On Today (21st February 2024) morning eminent jurist and Senior Advocate Fali S Nariman passed away the Legal Prudent Fraternity collectively mourned. He is a senior advocate and former member of the Rajya Sabha. He is a recipient of both Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibushan in 1991 and 2007, Nariman is one of the most respected Indian lawyers globally and a constitutional visionary par excellence. He is Born in Myanmar in 1929, and Her’s family migrated to India when the Japanese bombed and conquered the country in 1941. His autobiography ‘Before Memory Fades,’ Nariman stated that his family had to walk to India in the aftermath of the Japanese attack. The senior advocate pursued law at the legendary Government Law College (GLC) in Mumbai in 1950. Nariman also taught at the college after establishing his practice. Nariman joined the chambers of Jamshedji Kanga, a very popular senior advocate from the ‘Bombay’ bar.  He would go on to practice in the Bombay High Court for two more decades before shifting to Delhi in 1972. He is appointed as an Additional Solicitor General (ASG) in the Supreme Court by the Indira Gandhi government in 1972. He is resigned from the ASG post in Jun 1975 after the internal emergency was declared.  He is served as a member of parliament at Rajya Sabha between 1999 and 2005.

He was 95 years old. Burial will be held at 10 am at Parsi Aramgah near New Delhi’s Khan Market on Thursday 22nd February. This will be followed by Uthamna (prayer meeting) at 4 pm at the Parsi Anjuman (Dharamsala) at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg. The legal stalwart is survived by his daughter Anaheeta F Nariman and son and former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Rohinton F Nariman.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud reminisced, I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of Mr. Fali Nariman. His voice truly represented the conscience of a generation. Fearless in the expression of his views, he wrote and spoke with clarity and candour. He mentored a generation of lawyers and judges but above all he was always a kind and affectionate father figure. A towering intellectual of our era has sadly passed on.

The former CJI NV Ramana said in his condolence message, The news of sudden passing of Shri Fali S Nariman filled me with deep sorrow. Shri Nariman witnessed our nation’s many a trials and tribulations, both before and after independence and fought for upholding Constitutional values till his last breath. Series of his spirited interviews at such an advanced age in the very recent past stand testimony to his commitment for the Constitutional principles. Never known for mincing words, Shri Fali S Nariman has been a conscience keeper for judicial institutions. Through his arguments in court rooms, widely read news paper columns, public lectures, parliamentary interventions and televised interviews he has educated generations of legal professionals and general public alike. Huge volume of his work will keep on guiding the generations to come. Shri Fali S Nariman will be remembered as an ethical giant.

Delhi High Court judge Justice Prathiba M Singh said that the news of Fali Sir has left us all shocked. But the learnings and memories lived with him will always have an impact on each life that he has touched. I feel blessed to have briefed him as a lawyer and even got scolded by him. For him, everyone was equal, be it a senior, junior or a litigant. He would listen to anyone who had a valuable input. Unless he was satisfied with the preparation in a matter, he would not stop regardless of the time or effort it took. He never offended a judge and was his polite best, in his own unique and witty way, even if the judge was not agreeing with him – a quality which the coming generations need to imbibe. In an event organized by SILF he recalled the contribution of Hansa Mehta, who had a significant role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He wanted more and more women to join the profession. I interacted with him even two weeks ago, when he gave me a warm and thoughtful message for my book on patent law. He has been extremely affectionate to my family and me. Fali Sir’s life should be looked at as a celebration. He will always live in our hearts and minds.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, Not only the legal fraternity, but the nation has lost a towering figure of intellect and wisdom. The country has lost an epitome of what righteousness stood for. A doyen, paragon and a legend in his own lifetime has left us leaving the jurisprudence enriched by his immense contribution. I have always learnt something new by merely appearing even against him. Sharing the home made buttermilk brought by me from my home in the Supreme Court corridors while he regaled all of us with many past anecdotes in Gujarati is a cherished memory for me, though he used to come only on a few occasions since the last few years. His loving gesture of sending all the books written by him to me with his autographs will always remain a proud possession for me and even for my next generations. The legal fraternity is intellectually poorer today. Such intellectual giants do not die. They remain immortal through their contribution. There cannot be and will not be another Fali Nariman.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising praised, Fali S Nariman Senior Advocate has passed on from this world. He was the last of a generation on lawyers from Bombay who shaped and moulded the history of constitutional law in India, a voice that stood by secular values, for the independence of the judiciary. My deepest condolences for his family.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal said that A great son of India passes away. Not just one of the greatest lawyers of our country but one of the finest human beings who stood like a colossus above all. The corridors of the court will never be the same without him. May his soul rest in peace.

