Category Archives: Notable Zoroastrians

Justice Pardiwala is in line to be CJI

Justice Jamshed Burjor Pardiwala, to be sworn in as Supreme Court judge along with Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia on Monday, will be the sixth apex court judge from the Parsi community.

In line to be the third Chief Justice of India from the community, Justice Pardiwala would be the top judge for a little over two years and lead the court into the next decade.

The first member of the Parsi community to serve on the Supreme Court was Justice Dinshah Pirosha Madon in the early 1980s. The two Chief Justices of India, Justices Sam Piroj Bharucha and Justice Sarosh Homi Kapadia, were appointed top judges almost 10 years apart. Justice Bharucha was appointed CJI in 2001 and Justice Kapadia in 2010.

Then there were the two ‘Narimans’. Justice Sam Nariman Variava, once a part-time professor of law at Sydenham College in Bombay, was Supreme Court judge between 2000 and 2005. A decade later, the court witnessed in Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman a brilliant spell and a flurry of judgments in fields of law as varied as death penalty review, free speech and insolvency laws, only to name a few.

Decline invitations

George H. Gadbois Jr.’s ‘Judges of the Supreme Court of India 1950-1989’ mentioned that Justice Madon was not the first Parsi to be invited to serve on the apex court Bench. “H.M. Seervai and N.A. Palkhivala, in the late 1950s, declined invitations, as did Fali Nariman in the late 1970s”.

But Justice Madon, who had aspired to be a journalist and writer but took to the law as his father thought the former jobs were “low-paying positions”, accepted the court’s invitation to the Bench in 1983 and served briefly as a judge in the Supreme Court till his retirement in 1986.

Justice Madon faced odds with equanimity both on and off the Bench. When World War II spoilt his plans to earn his barrister credentials from London, he did his law at Government Law College, Bombay. Later as a Bombay High Court judge, he championed the right to free speech against censorship during the Emergency. Post his retirement, Justice Madon wrote a cutting resignation letter to the V.P. Singh government when his inquiry commission into the Meham constituency election violence was not provided office, staff or budget.

Stern, fair judge

Then came Justice Bharucha, who went on to be the 30th Chief Justice of India. Media reports of the time of his appointment as CJI showed Justice Bharucha described in the legal circles as a stern and fair judge who kept his distance from the political establishment. When the Supreme Court pulled up author Arundhati Roy for her writing on the Narmada dam issue, Justice Bharucha gave a dissenting opinion, saying the “court’s shoulders are broad enough to shrug off their comments and focus should not shift from the rehabilitation of the oustees”. Justice Bharucha’s judgment led to the dismissal of Jayalalithaa as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. The judge had held that no person convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment of not less than two years can be appointed or continue as Chief Minister.

Justice Variava, born in 1940, was a lawyer who practiced in the Bombay High Court and appeared in the city civil court. He was appointed as Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court in 1986 and made a permanent judge in 1987. He was appointed Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court in 1999 and elevated to the Supreme Court as judge in March 2000.

Justice Kapadia was appointed the 38th Chief Justice of India. A strict disciplinarian with interests as varied from Theoretical Physics to Buddhist philosophy, he was renowned for his statistical acumen. Justice Kapadia refused to budge in the face of a concerted move to stop the Allahabad High Court from delivering the Ayodhya title suits’ judgment. He had held that judicial functioning cannot be held at ransom by threats of violence.

Justice Nariman, who was Solicitor General of India and the fifth lawyer in the nation’s history to be directly appointed as judge of the Supreme Court in 2014, was described by his fellow judges as a “one-man army” whose judgments upheld free speech in social media, decriminalised homosexuality, allowed entry to women into the Sabarimala temple, pulled up political parties for fielding candidates with criminal pasts. He guided the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code through its infant years.

Rohinton Nariman starts a YouTube Channel

Former Supreme Court judge Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman has started an official YouTube channel. The channel is called “Justice Nariman Official” and features several of his talks on Zoroastrian Religion, Law, NCPA, history and more.

It is always a delight to hear him. Please do visit his channel and enjoy his talks.


Justice Nariman, the son of legendary senior lawyer Fali Nariman was elevated to the Supreme Court from the bar in July 2014 and served as a judge till August 12, 2021.


Captain Hormusji FJ Manekshaw, IMS and Mrs Hilla H Manekshaw.

