Ayodhya case: Meet the 92-year-old lawyer who defended Lord Rama
On Saturday, the Supreme Court delivered its verdict in the long-drawn Ayodhya title dispute case. The five-judge bench unanimously ruled that 2.77 acres of disputed land in Ayodhya must be handed over for the construction of Ram Mandir. The Hindu community believes the land to be the birthplace of Lord Rama, whose judicial personality was argued in the court by 92-year-old advocate K. Parasaran.
In the case, Parasaran appeared for Bhagwan Ram Lalla Virajman (baby Ram), an idol of the deity placed on the disputed Ayodhya land. Parasaran, a learned legal counsel with a strong spiritual connect, argued in court that as Ram's birthplace, the land itself is a Swayambhu (self-manifested) deity, asserting that "an idol is not necessary in Hinduism for the performance of worship."
A Hindu scholar, Parasaran's courtroom orations have been described as lectures in Hindu scriptures. Due to his contribution to the law without compromising on religion, former chief justice of Madras High Court Sanjay Kishan Kaul referred to him as the "Pitamaha of the India Bar."
Notably, Parasaran was born on October 9, 1927, in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu. He is the son of lawyer Kesava Iyengar, who was also a Vedic scholar. Parasaran married his wife Saroja in 1949, however, after joining the Bar in the 1950s, he said he had married his second wife: law. He started his practice at the Supreme Court in 1958.
Parasaran has three sons- Mohan, Satish, and Balaji- are all lawyers. Mohan also briefly served as the Solicitor General between 2013 and 2014. Parasaran's wife, Saroja, was a vocalist who died in 2010. She is also actor Kamal Haasan's cousin.
During the Emergency in the late-1970s, Parasaran was Advocate General of Tamil Nadu. In 1980, he was appointed the Solicitor General of India and from 1983-1989, he served as the Attorney General of India. Interestingly, in 1992, when Mumbai-based Milon Banerji was appointed Attorney General, Parasaran retained his clout and was referred to as the "Super AG" or the "de facto AG."
Parasaran has been trusted by all governments since the 1970s, however, he chose to argue against the government in the Sethusamudram project case. He argued to protect Ram Sethu as it was the "least he could do" for Lord Rama. Parasaran also defended the ban on menstruating women in the Sabarimala case as it was important for Lord Ayyappa to maintain distance from women.
Since 2016, Parasaran's court appearances have been rare, however, he stepped up for the Ayodhya case. When the marathon 40-day SC hearings for the case commenced, the court offered Parasaran to sit and argue, considering his age, however, Parasaran chose to stand, as is the Bar's tradition. During the hearings, he had said, "My last wish before I die, is to finish this case."