Bar grieves loss of legal giant as TR Andhyarujina passes away

tr-andhyarujinaMUMBAI: Former solicitor general of India Tehmtan Andhyarujina passed away on Tuesday. He was 83 years old. He practiced law for six decades and has left behind a legacy in judgments he helped shape with his submissions as counsel, on constitutional law.

Among the many landmark cases he contributed his erudite mind and legal skills to, include the seminal Kesavananda Bharati case in which the Supreme Court laid down the ‘basic structure doctrine’ and while limiting power of the Parliament on amending the Constitution, strengthened the power of judicial review.

Andhyarujina, was also the Maharashtra advocate general in 1993 till 1995, before he became the solicitor general in Delhi between 1996-1998. A graduate of law in 1957 from Government Law College in Mumbai, he was chose to join law despite qualifying for the Indian Foreign service in 1958. He had joined the chambers of the legendary jurist and Constitutional expert H M Seervai.

“Andhyarujina’s contribution to constitutional jurisprudence was immense,” said a lawyer in Mumbai expressing sorrow as funeral took place at the Parsi Doongarwadi on Tuesday. One of his concerns as a jurist has been about the existing system of judicial appointments, much before the debate arose in public domain over the collegium and National judicial appointments commission. In 2013, four decades after the seminal judgment, Andhyarujina had authored the book, The Kesavananda Bharati Case: The untold story of struggle for supremacy by Supreme Court and Parliament. The book, analysed not the judgment, but the very people, in court and behind-the-scenes conflicts that resulted in the pathbreaking verdict.

Few know that as solicitor general, his valuable assistance, paved way for the landmark guidelines laid down by the apex court in 1997 in the Vishakha case to protect women from sexual harassment at the workplace.

It was Andhyarujina, whose erudition the SC sought when it had made him an amicus curiae (friend of court) in the defining Aruna Shanbaug euthanasia case in 2011. Author Pinky Virani had filed the petition as ‘next friend’ of Mumbai nurse Aruna who was left in a persistent vegetative state following a horrendous crime, 37 years ago, to stop feeding her and to let her die peacefully. Andhyarujina had submitted that though the humanistic intention of Pinky Virani cannot be doubted, it is the opinion of the attending doctors and nursing staff which is more relevant in this case as they have looked after her for so many years. He submitted that the He had submitted that the withdrawal of nutrition by stopping essential food by means of nasogastric tube is not the same as unplugging a ventilator which artificially breathes air into the lungs of a patient incapable of breathing resulting in instant death. His submission was that decision to withdraw life support is taken in the best interests of the patient by a body of medical persons, not court. The SC had rejected her plea.

He worked with the same quiet dedication, bringing his expertise and depth of knowledge into analysis and interpretation of law, to assist the apex judiciary, till the very end. On his demise on Tuesday, advocate Ganesh Khare tweeted, “He was one of the very few experts on constitutional law. Will be missed. Great Contribution to Indian law.”

After his funeral at the Parsi Doongerwadi in Mumbai, eminent jurist himself, Iqbal Chagla expressed the sorrow that many in the profession are feeling. “It is a very sad day today when we lost another giant in the profession. Just few days ago, we lost Anil Diwan. Andhyarujina was one of the most respected lawyers, came from a great chamber and went on to achieve great heights as AG and then solicitor general, we feel a great sense of loss”.

Published on Times of India