Former Attorney General and Jurist Soli Sorabjee Passes Away at 91

Sorabjee was the attorney general of India first from 1989-90 and then again from 1998-2004.

2 min read
File photo of Soli Sorabjee.

Renowned Indian jurist and former Attorney General of India Soli Jehangir Sorabjee passed away on Friday, 30 April, at the age of 91 after reportedly losing the battle to COVID-19.

Sorabjee served as the Solicitor General of India from 1977 to 1980 and as the attorney-general from December 1989 to December 1990, and then again from 1998 to 2004.

One of the most prominent human rights lawyers of the country, Sorabjee fought many high-profile cases through the years, including pro-bono cases for the families of the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.


Sorabjee: The People’s Lawyer

An alumnus of Mumbai’s St Xavier’s college and the Government Law College, Sorabjee was awarded the Kinloch Forbes Gold Medal in 1952 in Roman law and jurisprudence.

He was inducted into the bar in 1953 and designated as senior advocate of the Bombay High Court in 1971.

Sorabjee was involved in some of the biggest Constitutional law cases in Indian history, including the landmark 1973 Kesavananda Bharati case on the basic structure of the Constitution as well as the Maneka Gandhi case in 1978, which expanded the scope of Article 21 of the Constitution – the right to life and personal liberty.

He was also a part of the SR Bommai case in 1994, which is consistently used to address questions about state government formation.

Sorabjee was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in March 2002 for his defence of freedom of expression and protection of human rights. He was also honoured with the justice KS Hegde foundation award in April 2006.

Sorabjee was also a member of the committee on arms control and disarmament law of the International Law Association. He also served as the vice-president of the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association.

He was a member of the Citizen’s Justice Committee of 1984 anti-Sikh riots victims whom he represented pro bono.

PM, President Condole Demise

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to condole Sorabjee’s demise, saying that “he was at the forefront of helping the poor and downtrodden.”

President Ram Nath Kovind also paid tributes to Sorabjee, calling him “an icon of India’s legal system.”

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