×
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Fali S Nariman: A stalwart of secularism and justice

At 95, when he breathed his last on Wednesday, Nariman remained secular to the core and always expressed concern about rising intolerance in India.
Last Updated 21 February 2024, 08:25 IST

New Delhi: “I have lived and flourished in a secular India. In the fullness of time, if God wills, I would also like to die in a secular India” - jurist Fali S Nariman ended his memoirs published 14 years ago with these lines.

At 95, when he breathed his last on Wednesday, Nariman remained secular to the core and always expressed concern about rising intolerance in India.

Not known to mince words when it came to injustice, Nariman recalled in ‘Before Memory Fades: An Autobiography’ that his “greatest regret” in a “long, happy, interesting life” was the intolerance that had crept into Indian society.

He was particularly worried about being a “reluctant spectator” of a “new phenomenon” where the "Hindu tradition of tolerance" came “under immense strain – the strain of religious tension fanned by fanaticism”.

He expressed concern that the “great orchestra of different languages and praying to different Gods – that we proudly call India – is now seen and heard playing out of tune”.

He did not want the “dinosaur” of intolerance to destroy India but he knew the “population of dinosaurs is increasing at a fearsome pace”.

“Dinosaurs in one religious camp give impetus to breeding them in another,” he wrote five years after he retired from Rajya Sabha, to which he was nominated by Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government.

In Parliament, he remained independent and did not bat an eyelid when there was a need to take on the government. One of his first interventions in Rajya Sabha was on the 2002 Gujarat riots. "Not riots, carnage”, he wrote.

He did not buy then Home Minister L K Advani’s argument that the Union government could not set up a Commission of Inquiry since the Gujarat government under Narendra Modi had set up one.

While insisting that Advani could convince the Chief Minister, the jurist said in the Rajya Sabha, “Like individuals in positions of influence, a government in a position of power, cannot always be right. It is the arrogance that accompanies power that leads them to think so.” It was Advani who had conveyed to Nariman the decision to nominate him to the Rajya Sabha.

He was also critical of the government when it sought to isolate senior officials from direct actions by the Central Vigilance Commission. He questioned in Parliament, "If one can trust the CVC not to needlessly harass a junior official, why can we not trust it in relation to a Joint Secretary or Secretary?"

Nariman also argued for ‘no work, no pay’ for MPs to curb disruptions in Parliament.

He was also critical of the government for the delay in implementing the Prevention of Money Laundering Act soon after it was assented to by the President in 2002. Although the bill was passed in 2002, it was not implemented until 2005.

Nariman also introduced private members’ bills to raise the retirement age of High Court judges from 62 to 65 years, to publish judicial statistics, and to prevent individuals with criminal backgrounds from entering Parliament and Assemblies.

ADVERTISEMENT
(Published 21 February 2024, 08:25 IST)

Follow us on

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT