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Business News/ News / India/  The End of an Era: How Fali Sam Nariman inspired a generation of young lawyers

The End of an Era: How Fali Sam Nariman inspired a generation of young lawyers

Fali Sam Nariman, the legendary jurist and senior advocate of the Supreme Court, has left an indelible mark on the legal fraternity with his courage, brilliance, and humility. Nariman's legacy of upholding justice and integrity has inspired a generation of young lawyers.

Fali S. Nariman passes away at 95 (PTI)Premium
Fali S. Nariman passes away at 95 (PTI)

The first time I witnessed Mr. Fali Sam Nariman in his full glory was in the Supreme Court in 2016. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra was hearing one of the most hotly contested cases of the last three decades- the Cauvery Water dispute issue.

Mr. Nariman was appearing for the State of Karnataka. As an interim measure, the Supreme Court had directed the State of Karnataka to release 15000 cusecs of water to the State of Tamil Nadu.

The State Legislative Assembly of Karnataka, in an open defiance of the Supreme Court order, passed a resolution to not release the share of Cauvery water into the State of Tamil Nadu; Mr Nariman was called the ‘conscience keeper of the bar’ for a reason and what happened on 16th February, 2016 tells us why. He unflinchingly placed before the Hon’ble Court his correspondence with Mr. Siddaramaiah, the then Chief Minister of State of Karnataka, wherein he had made it clear that he would not appear for the State until the Supreme Court orders were followed.

Also Read: Most outstanding legal mind: PM Narendra Modi on legal legend Fali Sam Nariman demise

Ultimately the State of Karnataka complied with the orders. Justice Misra noted in his judgement, “On that day, as the order of this Court was complied with and that sage controversy was put to rest. Mr. Nariman assisted the Court. We think it necessary to state here that Mr. Nariman had courageously lived up to the highest tradition of the Bar and we had recorded our uninhibited accession".

Over the last few days, we have heard countless such stories of his courage and brilliance. I was however moved by the more humane side of this extraordinary man. After the passing of his wife Mrs Bapsi Nariman, a teary eyed Nariman admitted on national TV that she was his pillar of strength and living without her had indeed become very difficult.

Also Read: Who is Fali Sam Nariman? ‘Bhishma Pitamah’ of lawyer community represented these landmark cases

In the same interview he confessed to the moral quandary he had found himself in while appearing for Union Carbide in the Bhopal gas tragedy case, later revealing that it remains one of his biggest regrets. He was unhesitant to say that Fali too was fallible, he wasn’t afraid to show his vulnerable side and that’s exactly what set him apart from his other outstanding and equally celebrated peers at the bar.

A few brave and brilliant jurists have walked the corridors of the Supreme Court since the country’s independence but none as gentle and benevolent as the late Fali Sam Nariman.

Mugdha Pande is a practising advocate at the Supreme Court of India and an associate at the chambers of Mr. Mahesh Jethmalani, Senior Advocate.



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Published: 24 Feb 2024, 12:23 PM IST
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