Born On: 14th September, 1923
Born In: Sindh in Pakistan
Career: Lawyer and Politician
Genius, flamboyant and contentious is some of the words that can be commonly used to describe Ram Jethmalani's life and career. But being a renowned politician and lawyer, also comes with being involved in many controversies. Despite the severe criticism that Jethmalani has faced, he is still one of the shrewdest and most senior criminal lawyers in the country. In 1971, when he entered politics Jethmalani played a vital role in campaigning against the ruling party, during the Emergency period. Since then he has remained as a popular figure in Indian politics. Jethmalani has been an important member of the Indian Bar Council for several years. At the age of 87, he is still an active political figure. Today, Jethmalani is a Member of Parliament for Rajasthan and also the Minister of Law and Justice. Read below to know more about Ram Jethmalani's early life, career and awards.
Ram Jethmalani was born on the 14th of September 1923 in a small town called Shikharpur, located in the Sindh region (currently in the provinces of Pakistan). He was an intelligent kid in school and got a double promotion, hence completing his matriculation by the age of 13. Later, he enrolled into a college for a degree in Law. Ram received his LLB when he was just 17 years old, but the degree did not entitle him to practice law. This was because to represent a person in court as their lawyer requires a minimum age of 21. But, Ram appealed to the legal system and after giving it due consideration, he was appointed as a practicing lawyer at the age of 18.
Ram was first married to Ratan in 1947 and fathered a son named Janak. When his family moved to India, he met his second wife named Durga who was a lawyer by profession. The couple married soon after and they had three children i.e. Rani, Shobha and Mahesh.
Ram Jethmalani started his career as a lecturer in a Pakistani educational institution, before the partition. Then he started his own law firm with a friend, A.K. Brohi. A few years later when the political insurrections began in Karachi, him and his family took refuge in India. Like several other people, he started a new life in Bombay and continued to practice Law.
In 1953, he became a visiting lecturer at a Government Law College in Mumbai. Here, he taught undergraduate and postgraduate students. Ram extended his training to Comparative Law at the Wayne State University in Detroit.
It was not until 1959 that he became a well-known face. In the same year that he appeared in the famed case, K. M. Nanavati vs. State of Maharashtra along with another lawyer, Yeshwant Vishnu Chandrachud. In the 1960's, Jethmalani appeared as a defense lawyer for a series of smugglers. This had a negative outcome on his public image and earned him the title of 'a smuggler's lawyer'.
His unruffled demure and astute sense of judgment set him apart from the rest of the attorneys in the country. Ram Jethmalani has previously served as the Chairman of the Bar Council of India for four terms before and after the Indian Emergency. Besides this, he has also been a member of International Bar Association in 1996.
In 1971, this famous lawyer entered the world of politics by standing as an independent candidate, under the guidance and support of the Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Jan Sangh. Despite his influential backing, he lost the elections. Thereafter, the period of Indian Emergency began, where Ram held the position of Chairperson of the Bar Association of India.
Ram Jethmalani was said to have disparaged Indira Gandhi for which an arrest warrant was issued. But the case was nullified as he won the overwhelming support of 300 other lawyers. Political tension in the country made him shift base to Canada but he still continued to protest against the Emergency by filing for his candidature. Finally, he won the elections. AAfter this, he returned to India and tried to contest in the elections held in 1985 but he lost to Sunil Dutt.
In the following years, he became a Parliamentarian and initiated his political movement called Bharat Mukti Morcha in 1987. The next year, he became a Rajya Sabha member and in 1996, the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs that was led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Jethmalani also launched his own party called Pavitra Hindustan Kazhagam.
During the then Prime Minister's tenure, Jethmalani was appointed as the Union Minister of Urban Affairs and Employment in 1998 and Union Minister for Law, Justice & Company Affairs in 1999 for a brief period. He also proclaimed his contention for the President of India.
In 2004, he contested for general elections and lost by a fair number. 6 years later, he got a pass into the Rajya Sabha of Rajasthan by the Bharatiya Janta Party.
Awards and Accolades
Jethmalani has been the recipient of prestigious awards such as International Jurist Award, World Peace Through Law Award and Human Rights Award by World Peace Through Law (1977) for his work in against fascism in Philippines.
1923: Ram was born in Sindh during the British Raj.
1948: He sought refuge in India and settled in Mumbai.
1953: He took up lecturing at a Government Law College.
1959: Jethmalani was in the limelight for the infamous case of K. M. Nanavati vs. State of Maharashtra.
1960: Appeared in other criminal cases and was labeled as the 'smuggler's lawyer'.
1971: He entered the political scene.
1977: Received the Human Rights Award by World Peace Through Law.
1985: Lost the second round of elections to Sunil Dutt.
1988: Ram became a member of the Rajya Sabha.
1996: He was appointed the The Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs during the period of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
1998: Jethmalani was the Union Minister of Urban Affairs and Employment.
1999: The position of Union Minister for Law, Justice & Company Affairs was given to him for a short period.
2010: He was appointed as the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.