Senior Advocate Ram Jethmalani, 95, passed away on Sunday morning. He has served as India's Union Law Minister and as chairman of the Bar Council of India.
He has appeared in many high profile criminal cases, and is widely respected as the doyen of criminal law.
He was born on September 14, 1923, in present day Pakistan. He obtained law degree at the age of 17. After partition, he shifted to Bombay to continue legal profession. He shot to limelight with his appearance in the sensational Nanavati case in 1959. After that, went on to make a name for himself in the field of criminal law practice.
His high profile cases include appearance for defence in the Indira Gandhi assassination case, Harshad Mehta stock scam case, Ketan Parekh case, LK Advani's defence in hawala case, Jayalalitha's defence in disproportionate assets case, Kanimozhi's defence in 2G scam trial, Manu Sharma's defence in Jessica Lall case, Lalu Prasad Yadav's defence in fodder scam case etc, Yeddyyurappa's defence in mining scam case, defence of Afzal Guru in parliament attack case, Subrato Roy's defence in Sahara-SEBI case, Baba Ramdev's defence in 2011 Ramlila ground incident case etc.
In 2017, he announced retirement from legal profession.
Speaking to LiveLaw then, he had said;
"I want to do some important work in my life. I want to save India from corrupt politicians. I will be ready for legal assistance to any lawyer who comes to me, I want to fight against corrupt people".
Jethmalani became a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1988. Since then, he has been actively involved in the political front of the country, following which he became the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs in 1996 in the Government of India led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. During the second tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he was given the portfolio of Union Minister of Urban Affairs and Employment in 1998. But on 13th October 1999, he was again sworn in as the Union Minister for Law, Justice & Company Affairs. However, he was asked to resign by the Prime Minister following differences with the then Chief Justice of India, AS Anand and Attorney General of India, the renowned Mr. Soli Sorabjee. He was inducted into the Cabinet on the then Home Minister, Lal Krishna Advani's insistence.
Jethmalani had also announced his candidature for President of India stating "I owe it to the nation to offer my services" and launched his own political fronts, the Bharat Mukti Morcha, launched as a 'mass movement' in 1987 and in 1995 he launched his own political party called 'Pavitra Hindustan Kazhagam', with a motto to achieve transparency in functioning of Indian Democracy.
He has two sons and two daughters. His son Mahesh Jethmalani is a well-known lawyer. His daughter Rani Jethmalani, also a lawyer, passed away in 2011.
Known as the highest paid lawyer in India, he had deep rooted professionalism running through his veins, fearing no one when it comes to defending his client. Being exalted for his instantaneous remarks and one-liners, Jethmalani kept judges spell bound by his arguments and his ability to cite precedents which are embedded in his memory. Recounting on an interview, his words still seem to reverberate when he says that, 'A lawyer is not paid for his opinion but for presenting the case of a client as effectively and honestly as he can.'
Jethmalani was a well-wisher and supporter of LiveLaw. In September 2017, he had inaugurated LiveLaw's Hindi site.
Team LiveLaw offers its tributes to this legend of legal profession.