Prime News, National (New Delhi), September 9:- Noted criminal lawyer and former Union minister Ram Jethmalani died at his residence in the national capital on Sunday morning. He was 95.
One of the highest-paid lawyers of the country, Jethmalani served as the Law Minister and the Urban Development Minister in the former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet. He had also served as the Chairman of Bar Council of India. Born in Sindh on September 14, 1923, Jethmalani had obtained a law degree when he was just 17 and started practising law in Karachi until Partition, according to his official website.
As a lawyer, Jethmalani often grabbed headlines for representing those who were caught on the wrong side of the law. His illustrious career was marked by several high-profile cases and run-ins with some of the most powerful people in the country. As a top criminal lawyer of the country, Jethmalani was known for his techniques of cross-examination of witnesses in the courtroom.
Here are some of those cases which made Ram Jethmalani one of the top criminal lawyers of the country
He represented those involved in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and later Manu Sharma in the Jessica Lal murder case.
Apart from these, the controversial lawyer also defended Harshad Mehta and Keran Parekh in the multicrore share markets fraud case.
On the night of 25 June 1975, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared an Emergency. The government, in its attempt to exercise absolute control, passed the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) to make arbitrary arrests. Hundreds of political activists and journalists were either jailed or put under house arrest without any explanation or legal recourse.
A team of 12 lawyers, led by Shanti Bhushan, challenged the unlawful detentions in the Supreme Court. This came to be called the Habeas Corpus case. Jethmalani was one of those lawyers who argued before the top court if fundamental rights, like the right to life, stood abrogated during a state of Emergency.
In a stunning verdict, the Supreme Court favoured the Centre with only one of five judges dissenting against the majority ruling.
Defending Indira Gandhi’s Assassins
Former PM Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her personal security guards was widely believed to be an open and shut case. But it Jethmalani, who made the majority to think otherwise. He decided to defend the accused – Balbir Singh and Khehar Singh – after they requested him to represent them.
Jethmalani successfully proved that the link between Balbir Singh and the two Sikh guards who shot down the Prime Minister was tenuous. But, he could not save Khehar Singh, who was sentenced to death.
Defending Rajiv Gandhi’s Killers
Jethmalani sprang yet another surprise when he argued for commuting LTTE operative Murugan’s death sentence in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case on the grounds that he had spent more than 23 years in prison, and if the remissions earned were to be taken into account, the period of incarceration would be over 30 years.
The Harshad Mehta Stock Market Scam
When the Harshad Mehta stock market scam was unearthed in 1992, it is understood to have catapulted the status of Mumbai-based lawyers. Harshad and his brothers hired Ram Jethmalani to defend them after nearly 70-odd criminal cases were lodged against the Mehta family. The Harshad Mehta case also probably marked the beginning of serious money coming into the legal profession. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).