March 28, 2017, marked the passing away of one of our community’s and our nation’s foremost legal prodigies – Tehmtan R. Andhyarujina, at age 83. Former Solicitor General of India, Andhyarujina practiced law for six decades, leaving behind a legacy in judgments he helped shape, with his submissions as Counsel on Constitutional Law.
Andhyarujina’s illustrious list of accomplishments includes having served as Maharashtra’s Advocate General from 1993 to 1995, and getting appointed as New Delhi’s Solicitor General from 1996 to 1998. He graduated from Mumbai’s Government Law College in Mumbai in 1957, choosing to make a brilliant career in Law inspite of qualifying for the Indian Foreign Service in 1958. He joined the chambers of the legendary jurist and constitutional expert, H M Seervai.
His contribution to India’s constitutional jurisprudence is legendary. As a jurist, one of his main concerns was the existing system of judicial appointments, much before the debate arose in the public domain over the Collegium and National Judicial Appointments Commission. As Solicitor General, he paved the way for landmark guidelines laid down by the apex court in 1997 in the ‘Vishakha Case’ to protect women from sexual harassment at the workplace.
He is known for the application of his comprehensive legal acumen, in numerous landmark cases, including the pivotal ‘Kesavananda Bharati Case’, where the Supreme Court laid down the ‘basic structure doctrine’, and while limiting the power of the Parliament on amending the Constitution, strengthened the power of judicial review. In 2013, four decades after the seminal judgment, Andhyarujina authored the book, ‘The Kesavananda Bharati Case: The Untold Story Of Struggle For Supremacy By Supreme Court And Parliament’, where he provided his expert analysis of not just the judgment, but also the people in court and the behind-the-scenes conflicts that resulted in this path-breaking verdict.
The Supreme Court even sought his legal expertise, making him amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the defining ‘Aruna Shanbaug Euthanasia Case’ (2011), where author Pinky Virani had filed for the mercy killing of Mumbai nurse, Aruna, who was left in a terminally vegetative state post a horrendous assault 37 years ago. Andhyarujina had submitted that though the humanistic intention of Pinky Virani cannot be doubted, it is the opinion of the attending doctors and nursing staff which is more relevant in this case as they have looked after her for so many years. The SC had thus rejected her plea.
Till the end, he endeavoured with unflinching commitment, employing his legal genius for the analysis and interpretation of law, to assist the apex judiciary. His passing leaves the Indian judiciary and the community with a great sense of loss.