Rohinton Fali Nariman
Rohinton Fali Nariman
|Judge of the Supreme Court of India|
|Assumed office |
7 July 2014
|Appointed by||Pranab Mukherjee|
|Solicitor General of India|
27 July 2011 – 4 February 2013
|Born||13 August 1956|
|Relations||Fali Sam Nariman|
|Alma mater||University of Delhi (LL.B.)|
Harvard Law School (LL.M.)
|Profession||Lawyer (till appointment as judge)|
Rohinton Fali Nariman (born 13 August 1956) is a judge of the Supreme Court of India. Before being elevated as a judge, he practised as a senior counsel at the Supreme Court. He was appointed the Solicitor General of India on 23 July 2011. He also served as a member of the Bar Council of India. He was designated as a Senior Counsel by Justice Venkatachaliah (the then Chief Justice of India) in 1993 at the early age of 37.
Early life and education
Nariman is the son of Fali Sam Nariman, a distinguished Indian Jurist. He received his early education in Mumbai, at the Cathedral and John Connon School. He completed his undergraduate B.Com. degree from Shri Ram College of Commerce. He completed his LL.B from Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, where he ranked 2nd in the batch. He then went to Harvard Law School for his LL.M. degree in 1980–81 where he was taught by stalwarts like Professor Laurence Tribe and Professor Unger.
Nariman joined the Bar as an advocate in 1979. Times of India has placed him among top ten lawyers of his time. After his year at Harvard, he practised Maritime Law in New York at Haight, Gardner, Poor & Havens for a year. He has been designated as a Senior Advocate at Supreme Court of India from 15 December 1993 at the young age of 37. While appointing him Chief Justice Venkatachalaiah amended the rules as Nariman was of 37 years and the minimum age for being made a senior in the Supreme Court was 45.
He has been practising law for the last 30 years and has more than 500 reported Supreme Court Judgments to his credit. He is an expert in Comparative Constitutional Law and Civil Law. He has argued numerous cases, including the constitutional bench judgments of P.A. Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra and State of Punjab v. Devans Modern Breweries Ltd.
One of Mr. Nariman's latest cases, Enercon (India) Ltd. v. Enercon GMBH, Civil Appeal No. 2086 of 2014, has clarified the arbitration law on the seat/venue dichotomy. Khoday Distilleries Ltd. v. Scotch Whisky Assn., (2008) 10 SCC 723 is a landmark case in trademark law wherein the arguments of Mr. Nariman that the class of buyer may be relevant to the determination of a passing off action and it is not always the test of the prudent man which would apply was accepted. He has argued the cases for theatre artist Vijay Tendulkar and the controversy-marred play Sakharam Binder. He claims that these two cases have been the turning points of his life. He has handled the high-profile case of gas sharing between the Reliance Industries Limited (led by Mukesh Ambani) and Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (which is led by Anil Ambani).
After being at the post of Solicitor General of India for eighteen months, Nariman resigned on 4 February 2013. The reason for this is not known though it was said that he shared a poor rapport with the Law Minister Ashwani Kumar
Supreme Court Judge
Nariman was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court on 7 July 2014. He is the fifth Supreme Court judge to be elevated directly from the Bar. He will retire on attaining the age of 65 years on 12 August 2021.
Freedom of Speech
Nariman and Jasti Chelameswar formed the two judge bench of the Supreme Court of India which struck down a controversial law which gave Indian police the power to arrest anyone accused of posting emails or other electronic messages which "causes annoyance or inconvenience". The judges held Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which made such offenses punishable up to three years imprisonment, to be unconstitutional. The judgement was authored by Nariman. According to Nariman and Chelameswar, several terms in the law they were striking down were "open-ended, undefined and vague" which made them nebulous in nature. According to the judges: "What may be offensive to one may not be offensive to another. What may cause annoyance or inconvenience to one may not cause annoyance or inconvenience to another."
In their judgement the judges clarified that a distinction needs to be made between discussion, advocacy, and incitement. Any discussion, or advocacy of even an unpopular cause cannot be restricted, and it is only when such discussion or advocacy reaches the level of incitement whereby it causes public disorder or affects the security of the state can it be curbed.
The judgement has been welcomed for defending the Indian Constitution's ideals of tolerance and the Constitutional provisions of free speech. It has been pointed out that the controversial law struck down by Nariman and Chelameswar had gained notoriety after many people in India started getting arrested for seemingly innocuous reasons on the ground that they had violated the now scrapped law.
In a landmark judgement, a five-judge Bench struck down instantaneous triple talaq by 3–2 majority and termed it void, illegal and unconstitutional. While Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit struck down the practice; Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice Abdul Nazeer asked Parliament to make a law in this regard. Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman judgement was against the practice of Triple Talaq where he stated "Triple Talaq is a disapproved form of divorce. Even the Hanafi law says triple talaq is sinful. 1937 Act recognizes triple talaq and therefore does not violate Article 13. It is not possible for the court to fold his hands when petitioners come to court. Practice of triple talaq is bad and can be tested as legislation."
- Press Bureau of India : Shri Rohinton Fali Nariman Appointed as Solicitor General of India Last Retrieved on 4 February 2013.
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- India's top 10 lawyers – Times of India Last retrieved on 4 February 2013
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- Supreme Court Lawyers Welfare Trust encourages young talent; Introduces 2 annual fellowships – Bar and Bench Last Retrieved on 4 February 2013.
- NDTV: Solicitor General Rohinton Nariman quits after 18 months in office Last retrieved on 4 February 2013
- Times of India – Solicitor General RF Nariman resigns Last retrieved on 4 February 2013
- "Justices Arun Mishra, Adarsh Goel and lawyer Rohinton Nariman appointed Supreme Court judges". Economic Times. PTI. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 30 August 2014.
- "Religion has claimed more lives than politics, says CJI". The Hindu. 21 November 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
- "Section 66A: India court strikes down 'Facebook' arrest law". BBC. 24 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
- "India supreme court strikes down internet censorship law". The Guardian. 24 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
- "A blow for free speech". The Hoot. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
- "Supreme Court upholds free speech on internet, scraps 'unconstitutional' Section 66A of IT Act". Hindustan Times. 25 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
- "SC strikes down 'draconian' Section 66A". The Hindu. 24 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
- "The judgment that silenced Section 66A". The Hindu. 26 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
- "Our Politicians Loved Section 66(A)". NDTV. 24 March 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
- "Stats from 2014 reveal horror of scrapped section 66A of IT Act". Hindustan Times. 20 August 2015. Retrieved 19 December 2016.