Soli Jehangir Sorabjee: One Of The Greatest Legal Mind of India

By: Siddharth Sharma

Soli Jehangir Sorabjee(

A disciplined lawyer, renowned jurist, a man of his words, champion of human rights, former attorney General of India Mr. Soli Jehangir Sorabjee was passed away on April 30th, 2021, after contracting the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). In this post, we have tried to sum up his beautiful journey of life


  1. Born on March 09, 1930, to a Parsi family in Mumbai, Soli, as affectionately called by his colleagues, was known as a champion of freedom of speech and expression.
  2. He had completed his schooling from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and earned his LLB degree from the Government Law College Mumbai in 1952.
  3. In 1953, he entered into the bar, and started his practice from Bombay High Court. In the year 1971, he was designated senior counsel by the Supreme Court of India.
  4. He had started his practice under the great legendary figure Mr. Jamshedji Kanga. By taking the legacy forward, he trained several finest legal minds, one of them are Mr. Harish Salve.
  5. During the emergency in 1975, he emerged as one of the vocal critics on curbs on free speech and press. He had also stood strong for the sufferers of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

  1. He had served in several offices in organisations of national and international repute. some of them are:

I.                    He worked in the office of Solicitor General of India from 1977 to 1980 and later, He had also served as the chief legal advisor of the central government, in the capacity of Attorney General of India in 1989 for a year and again for six years from 1998.

II.                  He was appointed by the UN as a Special Rapporteur for Nigeria, in 1997, to report on the human rights situation in that country.

III.                He became a member and later Chairman of the UN-Sub Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, from 1998 to 2004.

IV.                He had been serving as the member of the United Nations Sub commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities since 1998.

V.                  He also served as member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague from 2000 to 2006.

VI.                In March 2006 he was appointed an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia (AM), "for service to Australia-India bilateral legal relations".

VII.              He was also a Patron of the Media Legal Defence Initiative, a UK-based charity that provides legal aid and assistance to journalists and news media organizations around the world, supports training in media law and promotes the exchange of information, litigation tools and strategies for lawyers working on media freedom cases.


  1. He had won numerous awards, which includes but not limited to the following:

I.                    Kinloch Forbes Gold Medal in Roman Law and Jurisprudence, 1952, during his law school days,

II.                  Padma Vibhushan, March 2002, (For his unconditional support to the freedom of speech and the protection of human rights), and

III.                Justice K. S. Hegde Foundation Award, April 2006.


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  1. He was very fond of literature. He had authored some books, including:

I.                    The Laws of Press Censorship in India (1976),

II.                  The Emergency, Censorship and the Press in India, 1975-77 (1977),

III.                Law and Justice (2004)


Also Read: 48th Chief Justice Of India, Mr. N.V. Ramana: 10 Things Which You Should Know About Him


  1. During his long career in the legal profession (almost over seven decades), Sorabjee appeared in many landmark cases that shaped the constitutional history of India. Some of them are:

I.                    The famous Kesavananda Bharati case (1973) in which a 13-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court propounded the doctrine of basic structure.

II.                  S R Bommai case, 1994, which, inter alia, led to the broad interpretation of the article 356 of Constitution of India.

III.                The IR Coelho case (2007), in which a nine-judge Constitution Bench ruled that laws placed in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution don't enjoy a blanket protection from judicial review.

IV.                The BP Singhal case (2010) wherein the Supreme Court held that governors could not be dismissed without due cause.


  1. At the age of 91, he succumbed with the deadly COVID-19 virus and left us on Friday, 30th April, 2021.


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