Current context: 

Fali Sam Nariman, a famous Indian jurist, specialized in constitutional law and international arbitration, died at the age of 95.

About F S.Nariman:

  • Fali S. Nariman, a renowned Indian legal expert, passed away on February 21, 2024, leaving a lasting legacy in Indian jurisprudence, renowned for his significant cases.
  • He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1991 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2007.

Some remarkable cases:

The Second Judges Case: Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India(1981)

  • In 1981, the Supreme Court granted the central government final say in judicial appointments and transfers by allowing the President to refuse recommendations made by the Chief Justice of India. 
  • the court argued that consultation with the CJI should be binding to protect the independence of the judiciary and ensure the suitability and competence of candidates.
  • In 1993, the nine-judge bench agreed with Nariman’s arguments and established the Supreme Court Collegium. It’s a body comprising the senior most Supreme Court judges which is tasked with making binding recommendations for appointment of judges to the apex court and High Courts. This method of appointment has remained in place since this decision.

National Judicial Appointments Commission case: Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association v. Union of India:

  • Nariman appeared in the latest case of the judge appointments dispute, following the challenge to the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act, 2014, which established a six-person commission for judicial appointments.
  • Nariman, representing SCAORA, argued that the NJAC would undermine judiciary independence, leading to four out of five judges striking down the NJAC in 2015, reinstating the collegium system.

Parliament cannot curtail fundamental rights: I.C. Golak Nath v. State of Punjab

  • Two brothers in Punjab challenged the Constitution (Seventeenth) Amendment Act of 1964, which altered Article 31A of the constitution. This article, which is part of the constitution’s fundamental rights chapter, deals with estate acquisition.
  • Fali Nariman defended petitioners, arguing Parliament’s Article 368 power doesn’t apply to basic rights articles. In 1967, a majority of justices agreed, citing Article 13(2).

 Bhopal gas tragedy: Union Carbide Corporation v. Union of India (1989)

  • The 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, involving 42 tons of toxic chemicals, led to thousands of deaths and environmental damage, prompting the Supreme Court to hear a compensation case in 1988.
  • Nariman represented Union Carbide, offering $426 million in compensation for the tragedy, which was later settled with the central government for $470 million.

Rights of minorities to establish and administer education institutions: TMA Pai Foundation v. State of Karnataka

  • Nariman’s TMA Pai case upheld minority rights to establish and administer educational institutions under Article 30(1) of the Constitution, stating that linguistic and religious minorities must be determined state-by-state and government regulations cannot destroy minority character.

Governor to act only upon the aid and advice of the council of ministers, chief minister: Nabam Rebia, and Bamang Felix v. Deputy Speaker(2016)

  • The Supreme Court in 2016 addressed the political crisis in Arunachal Pradesh following the 2015 rebellion of 21 Congress MLAs, enabling a floor test to determine the majority party.
  • Nariman argued that the governor’s power to advance assembly session was limited by the constitution, leading to the restoration of the Congress government led by Nabam Tuki.

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