Senior Advocate Dr Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that End of an era. Fali Nariman passes away, a living legend who will forever be in 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 Rohinton. In the mills land case, involving huge tracts of prime property in the heart of Mumbai, I argued for a week in High Court and lost. But over two decades ago, when I was much younger, Fali insisted I open the case in Supreme Court, ahead of himself, Soli, Anil Divan, Ashok Desai and others, all much older. As a raconteur and after dinner speaker, Fali was matchless. It was he who said that using phrase “horse trading” when humans defect is an insult to horses, very loyal animals. He would dig out nuggets of history and marry them incomparably with his wit when speaking.

The Advocate General of Maharashtra Dr Birendra Saraf said Mr. Nariman’s exemplary legal acumen, strong commitment to constitutional principles, and advocacy for judicial independence has shaped and left an indelible imprint not just on the legal landscape, but the entire nation. His influence on constitutional and arbitration law in the country is unparalleled and unmatched. Through his courtroom arguments, books, speeches and articles, Nariman has left a rich legacy that safeguards and promotes the valuable spirit of fearless speech and deliberation for the forthcoming generations. Although his demise leaves a profound void in the legal fraternity, he will continue to live on through his immortal contributions to the evolution of law.

Senior advocate Darius Khambata said In terms of his advocacy, he was relentless in court. He would go for clean, simple arguments instead of complicated ones. The arguments that he put forth would be so commonsensical that it would seem the most obvious. He could also read the judges well and tailor his arguments accordingly. I remember we had a case where Nariman was leading me. It was on a fairly undecided point of law. We extensively researched on case laws and international judgments. When he argued, though, he read out the provisions of the statute under challenge and a finely polished list of dates of the facts of the case, and that was enough to make his point. He did not have to refer to any case laws; of course, he prepared for his arguments for weeks. It was easier appearing in court than assisting him because it was a lot of preparation which eventually paid of, no doubt!

Senior advocate Janak Dwarkadas said He was a colossus. A hard act to follow. The legacy of law that he created and has left behind is incomparable, immeasurable and everlasting. It is a loss to the Supreme Court as an institution and an even greater loss to the country. He was a true patriot and a valuable citizen. I had the privilege of working with him and observing his genius at close quarters. The only thing I can say, in my small way – is that he is irreplaceable. The heavens will be enriched by his entry, though the world will be poorer by his departure.

Senior advocate Navroz Seervai said I knew him since the age of 6 and later as his junior. He left a lasting legacy. It is universally accepted and acknowledged that he was a colossum. He dominated the Supreme Court of India for decades like no other lawyer did probably. His contribution in every branch of law is immense; be it Constitution law, administrative law, commercial law, arbitration law, virtually every branch of law. If one searches every branch of law, one would find Nariman in each branch. That pretty much summarizes the over 70 years of career in the profession. Even at an advanced age, he appeared in the constitutional challenge to the NJAC. Several lawyers appeared in the case, but a very large contribution of persuading the Supreme Court must go to Nariman. He certainly was the ‘lead counsel’. He was a wonderful senior and one probably learnt more from him than anyone else, in my case at least.He was a task master on his juniors no doubt, but he that is because he was the hardest on himself. He demanded so much from himself, that he expected much from his team as well. He was very generous towards his juniors when it came to encouraging them or praising them. Which is why if any shouting or a brusque comment was forgotten by his juniors. If you contributed to something, he would generously acknowledge that. He had these two parts to him. One minute he might be screaming at you, in next 10 mins he would be praising your contribution. So no one felt aggrieved or hurt by his shouting, because it was all done out of commitment to the case.

Former Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Secretary and Senior Advocate Gautam Bhatia said Deepest respect and condolences for a Giant in our legal fraternity. Fali S Nariman Sr Advocate was a pillar of our legal institution and democracy. He guided and mentored many sitting judges and advocates. His demeanor was very kind, arguments were deeply persuasive and preparation immaculate. It was an honour to assist him in many important cases and in the process learnt so much. His contributions to development of constitutional law are unparalleled. We all bow down in respect that we have for you SIR. Om Shanti Shanti.

The Bombay Bar Association also expressed its condolences on Nariman’s death, In his passing, it seems a whole generation has left us. He stood steadfast for upholding the Rule of Law and was a staunch advocate for personal liberty. His sacrifice during the state of emergency is well-documented. The law reports are replete with his contributions toe development of the law. He touched the lives of all those who came into contact with him. He has left a void that cannot be filled. BBA shall always cherish his memory, and strive to take his legacy forward.

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