Sam Nariman Felicitated
Fali Sam Nariman was born on January 10, 1929 at Rangoon. He was enrolled
as advocate in High Court of Bombay in November 1950. He has been a senior
advocate in the Supreme Court of India since 1971. He was felicitated
recently on the completion of 50 years as a lawyer. He is one of the founding
members of the PUCL. He was Additional Solicitor General of India when
Emergency was declared. Following the dictates of his conscience he resigned
from the post on June 26 1975 the day after Emergency was declared. He
was the founder chairman of the LAWASIA standing committee on the human
rights in 1979 and President of LAWASIA from 1985-'87. He has been honoured
by a number of National and International Awards and positions. When he
was a student of the Government Law College, Bombay he was taught by Y.
V Chandrachud and Nani Palkhiwala is reported to have remarked once, "these
voices (Fali Nariman, Soli Sorabji, Anil Diwan, and Ashok Desai) reached
the top of the profession not because we taught them but, in the process
of teaching them we learnt more than we taught." According to Ashok
Desai, "we look upto him for his leadership because a fearless profession
is as important as an independent Judiciary
I have found that he
holds strong views but fully respects opposing views held by other colleagues.
His sense of humour is illustrative of his humility, as is clear from
the following piece once related by him: there is an old teacher (I like
to think he is a law teacher though I am not sure he is) who owns an old
1938 Morris car in New Delhi-as he drives along at 20 miles an hour one
can read the sticker at the back of his car which says, 'this car is driven
by a teacher. Please overtake me as all my students have.'
We give below another short piece written by him.
"Article 141 of the Constitution says that the law declared by the
Supreme Court is binding on all courts and authorities in the territory
of India. Unwillingly Article 141 has now become the thief of Judicial
Time. The Laws' proverbial delays are not because there are too many laws,
but because there are just too many reported judgments and orders concerning
them. Cashing in on Art 141 every single case in the Supreme Court ) and
even in the High Courts-is dutifully printed and reported by a variety
of competing reporting agencies who want their law reports to sell as
widely as possible. The "judgement - factory" has become over
- commercialized, and quite a large number of the 30 million cases now
pending in various Courts in India can be attributed-atleast in part-to
this peculiar Indian malady: "case-law diarrhoea".
We have all forgotten the very wise and salutary rule enunciated more
than a 100 years ago that the only use of authorities or decided cases
is the establishment of some principles, which can guide the judge in
deciding the case at hand. Any practicing lawyer of experience will tell
you that no too cases are ever alike. We should perhaps go back to the
system of reported and unreported judgments: only for the former to be
declared as law, binding on all Courts in the land, the latter as applicable
to the facts and circumstances of the given cases.
The originality of his thinking is reflected in the fact that even at
the final appellate stage in the Supreme Court he can come up with a completely
new approach to the case. He turns a point around and discovers an angle
missed by others. He can place it in a manner, which catches his opponents
on the wrong foot. It is difficult to say whether Fali is a better lawyer
or advocate. I would recommend that one does not try to answer this question.