Meet an academician, politician, economist and legal activist
The beginning –
It all started when first time he ever argued in court in 1982. This was when Ram Jethmalani (jethmalani was then with the BJP and subramaniam swami was in the Janata Party) filed a criminal defamation case against him. It was a turning point in his life.
Most lawyers told him that they did not want to appear against Jethmalani. His wife, who is a parsi by religion and a lawyer, had a highly rated criminal lawyer friend PR Vakil and he advised him to argue himself. He said, “He will coach swami but swami has to argue”. So, that is how he began. He argued that case, and won it too, with Jethmalani on the opposite side.
Testing time ahead
Later, he was again subjected to a defamation case by Ramkrishna Hegde, who was the then Chief Minister of Karnataka. Swami had accused him of appropriating land in Bangalore for the benefit of his son-in-law. The reaction was a shocker to public because hegde carried the image of a man with extra-ordinary honesty and was a potential Prime Minister of India. So everybody came down upon swami. Hegde filed a Rs. 100 crore defamation suit in Bombay. Then swami argued in the Supreme Court on forum non-convenience and succeeded. Subramaniam swami appeared before Justice Ahmadi. It was a reported judgment.
And the breaking point
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha filed close to 100 defamation cases against swami in different courts between 1992 and 1996. Swami took the matter to the Supreme Court and got the famous New York Times Case of 1964 read into law. It provided that if a person in public life, including one in government, feels aggrieved by a defamatory statement, then that person must not only prove in the court that the defamatory statement is false but also that the maker of the statement knew it to be false. This placed the burden of proof on the defamed. Later, Jayalalitha withdrew all the 100 cases filed against swami.
Swami won every defamation case filed against him.
What prompted him to get involved in litigation was the fact that he felt, people were losing faith in politicians with politicians making statements that so and so is corrupt etc. Up to the mid-80’s people were ready to listen but then he felt nothing was really happening. So, swami thought that he must do the logical thing of filing complaints and then going to court – that became more credible work. That was the motivation and ultimately he tested it on the 2G case and it was immensely successful.
warm salute to this legend