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‘Old Man’ Departs from God's ‘Waiting Lounge’: Remembering Ram Jethmalani

Jethmalani was unpredictable in his choice of cases. He defended several criminals to save them from the gallows, but argued in favour of the death penalty. He spoke out against corruption and also defended high-profile personalities in corruption cases.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:September 8, 2019, 2:57 PM IST
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‘Old Man’ Departs from God's ‘Waiting Lounge’: Remembering Ram Jethmalani
File photo of senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani. (Image: Twitter/@DrAMSinghvi)
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New Delhi: "I am now an old man living in God's waiting lounge”. This is how veteran lawyer Ram Jethmalani would often refer to himself in his last spell as an officer of the court.

Days before his 94th birthday in 2017, Jethmalani had hung his boots after more than seven decades of exemplary career in practising law.

When he showed up at a felicitation ceremony to welcome the newly appointed Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Jethmalani made the formal announcement: "My lord, I am appearing before you for one last time. I am more than 90 now. I have seen it all. I am now just an old man living in the God's waiting lounge."

The doyen of criminal law had then said that people, whom he had seen as children, have become judges and now the Chief Justice.

Jethmalani declared that his house was always open to young lawyers, who wished to learn.

"It is not a bed of roses. Sometimes, there is a bed but no roses and other times there are roses but no bed," the ace lawyer told the budding advocates. Justice Misra wished him well, and said Jethmalani still had a lot to offer to the world of law and that someone like him can never retire.

Jethmalani was a Partition refugee who went on to become one of the greatest lawyers of the country.

He was a lawyer to activists, politicians, detenues, murderers, dacoits — all without discrimination.

If he strategised the famed KM Nanavati case, he also represented the assassins of Indira Gandhi; if he fought against the black money menace, he appeared for Lalu Prasad Yadav in the fodder scam cases.

Jethmalani was unpredictable in his choice of cases. He defended several criminals to save them from the gallows, but argued strongly in favour of the death penalty. He spoke out against corruption and also appeared for a string of high-profile personalities to defend them in corruption cases.

Likewise, Jethmalani's political career, too, has had many flavours. Apart from Atal Bihari Vajpayee, in whose cabinet he served as a minister, the lawyer was critical of most of the politicians and blamed them for the state of nation.

Following a series of letters and adverse statements, the BJP chose to end its association with Jethmalani in 2013. But that never deterred Jethmalani from talking about relevant political issues, and the need to end corruption in all forms from high public offices.

Jethmalani was an avid badminton player, and was known for his flamboyance. He would often talk about love and life, would out-dance and outtalk everyone in a party till some years back.

September 8, 2019 is the day Jethmalani departed from the God's waiting lounge.

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