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10 Facts About The Most Famous Defense Lawyer of India

Ram Boolchand Jethmalani is better known as Ram Jethmalani. He was born 14 September 1923.

Ram Jethmalani was a very bright student during his academic years, he obtained at the age of 17. Wikimedia Commons
  • Ram Jethmalani was referred to be the highest-paid and the best defence lawyer of the Indian judicial system
  • Ram Jethmalani has often faced much criticism for taking up some controversial cases
  • On 10th September 2017, Ram Jethmalani announced his retirement from the judicial profession

Ram Jethmalani is considered to be the Best Criminal Lawyer in India and he has left his mark in Constitutional Law by defending the reservation in Supreme Court, fighting against eminent lawyers.

Ram Boolchand Jethmalani is better known as Ram Jethmalani. He was born 14 September 1923. Ram Jethmalani with his family moved to Mumbai from Sind after Partition. Ram Jethmalani is a well-known Indian lawyer and politician. He is also referred to be the highest-paid lawyer in the Indian judicial system.

As Ram Jethmalani was a very bright student during his academic years, he obtained at the age of 17and started practising law in his hometown until the partition of India. Due to partition, he moved to Mumbai as a refugee and he began his life afresh with his family. He has two sons and two daughters, of whom, Mahesh Jethmalani and Rani Jethmalani. Both of them are also well-known lawyers.

Also Read: Raghuram Rajan: The Man Who Revolutionized The Indian Banking System

Ram Jethmalani has often faced much criticism for acting as the defence lawyer and taking up some controversial cases like Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh who had been sentenced to death for the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He has dealt with many high profile cases of the country like that of Shiv Bal Thackrey, Haji Mastan, alleged killers of Rajiv and Indira Gandhi, Lal Krishna Advani, NTR Rao, Osho, Harshad Mehta and many more.

Ram Jethmalani drew a lot of storm when he took up the case of Afzal Guru, who was the prime convict in the 2001 Parliament attack. Ram Jethmalani demanded the commutation of his death sentence. He was even approached by Dawood Ibrahim in the 90s to fight for him in Indian Court. But the case wasn’t taken up, as Ram Jethmalani wasn’t able to fulfil Dawood’s demand for no-arrest orders for him.

Ram Jethmalani has left his mark in Constitutional Law by defending the reservation in Supreme Court, fighting against eminent lawyers. Wikimedia Commons
Ram Jethmalani has left his mark in Constitutional Law by defending the reservation in Supreme Court, fighting against eminent lawyers. Wikimedia Commons

Ram Jethmalani was elected a member of parliament in the 6th and 7th Lok Sabha on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket from Mumbai. During the prime ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he has served as Law Minister of India and also as Minister of Urban Development. Although, later he contested election against Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the general elections of 2004 from Lucknow constituency. In 2010, he again joined BJP and was elected to Rajya Sabha on its ticket from Rajasthan.

Also Read: Interesting Life Facts About Dr BR Ambedkar

Finally, on 10th September 2017, Ram Jethmalani announced his retirement from the judicial profession.

Check out some of the facts about the life of one of the exceptional criminal lawyer of India:

  1. Ram Jethmalani has served as India’s Union Law Minister and also the chairman of the Bar Council of India. Ram Jethmalani was elected as the president of Supreme Court Bar Association on 7 May 2010.
  2. In 1971, Ram Jethmalani lost the general election he contested from Ulhsnagar (Maharashtra) as an independent candidate.
  3. Ram Jethmalani is considered as one of the key members of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The party was founded on 6 April 1980.
  4. Ram Jethmalani was an outstanding student in school and got a triple promotion when in school.
  5. Ram Jethmalani persuaded the then Chief Justice of Sind to pass a special resolution to relax the rules of law practising age. At that time, the mandatory age for a lawyer to practice was 21 years.
  6. In 1959, Ram Jethmalani’s famous case of K.M. Nanavati vs. State of Bombay case was among the last cases to be heard as a jury trial in India, as the government abolished jury trials soon after.
  7. Ram Jethmalani was expelled from BJP in 2013 for accusing the party of being “silent against high corruption”.
  8. Ram Jethmalani also launched his own party named ‘Pavitra Hindustan Kazhagam’, in 1995. The motto of his party was to achieve transparency in the functioning of Indian Democracy.
  9. Ram Jethmalani was given Political Asylum by the USA during Emergency. He garnered the support from Western Countries towards Indira Gandhi’s suppression of Personal Liberty during Emergency.
  10. Not many people know but Ram Jethmalani contested the Presidential Election in 1992. Although, he withdrew his name from the candidature list and still he got 3k votes.
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Then It Was Emergency Now It Is Democracy

The Emergency happened 43 years ago and both, Mrs Gandhi and the Congress, lost power because of it in 1977

Then It Was Emergency Now It Is Democracy
Then It Was Emergency Now It Is Democracy. Pixabay

An all-out war of words broke out last week between the BJP and the Congress on the 1975 Emergency. Observing June 26 as a ‘black day’, several BJP leaders targeted the Congress at events held across the country to highlight the Emergency’s excesses. Leading the charge with a sharp attack on the Congress was Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Addressing BJP workers in Mumbai last Tuesday, the prime minster said the country still refers to June 26 as a ‘dark period during which every institution was subverted and an atmosphere of fear was created’.