This rare photograph is of very proud parents who gave India a very famous son and another decorated less well known son, too.
They had six children. The gentleman was a Doctor who served in the (British Indian Armed Forces’) Indian Military Service.
Captain Hormusji FJ Manekshaw, IMS and Mrs Hilla H Manekshaw.
Parents of Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, MC. And Air Vice Marshal Jimmy HFJ Manekshaw.
Hormusji, was born in Balsar (Valsad) and became a doctor. He was married to Hilla, a Parsi girl from Bombay whom he had met while studying medicine at the Grant Medical College.
Hormusji began practising in Bombay but later moved to Amritsar, where there were fewer doctors and better prospects for setting up a medical practice.
During World War I, he served in Mesopotamia and Egypt and was given the rank of a Captain in the Medical Services.
Hormusji and Hilla had six children, who were all born in Amritsar.
The eldest, Fali, joined Stewarts and Lloyds in Calcutta after getting his engineering degree from England.
Silla, the second child, was a lovable girl with a jest for life and sense of humour, qualities that endeared her to everyone in the family, especially her nephews and nieces.
Jan, the second son, followed his elder brother and studied engineering in England. He joined Calender Cables (later Indian Cables), from where he retired as Director.
The next was Sehra, who was considered the beauty of the family. She got married and settled in Bombay.
Sam was the fifth child, followed by Jimmy, the only one who followed his father and became a doctor. He joined the Air Force and was the first Indian to get his air surgeon’s wings from Pensacola, USA. Jimmy went on to become an AVM- Air Vice Marshal Jimmy H.F.J. Manekshaw .
Sam was initially given the name Cyrus, but one of his aunts changed it to Sam, because she had heard that a Parsi called Cyrus had been sent to jail, and she considered the name would prove unlucky for her nephew.
Sam’s eldest brother Fali did his schooling in Bombay, but the others boys – Jan, Sam and Jimmy were all sent to Sherwood College, Nainital for their education. His two sisters went to the Convent in Murree.
Hormusji was fond of music and gardening and all his children inherited these interests in some measure. Hilla was known for her cooking, and spent a lot of time in the kitchen especially when her ravenous brood was at home. She was an expert at Parsi dishes, and her speciality was chokha ni rotli (rice chapatti).
Her son Jimmy’s wife Bhikoo Manekshaw recalls that a pile of a hundred rotli cooked by her mother-in-law would be no higher than two inches, and if a silver rupee coin was placed on top, it would sink to the bottom.
We owe them eternal respect and a debt of gratitude from a nation. ūüôŹ

More Than Just Surgery

Awarded the Padma Shri, the Padma Bhushan and the OBE, Dr Tehemton Erach Udwadia is widely regarded as the father of laparoscopy in India. From 1951 as a medical student to the present day, he has not only witnessed first-hand the avalanche of surgical progress, but has also seen lives saved as a result of these advances, be it a disposable plastic syringe or a liver transplant.

In this, his memoirs, he painstakingly maps his journey from his student years through residency, research, surgical practice and surgical teaching with a view to sharing the lessons he has learnt. And what they can teach you.

More Than Just Surgery is a warm personal account of people, incidents, mentors, failures and absurdities against the backdrop of surgery. It is also an engrossing historical account through the eyes and hands of someone who has lived through the journey.

Nani Palkhivala’s Relevance to Our Times

C. Rajagopalachari is widely quoted to have said ‚ÄúNani is God‚Äôs gift to India‚ÄĚ, though we could not find out in which context and when Rajaji had said it, which became a part of the legend that Nani Palkhivala has been to the current generation. Today is the 102nd birth anniversary of Palkhivala. An opinion piece by Afreen Alam and Shivansh Saxena.

Image credit: The Leaflet

Nani Ardeshir Palkhivala was born on January 16, 1920 in the Bombay Presidency of British India to a Parsi working-class family. He is arguably India’s greatest lawyer, and one of the greatest intellectuals of modern India. Palkhivala was admitted to the bar in 1946 and worked with the famed lawyer Sir Jamshedji Behramji Kanga in Bombay.

Palkhivala’s first contribution in a case of constitutional importance was in 1951: he assisted his senior Sir Noshirwan Engineer as a junior counsel in Nusserwanji Balsara vs. State of Bombay (1951). His first significant case before the Supreme Court came in 1954: State of Bombay vs. Bombay Education Society (1954), where the prime issue of contention was the interpretation of Articles 29(2) and 30 of the Indian Constitution. Articles 29 and 30 secure minority rights, which include educational and cultural opportunities. Considering the recent attacks on minorities in educational institutions, looking back at this judgment makes more sense than ever.

