Fali S Nariman: One of India’s Living Legend

Manali Chotalia

“Men at some time are masters of their fate: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are underlings.”

– Fali S. Nariman

January 10, 1929, marked the birth of one of India’s most appreciated and recognised jurists Fali Sam Nariman, who turned 92 and is still one of the distinguished constitutional lawyers of India. Since 1971, he has served as the senior advocate to the Supreme Court of India and is known for his significant contribution to the Indian legal system. From being the President of the Bar Association of India (1991-2010), Nariman is also internationally known for being a jurist in arbitration.

Upbringing and Education:

Nariman was born to Sam Bariyamji Nariman and Banoo Nariman. He did his alma mater from Bishop Cotton School, Shimla, and went to Mumbai for his higher studies, where he did B.A. from St. Xavier’s College. After completing his B.A. he entered into a life-changing phase, which was getting a law degree from the GLC, Mumbai in 1950, as he stood first in the Advocate’s Examination.

Walk of Life as a Jurist:

Being appointed as the senior advocate in 1971, he still holds this position in the Indian Supreme court. He had practiced as a lawyer for 22 years in the Bombay High court. His exemplary work and knowledge led him to serve honorary posts in India. He was a President-appointed member of the Rajya Sabha as well.

POSTS HELD:

SENIOR ADVOCATE OF SUPREME COURT – Since 1971

ADDITIONAL SOLICITOR GENERAL OF INDIA – May 1972 – June 1975

PRESIDENT OF INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL FOR COMMERCIAL ARBITRATION – Since 1994

President of Bar Association of India – Since 1991

Vice Chairman of Internal Court of Arbitration of International Chambers of Commerce – Since 1989

Honorary Member of International Commission of Jurists – Since 1988

Member of London Court of International Arbitration – Since 1988

Chairman of the Executive Committee of International Commission of Jurists – 1995 – 1997

Appointed to the Advisory Board of UNCTD – 1999

Nariman fought some of the most important cases in his whole life as he practiced law.

UNION CARBIDE CORP. v UNION OF INDIA

Nariman represented the Union Carbide Corporation in this case where he helped make a deal between the victims and the company outside the court.

However, in his autobiography ‘When Memory Fades’, he stated it as: “A Case I Won – But I Would Prefer To Have Lost.”

Apart from this, Nariman fought many major cases which led to the establishment of landmark decisions and created major changes in the Indian Constitution. It includes –

Golak Nath Case, S P Gupta Case, and TMA Pie Foundation Case.

These cases brought a change in the Indian legal system and the judiciary.

The book beautifully shows the life of Nariman, one of the most successful Indian lawyers, and is also a guide for others on taking a step towards success.

Awards given to Nariman:

Kinlock Forbes Gold Medal and Prize for Roman Law and Jurisprudence.

Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan for his contributions to jurisprudence and public affairs.

Gruber Prize for Justice, which he dedicated to Bishop Cotton School, Shimla.

19th Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for excellence in Public Administration.

The Lal Bahadur Shastri award was presented to him by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu. He also addressed this beautiful event by saying: “Nariman is truly an example to be emulated by practitioners of law around the world, he is one of India’s most distinguished constitutional lawyers.”

An award has been named after our great legend ‘The Vis Moot East’s Fali Nariman Award’ and is given for ‘Best Respondent’s Memorandum’.

India hasn’t yet witnessed a great constitutional lawyer like Nariman. His journey so far as a lawyer is a great motivation to the people of this new generation.