Without naming the Nehru-Gandhi family, Modi said the Constitution was misused at the behest of one family. He further went on to say that the mentality of the family had not changed even now after 43 years of the Emergency. ‘Whenever the family feared loss of power, it keeps shouting that the country is in crisis,’ the prime minister added. Expectedly, the Congress hit back with equally sharp criticism of the Modi government, equating Modi to Aurangzeb. It alleged that the prime minister was even crueller than the Mughal emperor as Modi has “enslaved democracy” in the country for the past 49 months with an “undeclared emergency”.

The 21-month period from 1975 to 1977, when the then prime minister Indira Gandhi had declared Emergency, was indeed a dark chapter in India’s democratic history. This was the third national Emergency – the first one was in 1962 when China invaded India and the second was in 1971 during the war with Pakistan – and the only one to be declared citing the “internal disturbances”.  During the 1975 Emergency, opposition leaders were arrested, civil rights curbed, elections postponed, anti-government protests crushed and press censored. It shook India to its core as the freedom to liberty, dissent and express ceased to exist. All this is well-known and in public domain. Therefore, what was so special about the 43rd anniversary of Emergency that the BJP observed as ‘black day’?

Bringing back memories of the Emergency days was clearly aimed at striking at the Congress’s weak spot. It was also meant to neutralise Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s frequent ‘murder of democracy’ gibes directed at the Modi government. This was not entirely unexpected in a pre-election year; neither was the Congress’s equally sharp response by likening Modi to Aurangzeb. As 2019 general elections approach, not only the political exchange between the two parties will gather momentum, but over the next 10 months, election-driven rhetoric, name-calling, inane allegations and historical debates will increase. Reminding Congress of the Emergency is just the beginning.

Congress on Friday promised to create one crore jobs across the southern state
Congress- wikimedia commons

While terming the Emergency as an ‘aberration’, the Congress has never expressed any remorse about the dark chapter in its history or condemned it. Claiming that during Emergency, Mrs Gandhi targeted the rich, black marketers, hoarders and zamindars is no justification for curbing civil liberties and press freedom and neutralising the opposition. The hesitation to admit Emergency as a major mistake has denied the Congress an opportunity to reassert its commitment to democratic values, though it was the primary builder of democracy in India after independence.

The Emergency happened 43 years ago and both, Mrs Gandhi and the Congress, lost power because of it in 1977. Since then, the Congress has ruled at the Centre several times without resorting to emergency measures. On the contrary, it has shown its commitment to democratic order and liberal values far better than the current BJP-led government. The Emergency of 1975 and the violations of civil liberties and press freedom were all real. But its parallels can be drawn with the contemporary situation, which is marked by erosion of institutional independence and integrity, rising intolerance and increasing mob violence which stems from the ideological support of the ruling party.

The right-wing assaults on constitutional institution and individuals’ democratic rights are for real, though there is no Emergency in force in India today. While conventional opposition leaders and parties have the liberty to become more than conventional Opposition and there is also the rising wave of resistance to right-wing assaults on individual rights and institutions, it is also true that there are whiffs of Emergency sentiments in the air and the strains of the Emergency doctrine and pulsations of fear are quite obvious. The Congress is not entirely off the mark when it accuses the Modi government of ‘undeclared emergency’ as the freedom of the media, people’s freedom of expression and their right to live without fear have come under new kinds of threats.

There is no overt press censorship but the government has tried to muzzle and manipulate the media through various means. A section of the media has either caved in to the fear of administrative power or fallen for the lure of money-power. Apart from the media, there have been sustained attempts to weaken and misuse other constitutional and non-constitutional institutions, including the judiciary. Interestingly, all this is happening when the BJP is in power and questioning the Congress’s commitment to the principles and practice of democracy, while the BJP has diluted its own commitment to the philosophy of parliamentary democracy, liberal values and press freedom.

This is quite surprising because while the taint of Emergency continues to haunt the Congress, the BJP, despite its proud status of a party whose leaders were at the forefront of the struggle against the Emergency 43 years ago, is not deterred to misuse the levers of power against its political opponents, ‘difficult’ sections of the media, and independent or ‘inconvenient’ voices that question the government on various issues. With scant regard for critical debate and plurality of views under the current ruling dispensation, what we are seeing now is some kind of a role reversal. Mrs Gandhi subverted institutions to retain power. The BJP is trying to do the same by weakening the same institutions.

Also read: India sends Emergency Fuel Supplies to Sri Lanka

The Emergency should serve as a warning to political parties: threats to democracy and people’s constitutional rights – either directly or indirectly – create resentment and negative public opinion against government. The Emergency created a unity among opposition parties that never existed before and became the cause of Mrs Gandhi’s defeat. It is too early to say whether the Modi government’s attempts to misuse democratic institutions for his party’s narrow interests and the right wing attacks on institutions and rights of citizens will help create similar kind of opposition unity, which will determine the outcome of 2019 elections. (IANS)