Lawyers remember Sorabjee as 'leader of legal fraternity'

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New Delhi, Apr 30 (PTI) Lawyers condoled the demise of former Attorney General and jurist Soli Sorabjee and remembered him as a legal luminary, with a fervour for jazz and someone who never uttered an unkind word for anyone.

Sorabjee, 91, passed away due to COVID-19 at a Delhi hospital on Friday. He is survived by wife, a daughter and two sons.

In a series of tweets, senior advocate A M Singhvi, who is a next-door neighbour of late Sorabjee, described how his health deteriorated in a weeks' time. Singhvi said that COVID-19 positive Sorabjee was taken to the Max hospital a week ago, where he was stable, as per his wife Zena. “Suddenly, heart stopped last night and could not be revived. Long association,” Singhvi wrote on micro blogging site Twitter. He said, “Briefed Soli as a youngster, worked with him and opposed him in innumerable cases. Remember our private mimicry sessions. Soli's success in law was a loss of both jazz and mimicry.” The senior advocate said that even though Sorabjee was frail, he was mentally alert till the end and fully cognisant at his warm and cosy 91st birthday a few weeks ago.

“[He] had a zest for information and a view on everything. Speech slurred, frail in body but mind fully alert and memory largely intact,” Singhvi said, recollecting how he sat with Sorabjee in his lawn about a month ago and discussed law, life and politics. Recalling him as a leader of the legal fraternity, former Attorney General and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said, “Immensely successful and twice held the coveted post of Attorney General of India. Never had an unkind word for anyone. He had passion for jazz and books.” He added, “A legal luminary who strode the canvas of Indian litigation for over six decades is no more. He leaves behind his wife and three immensely successful children. May his soul rest in peace.” Senior Advocate H S Phoolka called Sorabjee his 'mentor' and said that “he will be sorely missed”.

“Soli Sorabjee played a pivotal role in fight for justice for 1984 Sikh genocide, formed CJC (Citizen's Justice Committee) in 1985, an umbrella organization of Human Rights groups and led team of lawyers before Ranganath Misra Commission.

“Throughout he kept encouraging me not to give up fight for Justice. He was very happy on conviction of Sajjan Kumar. His contribution towards fight for getting justice for victims will always be remembered,” Phoolka said.

He added that Sorabjee always said that “we have to prove that our country is governed by rule of law and no one here is above the law.“ Vikas Singh, senior advocate and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president, alluded to him as a legend in the legal profession and a national asset. Singh added, “It is a great loss to the nation. In spite of his age and failing health, his mental alertness remained completely normal till the end.” He recalled how Sorabjee would come to the court with the assistance of somebody just to keep himself occupied and appear in court in spite of his age. “It is something very heartening to see.” Remembering his 'immense contributions to the justice delivery system', senior advocate Vikas Pahwa said Sorabjee was an institution in himself. “I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Shri Soli Sorabjee. He was one of the finest legal minds this country has ever seen. He was an institution in himself. He was a mentor to a generation of lawyers who are leading practitioners in the Supreme Court today. “His immense contributions to the justice delivery system shall always be remembered. He shall also be remembered for his unfaltering dedication to the defence of 'Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression and Human Rights',” he said. Senior Advocate Aman Sinha also called him a towering legal luminary and affectionate senior, adding that the void his absence has created in personal and professional lives will be impossible to fill. “My deepest condolences and tributes to my senior and guru Soli J Sorabjee who left us today morning. It was my honour to have close association with him for 25 years,” Sinha remarked. Sorabjee appeared in many important cases including the Kesavananda Bharati matter on basic structure doctrine and the S R Bommai matter relating to invocation of President's rule in the states among others.

A recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award of the country, the renowned human rights lawyer served as the Attorney General for India from 1989-90 and then from 1998-2004 during the tenure of V P Singh and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, respectively.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among a host of leaders who condoled the passing away of the eminent jurist. PTI AAK UK SJK SA