight on 14–15 August 1947.

Mumbai Megacity and state capital in Maharashtra, India

Mumbai is the most populous city in India and a megacity with a population of 12.4 million living under the Mumbai city limits which is administered by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Mumbai is the most densely populated megacity in the world. Mumbai is also the global city and the financial capital of India. Mumbai Metropolitan Region which includes surrounding areas of Mumbai city has a population of 21 million as of 2011 census. Mumbai lies on the Konkan coast on the west coast of India and has a deep natural harbour. Mumbai is the capital city of Indian state of Maharashtra. In 2008, Mumbai was named an alpha world city. It is also the wealthiest city in India, and has the highest number of millionaires and billionaires among all cities in India. Mumbai is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Elephanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, and the city's distinctive ensemble of Victorian and Art Deco buildings.

Throughout his political career, Jethmalani worked for improving the relations between India and Pakistan, owing to his experiences as a refugee post-partition. He was elected as member of the Lok Sabha twice, on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tickets, from the Mumbai North West constituency. He also served as the union minister of urban development in the first Atal Bihari Vajpayee ministry, against whom he later contested election in the 2004 Indian general elections from the Lucknow constituency. He later returned to BJP in 2010, and was elected to the Rajya Sabha on its ticket.

Lok Sabha Lower house of the Parliament of India

The Lok Sabha or House of the People is the lower house of India's bicameral Parliament, with the upper house being the Rajya Sabha. Members of the Lok Sabha are elected by adult universal suffrage and a first-past-the-post system to represent their respective constituencies, and they hold their seats for five years or until the body is dissolved by the President on the advice of the council of ministers. The house meets in the Lok Sabha Chambers of the Sansad Bhavan in New Delhi.

Bharatiya Janata Party Political party in India

The Bharatiya Janata Party is one of the two major political parties in India, along with the Indian National Congress. As of 2018, it is the country's largest political party in terms of representation in the national parliament and state assemblies, and it is the world's largest party in terms of primary membership. BJP is a right-wing party, and its policy has historically reflected Hindu nationalist positions. It has close ideological and organisational links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Mumbai North West Lok Sabha constituency is a constituency represented in the Lok Sabha of the Parliament of India, having approximately 1.6 million voters.

Jethmalani was awarded with the Human Rights Award by World Peace Through Law in 1977. He authored books such as Big Egos, Small Men, Conscience of a Maverick, and Maverick: Unchanged, Unrepentant among others. He also co-authored legal scholarly books on different fields of law.

Personal life

Jethmalani was born in Shikarpur, Sindh in the Sindh division of the then Bombay Presidency (today a part of Pakistan) to Boolchand Gurmukhdas Jethmalani and Parbati Boolchand. [2] He got a double promotion in school and completed matriculation at the age of 13. At the age of 17 he secured an LL.B. degree from the Bombay University with a first class distinction. At that time, the minimum age for becoming a lawyer was 21, but a special exception (resulting from an application that he made to the court contesting the rule regarding minimum age) allowed him to become a lawyer at the age of 18. [3] He received his LL.M. from Bombay University, since Sindh did not have a university of its own at that time. [1]

Sindh Province in Pakistan

Sindh is one of the four provinces of Pakistan, in the southeast of the country, and the historical home of the Sindhi people. Sindh is the third largest province of Pakistan by area, and second largest province by population after Punjab. Sindh is bordered by Balochistan province to the west, and Punjab province to the north. Sindh also borders the Indian states of Gujarat and Rajasthan to the east, and Arabian Sea to the south. Sindh's landscape consists mostly of alluvial plains flanking the Indus River, the Thar desert in the eastern portion of the province closest to the border with India, and the Kirthar Mountains in the western part of Sindh.

Bombay Presidency Province in British India

The Bombay Presidency, also known as Bombay and Sind from 1843 to 1936 and the Bombay Province, was an administrative subdivision (presidency) of British India. Headquartered in the city of Bombay, at its greatest extent, the presidency included the Konkan, Nashik and Pune divisions of the present-day Indian state of Maharashtra; Ahmedabad, Anand, Bharuch, Gandhinagar, Kheda, Panchmahal and Surat districts of the present-day state of Gujarat; Bagalkot, Belagavi, Bijapur, Dharwad, Gadag, and Uttara Kannada districts of the present-day state of Karnataka; the Sindh province of present-day Pakistan; the Aden Colony, and the Khuriya Muriya Islands.

Jethmalani married his first wife, Durga, in a traditional Indian arranged marriage, around the age of 18. In 1947, just before partition, he married his second wife, Ratna Shahani, a lawyer by profession. His family includes both of his wives and four children – three by Durga (Rani, Shobha, Mahesh) and one by Ratna (Janak). [3] [4] Among his two sons and two daughters, Mahesh and Rani have been supreme court lawyers while Mahesh is also a BJP leader, and Rani a social activist. [5]

Mahesh Jethmalani Senior Advocate at Bombay High Court

Mahesh Jethmalani is a Senior Advocate at Bombay High Court and a leader of Bharatiya Janata Party.

