Fali Sam Nariman

Indian politician

Fali Sam Nariman (10 January 192921 February 2024) was an Indian legal legend, a Constitutional jurist and senior advocate to the Supreme Court of India. He is also an internationally recognised authority on international arbitration. He was also Additional Solicitor General of India, Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament of India, and President of the Bar Association of India. He has played a key role in establishing and enforcing the law in India. He had been honoured with the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award of India, and Gruber Prize for Justice.

Quotes edit

  • Article 141 of the Constitution says that the law declared by the Supreme Court is binding on all courts and authorities in the territory of India. Unwillingly Article 141 has now become the thief of Judicial Time. The Laws' proverbial delays are not because there are too many laws, but because there are just too many reported judgments and orders concerning them. Cashing in on Art 141 every single case in the Supreme Court) and even in the High Courts-is dutifully printed and reported by a variety of competing reporting agencies who want their law reports to sell as widely as possible. The "judgement - factory" has become over - commercialized, and quite a large number of the 30 million cases now pending in various Courts in India can be attributed-atleast in part-to this peculiar Indian malady: "case-law diarrhoea".

Fali S. Nariman, ‘Before Memory Fades: An Autobiography edit

Fali S. Nariman, ‘Before Memory Fades: An Autobiography. Indian Law Journal (2010). Retrieved on 24 December 2013.

  • I have lived and flourished in a secular India. In the fullness of time if God wills, I would also like to die in a secular India.
  • 'violate the human rights of others', is impractical and fraught with grave consequences as it puts an almost impossible burden on the lawyer of pre-judging guilt; and (more important) it precludes the person charged with infringing the human rights of another (such as one accused of murder) the right to be defended by a 'lawyer of his choice” - in my country, a guaranteed constitutional right.”
    • On his view on representing lawyers as human rights activists on accepting briefs of clients
  • "A Case I Won – But I Would Prefer To Have Lost”. Criticizing his own win, Nariman said “I don’t see what is so special about the first five judges of the Supreme Court. They are only the first five in seniority of appointment – not necessarily in superiority of wisdom or competence. I see no reason why all the judges in the highest court should not be consulted when a proposal is made for appointment of a high court judge (or an eminent advocate) to be a judge of the Supreme Court. I would suggest that the closed-circuit network of five judges should be disbanded.
    • When he appeared in the Second Judges Case in the the Supreme Court Nariman which he won.
  • I don’t think, Mr. Palkhiwala, you can add anything more to what Mr. Nariman has so well presented”. These were some of the early memories in the Bombay Bar which Mr Nariman still recalls and cherish.
    • When he had appeared in case on the brief of Mr. Palkhiwala.

Fali Sam Nariman: An Interview edit

"Fali Sam Nariman: An Interview". Parsi Khabar. 13 June 2010. Retrieved on 24 December 2013. 

  • There is one thing about “our tiny Parsi community” that you must know, which is that to us (or at least to most of us) the one thing greater than being a Parsi is being an Indian. I am proud of the fact that our community rejected the offer made at the time of drafting of India’s Constitution — to Anglo Indians and Parsis alike — to have, for at least 10 years, one special representative in Parliament. Sir Homi Mody said in the Constituent Assembly that Parsis would rather join the mainstream of free India. And we did. We have no regrets. I must also tell you that the “tiny Parsi community” not only churns out legal luminaries, but produces geniuses in the medical field as well. As to how it is that we have been formidable in the legal and medical world, I just cannot say. But I like to think that it is because of our religion — a religion of good morals, which Parsi Zoroastrians find difficult to explain, but easy to live by.
  • Because these two judges showed to their generation of justices, and the generation after that, as to how to approach cases that came before the highest court. It is because judges with a political or social agenda are so few in number that they are long remembered. I have always considered it significant and beneficial for the development of the law in India that judges-without-an-agenda have been the more numerous.
    • On the role of judges
  • The two great institutions of state to which I have been privileged to belong do appear from time to time to “compromise” themselves, as you say. However, I must assure you that but for these two great institutions we would never have emerged as a vibrant democracy. The late Justice R S Pathak once used a nice metaphor when I asked him how he would like to be remembered as a judge of the Supreme Court. He told me, with becoming humility: “Every judge when he leaves the court must satisfy himself that he has left a little brick of his own making in that great edifice that is the Supreme Court of India.
  • As a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, your most important intervention was in suggesting that before investigating corruption allegations against senior officers, the CBI should get approval from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) rather than the government. Didn’t the rejection of your proposal show that all political parties are united in shielding corrupt officers?
  • After being in legal practice for 67 years, I was at first reluctant to write about my professional life because of what C K Daphtary once told me when I pleaded with him to write his own memoirs. “What?” he said angrily, “shall I write one like Setalvad did?” He was referring to the autobiography of a great attorney general Motilal Setalvad — in part self eulogizing. But I was getting on in age and getting forgetful as well, exemplified in that Mathew Arnold quote at the very beginning of the book: “And we forget because we must, and not because we will.” So I compromised. I wrote out the story of my life at the Bar trying to keep the old ego strictly under control. If I have not wholly succeeded, it is only because a man’s ego just cannot be suppressed!
    • On writing about his autobiography.

