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Book Review

Before Memory Fades, Fali S. Nariman


Soubhagya Ranjan Swain (14B149)

Before Memory Fades: A review


It is an autobiography of one of the legendary lawyers of India, Mr Fali S Nariman. This
book gives a very wonderful insight into the life of Mr Fali S Nariman.
Billed as An Autobiography, Narimans book is less a continuous narrative than a
collection of reminiscences, anecdotes and reflections on the events and people that have
filled his very full liferecounted with that ineffable charm, gentle persuasiveness and quiet
humour that so characterise the man.
Born on 10th January 1929, at the General Hospital in faraway Rangoon, to a Zoroastrian, or
(Parsis) family as they are called, Fali Sam Nariman, "Baba" to his guardians, needed to leave
for India and take refuge when the Japanese bombarded Rangoon in December 1941, amid
the Second World War. Much to their dismay that their child would climb to turn into one of
India's most prominent lawyer. Fali S Nariman started his educational career in Bishop
Cotton School Shimla, then to St. Xavier's College Bombay for his BA (Hons) lastly to
Government Law College Bombay for his LLB. Nariman began his profession at Payne &
Co. as a trainee and from that point joined the prestigious Kanga Chamber which apart from
Sir Jamshedji B. Kanga bragged distinguished luminaries, for example, Harilal Kania the first
Chief Justice of independent India and famous lawyers, for example, Nani Palkhiwala, H. M.
Seervai and Soli J. Sorabjee etc. It was Sir Jamshedji who helped Fali comprehend that "the
art of advocacy - is to make basic what is complicated and the other way around".
He tells interesting stories of his schooldays with wicked fun: an early English teacher who
constantly addressed the question "How are you?" with a chuckle, " Hee-hee, in the same
way as the British Empire, I am gradually breaking down!" There are a lot of such interesting
stories about his childhood.
Then comes the dismal story of a distant relative, Bakhtyar Rustomji Hakim, who was
hanged in England in the year of 1936 for, supposedly, strangling his wife and maid in an
attack of jealous fury. For this horrific homicide, his waxwork was incorporated in Madam
Tussaud's Chamber of Horrorshowever later evacuated, thus leading Fali to comment, It
might be grim in me at the same time, without a doubt, I do miss having to tell companion
and adversary that there is a distant relative of mine in the Chamber of Horrors.
Mr Fali S Nariman has partitioned his story into a few "turning points" throughout his life in
which he incorporates his marriage to Bapsi Contractor . He portrays his wife as his "life help
support". He was just 38, underneath the base qualifying age, when he declined an
opportunity to be a judge of the Bombay High Court. The measly pay of judges during that
time period was the primary reason behind his refusal. After a span of four years, in any case,
he consented to turn into the Additional Solicitor-General in Delhi. Mr Fali S. Nariman was
actually enjoying his employment winning a few cases for the legislature and losing somewhen the sledge blow of the Emergency struck the nation. Nariman resigned promptly. The
censors saw to it that the news was passed out, yet gradually it spread. Having to leave his

