Senior Congress leader Hansraj Bhardwaj dies

New Delhi, Mar 8 (PTI) Former Union law minister and Congress veteran Hansraj Bhardwaj died after a cardiac arrest at a hospital here on Sunday evening. He was 83.

Bhardwaj breathed his last around 6.30 pm at Max Hospital, Saket, where he was admitted since Wednesday due to kidney-related ailments, his family told PTI.

The cremation will take place at Nighambodh Ghat on Monday at 4 pm, his son Arun Bhardwaj said.

He is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters. Bhardwaj celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary on February 29.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP leader and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury condoled Bhardwaj's death.

'Anguished by the passing away of former minister Shri Hans Raj Bhardwaj,' the Prime Minister's Office tweeted quoting Modi.

'My thoughts are with his family and well-wishers in this hour of grief. Om Shanti,' the tweet said.

Prasad recalled his association with Bhardwaj in Parliament.

'Deeply condole the sad demise of Shri Hansraj Bhardwaj who for long years served as the Law Minister of India. We were together in the Parliament. May his soul Rest In Peace,' Prasad posted on Twitter.  CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury remembered the leader as an 'encyclopedia' on the Indian judicial system.

'Sad news about Shri Hans Raj Bhardwaj ji's demise. Worked with him as an MP when he was a minister & shared the urge to safeguard our constitutional values. He was an encyclopedia on the Indian judicial system. Will miss him,' Yechury said in a tweet.

Born in Garhi Sampla village in Rohtak district of Haryana, Bhardwaj was a Rajya Sabha member for five terms from April 1982 to June 2009.

He was the law minister for 14 years and served under the prime ministership of Rajiv Gandhi, Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh. During his stint as the governor of Karnataka between 2009 and 2014, he sternly dealt with the mining mafia active in the state.

It was during Bhardwaj's tenure as law minister that Bofors-accused Ottavio Quattrocchi was given a clean chit by then UPA government in 2009.

Sources said he fell out with Congress party leadership after he became the governor and criticised it.

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and opposition leader in the assembly Siddaramaiah also mourned the demise of Bhardwaj.

'In his death we lost a good legal expert and administrator. May his soul rest in peace and may God give strength to his family to bear the loss,' Yediyurappa said in a condolence message.

A tussle between Bhardwaj and Yediyurappa over mining and land scams drew everyone's attention during his second stint as chief minister.

Gowda said Bhardwaj will always be remembered for his exceptional service to the nation, while Siddaramaiah recalled him as as a tough man against immoral practices during power struggle.

'His contribution to Karnataka during his tenure shall always be remembered. He was tough against immoral practices of power struggle. My deepest condolences to his family members & well-wishers,' Siddaramaiah tweeted.

Bhardwaj held a Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) degree and did his schooling from GBC High School, Rohtak, and college in BM College, Shimla. He also studied at Agra University and Panjab University. PTI SKC KR ASG DPB