Earlier this week, India lost one of its most eminent jurists, Fali Nariman, aged 95. Obituaries continue to pour in for who was regarded a legend by the legal fraternity. For some of us unaware of his accomplishments in the courtroom and in public life, these obituaries have been an eye opener. But we have nonetheless enjoyed and been enriched by his columns in the Indian Express over the years. His latest book ‘You Must Know Your Constitution’ meant for us all of us to understand our constitution in simple English, was published as recently as a few months ago. So rather than featuring an obituary (you can read Coomi Kapoor’s here and many more across the web), we feature excerpts from his writings for the Indian Express that the newspaper has compiled for us.

Nariman was known to speak and act his mind. An instance that stands out in this regard is his resignation as the Additional Solicitor General hours after the declaration of emergency in 1975. In an article for the Indian Express in 2015, he wrote about the reaction of the country’s intelligentsia:

“On the morning of June 27, I informed the law minister of my decision on the telephone. I then drafted, signed and posted to Delhi a one-line letter of resignation… The resignation of law officer number 3… created no ripples, in the political waters in the capital. I was simply not important enough. The then high commissioner of Australia told me not long after the Emergency that he had met Gandhi a couple of weeks after June 25, and she had expressed shock and surprise at the lack of reaction among the “intelligentsia”. She need not have been surprised. It is always the intelligentsia that has both the capacity and inclination to rationalise tyranny. And so it was in India.”
A couple of other excerpts featured here:

“On judicial accountability (November 12, 2022)

Empowering itself with the trappings of modern technology, India’s Supreme Court has been striving to perform its arduous task. But what of the future? First, and foremost, the judiciary as an institution needs to preserve its independence, and to do this it must strive to maintain the confidence of the public in the established courts. The independence of judges is best safeguarded by the judges themselves — through institutions and organisations that the law empowers them to set up… It is in the high courts that there are now left the largest number of roadblocks and delays; in their administrative functioning the high courts are answerable to no one but themselves… It is time that the Supreme Court be entrusted with direct responsibility for the functioning of the high courts: Only then can the highest court be an effective apex court, only then can the Supreme Court be made answerable, as it should be, for judicial governance for the entire country.

On importance of coalition governments (August 17, 2016)

After another somewhat indifferent decade of Congress rule, there emerged a prolonged period of coalition governments for the next 25 years — 1989 to May 2014 — during which no single political party could, on its own, form a government at the Centre.

It was during this period when political parties were reaching out for alliances — in order to form a stable government — that India witnessed a complete change of attitude in their leaders. Stepping down from the high ground, they became much less fractious and much more friendly. They began practising the spirit of fraternity — one of the prime purposes for which the Constitution was framed, as stated upfront in its Preamble… And when governments do good things, people do the same. When those in the government speak temperately, and without excitement, anger or malice, the people do likewise.”

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