(Adv. Sri K. Parasaran who appeared in Rama Janma Bhoomi Case on behalf of Hindus and Hindu Organizations just completed 95 years, he was born on 9th October, 1927. At CSIS, we extend our warm wishes to the legendary lawyer).
Supreme Court judge and former Chief Justice of Madras High Court Sanjay Kishan Kaul referred to Sri K. Parasaran as the `Pitamaha’ of the India Bar, for his contribution to the law without compromising with his ‘dharma’. Former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee had appointed him as member of the drafting and editorial committee tasked with reviewing the working of the Constitution. The Vajpayee-led NDA government awarded him the Padma Bhushan in 2003 and the Manmohan Singh led UPA-1 government awarded him with the Padma Vibhushan in 2011, and also nominated him to the Upper House. The senior counsel was also presented ‘Most Eminent Senior Citizen Award’ by Vice President Sri Venkaiah Naidu in 2019.
Sri Parasaran has been sought after by almost every administration since the 1970s. Despite this, he did not shy away from disagreeing with the political leadership. His courtroom orations are often lectures in Hindu scriptures. Senior Supreme Court lawyer and former Attorney General of India K Parasaran successfully argued the Ayodhya land dispute case for the Hindu parties and has been named as a trustee in the Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust.
Sri Parasaran was born in Tamil Nadu’s Srirangam in 1927, his father Kesava Aiyengar, also a lawyer, was a Vedic scholar. Parasaran has, in fact, been celebrated since his days as a student. He was awarded the Shri Justice C.V. Kumaraswami Sastri Sanskrit Medal while pursuing his BA and Justice Shri V. Bhashyam Iyengar Gold Medal in Hindu Law in BL, and received the Justice Shri K.S. Krishnaswamy Iyengar Medal in his Bar Council examination. Parasaran’s three sons, Mohan, Satish and Balaji, are also lawyers. Sri Parasaran served as Advocate General of Tamil Nadu during President’s rule in 1976, was Solicitor General and later Attorney General of India under Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi between 1983 and 1989. Parasaran began his legal practice in the Supreme Court in 1958. As a member of Rajya Sabha, he defended the National Judicial Appointments Commission in 2014. Parasaran and his long tenure as a lawyer has been of great interest among students. In fact, three university students also authored a book on him, titled, Law and Dharma: A tribute to the Pitamaha of the Indian Bar, in 2016.
A doyen of constitutional law, Sri Parasaran also possesses deep knowledge of Hindutva and Hindu religious texts and cites them during his arguments in the court. In an interview, he stated that he has been a staunch devotee of Bhagwan Rama, and reads a few sargas of the Valmiki Ramayana every day. Not only he has appeared in Ram Janmabhoomi case, he also argued in the Ram Setu case against the proposed project. He also argued in the Supreme Court on behalf of the farmers of Amravati, who were betrayed by the AP government. Before Ram Janmabhoomi case, the lawyer represented Lord Ayyappa in the high-stakes Sabarimala case on whether women in the menstruation age group should be allowed into the sanctum sanctorum of the Kerala temple. Parasaran has been a sought-after lawyer, especially in cases where questions of faith are involved. Since 2016, Parasaran’s court cases have been rare. He has picked up only two cases after that – the Sabarimala case and the Ayodhya dispute. Parasaran, a staunch devotee of Shri Ram, returned to the court after a long gap to fight the Ram Janmabhoomi temple case on behalf of the Hindu side.
Parasaran was working relentlessly since the Supreme Court embarked upon the legal adjudication of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi dispute: One of the most fiercely fought battles in the country’s judicial history, the veteran lawyer was leading the front along with his team of young associates PV Yogeshwaran, Anirudh Sharma, Sridhar Potharaju, Aditi Dani, Ashwin Kumar DS and Bhakti Vardhan Singh. It was Parasaran’s spiritual relationship with Srirama that kept the nanogenarian lawyer going. He worked on each and every aspect of the case before the hearing began every day at 10.30am and wrapped up at 4pm /5pm. The team was enthralled to see Parasaran’s energy at his age — his elephantine memory that had all important cases at his fingertips. Parasaran faced senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan from the Muslim side, who is known for throwing antics in the courtroom besides his extensive submissions. But Parasaran didn’t lose his cool even once in 40 days, even when Dhavan tore up pages or called somebody’s arguments from the Hindu side as foolish.
When he started his arguments in the Supreme Court, he described the significance of Ram Janmabhoomi for Hindus thus: ‘Janani Janma-bhoomi-scha swargadapi gariyasi (mother and motherland are greater than the heavens above.’ Sri Parasaran argued that a historic wrong was committed by Babar 433 years ago when he constructed a Mosque at Bhagwan Rama’s birthplace and it needed to be corrected. One of the most notable arguments by Parasaran in this case was, “Muslims can pray in any other mosque in Ayodhya. There are 55-60 mosques in Ayodhya alone. But for Hindus this is the birth place of Bhagwan Srirama, which we cannot change”. Another notable exchange during the proceedings was Parasaran asserting, “I will say once a temple always a temple”, in response to the Muslim side’s argument of “once a mosque, always a mosque”. During the hearings, he expressed his deep desire when he had said: “My last wish before I die is to finish this case.” Such was his faith and devotion that, the 93-year-old lawyer for ‘Ram Lalla Virajman’, used to argue the Ramjanmabhoomi case barefoot standing for 4-5 hours at a stretch, as his faith felt the presence of Shri Rama.