Jethmalani died on 8 September 2019 in New Delhi at his home. [6] According to his son Mahesh Jethmalani, he was unwell for the last few months and died at 7:45 AM (IST), six days short of his 96th birthday. [7] [8]

Indian Standard Time time zone, observed in India and Sri Lanka; UTC+05:30

Indian Standard Time (IST) is the time observed throughout India, with a time offset of UTC+05:30. India does not observe daylight saving time (DST) or other seasonal adjustments. In military and aviation time IST is designated E* ("Echo-Star").

Career

As a lawyer

Ram Jethmalani started his career as a lawyer and Professor in Sindh before partition. [9] He started his own law firm in Karachi with his friend A.K. Brohi who was senior to him by seven years. [3] In February 1948, when riots broke out in Karachi, he fled to India on the advice of his friend Brohi and when he came to India in that day he had only a one paisa coin in his pocket and with that note he stayed in the refugee camp for few days.

Jethmalani fought his very first case at the age of 17 in the court of Sindh under Justice Godfrey Davis, contesting the rule regarding minimum age passed by the Bar Council of Sindh. In a talk at Algebra in June 2017, Jethmalani recounted his very first case fought in India as a refugee. The newly introduced Bombay Refugees Act treated refugees in an inhumane manner, against which Jethmalani filed a case in the Bombay High Court, praying for the law to be declared unconstitutional; a case he won. [10]

Jethmalani later came to be noted for his appearance in the Nanavti case in 1959 with Yeshwant Vishnu Chandrachud, who later to become the Chief Justice of India. His defence of a string of smugglers in the late 1960s established his image as a "smuggler’s lawyer", to which he mentioned that he was only doing his duty as a lawyer. [11]

In 1954, he became a part-time Professor at the Government Law College, Mumbai for both graduate and post graduate studies. He also taught comparative law at the Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. [9] He has been the Chairman of Bar Council of India for four tenures, before as well as after the emergency. In 1996, he also became a member of the International Bar Association. He has served as the Professor Emeritus for Symbiosis International University law schools. [12] [13] In 2010, he was also elected as the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. [14] [15]

During his career he was involved in a number of high-profile defence cases as lawyer [16] – people involved in market scams (Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh), and a host of gangsters and smugglers including the British citizen Daisy Angus who was acquitted of hashish smuggling after serving five years in jail. He also defended L. K. Advani in the Hawala scam. He was in the news for taking up the defence of Manu Sharma, prime accused in the Jessica Lall murder case; however, he failed to get Manu Sharma acquitted. He was to be defending Lalit Modi, former Indian Premier League chairman and commissioner. [17] [18] [19] Some of the cases Jethmalani appeared in include — the defence of Indira Gandhi's alleged assassins, challenging the medical evidence on record; [20] defending Harshad Mehta in a stock market scam and the Narasimha Rao bribery case; [21] [21] defending Ketan Parekh in a stock market scam; [22] appearing in a case involving Mumbai mafia gang leader, Haji Mastan; [4] speaking on record against the death sentence of Afzal Guru, though he had not taken up the case; [22] defending L K Advani in the Hawala scam; [4] defending Manu Sharma in Jessica Lall's murder; [4] defending Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case; [22] defending Amit Jogi in the Jaggi murder case; [23] appearing for Sanjay Chandra's bail in the 2G spectrum case; [24] [25] appearing for Kulbhushan Parashar's bail in the navy war room leak case; [26] [27] defending Kanimozhi in the 2G spectrum case; [4] appearing in Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy's special leave petition on stay for C.B.I. probe into money laundering in his companies; [28] appearing in Yeddyurappa's case on an illegal mining scam; [29] defending A. G. Perarivalan, T Suthendraraja alias Santhan, and Sriharan alias Murugan, all convicted in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case; [4] defending Ramdev in case of allaged use of force on his followers at Ramlila grounds on 4 June 2011; [30] defending Shiv Sena in Krishna Desai's murder; [31] defending Asaram Bapu in the Jodhpur sexual assault case; [32] defending Lalu Prasad Yadav in the supreme court and appearing for his bail in the fodder scam case, on 13 December 2013; [4] appearing for Subrata Roy in the Sahara-SEBI case; [33] appearing for AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa, convicted in a disproportionate assets case by the Karnataka High Court; [34] and, appearing for AAP president Arvind Kejriwal, in a defamation case filed by Arun Jaitley, [35] [36] amongst others.

