Eminent Jurist Ram Jethmalani Passes Away
(Source: BloombergQuint)

Eminent Jurist Ram Jethmalani Passes Away

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Eminent jurist and former Union minister Ram Jethmalani passed away on Sunday at the age of 95, his family members said.

Jethmalani breathed his last at 7:45 a.m. at his official residence in New Delhi, his son Mahesh Jethmalani told PTI.

Mahesh and other close acquaintances said Ram Jethmalani was not keeping well for a few months.

He passed away a few days before his 96th birthday on Sept. 14, his son said.

Mahesh said his father's last rites will be performed in the evening at the Lodhi road crematorium here.

Besides Mahesh Jethmalani, the former Union minister is survived by his daughter based in the U.S.. His other daughter, Rani Jethmalani, died in 2011.

Jethmalani was the Union law minister and also the Urban development minister during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government. He also served as the Supreme Court Bar Association president in 2010.

He was born in Shikarpur in Sindh province (now in Pakistan) on Sept. 14, 1923 and obtained a law degree at the age of 17.

Attorney General KK Venugopal on Sunday said with the passing away of noted jurist Ram Jethmalani, the country has lost its finest lawyer who was bold and handled the most sensational criminal cases and constitutional matters.

"His passing away is a great loss not only to the Bar in the country but also to Parliament and the country as a whole," Venugopal told PTI.

The Attorney General said Jethmalani's boldness set him apart as one of the finest lawyers that the country had.

"According to me, he was a lawyer, was larger than life handling the most sensational cases, especially criminal cases as I, therefore, told him once that he is a leader of the criminal Bar of the country. His retort was, 'I am also the no. 1 constitutional lawyer'. This is because he was handling cases across the board," Venugopal said.

The Attorney General said Jethmalani was a very outspoken person and did not mince words even against the judiciary.

He remembered him as a senior advocate who was there in most of the big criminal appeals and constitutional cases.

Jethmalani passed away at his official residence in New Delhi on Sunday at the age of 95, his family members said.

Condoling the demise of veteran lawyer Ram Jethmalani, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said the country has lost a great intellectual and a patriot.

"Deeply saddened to learn about the demise of Shri Ram Jethmalani  ... one of the brilliant minds of Bharat. In his passing away the nation has lost a distinguished jurist, a great intellectual & a patriot, who was active till his last breath," the Vice President's secretariat tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condoled the death of Ram Jethmalani, saying the country has lost an exceptional lawyer and an iconic figure who made rich contributions in courts and Parliament.

Modi said Jethmalani was "witty, courageous and never shied away from boldly expressing himself on any subject".

"In the passing away of Shri Ram Jethmalani Ji, India has lost an exceptional lawyer and iconic public figure who made rich contributions both in the Court and Parliament," the prime minister tweeted.

Home Minister Amit Shah drove to Jethmalani's residence and offered his last respects to the departed soul and condolences to the bereaved family.

Jethmalani was Shah's lawyer in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case.

Shah, who was Gujarat Home minister at the time of the incident, was chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the case, but the court discharged him due to lack of evidence.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and several senior party leaders also condoled Ram Jethmalani's demise, with many hailing him as a "seasoned parliamentarian" and "one of the finest criminal lawyers the country has seen".

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has extended her condolences on the passing away of Jethmalani and to his family and friends, a party statement said.

Manmohan Singh also condoled Jethmalani's demise.

"In his death India has lost an eminent jurist, an able administrator and a seasoned parliamentarian," Singh said in his condolence message.  The Congress, on its official Twitter handle, said: "We are saddened by the loss of former Union Minister and veteran lawyer Shri Ram Jethmalani. Our thoughts & prayers are with this family today."  Several senior Congress leaders paid rich tributes to Jethmalani, describing him as "fearless" and a "crusader in both law and politics".

"Ram Jethmalani is no more. A crusader in both law and politics he stood steadfastly for the causes he took up. His knowledge in criminal law was matched by none," senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal said.

Another senior lawyer and Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said Jethmalani, with whom he shared great camaraderie, will be missed.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also condoled the passing away of Jethmalani.

Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot also extended his condolences to Jethmalani's family.

"Deeply pained to learn about the passing away of India's veteran lawyer and former Union Minister Ram Jethmalani ji. With his passing away, India has lost its finest and most profound lawyer," Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said in a tweet.

Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia hailed Jethmalani as "one of the finest criminal lawyers the country has seen".

The Supreme Court Bar Association also condoled his demise describing him as its "illustrious member" and a "doyen of criminal law". He served as SCBA president in 2010.

“Armed with a silver tongue, an erudite mind and a legendary wit, Shri Jethmalani ji was truly a stalwart of the Indian Bar and a lawyer par excellence. His legacy shall forever be etched in the pages of precedents and in the fond memories of the entire legal fraternity of India,” the SCBA said.

Senior advocate and SCBA president Rakesh Khanna said the bar body, which was once presided over by Jethmalani, joined the nation in mourning the demise of one of its most illustrious senior members and former President" and "doyen of criminal law".

"Having joined the Bar at the age of just 17, Jethmalani ji earned the distinction of being the youngest advocate allowed to practice," the bar body said in its statement.

SCBA offered condolences to Mahesh Jethmalani, senior advocate and son of Ram Jethmalani, and termed the loss as "colossal".

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