Former Attorney General of India and senior advocate Ashok Desai passed away on Monday, 13 April, in the morning.
A Padma Bhushan awardee, Desai held office as the Attorney General of India from July 9, 1996 to May 6, 1998. Earlier, he was the Solicitor General of India from 18 December, 1989 to December 2, 1990.
Desai took up several landmark cases, including decriminalisation of homosexuality, Vineet Narain case relating to investigation into allegations of corruption against high-ranking public officials in the country, Narmada Dam case and Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) (IMDT) Act in Assam, among others.
Desai studied at the prestigious Fergusson College in Pune and thereafter went to the Government Law College, Mumbai. He started his practice in 1956 at the Bombay High Court and was designated as a senior advocate on August 8, 1977.
In 1972, when playwright Vijay Tendulkar's contentious social commentary 'Sakharam Binder' faced a ban on grounds of obscenity, it was Desai who came to his rescue.
His advocacy was responsible for striking down of censorship laws in Maharashtra.
Senior Lawyers Pay Tributes
Senior lawyers took to Twitter to pay tributes to Desai and described him as the "doyen" of the bar.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal said, "Ashok Desai, senior advocate, passed away this morning. A doyen of the bar will always be remembered for his contributions to the law and for his unmatched wit. My heartfelt condolences to the family for this loss. May his soul rest in peace."
Advocate Prashant Bhushan tweeted, "RIP Ashok Bhai, a doyen of the bar, former AG and a fine man, with the highest ethical standards & committed to many causes. He was a member of our Committee on Judicial Accountability which spearheaded Justice Ramaswami's impeachment & campaigned for better accountability of judges."