Soli Sorabjee

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Soli Jehangir Sorabjee, AM (born 9 March 1930) is an Indian jurist and former Attorney-General of India. He has been honored with Padma Vibhushan for his defence of the freedom of expression and the protection of human rights. Sorabjee has held several offices in organizations of national and international repute.[1]


Soli Sorabjee was born on 9 March 1930 in Bombay to a Parsi family. He studied at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai and Government Law College, Mumbai, was admitted to the bar in 1953. At Government Law College, he was awarded the Kinloch Forbes Gold Medal in Roman Law and Jurisprudence (1952).[2]

In 1971, Sorabjee was designated Senior Advocate of the Bombay High Court. He served as Solicitor-General of India from 1977 to 1980. He was appointed Attorney-General for India in 9 December 1989 up to 2 December 1990, and then again on 7 April 1998, a post he held until 2004.[1]

In March 2002, Soli Sorabjee was awarded the Padma Vibhushan for his defense of the freedom of expression and the protection of human rights.[3] He worked on the Citizen's Justice Committee which represented pro bono the 1984 anti-Sikh riots victims.[4]

In March 2006 he was appointed an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia (AM), "for service to Australia-India bilateral legal relations".[5]

Some of the other important cases he has appeared for are: Keshavananda Bharati, Maneka Gandhi, S.R. Bommai, I.R. Coelho, etc. He recently appeared in the case of B.P. Singhal, where the Apex Court held that Governors could not be dismissed without due cause.

Personal life[edit]

Soli J. Sorabjee was a close friend and colleague of Nanabhoy ("Nani") Palkhivala. Sorabjee's daughter, Zia Mody, is also a lawyer and partner at AZB & Partners, one of the leading law firms in India.[2] Zia Mody is the author of the book 10 Judgements that Changed India.[6] Sorabjee has three granddaughters, named Anjali, Aarti, and Aditi.[7]


Sorabjee holds several offices in organizations of national and international repute.

He is the chairman of Transparency International and Convenor of the Minority Rights Group. He has served as Special Rapporteur to the United Nations Human Rights Commission since 1997, a member of the United Nations Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities since 1998. Sorabjee served as member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague from 2000 to 2006.[2]

Soli J. Sorabjee is also President of the United Lawyers Association, Vice-President of the Human Rights Committee of the International Bar Association, Vice-President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, Executive Committee member of the International Association of Constitutional Lawyers and member of the Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament Law of the International Law Association. He is also a Patron of the Media Legal Defence Initiative, a UK-based charity that provides legal aid and assistance to journalists and news media organizations around the world, supports training in media law and promotes the exchange of information, litigation tools and strategies for lawyers working on media freedom cases.


Sorabjee has written a number of publications to his credit:

  • Books:
    • The Laws of Press Censorship in India (1976)
    • The Emergency, Censorship and the Press in India, 1975-77 (1977), ISBN 0-904286-00-2
    • Law and Justice (2004), ISBN 81-7534-367-2
  • Essays and Monographs:
    • Fundamental Rights as published in "Public Law of India" (1979), ISBN 0-7069-1390-6
    • The Constitution and the Governor as published in "The Governor, Sage or Saboteur" (1985)
    • Protection of Human Rights in Emergencies (1988)
    • Equity in the United States and India published in "Constitutionalism and Rights" (1990)
  • Articles:
    • Obliging Government to Control Itself; Recent Development in Indian Administrative Law, Spring 1994 issue of "Public Law"
    • Freedom of Expression and Censorship: Some Aspects of the Indian Experience, Winter 1994 issue of Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly
    • Freedom of Expression, Commonwealth Law Journal Bulletin (1994).

He also writes columns for the Indian Express.



  1. ^ a b "Hall of Fame - Top 50" (PDF). J. Sagar Associates. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "In Conversation with Soli Sorabjee". Legal Era. Archived from the original on 22 May 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  3. ^ "Padma Vibhushan for Rangarajan, Soli Sorabjee". Retrieved 26 January 2002.
  4. ^ "25 Years after Indira Gandhi The lawyers in the Indira Gandhi Murder Trial and the 1984 Riots". 2 November 2009. Bar and Bench. Retrieved 21 May 2013.
  5. ^ It's an Honour
  6. ^ "It's a tight balance for the Supreme Court, says Zia Mody".
  7. ^ "Law bores me, says Zia Mody's daughter Anjali".
  8. ^ "Justice Hegde Award for Soli Sorabjee". The Hindu. 27 April 2006. Retrieved 25 April 2015.

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