Fali S Nariman
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Fali S Nariman

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 23-Feb-2024

Who was Fali S Nariman?

Fali S Nariman, an eminent jurist and Senior Advocate, passed away in the early hours of 21st February 2024. He marked the end of a remarkable career that spanned over 75 years. He was born on 10th January 1929. He received honors including the Padma Bhushan in 1991, Padma Vibhushan in 2007, and the Gruber Prize for Justice in 2002. Additionally, he served as a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, from 1999 to 2005.

What was the Career Journey of Fali S Nariman?

  • Fali S Nariman attended Bishop Cotton School in Shimla.
  • He pursued Economics and History, excelling academically.
  • He pursued law from Government Law College, Mumbai.
  • He embarked on his legal journey at the Bombay High Court, eventually earning Senior Advocate status at the Supreme Court of India after 22 years.

What are the Notable Cases of Fali S Nariman?

I C Golak Nath v. State of Punjab (1967):

  • Fali S Nariman supported the petitioners' argument against Parliament's authority to amend fundamental rights.
  • The verdict, delivered in 1967, highlighted the inviolability of fundamental rights, cementing Nariman's legacy in defending constitutional principles.

State of Karnataka v. State of Tamil Nadu (1991):

  • Fali S Nariman's prolonged involvement in the Cauvery water dispute exemplified his commitment to resolving contentious issues through legal avenues.
  • Despite facing challenges, his principled stand earned accolades from the judiciary, underscoring his unwavering dedication to the highest standards of legal practice.

Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (1993):

  • In 1981, a five-judge constitution bench of the SC delivered a landmark verdict stating that the Chief Justice of India's (CJI) opinion holds paramount importance in judicial appointments, reflecting a consensus approach to ensure fairness.
  • Judicial independence is foundational; consultation with the CJI is binding, reflecting the judiciary's vital role in upholding constitutional principles and maintaining public trust.
  • Representing the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA), Fali S Nariman contested this decision in 1987.
  • Fali S Nariman argued that the term "consultation" under Article 124 necessitated more than mere advice-seeking, emphasizing the importance of judicial independence.
  • His advocacy ultimately led to the establishment of the Supreme Court Collegium in 1993, empowering senior judges to make binding recommendations for judicial appointments.

In re: Special Reference 1 (1998):

  • Following the Second Judges Case, President K R Narayanan sought clarification on the procedure for judicial appointments under Article 143 of the Constitution.
  • Fali S Nariman played a pivotal role in this case, assisting the court in elucidating that the CJI must consult with fellow judges before making recommendations.
  • The verdict, delivered in 1998, expanded the Supreme Court Collegium's composition to include five senior-most judges, reinforcing the judiciary's autonomy in appointments.

Union Carbide Corporation v. Union of India (1989):

  • In the aftermath of the catastrophic Bhopal gas leak, Fali S Nariman represented Union Carbide in negotiations for compensating the victims.
  • His efforts culminated in a settlement agreement, underscoring his commitment to resolving complex legal disputes with compassion and fairness.

TMA Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka (2002):

  • Fali S Nariman's advocacy extended to cases concerning minority rights, as evidenced in the TMA Pai Foundation case.
  • His arguments supported the autonomy of minority-run educational institutions, safeguarding their right to establish and administer schools in accordance with constitutional provisions.

J. Jayalalithaa v. State of Tamil Nadu (2014):

  • In a high-profile case involving former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, Fali S Nariman secured bail and suspended her sentence, showcasing his adeptness in navigating complex legal proceedings with diligence and expertise.

Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India (2015):

  • Fali S Nariman led the charge against the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act, 2014 (NJAC), which posed a potential threat to judicial independence.
  • Representing the SCAORA, Fali S Nariman argued that the NJAC's provisions would impinge upon the judiciary's autonomy.
  • In 2015, the Supreme Court concurred with Fali S Nariman's stance, striking down the NJAC and reaffirming the collegium system for judge appointments.

Governor's Authority in Arunachal Pradesh Crisis: Nabam Rebia, and Bamang Felix v. Deputy Speaker (2016):

  • During the political turmoil in Arunachal Pradesh, Fali S Nariman's representation helped restore constitutional order by emphasizing the governor's obligation to act upon the advice of the council of ministers.
  • His efforts contributed to upholding democratic principles amidst a challenging constitutional crisis.