India's first Minister of Law and Justice, B. R. Ambedkar inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement. He also fought against social discrimination prevalent in India at that time. Widely regarded as the chief architect of the Constitution of India, Ambedkar was posthumously honored with India's highest civilian award - The Bharat Ratna.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was an Indian politician who played an influential role in the Indian independence movement. Dubbed the Iron Man of India and Unifier of India, Sardar Patel played an important role in integrating various princely states into a united, independent nation. In 2018, the world's tallest statue called the Statue of Unity was dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was an Indian politician and independence activist. He formulated the Hindu nationalist philosophy of Hindutva and was a leading figure in the Hindu Mahasabha. He was known for his strong oratory skills and was an eloquent writer. He was initially charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but was later acquitted.
Supreme Court lawyer and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had held several ministries, such as external affairs and information and broadcasting. Named India’s “best loved politician” by Wall Street Journal, Swaraj was known for her prompt assistance to Indians in emergency situations abroad and was awarded the Padma Vibhushan posthumously.
An Indian lawyer and anti-colonial nationalist, Mahatma Gandhi was a major figure in India’s fight for independence from British rule. He is renowned for his employment of non-violent resistance and civil disobedience methods. Despite his popularity, he had numerous detractors as well and was assassinated in 1948. He is widely considered the Father of the Nation in India.
Fali Sam Nariman is an Indian jurist best known for his association with the Supreme Court of India where he has been serving as a senior advocate since 1971. From 1991 to 2010, he also served as the Bar Association of India's president. Over the course of his career, Nariman has been honored with prestigious awards like the Padma Vibhushan.
Apart from being a prominent lawyer, Motilal Nehru was also an eminent freedom fighter and the father of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. Born after his father’s death, he grew up amid financial difficulties. He later led the Indian National Congress as a two-time president.
Islamic scholar and philosopher Abul A'la Maududi was born into an elite Aurangabad family. He grew up to be fundamentalist who believed Islam should be free of Western influences and launched the Jamaʿat-i Islami. Though an important figure in Pakistani politics, he was also imprisoned for a while for opposing the government.
Kapil Sibal is an Indian politician and lawyer. Over the years, Sibal has held prominent positions, such as president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and Additional Solicitor General of India. He has also served as the Telecom Minister of India and Human Resource Development Minster of India.
Mahadev Govind Ranade was an Indian social reformer, scholar, author, and judge. Ranade is credited with co-founding the Indian National Congress as well as founding several organizations like the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, Widow Marriage Association, and Vaktruttvottejak Sabha. He also contributed as an editor of a nationalist publication named Induprakash.
Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi was an Indian Islamic scholar. A member of the famous Naqshbandī Sufi order, Sirhindi was widely known as a reviver for his work in resurrecting Islam during Mughal Emperor Akbar's reign. He is also remembered for his contributions to Sufi practices and epistemology. There is a shrine named Rauza Sharif dedicated to Sirhindi in Sirhind, Punjab, India.
Nanabhoy Palkhivala was an Indian liberal economist and jurist. Best remembered for his clear thinking and brilliant court craft, Palkhivala helped shape the constitutional jurisprudence in India. He achieved national recognition for his high-profile cases and his annual budget speeches.
Shahid Azmi was an Indian lawyer remembered for taking up and defending cases of people accused of terrorism. Interestingly, Azmi had been jailed twice for his involvement in the 1992 Bombay riots and under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act at the age of 15 and 17 respectively. He was murdered in his office at the age of 32.
Indian civil servant and jurist B. N. Rau was one of the persons behind the drafting of the constitutions of India and Burma. He also served as a judge of the Bengal High Court and the Court of International Justice. He was also the Indian representative to the UN and was eventually knighted.
Ranjini is a Singaporean actress best known for her work in Indian films, especially the Tamil and Malayalam film industries. Ranjini, who has also appeared in Telugu films, was the leading actress in Kollywood from 1985 to 1992. Apart from appearing in films, Ranjini also judged a couple of beauty pageants in Kerala, India.
Radhabinod Pal was a British-Indian jurist who was among the three Asian judges selected to judge the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal of Japanese war crimes, which were committed during World War II. Pal was the only judge to suggest that the defendants were not guilty. From 1952 to 1966, he served as a member of the UN's International Law Commission.