official residence in Safdarjung Lane, he found that landlords were not eager to lease a house
to him. In the end, a great companion went to his help. Almost all friends gave the Narimans
a generous amount of space. "Loyalties in the capital city are most fleeting," says Nariman, in
his two parts on the 19-month bad dream that the Emergency was.
For the law graduates of the country he has been an iconic figure. As he put it: "I am
habitually asked by law students around the nation in respect to how an attorney must plan
and argue essential cases." And he gives his answer in this astounding work which ought to
be recommended as a reading material in all law schools. He reviews the piece of advice
given to him once by his senior, C.k. Daphtary: "never forget, Fali, it is better to invest more
of a chance pondering a case than only perusing a concise brief."
He concedes that at the Supreme Court of India where he did his practice, he "won some, lost
some", constantly consoling himself with the adage of the Olympic Games which says: "The
most critical thing is not winning, however joining in, taking part and the vital thing in life is
not conquering yet battling admirably." In his time Nariman battled well and he talks about in
detail a portion of the cases he won or lost with objectivity that is very touching. It will be a
poor law student who won't read this book from end to end, not once, yet for all times.
On one event Nariman alludes to Motilal Setalward, a previous lawyer General who truly
struck him down at the Supreme Court. Says Nariman: "The entire structure of my
deliberately arranged argument had been obliterated in one single strode by the sheer drive of
a radiant advocate's incredible and forbidding personality " Where specializing in legal
matters is concerned Nariman's recommendation ought to be considered as past any test.
Although he is an extraordinary lawyer, Nariman's knowledge of English poetry is frail. For
instance he cites three lines Robert Burns wrongly. The lines are: "The best laid plans of mice
and men gang aft agley and leave us not but grief and pain for promised joy". The version of
Nariman is: The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry and from that he comes to the
conclusion that his best laid plan went completely "astray", with the sudden Proclamation of
Emergency on June 26, 1975.
Nariman's contemplations on the Emergency are worth a profound study. As he says: "The
President could have deferred signing the Proclamation till after the Cabinet meeting "
Nariman quit his post after the imposition of the Emergency, which talks very highly of him.
His "appearance" on occasions following post Emergency are worth studying for their
legitimacy and significance.
There is a long section additionally on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy that has caused much more
noteworthy fury in the nation today than at the time of the fiasco 26 years back. Nariman had
acknowledged to be the "lead advocate" of the Union Carbide Corporation in the civil
litigation emerging out of the terrible gas spill. This occasioned solid criticism of him both at
home and abroad. Carefully, he addressed each criticism at equivalent length. In the book, he
has published an compilation of all these exchanges that can't be abridged and must therefore
be studied in full detail. Prominently lucid is his section on the chaos this nation has made of
the inter-state water question.

Inescapably the greater part of Mr Fali S Nariman's book, in the same way as his life, is given
to law, attorneys, judges, judiciary as a whole and its relations with the legislature and the
executive, the other two mainstays of the Indian democratic framework. On the objection
about "judicial activism" that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called "judicial
overreach"-"mistakenly", in Mr Fali S Narimans opinion his remark is: "The 'judicial
overreach', the head administrator discussed, is the immediate outcome of the legislative and
executive 'under-reach': i.e., poor execution really taking shape of laws and especially in their
execution". He additionally underscores that notwithstanding three progressive judgements in
what is known as the "judges case", the procedure for appointment of Supreme Court and
high court judges stays unsatisfactory, and ought to be supplanted by a legal arrangements
commission.
Benevolently but then unbiasedly, Mr Fali S Nariman gives his appraisal and admiration
about "the great and the extraordinary" of his calling, particularly of Supreme Court judges.
He commends a number of them-including Justice Vivian Bose, chief justices S.r. Das, P.b.
Gajendragadkar and M. Hidayatullah, to name just a couple yet the most astounding
appreciation is saved for Chief Justice of India K. Subba Rao and Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer.
Mr Subba Rao was the planner of the majority judgment in the commended Golaknath case
that delineated Parliament's energy to correct the crucial rights hallowed in the Constitution.
Hence the zenith court did not maintain all aspects of this judgement, however Nariman
contends relevantly that if there were no Golaknath there would have been no Kesavananda
Bharati (1973). At that point, because of "unbridled forces of amendment yielded (to
Parliament)" India would have "gone the way of some of its neighbours we would have
practically most likely have organized an dictatorship". Kesavananda precludes Parliament
from evolving the "fundamental structure" of the Constitution. If Subba Rao emulated a
political plan, Justice Krishna Iyer sought after a lively social agenda. Despite the fact that he
is in his 95th year, he remains an enthusiastic crusader for social and gender justice and
moves and inspires an entire new era of jurists.
Being a law student, reading this book was an enjoyable experience for me. It was
informative and inspirational. Any law student can learn profoundly from the life of such a
legal stalwart. Altogether, it can be said that Before Memory Fades is not just a good read, it
is also a very delightful one. For those people who are in anyway related with law-its
formulation, enforcement or practice-it should be a mandatory reading.