“I’m 93 years old and I can die any day but I assure that it will not happen before I get you justice from the Supreme Court.”
It can explicitly be inferred from the above lines the kind of gusto and passion the senior maverick advocate of The Supreme Court of India, Mr. Ram Boolchand Jathmalani holds in him.
Mr. Jethmalani (born 23 September 1923) is arguably the best veteran criminal lawyer in the country, former Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and an eminent professor of law. He has served as India’s Union Law Minister and Chairman of Bar Council of India. Adding more adjectives, a flamboyant, shrewd and contentious person who has not mortgaged his soul or intelligence to anybody but his own conscious.
When in legal trouble, remember Jethmalani.
We all will agree with Mark Twin when he says “Age is an issue of mind over matter, if you don’t mind it doesn’t matter”. The above proverb best personifies Mr. Ram Jethmalani who has been an active citizen even during his late times. But my question is- why not? Why should “Age” be the bar for labelling someone as obsolete or determining his proficiency? Jethmalani has proven that he can never pass his “Shelf Life” by not just one instance but many. Some of them are listed below-
1. He is the highest paid Lawyer in the country. However, interestingly he has fought 90% of his cases free of cost, which includes his free services to the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in it’s case for restoration of the varsity’s minority status which is pending before the Supreme Court. Purely in nation’s interest.
2. He filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India to establish a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for taking steps to bring back black money stashed in foreign banks. Which unambiguously shows his active participation in public interest.
3. He assured his support to the ex-servicemen demanding “complete implementation” of ‘One Rank One Pension’ and promised that he will lead their legal battle in the top court without charging any fees.
4. Mr. Jethmalani, who was expelled from BJP in 2013, for accusing it of being “silent against high corruption” is quite vocal about his non intersecting ideologies with the BJP. His disappointment with the current government is evident from his open statements in which he mentions that he wants nothing from Prime Minister Modi but to fulfil the promise that he has made to the poor people of India.
5. From statements about Parliament and it’s “non-sovereign” nature to why the judges of Supreme Court of India or even the High Court judges can never be called “unelected”, Jethmalani has never missed any opportunity to enlighten people with his legal knowledge.
6. He is a defender of democracy. “The institution of Parliament is suffering total loss of public respect. This does not augur well for Indian democracy,” he said in his letter to Congress president Mrs. Sonia Gandhi while revoking his offer to defend her in the National Herald case.
These are just handful instances out of many where Mr. Jethmalani has stood for the rights and has shown his concern over the Nation and its citizens.
From his tabloid image of “smuggler’s lawyer” to his extensive support to the ex-servicemen on the “One Rank One Pension” (OROP) issue, Jethmalani has also been encapsulated in many controversies. His involvement in cases like Asaram Bapu (Sexual harassment Case) and Manu Sharma (Jessica Lal Murder Case) has sparked moral and ethical discourse. To this he says “I decide according to my consciences who to defend. A lawyer who refuses to defend a person on the ground that people believe him to be guilty is himself guilty of professional misconduct.”
According to me it’s no wrong choosing your duties or your obligations to a profession over the subjective concept of morals and right conduct. Jethmalani has argued for people whose political ideology is vastly different from his own. But how does that matter? Being a lawyer his job is to provide “legal” advice to his clients and not impose his set of “ideologies” on them. He has been accused for taking up controversial cases to attract attention. My question is- Is prioritising your duties towards your profession wrong? Don’t we all strive for recognition and success?
Although Ram Jethmalani is 93 years old, he is still active in politics, human rights issues, and the best lawyer the country has witnessed. He’s an asset to the country and a rebel. According to me he has still not crossed his ‘shelf life’ nor will he ever. Such prodigies do not die even after dying, for they already have a place in history!
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.