Former Law Minister and Senior Advocate Shanti Bhushan Passed Away

A former law minister and expert lawyer, Shanti Bhushan, passed away on Tuesday. He was 97.

Between 1977 to 1979, he served as the Morarji Desai Cabinet’s Minister of Law. As a senior barrister, he battled alongside his son, the renowned civil rights attorney Prashant Bhushan, for judicial transparency and accountability.

Don Bradman, a cricketing icon, is quoted by Mr. Bhushan in his autobiography “Courting Destiny” as saying that it is possible to successfully mix vanity, ambition, and competitiveness with the virtues of modesty, integrity, and courage.

When Mr. Bhushan stood up to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and was successful in getting her disbarred for election fraud, his strong integrity came to the fore. An occasion that led to the Emergency.

Nevertheless, Mr. Bhushan’s claim that “no political leader was above the law, and if a senior leader had to resign from office, the nation could always choose a replacement” has stood the test of time.

Later, he testified before a bench chaired by Chief Justice A.N. Ray, who had replaced three senior members of the Supreme Court to become the court’s chief justice, to defend the Basic Structure of the Constitution and the inviolability of fundamental rights against the 39th Constitutional Amendment.

Shanti Bhushan passed away 1
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“Every Constitution has some essential qualities which make it unique and give it an identity,” Mr. Bhushan was able to persuade the Bench.

Later, he declared, “It cannot be regarded as an updated Constitution of India if some modification turned democratic Constitution into dictatorial one, naming the dictator and giving the dictator power to pick a successor.”

When opposition leaders were imprisoned during the Emergency, he supported the rule of law in the Habeas Corpus case. His fundamental contention in the case was that the rule of law always protected citizens’ rights to liberty and that those rights, including the freedom of speech and the right to life, could only be violated in conformity with the law.

In his capacity as Minister of Law, Mr. Bhushan proposed the 44th Constitutional Amendment to preserve the fundamental principles of the Constitution and to maintain the authority for judicial review of laws that had been restricted by the controversial 42nd Amendment Introduced during emergency.

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