New Delhi: Ram Jethmalani, one of India’s finest lawyers and a former union minister, died this morning at his home in Delhi. He was 95. The legal veteran died at 7:45 am, his son Mahesh Jethmalani said.
Mr Jethmalani had not been keeping well for the last few months, his son told. The last rites will be performed this evening at the Lodhi road crematorium in Delhi.
Mr Jethmalani, a six-time Rajya Sabha member, served as a Union Minister in the United Front and the BJP-led NDA governments. He was a minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet in 1998 and then again in October 1999. However, he quit the Vajpayee government in July 2000.
The noted lawyer was involved in a number of high-profile cases and has defended several top politicians such as LK Advani, Lalu Prasad Yadav, J Jayalalithaaa and Arvind Kejriwal.
Born in Sindh on September 14, 1923, Mr Jethmalani had obtained a law degree when he was just 17 and started practising law in Karachi until Partition, says his official website. “The partition led him to move to Bombay as a refugee and he began his life afresh with his family,” it says. He died six days before his 96th birthday.
In 2010, he was elected as the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association. He announced his retirement from over seven-decade-long career as advocate in 201
“India has lost an exceptional lawyer and iconic public figure who made rich contributions both in the Court and Parliament,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter, remembering the legal veteran. “He was witty, courageous and never shied away from boldly expressing himself on any subject,” PM Modi said.
In another tweet, PM Modi said: “One of the best aspects of Shri Ram 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.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah visited Mr Jethmalani’s home this morning to pay his last respects. “Ram Jethmalani ji’s passing away is a 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,” Mr Shah wrote on Twitter.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal paid tribute to the veteran lawyer on Twitter.
“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. RIP Ram sir,” Mr Kejriwal wrote.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also paid his tribute in a tweet. “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,” he wrote.