Senior Advocate and former Union Minister Ram Jethmalani passed away on Sunday morning. He obtained a law degree at an early age of 17. With a legal experience of over seven decades, Jethmalani appeared in several high profile cases. According to Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhawan, he was a 'maverick in his selection of causes'. He was part of many landmark judgments and his legal expertise came to limelight as well.
A case that drew extensive media coverage, the Nanavati case saw jury trials for the last time in India. But the case also earned Jethmalani the fame he needed. He was representing the prosecution against Commander K. M. Nanavati, who murdered his wife's lover, Prem Ahuja. Despite the public sentiment, Jethmalani's impeccable cross-examination skills established Nanavati's guilt and conviction of pre-mediated murder. Subsequently, he became a leading name in the field of criminal law practice.
In 1975, Indira Gandhi-led government declared a state of emergency across the country. Many political leaders, activists and journalists were either arrested or put under preventive detention. A team of lawyers, including Jethmalani, challenged these detentions. Jethmalani attacked the then Central government's attempt to exercise total control and he alleged that "it is almost right to say that democracy is already in the coffin". His arguments were particularly admired and even circulated after the judgment.
In 1992, the recommendations of the Mandal Report, that suggested reservations to socially and educationally backward classes for jobs in central services and public undertaking were implemented by the VP Singh led government. The government order was challenged in the Supreme Court. Jethmalani argued for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). The Supreme Court upheld the government order. Years later, Jethmalani said out of his many legal victories, he was particularly proud of the Mandal case.
Jethmalani was also one of the highest-paid lawyers in the country. He represented many high profile clients including many leading politicians and businessmen in the country. Despite his success, he regularly fought several pro bono cases as well. He announced his retirement from the legal profession on 10 September 2017. He has also served as the Law Minister of India and Minister of Urban Development during the tenure of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.