Author: Kashish Khurana, B.A.LL.B (Hons.), 2nd year, School of Law, Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal. The legal fraternity faces huge losses amidst this pandemic as the Senior Advocate Ashok Desai passed away at Mumbai on 13th April, 2020. He was one of the eminent lawyers of the Supreme Court of India. EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND Sr. Adv. Ashok Desai was born on 18th December, 1932 in Mumbai. He completed his schooling from Mumbai and completed his graduation from Fergusson College, Pune. Like his father, Mr. Haribhai Desai was a criminal lawyer; he also decided to pursue law as a career. He completed his law degree from Government Law College, Mumbai in 1952. After completing his law degree, he pursued his degree in Economics at the London School of Economics in England. LEGAL PROFESSION Sr. Adv. Ashok Desai started his legal career by enrolling himself as an advocate at Bombay High Court in 1956. He was also called to the English Bar from Lincoln’s Inn in the same year. He started his practice at the chambers of S. V. Gupte and dealt with cases on commercial, constitutional, and arbitration matters. He also taught both at the Government Law College and Bombay College of Journalism in Mumbai. He also worked as a legal correspondent for The Times of India from 1963 to 1969. Two decades later, he was designed as a senior advocate by the High Court of Bombay on 8th August, 1977. He was also appointed as the Chairman of the Committee on Administrative Law of International Bar Association from 1986-88. Later, he was appointed as the Solicitor General of India from 1989-1990. He also served as a Consultant to the Commonwealth Workshop on Administrative Law at Lusaka, Zambia in 1990. He was appointed as the Attorney General of India from 1996-1998. HIS PRESENCE IN VARIOUS FAMOUS CASES Sr. Adv. Ashok Desai spent 12 years on the Salwa Judum Case. In the present case, the Supreme Court declared the deployment of youths as Special Police Officers or any other force to fight Maoist insurgency illegal and unconstitutional. In 1972, he defended the case of Vijay Tendulkar for a ban on his Marathi play ‘Sakaram Binder’ on the grounds of obscenity. He also had a contribution in the striking down of pre-censorship of dramatic performance and a character was modeled on him in a Marathi play ‘Sex Morality and Sakaram Binder’ two years later. He was also part of the Vineet Narain case in which the powers of the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Central Vigilance Commission were discussed. He was also a part of the Narasimha Rao case on parliamentary privileges and the Narmada Dam case. In 1997, he presented India’s Report to the United Nations Committee on Human Rights in Geneva. In 1997, he represented India at the World Trade Organization Appellate Body in a Patent litigation filed by the US against India. In 1998, he led the Indian delegation to the United Nations Preparatory Committee on Money Laundering Bill in Vienna. He also appeared pro-bono for the decriminalization of same-sex relations under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in the Supreme Court representing LGBTQ+ groups and their supports. In the following case, he presented his arguments by making a reference to the presence of homosexuality in Indian culture to a transgender character in epic Mahabharata. AWARDS/HONORS He was honored with the ‘Golden Anniversary Rotary Prize’ by the University of London in 1956. He was presented with the ‘National Law Day Award’ in 2000. He was honored with the Padma Bhushan award in 2001. He was also honored with the Law Luminary Award in 2001. He was also felicitated with the ‘Doctor of Law’ (Honoris Causa) in recognition of his contribution to the field of law and jurisprudence by the North Orissa University on 14th September, 2009. BOOKS AUTHORED/CO-AUTHORED “The Bombay High Court on High Court as Constitutional Court” was written by him. He wrote “The Law Shall Prevail: A Re-look at the Indian Legal System”. He also authored a book named “Judicial Overreach: A critique”. A book “1975-77 Emergency, Some Legal Recollections” was a book written by him about the National Emergency of our country. He also co-authored the book “Public Interest Litigation: Potential and Problems” with Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar. He had associated himself with many pro-bono cases through Public Interest Litigation. The legal profession and the society will always remember legends like him. Disclaimer: Views and opinions as expressed in the Research Articles are solely of the author and any member of the Editorial team or the Founder, Co-Founder or other members of the website shall not be liable for the same.
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