Article 29(1) safeguards all citizens who have a distinct language, script, or culture by guaranteeing their right to preserve it. A minority community has the right to preserve its language, script, or culture through educational institutions, as guaranteed by Article 30 of the Indian Constitution.

‚ÄúProtection of minorities is the hallmark of a civilisation.‚Ä̬†‚Äď Mahatma Gandhi

Palkhivala represented Barnes High School, an Anglo-Indian school. The school had challenged a circular issued by the then State of Bombay. The circular stated that¬†‚Äúno primary or secondary school shall from the date of the order admit to a class where English is used as the medium of instruction any pupil other than a pupil belonging to a section of citizens the language of which is English namely, Anglo-Indians and citizens of non-Asiatic descent.‚Ä̬†He argued that the impugned circular was an unwarranted and wanton encroachment on the liberty of the parents and guardians to direct the education and upbringing of their children.

Palkhivala also pointed out the salutary principle of imparting education through the medium of the pupil’s mother tongue should require that a pupil whose mother tongue is not English but is, say, Gujarati, be barred from enrolling in an Anglo-Indian School where the medium of instruction is English, but not from enrolling in a school where the medium of instruction is a regional language, say Konkani, which is not the pupil’s mother tongue.

The then-Attorney General, M.C. Setalvad, argued that Article 29(2) does not confer any fundamental right on all citizens in general but rather guarantees the rights of citizens of minority groups by stating that they must not be denied admission to educational institutions, and underlined the word ‚Äúonly‚ÄĚ in Article 29(2). He argued that the impugned order did not deny entrance to any citizen solely on the basis of religion, race, caste, language, or any combination of these factors.

Palkhivala argued for almost 32 out of 66 days that the hearings went on for.

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Palkhivala and Barnes High School. It held:

‚ÄúWhere ‚Ķ a minority like the Anglo Indian community, which is based, inter-alia, on religion and language has the fundamental right to conserve its language, script and culture under Article 29(1) and has the right to establish and administer educational institution of their choice under Article 30(1), surely then there must be implicit in the fundamental right, the right to impart instruction in their own institutions to children of their own community in their own language ‚Ķ Such being the fundamental right the police power of the state to determine the medium of instruction must yield to the fundamental right to the extent it is necessary to give effect to it and can not be permitted to run counter to it.‚ÄĚ

Palkhivala engaged in some of India’s most critical constitutional battles, protecting, among other things, ordinary citizens’ fundamental rights. He had unsuccessfully challenged the government’s specious policy decision to nationalise banks in 1969. The Indian banking sector, according to one view, continues to suffer the consequences of bank nationalisation. Having said that, other significant victories followed, most notably Bennett Coleman & Co. & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors. (1972), in which he defended the Times of India newspaper’s proprietors from harassment by the union government, which sought to stifle dissenting views against the regime emerging in the newspaper. The Centre had imposed severe import limitations on newsprint as part of an effort to silence the press, which were overturned through Palkhivala’s advocacy before the Supreme Court.

‚ÄúIt was not Nani who spoke. It was divinity speaking through him.‚Ä̬†‚Äď Justice H.R. Khanna

And of course, no discourse on Palkhivala is complete without the mention of arguably the most important case of his career,¬†Kesavananda Bharati vs. State of Kerala (1973), which left a lasting impact on Indian Constitutional jurisprudence and polity. A full bench of 13 Supreme Court judges heard the case for about five months, making it one of the longest Supreme Court hearings.¬†Palkhivala argued for almost 32 out of 66 days that the hearings went on for. It led to the Supreme Court interpreting the ‚ÄúBasic Structure‚ÄĚ of the Indian Constitution.

Palkhivala’s service to the country was not limited to the courts. He was well-known for his annual Budget speeches, in which he critiqued India’s budget for the general public. From 1958 through 1994, he gave this speech every year after the budget was presented in Parliament. The Forum of Free Enterprise hosted the event. The address, which began at a hotel in Bombay, would one day be held in Mumbai’s packed Brabourne Stadium. He argued that the law should not only be understood by judges and lawyers, but also by the general public.

He argued that the law should not only be understood by judges and lawyers, but also by the general public.