Known widely as The People’s Judge, V. R. Krishna Iyer had been a Supreme Court judge for almost 8 years. A champion for human rights, he pioneered the practice of offering legal aid to underprivileged people. The Padma Vibhushan winner was also a sports lover.
Sir Pherozeshah Mehta was an Indian lawyer and politician. In 1904, the British Government in India honored Mehta with a knighthood for his work and service to the law. Between 1884 and 1911, he was the president of the Bombay Municipality on four occasions. Pherozeshah Mehta also played an important role as a founding member of the Indian National Congress.
Rajendra Mal Lodha has not just been the Supreme Court of India’s Chief Justice but has also been associated with several top Indian courts, such as the Patna High Court and the Bombay High Court. He hailed from a humble background in Jodhpur and was the son of a Rajasthan High Court judge.
Padma Vibhushan-winning Indian jurist Soli Sorabjee had served as the Attorney-General for India for two terms. A champion for human rights, he offered legal consultation to political prisoners during the Emergency. He also wrote extensively on the freedom of speech and contributed to publications such as The Indian Express.
Former Chief Justice of India K. G. Balakrishnan has also chaired the National Human Rights Commission. He started his legal career as a Kerala Bar Council advocate. In spite of being born to parents who weren’t too educated, he was encouraged to study and also walked almost 5 km to school every day.
Apart from being a prominent freedom fighter, Saifuddin Kitchlew was a champion for Hindu-Muslim unity. A well-known barrister and an Indian National Congress member, he spearheaded the protests against the draconian Rowlatt Act, which led to the horrific Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He also established the Jamia Millia Islamia.
Born into an affluent family, M.C. Chagla received an elite education at Oxford. He began his legal career with the Bombay High Court. He had also been part of the Muslim League and had worked under the aegis of Mohammed Ali Jinnah. He had been a minister of education and external affairs, too.
Apart from being a lawyer and the first Indian-origin Advocate-General of Bengal, Satyendra Prasanna Sinha was also the first Indian to be part of the British ministry. A Presidency College alumnus, he later studied law in England. Also known as Lord Sinha, he had been the governor of Orissa and Bihar.
Apart from being a lawyer, Tej Bahadur Sapru was also a prominent freedom fighter and had been a major force behind the drafting of the Indian Constitution and the Poona Pact. He had also served the Banaras Hindu University as its dean. He was a Round Table Conference delegate, too.
A Madras High Court judge and lawyer, C. Sankaran Nair had also served the Indian National Congress as its president. The author of Gandhi and Anarchy, he is best remembered for his fearless courtroom battle against Michael O’Dwyer, the Lieutenant-Governor of Punjab, whom he held responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
Apart from being a seasoned lawyer, Ashok Gasti had also been a Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka and a member of both the BJP and the RSS. He succumbed to COVID-19 at age 55. A youth president of the BJP, he once singlehandedly organized the BJP in Raichur district.
Known as the father of modern legal education, N. R. Madhava Menon established the National Law Universities and was the first director of the NLSIU. The Padma Shri- and Padma Bhushan-winning lawyer formed the 5-year Indian LLB program and had also penned numerous books on law.
A well-respected lawyer, Ajay Kumar Tripathi later rose through the ranks to become a judge of the Patna High Court and the Chhattisgarh High Court. An ardent lover of golf, he was also part of the Patna Golf Club. He was a member of Lokpal. He succumbed to COVID-19 complications at age 62.
Dinshah Fardunji Mulla, or Dinshaw Mulla, initially co-founded the law firm Mulla & Mulla, which later merged with an English firm. An author of numerous law textbooks and a professor of law, he was later knighted for his achievements. He was also a member of the Privy Council.
Part of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, Ashutosh Mohunta had also been associated with the Punjab and Haryana High Court as its Chief Justice. Born to Advocate-General and Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Chand Mohunta, he followed in his footsteps. He succumbed to COVID-19 at age 67.
Better known as the son of legendary advocate and minister Ram Jethmalani, Mahesh Jethmalani received an elite education in London and returned home as a barrister. He soared to fame with his representation of Narendra Modi in the Gujarat riots case. He is now a Rajya Sabha MP, too.