Noted jurist and former Union law minister Ram Jethmalani passes away

Jethmalani had been on medical help for the last two weeks.

Ram Jethmalani
NEW DELHI: Eminent lawyer-politician Ram Jethmalani, who courted several controversies in his career and was known for his sharp remarks, passed away on Sunday morning at the age of 95. He had been ailing for some time and was kept under round the clock medical supervision for the last two weeks.

Jethmalani was a Rajya Sabha member from RJD. He served as law and urban development minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government but even during his days in the BJP he would never hold back on criticising his own party. Later, in 2004 he contested against Vajpayee from Lucknow in the Lok Sabha election. He had represented the BJP in the Lower House from Mumbai twice.

Never one to shy away from a verbal duel, Jethmalani would make news for becoming a defence attorney for those who were in the dock for grave crimes. He fought the cases of the assassins of Indira Gandhi and later her son Rajiv. He was also defended stock market scam accused Harshad Mehta and Ketan Mehta.

In recent times, he fought the case of Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru and Manu Sharma, who was facing the charge of shooting dead Jessica Lal for not making him a drink.

Jethmalani was acerbic in his political life as well. He took on Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi during the Bofors gun deal controversy, posing a series of questions to him through the press on a daily basis. When Gandhi was asked about the questions, he said he would not pay attention to every barking dog. Jethmalani shot back, saying a dog barks only at a thief.

He was unsparing in his remarks against the BJP even as a member and had the reputation of writing letters or voicing his dissent within the party forum.

Jethmalani fought RJD Chief Lalu Prasad’s case in the fodder scam and his Rajya Sabha seat is said to be in lieu of that service.

Born in Sikharpur, Sindh on September 14, 1923, Jethmalani became a lawyer at the young age of 18. He is survived by his son Mahesh, also an eminent lawyer who dabbled in politics as well. He has a daughter who lives in the US. Another daughter Rani passed away a few years back.
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