Former Union law minister and eminent jurist Shanti Bhushan, who represented politician Raj Narain in the historic case that led to the annulment of then prime minister Indira Gandhi's election in 1975, died in New Delhi on Tuesday following a brief illness. He was 97.
A source close to his family said he was not keeping well for some time and died at his home in Delhi.
In the historic Raj Narain vs Indira Nehru Gandhi case, the Allahabad High Court in June 1975 had disqualified Gandhi for a period of six years from contesting elections.
Freedom fighter and politician Raj Narain, who had unsuccessfully contested the 1971 Lok Sabha elections from Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh against Gandhi, had in his plea accused her of corrupt electoral practices.
Gandhi had moved the Supreme Court against the high court verdict. It triggered a series of events culminating into the imposition of Emergency on June 25, 1975.
Bhushan, who was also a senior advocate, served as the law minister from 1977 to 1979 in the Morarji Desai cabinet.
Bhushan, whose sons Jayant and Prashant Bhushan are leading lawyers, was active in the legal profession till recently and had argued on a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking a court-monitored probe into the Rafale fighter jets deal.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was pained by Bhushan's death. "Shri Shanti Bhushan Ji will be remembered for his contribution to the legal field and passion towards speaking for the underprivileged. Pained by his passing away. Condolences to his family. Om Shanti." Law Minister Kiren Rijiju also condoled Bhushan's passing away. "My deepest condolences to the family members on his passing away. My prayers for the departed soul. Om Shanti." Shanti Bhushan had filed a plea in the apex court, challenging the roster practice of allocation of cases by the Chief Justice of India.
In its verdict on his plea, the top court had in July 2018 maintained that the Chief Justice of India is "the master of the roster" and has the prerogative and authority to allocate cases to different benches of the apex court.
In November 2010, Shanti Bhushan had stuck to his sensational allegation that there was corruption in the judiciary and had refused to apologise to the Supreme Court asserting he was willing to be jailed for contempt.
He had made the remarks when the apex court had asked whether he and his son Prashant were willing to tender an apology to avoid being hauled up for contempt.
In his political career, he was a member of the Congress (O) and later of the Janata Party. He served as a Rajya Sabha member too. He also had a six-year stint with the BJP.
He was vocal on the issue of corruption, and was among the founding members of the Aam Aadmi Party, which he later quit.
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