Celebrated lawyer and former Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani passed away on Sunday morning at his Delhi residence. He was 95.
Jethmalani, who was also the chairman of Bar Council of India, was widely regarded as a luminary of criminal law.
He is survived by his son, Mahesh, who is also a lawyer, and a daughter who stays in the United States.
Jethmalani started his legal career in Karachi
Born in Sikharpur of Sindh province on September 14, 1923, Jethmalani completed his matriculation merely at the age of 13, and secured an LLB degree from Bombay University when he was 17.
He started his career as a lawyer in Karachi. "The partition led him to move to Bombay as a refugee and he began his life afresh with his family," his website reads.
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Interestingly, Jethmalani challenged "minimum age of becoming lawyer" in court
When Jethmalani earned his law degree, the minimum age of becoming a lawyer was 21. But he contested this in a court, which allowed the exception. At 18, Jethmalani became a lawyer. He also taught law at Mumbai government college in 1954.
A spate of high-profile cases made Jethmalani popular
Throughout his legal career spanning decades, Jethmalani appeared in many high-profile criminal cases.
His first noteworthy case came in 1959 when he was the prosecutor in KM Nanavati v/s State of Maharashtra matter. Nanavati was accused of killing his wife's lover and was later acquitted.
Jethmalani also defended late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's killers in Madras High Court; and Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh in stock-market scams.
Once, 300 lawyers appeared for Jethmalani in Bombay HC
Evidently, Jethmalani was one of the strongest critics of late PM Indira Gandhi.
During Emergency, an arrest warrant was issued against him, but in an unprecedented incident, some 300 lawyers led by Nani Palkhivala appeared for him at Bombay High Court.
Eventually, the warrant was stayed by the court. However, he went on a self-imposed exile to Canada carrying on his campaign against the emergency.
Jethmalani took the political plunge after Emergency
Notably, Jethmalani started his political career in 1977, right after Emergency. He also won 1980 general elections but in 1985, lost to Congress' Sunil Dutt.
He became a member of Rajya Sabha in 1988 and was made the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1996.
During Vajpayee's second term, he was made Union Minister of Urban Affairs and Employment in 1998.
More than Vajpayee, Jethmalani was close to Advani
Political experts claim Jethmalani didn't have good terms with Vajpayee, and was inducted in the Cabinet on LK Advani's insistence.
Vajpayee asked him to resign in 1999 after Jethmalani had differences with the then CJI Adarsh Sein Anand and Attorney General Soli Sorabjee. He also contested against Vajpayee from Lucknow in 2004 and lost.