Noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani, one of India’s finest criminal lawyers, on Sunday passed away at the age of 95 after suffering from prolonged illness. The former Union law minister died early on Sunday morning after his health deteriorated over the last two weeks.
The veteran lawyer had been suffering from months, according to his family members. According to sources, Jethmalani was bedridden for a week and had lost a lot of weight. Ram Jethmalani breathed his last at 7.45 am at his official residence in New Delhi.
Jethmalani is survived by his son, Mahesh Jethmalani and his daughter who lives in the US. His last rites will be performed in the evening at the Lodhi Road crematorium at 4 pm.
Commenting on Jethmalani’s demise, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country has lost an exceptional lawyer and iconic public figure.
“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. He was witty, courageous and never shied away from boldly expressing himself on any subject,” Modi said on Twitter.
“I consider myself fortunate to have got numerous opportunities to interact with Shri Ram Jethmalani Ji. In these sad moments, my condolences to his family, friends and many admirers. He may not be here but his pioneering work will live on! Om Shanti,” he added.
Condolence messages from other prominent leaders also started pouring in moments after Jethmalani’s death.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, “Extremely saddened at the passing away of legendary lawyer Ram Jethmalani ji. An institution in himself, he shaped criminal law in post-independence India. His void would never be filled and his name will be written in golden words in legal history.”
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy also bid his “friend” farewell and said, “My friend turned foe turned very good friend Ram Jethmalani passed away today at 95 years age. Farewell friend.”
Congress leader and senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “Ram Jethamalani with whom I shared get camaraderie wl b missed. Feisty, ebullient, fearless, outspoken 2a fault, uncaring of consequences or of societal norms, he had a large heart & a restive temperament. Always a crusader, his mind and body remained good almost to the end.
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also expressed condolences and praised the way Jethmalani handled his legal cases.
“Deeply condole the passing away of the veteran lawyer and former Law Minister Ram Jethmalani. His brilliance, eloquence, powerful advocacy and sound understanding of law will remain a worthy example in legal profession. My profound condolences,” Prasad said.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah went to Jethmalani’s house to pay last respects to the veteran lawyer.
“Deeply pained to know about the passing away of India’s veteran lawyer and former Union Minister Shri Ram Jethmalani ji. In him, we have not only lost a distinguished lawyer but also a great human who was full of life,” Amit Shah said.
“Ram Jethmalani ji’s passing away is an irreparable loss to the entire legal community. He will always be remembered for his vast knowledge on legal affairs. My condolences to the bereaved family. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti,” he added.
Born in Sikhapur of Sindh province on September 14, 1923, Jethmalani completed his LL.B from Bombay University at the age of 17 and started practising law in his hometown until the partition of India. After partition, he moved to Bombay as a refugee and began his practice.
Ram Jethmalani fought many high-profile cases in the Supreme Court, high courts and trial courts. One of the cases he will be remembered for is the KM Nanavati vs State of Maharashtra case in which he was the prosecutor.
Since then, Jethmalani has fought several other high-profile cases which included the defence of Rajiv Gandhi’s killer in Madras High Cout in 2001.
He also defended Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh in the Securities scam of 1992. Jethmalani had also defended the death sentence given to Afzal Guru and represented Manu Sharma in the Jessica Lall murder case.
Jethmalani was later elected as the president of Supreme Court Bar Association in 2010.
Among other achievements, Jethmalani was elected as a BJP MP in the sixth and seventh Lok Sabha. Apart from Union law minister, he also held the portfolio of urban development in Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government.
The eminent lawyer got married to Durga when he was over 18 years of age. In 1947, just before partition, he also married Ratna Shahani, a lawyer by profession. He has four children — Rani, Shobha, Mahesh from his first marriage and Janak from his second.
Many have described Jethmalani’s death as a loss for the legal fraternity as he was one most respected lawyers in the country.