‚ÄúThe Constitution was meant to impart such a momentum to the living spirit of the rule of law that democracy and civil liberty may survive in India beyond our own times and in the days when our place will know us no more.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Nani Palkhivala

In this day and age, where human rights violations run rampant, and the State goes unaccountable, we need the spirit of Nani Palkhivala more than ever.

(Afreen Alam is a Delhi-based researcher and writer. She is a final year law student at Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. Shivansh Saxena is a student of law at the Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies, IP University and a member of the Indian Civil Liberties Union. The views expressed are personal.)


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Did you know the conceptualiser of IITs in India?

The concept of the IITs originated even before India gained¬†independence¬†in 1947. After the end of the Second World War and before India got independence,¬†Sir Ardeshir Dalal¬†from the¬†Viceroy’s Executive Council¬†foresaw that the future prosperity of India would depend not so much on capital as on technology. He, therefore, proposed the setting up of the¬†Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. To man those laboratories, he persuaded the US government to offer hundreds of doctoral fellowships under the Technology Cooperation Mission (TCM) program. However realizing that such steps can not help in the long run for the development of India after it gains independence, he conceptualized institutes that would train such work forces in the country itself. This is believed to be the first conceptualization of IITs.

Adershir was born on 24 April 1884 in Bombay to Rustomjee Dalal, who worked as share-broker.[2] In 1905 he applied for J. N. Tata Scholarship for higher studies went to London and finally appeared for ICS examination and joined Indian Civil Service in 1908.[1]

He served as Collector in various areas of India before he became the first Indian to become Municipal Commissioner of Bombay in 1928.[2]

He was the founder of IIT’S. He joined Tata Group as a Director of¬†Tata Steel¬†in 1931 and served Tata group till 1941 and again from 1945 his death in 1949.[2]¬†He was knighted in 1939.[3]

He was one of the signatories to the Bombay Plan formulated in 1944.[4]

In June 1944, he resigned from Tatas as the Viceroy,¬†Lord Wavell, invited him to join the¬†Viceroy’s Executive Council¬†as Member-in-Charge of Planning and Development.[1][2]¬†His contributions as one of the architects of the Government of India’s post¬†war¬†economic plan formulated in 1945 have been noted.[1]

He was knighted again as a KCIE in 1946[5] died on 8 October 1949.[1]

A hospital-cum-nursing college in Jamshedpur has been named after him as Ardeshir Dalal Memorial Hospital.[6]

Lesser known facts about the Father of India’s Nuclear Programme – Homi Bhabha

Homi Jehangir Bhabha Birth Anniversary: Lesser known facts about the Father of India’s Nuclear Programme

Homi Jehangir Bhabha is considered to be the ‘Father of the Indian nuclear programme’

Homi Jehangir Bhabha was born on October 30, 1909, in Mumbai. He was an Indian nuclear physicist, founding director, and professor of physics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).

His contribution towards India’s growth has been impeccable. He had a great visionary ability which resulted in impactful development for the country. TIFR and AEET were the cornerstone of Indian development of nuclear weapons under the direction of Homi Bhabha.

Homi Jehangir Bhabha is considered to be the ‚Äė’Father of the Indian nuclear programme’.

Here are some interesting facts about the legend:

Homi Jehangir Bhabha was born into a prominent wealthy Parsi family. He completed his education at Bombay’s Cathedral and John Connon School and entered Elphinstone College, before joining Caius College of Cambridge University.

His immense love and interest for mathematics never stopped and in 1932, he obtained first-class on his Mathematical Tripos. He was awarded the Rouse Ball travelling studentship in mathematics.

His first scientific paper, “The Absorption of Cosmic radiation” received a lot of appreciation.

Homi Bhabha served as the Reader in the Physics Department of the Indian Institute of Science in 1939.

Homi Bhabha understood the need of better research schools. He made up his mind and in March 1944, he sent a proposal to the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust for establishing ‘a vigorous school of research in fundamental physics’.

The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, was inaugurated in 1945.

Homi Bhabha represented India in the International Atomic Energy Forums as President of the United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, in Geneva, Switzerland in 1955. He was also elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1958.

Bhabha believed in vast thorium reserves rather than its meagre uranium reserves. His strategic objective became India’s three stage nuclear power programme.

Homi Bhabha was awarded the Adams Prize in 1942, and Padma Bhushan 1954. He was also nominated for the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1951 and 1953‚Äď1956.

Bhabha died in a plane crash near Mont Blanc on 24 January 1966. Many believed that it was an assassination.

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