Nani Palkhivala – God’s Gift to India


Left to right: Author, Dr. Dharmendra Bhandari, Justice (Retd) R. M. Lodha, Y. H. Malegam and Jehangir Palkhivala

  • Dr Dharmendra Bhandari releases his book Nani Palkhivala – God’s Gift to
    India (Biography by a Friend) 
    at the Cricket Club of India
  • Guest of Honour Justice R M Lodha, former Chief Justice of India, who launched the book, said, “Nani Palkhivala was one of the best judges the Supreme Court never had”
  • Nani Palkhivala, known as the ‘conscience-keeper’ of the nation’, was a legal luminary who advocated free enterprise, civil liberty and freedom of press

A new biography on eminent jurist Nani Palkhivala was launched by the former Chief Justice of India in Mumbai on 16 January 2017. Justice R M Lodha released Nani Palkhivala – God’s Gift to India (Biography by a friend), a new book by economist and author Dr Dharmendra Bhandari, at the Cricket Club of India (CCI). The date also marked the 97th birth anniversary celebration of Palkhivala, who was hailed as the ‘conscience-keeper of the nation’.

“Nani Palkhivala was a man born once in centuries,” said Justice Lodha addressing the audience. “The first time I saw him in action was in 1969, when he was fighting the case of bank nationalisation against the Government of India. I recognised his eloquence was laced with courtesy, civility, dignity and submissiveness, while in the attorney general of India’s eloquence was arrogance, inflexibility and stubbornness, backed by the might of the government. He is truly one of the best judges the Supreme Court never had.”

For Dr Bhandari, this labour of love is a tribute to a close friend. He reached out to close friends and relatives of Palkhivala, as well as corporations in which he had left his indelible mark. This helped him source original letters addressed to Palkhivala by distinguished Indians such as C Rajagopalachari, Indira Gandhi, Ratan Tata and Kumar Mangalam Birla among others, as well as photographs. But what stands out is the cartoons by R K Laxman that punctuate the book, judiciously used to complement Nani’s point of view.

Furthermore, Palkhivala’s iconic Budget speeches, delivered annually at Brabourne Stadium at CCI, are excerpted in the book. The book also details how Dr Manmohan Singh, architect of economic reforms, incorporated several of Nani’s suggestions made during his speeches. “In fact, he once said the credit for economic reforms, should actually go to Nani. Perhaps if Nani had been the Finance Minister, he would probably have presented the entire Budget extempore in Parliament without referring to the written text!” said Dr Bhandari, addressing the distinguished audience.

The other guests on the panel were Y H Malegam, Chairman of the Nani Palkhivala Memorial Trust, and Jehangir Palkhivala, an eminent Yoga expert and Nani’s nephew.

Palkhivala was an iconic Indian statesman and one of India’s greatest advocates who fought to protect civil liberty and promote free enterprise. The book carefully details cases fought
by Nani, related to vital issues such as Bank Nationalisation, Fundamental Rights, and his passionate fight for the freedom of press during the Emergency of 1975.

Dr Bhandari, a former associate professor at the University of Rajasthan, has also penned the biography, R K Laxman – The Uncommon Man.

Farrokh M Rustomji

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