Eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani no more

PTI File Photo

Noted jurist, eminent criminal lawyer and former Union Minister Ram Jethmalani passed away here on Sunday. He was 95.

Jethmalani, who served for many years in the Supreme Court, also served as India's law minister and as chairman of the Bar Council of India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu condoled his demise.

Modi said in passing away of Jethmalani, India has lost an exceptional lawyer and iconic public figure who made rich contributions in both in the court and Parliament.

"One of the best aspects of Jethmalani Ji was the ability to speak his mind. And, he did so without any fear. During the dark days of the Emergency, his fortitude and fight for public liberties will be remembered. Helping the needy was an integral part of his persona," he said.

President Kovind said, he was saddened by the passing of Jethmalani. "He was known to express his views on public issues with his characteristic eloquence. The nation has lost a distinguished jurist, a person of great erudition and intellect," he said.

Vice President Naidu and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited his residence to pay their homage, along with others from legal fraternity, former judges and senior advocates.    

Attorney General K K Venugopal described him as a legend. "As a criminal lawyer, he was matchless. We have lost a great lawyer," he said.

Jethmalani breathed his last this morning at his residence in Delhi. He was bed-ridden for quite some time due to age-related complications.

According to his family members, the last rites of Jethmalani would be performed at Lodhi Road crematorium here on this evening.

Known as a doyen in the legal profession, he practised criminal law for six decades and had also been part of many Constitutional importance cases. 

Born on September 23, 1923 at Sindh, now in Pakistan, he became a lawyer at the age of 17.

Jethmalani had defended the accused in several high-profile cases including Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi assassination cases, the Parliament attack case, as well as Jessica Lal murder case.

He had very recently defended Arvind Kejriwal in the defamation case filed by former Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. 

He had appeared for L K Advani in Hawala scam, Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, J Jayalalithaa in corruption cases and Lalu Prasad in the fodder scam cases.

He had fought for bringing black money back to the country by filing a petition in the Supreme Court, which led to formation of a Special Investigation Team.

For the two years, he had stopped appearing for cases.

He is survived by son Mahesh Jethmalani, a senior advocate, and a daughter, who is settled in the United States. His other daughter Rani had pre-deceased him.

Jethmalani was currently a Rajya Sabha MP. He had earlier served twice as Law Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. He was also a former Urban Development Minister.

An independent mind, Jethmalani had been member of several political parties. Notably, he was the only Rajya Sabha MP, who opposed the Narendra Modi government's National Judicial Appointment Commission Act.

Jethmalani had been president of Supreme Court Bar Association and the chairman of the Bar Council of India. He had written several books including an  autobiography titled as "Ram Jethmalani, Maverick, Unchanged Unrepentant".

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