Former Law Minister and senior advocate Shanti Bhushan passed away on Tuesday. He was 97. Shanti Bhushan was India’s Law Minister from 1977-1979 in the Morarji Desai Cabinet.
He later established the well-known NGO ‘Centre for Public Interest Litigation’ in 1980, which has submitted numerous significant Public Interest Litigations to the Supreme Court since its inception. In 2018, he filed a petition in the Supreme Court calling for alterations to the ‘master of roster’ system. His son, Advocate Prashant Bhushan, is a renowned lawyer-activist.
Bhushan represented freedom fighter and socialist leader Raj Narain in the landmark electoral malpractice case at the Allahabad High Court, which led to Indira Gandhi’s removal from the Prime Minister’s post in 1974.
As a lawyer, he tackled many issues of public significance and was a strong voice against corruption and a defender of civil liberties. Shanti Bhushan was politically very active. He was associated with Congress (O) and later joined the Janata Party. He served as a member of the Rajya Sabha from 1977 to 1980 and held the position of Union Law Minister in the Morarji Desai government from 1977 to 1979. During his tenure as the Union Law Minister, he introduced the 44th Amendment of the Indian Constitution, which reversed several
provisions of the 42nd Amendment passed by the Indira Gandhi government.
In 1980, Bhushan joined the BJP, but resigned in 1986 after the party went against his advice in an election petition. He was one of the founding members of the Aam Aadmi Party.
Bhushan and his son, Prashant Bhushan, were also involved in advocating for accountability in the Indian judiciary through the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reform (CJAR). They were part of a group of lawyers who spoke out against the misconduct of judges, including Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal, and for the declaration of assets by the judiciary. They also protested against the appointments of certain justices including S Ashok Kumar, Madan Mohan Punchhi, Soumitra Sen, and Ashwini Kumar Mata.
In November 2010, Shanti Bhushan and his son faced contempt of court charges for statements they made regarding corruption in the higher judiciary, specifically about corruption among former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court. During a hearing, Bhushan stated that he was prepared to go to jail if necessary and that the issue of apology did not arise.
Bhushan stated that he was prepared to go to jail if necessary and that the issue of apology did not arise.
Bhushan was also a key member of India Against Corruption and was part of the Joint Drafting Committee for the Jan Lokpal Bill, which was established by the Indian government to represent the civil society. He was a member of the core committee of India Against Corruption and was part of the Lok Sabha when the first Lokpal Bill was passed in 1969, but it did not pass the Rajya Sabha.