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Ashok H. Desai is a former the Attorney General for India He was in office from July 1996 to 1998. Previously, he was the Solicitor General of India from December 1989 to December 1990. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan award and the Law Luminary Award in 2001.
Ashok H. Desai did his schooling from The Scindia School, Gwalior, and then studied law at the Government Law College, Mumbai and graduated with a law degree in 1952. In 1956, he graduated from the London School of Economics with a Bachelors in Economics. That same year, he was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn, London. He was also part of the Harvard International Seminar in 1967.
As a Senior Advocate and as Attorney General he appeared in a large number of cases involving issues of Administrative Law and Constitutional Law. Some of the cases of general interest in Bombay include the case of Sakharam Binder which struck down the dramatic censorship rule; the case of Piloo Modi where the allotment of backbay land reclamation was set aside; and the case of Antulay in which Justice Lentin found that quid pro quo was regarding allotment of cement which led to the resignation of the Chief Minister.
He appeared in the Supreme Court in the case of Ramanna Shetty on the obligation of the State to act fairly; the case of Narasimha Rao about Parliamentary privilege; the case of Vineet Narain about powers of a Court to monitor investigation against political leaders; the Narmada Dam case; and the case of Jayalalitha.
Desai was the Chairman of the Committee on Administrative Law of International Bar Association in 1986-88 and Consultant to the Commonwealth Workshop on Administrative Law at Lusaka, Zambia in 1990. In 1997, He presented India’s Report to the United Nations Committee on Human Rights in Geneva and in 1998, he led the Indian delegation to the United Nations Preparatory Committee on Money Laundering Bill in Vienna. Among other positions he has held are Legal Correspondent, Times of India, and Professor, Law College, Bombay and Bombay College of Journalism.
Among his publications, he has contributed to “Constitutional Laws of India” (Arnold-Heinemann Publishers, 1986) “Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law” (Butterworths 2000), “Final but fallible – Essays on the Supreme Court of India” (2000), “Bombay High Court” (2003) and “Evoking Mr. Seervai” (2005). He delivered the Annie Beasant Lecture on Secularism in Chennai (2004) and the Prem Bhatia Lecture on Dangers to our Democracy (2005).
Desai is the Vice President of the Bar Association of India and President of the Inns of Court (India) Society.
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