Affirmative action, not quotas for education': Nariman edit

"Affirmative action, not quotas for education': Nariman". Zee News. 20 July 2012. 

  • Affirmative action in education is what we need -- not quotas," he said, delivering the 49th convocation address at the IIT Madras.
  • ...Don't be disheartened as so many have become - about quotas and reservations in education,"
  • We in this country also need to make sure that the doors of learning are always kept open because India still belongs to the developing world.
  • Noting that the prosperity witnessed around was "skin deep," Nariman said he was not sure whether because of globalisation or despite globalisation, the rich in India appeared to be getting richer and the poor still remained mired in abject poverty, shut out from education and job opportunities.
  • He was optimistic about the future of India "Though never too optimistic about its governments - whether central or state, whether past, present or future.
  • Don't despair. Governments are the same everywhere - in every country.

Conversation with the living legend of law - Fali Sam Nariman edit

Conversation with the living legend of law - Fali Sam Nariman. Bar & Bench News Network (18 August 2010). Retrieved on 24 December 2013.

  • For aspiring law students I would like to say in your career, never try to show off. There is a tremendous amount of knowledge to be learnt, there is a tremendous amount of experience to be had in the field of law and no one can say “I’m on top and I know everything”. No, you don’t. The moment you say, you know everything, I’m afraid that’s the beginning of your downfall. It’s a never-ending process of learning and humility is essential because you can never learn the law. At the age of 92 my senior Jamsetjee Kanga used to say “I’m still learning” and he really meant it. If an odd chap walked into his chamber, he would just pick up a case and tell us about it, he was like a wizard. He could spot the most important point in the case, unlike us.
  • I don’t like the system of Moot-Courts these days, in law schools. My grand-daughter participates in these Moot-Courts, but I don’t like the idea of saying, in A vs. B it was said etc. It makes no difference to what was said. According to Halsbury’s, it was said in Queen vs. Latham that it makes no difference what was said in a given case because by and large all of it depends on the facts of the case, except for constitutional matters.
  • Law is a matter of the heart, as well as the head. You have to have compassion; it is one of the greatest qualities. Lord Denning and Justice Krishna Iyer have both said that compassion is extraordinarily important in the law, amongst lawyers and particularly amongst Judges. One must be able to assess whether a person has something genuine to say in a case.
  • In my view, I’m most fascinated by constitutional law. How to work the constitution is far more important than how to write it. It is much easier to write the constitution. I recall when the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh came to visit me, (to draft the Bangladesh Constitution). I was the Additional Solicitor General then. We gave them ideas and drafts were exchanged, but it didn’t last for more than a couple of years. Writing a constitution is simpler; borrowing ideas from everywhere is nothing great. How to work the constitution is a grave challenge and it’s fascinating.
  • I generally keep upto date with recent academic writings in law and literature; and to keep myself upto date I also subscribe to and browse through the New York Review of Books – a bi-weekly feature which gives all the current publications around the world – as well as the London Review of Books.
  • One very important thing that young lawyers must know is that when one argues a case and later in the evening you ponder over it and say, that’s what I should have said (but you never said it), that’s the only regret. It could have been the winning point or something you wish you had not said, which is even worse. If you get angry at that point in the courtroom, losing your temper can be a disaster. You can’t afford it because your client suffers and nobody likes you for it. It all comes with age and practice.

About Nariman edit

  • Mummy, please tell daddy to accept; I promise I will not spend too much money, and will cut down on chocolates and sweets because I would like him to be a judge”.
    • His daughter Anaheeta presented Fali a cartoon picture which reminded him of “The Judge You Might Have Been” quoted in "Fali S. Nariman, ‘Before Memory Fades: An Autobiography".

External links edit

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