On 9 September 2017, he announced his retirement from the legal profession. [37]

As a politician

Jethmalani's experience during the partition as a refugee led him to advocate for better relations between India and Pakistan, which he sought throughout his political career. [38] He contested as an independent candidate from Ulhasnagar supported both by the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Jan Sangh but he lost the elections. [3] During the emergency period of 1975–1977, he was the chairman of the Bar Association of India. He heavily criticised then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. An arrest warrant was issued against him from Kerala which was stayed by the Bombay high court when over three hundred lawyers, led by Nani Palkhivala, appeared for him. However, the stay was nullified by the habeas corpus judgment in Additional District Magistrate of Jabalpur v. Shiv Kant Shukla. [39] Jethmalani exiled himself in Canada carrying on his campaign against the emergency. He returned to India ten months later after the emergency was lifted. While in Canada, his candidature for the Parliament was filed from the Bombay North-West constituency. He won the election and retained the seat in 1980 general elections, but lost to Sunil Dutt in 1985. In the 1977 general elections after the emergency, he won against then serving Union law minister H. R. Gokhale from Bombay in the Lok Sabha elections, and hence started his political career as a parliamentarian. [3] However he was not made law minister himself as Morarji Desai disapproved of his lifestyle. [11]

He became a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1988 and the Union minister of law, justice and company affairs in 1996, in the cabinet of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. During the second tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in 1998, he was given the portfolio of Union minister of urban affairs and employment. But on 13 October 1999 he was again sworn in as the Union minister for law, justice and company affairs. He was asked to resign by the prime minister following differences with then chief justice of India Adarsh Sein Anand and Attorney General of India Soli Sorabjee. He was inducted into the cabinet on home Minister Lal Krishna Advani's insistence. [40]

He had also announced his candidature for President of India stating: "I owe it to the nation to offer my services". He launched his own political fronts, the Bharat Mukti Morcha, as a "mass movement" in 1987. In 1995, he launched his own political party called the Pavitra Hindustan Kazhagam, with the motto to achieve "transparency in functioning of Indian democracy". [11]

In the general elections of 2004, he contested against Atal Bihari Vajpayee from the Lucknow constituency as an independent candidate. The Indian National Congress did not field their candidates in this election; however, he lost. Later on, in 2010, he was given a Rajya Sabha ticket by Bharatiya Janta Party from Rajasthan and he was selected. He is also a member of the Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice. [1] Jethmalani has been criticised as being "opportunistic" as a result of this. [41] Jethmalani was noted for speaking his mind; [42] at a reception hosted by the Pakistan High Commission for the Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar who was on a visit to India on 28 July 2011, Jethmalani in the presence of the Chinese ambassador called China an enemy of both India and Pakistan and warned the Indians and Pakistanis to beware of the Chinese. [43] [44]

In December 2009, the Committee on Judicial Accountability stated that it considered that recommendations for judicial appointments should only be made after a public debate, including review by members of the bar of the affected high courts. This statement was made in relation to controversy about the appointments of justices C. K. Prasad and P. D. Dinakaran. The statement was signed by Jethmalani, Shanti Bhushan, Fali Sam Nariman, Anil B. Divan, Kamini Jaiswal and Prashant Bhushan. [45]

In 2012, Jethmalani wrote to then Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) President Nitin Gadkari, accusing opposition BJP leaders of being "silent against the huge corruption" within the ruling UPA-II government, and stated that BJP "is sick". [46] Jethmalani's letter [47] became public on the internet. The same year, in November, Jethmalani wrote a letter to BJP leader L.K. Advani asking for the removal of Nitin Gadkari as the president of the BJP. [4] He cited the allegations of corruption levelled against Gadkari as the reason for his demand. [4] He had stated "When there are serious allegations against Gadkari, he should have stayed away, if only to raise his stature in the public eye,". [4] He publicly criticised Gadkari, even though Gadkari continued to be the BJP president. When Jethmalani was questioned if the BJP's parent body, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), that had been supporting Gadkari, was controlling BJP, Jethmalani had replied "I am sure the RSS is trying to influence the functioning of the BJP. After all, BJP leaders have grown up with the RSS,". [4]

In May 2013, BJP expelled Jethmalani from the party for six years, for having made anti-party statements. [48] In October 2013, defamation charges were framed against BJP seeking 50 lakh (US$72,000) as "null and void and damages" for making a statement that he was not a fit person to be member of the party. [49] [47]

Awards and achievements

Books

Books by Jethmalani

Jethmalani had also co-authored various legal scholarly books on fields of law such as criminal law, administrative law, and media law. [56]

Books on Jethmalani

See also

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Lok Sabha
Preceded by
H. R. Gokhale
Member of Parliament
for Mumbai North West

1977–1984
Succeeded by
Sunil Dutt
Political offices
Preceded by
Kotla Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy
Minister of Law and Justice
16 May 1996 – 1 June 1996
Succeeded by
Ramakant Khalap
Preceded by
U. Venkateswarlu
As
Minister of State
(Independent Charge)
Ministry of Urban Affairs & Employment
19 March 1998 – 14 June 1999
Succeeded by
Jagmohan
Ministry renamed as
Ministry of Urban Development
Preceded by
M. Thambi Durai
Minister of Law and Justice
June 1999 – 23 July 2000
Succeeded by
Arun Jaitley