Before Memory Fades An Autobiography (Fali S. Nariman)

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Item Code: IHL442
Author: Fali S. Nariman
Publisher: Hay House
Language: English
Edition: 2010
ISBN: 9789381431450
Pages: 460 (Illustrated Throughout In Color and B/W)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.3 inch X 6.3 inch
Weight 600 gm
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Fully insured
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
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More than 1M+ customers worldwide
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100% Made in India
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23 years in business
Book Description
From the Jacket

A revelatory, comprehensive and perceptive autobiography - candid, compelling and authoritative.

Over the decades, Fali S. Nariman has attained the status of a pre-eminent advocate whose views are not only heard by those in the corridors of power - both judicial and political - but also respected. This volume presents his life journey right from his childhood in Rangoon to the present. Starting with his formative years, when he had the good fortune to interact with many eminent judges and advocates, the author moves on to deal with a wide variety of important subjects, such as:

The sanctity of the Indian Constitution and attempts to tamper with it, as in the case of the Constitution Forty-second Amendment Act, which sought to greatly reduce the power of the Supreme Court and high courts.

Crucial cases that have made a decisive impact on the nation, especially on the interpretation of the law. Golaknath and Kesavananda Bharati were two such cases in which the Supreme Court grappled with the problem of whether or not courts are empowered to adjudicate upon the validity of constitutional amendments.

The relationship between the political class and the judiciary, and how political power can be asserted in the guise of judicial interpretation.

The cancer of corruption and how to combat this menace. For instance, the setting up of the Central Vigilance Commission to maintain a hawk-like vigil over the activities of high government officials.

The author also outlines measures to restore the now-low credibility of the legal profession. He delineates his role in several high-profile cases (like the civil litigation arising out of the Bhopal gas tragedy), and describes the highlights of his tenure in the Rajya Sabha (he left his law practice in the Supreme Court to effectively contribute to the deliberations in the Upper House).

This book is a must for both members of the legal profession and the lay reader who will find the contents informative, educative and thought-provoking.

Internationally admired and respected, fail S. Nariman (born on 10 January 1929) is a senior advocate of the Supreme Court of India. He began his career at the Bombay High Court in November 1950, and has since been active in the legal profession. Over the years, he has held several prestigious posts at both the national and international levels. He became a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) in November 1999, and is the recipient of the Padma Bhushan (1991) and the Padma Vibhushan (2007). He lives in Delhi with his wife Bapsi, a well-known cookbook author.

Back of the Book

In the relentless march of the history of a nation, there is no second chance. There are only lesions to be learnt from a similarity of situations elsewhere.

Dictators take over and establish themselves wherever and whenever the situation in a country goes completely out of hand (in the minds of right-thinking people), when law and order breaks down, when politicians will be bought and let it be so known, and (confound them) when once bought, they have not even the residual decency to remain bought!

When settled principles and norms of decent behaviour and set at naught, when established conventions are thrown to the winds, no constitution, not even the best-worded, can work.

In such situations, democracy tends to commit suicide.

Praise for Before Memory Fades

Whoever has heard Fali S. Nariman…never ceased to be impressed by his eloquence, command of the language, and a flair for the apt phrase. All these attributes are at their height in his autobiography Before Memory Fades that is lucid, concise, witty and absorbing;…not just a good read, it is also a delightful one. For those who have anything to do with law-its formulation, enforcement, enforcement or practice-it should be compulsory reading.

-India Today

Billed as “An Autobiography”, Nariman’s book is less a continuous narrative than a collection of reminiscences, anecdotes and reflections on the events and people that have filled his very full life-recounted with that ineffable charm, gentle persuasiveness and quiet humour that so characterize the man…There is much else-on the Emergency and its judges, on fellow-lawyers and court anecdotes, a brilliant chapter on river water disputes and engaging reflections on his tenure as a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha. I commend this easy and profitable read.


Over the decades Fali S. Nariman has attained the status of a pre-eminent advocate whose views are not only heard but also respected. This autobiography is informative, educative and thought-provoking….It isn’t the content alone that makes this book as endearing read. This autobiography is suffused with a rare warmth and modesty, a spirit of liberalism reflected in the willingness to seriously address rival points of view, and a scholarship that is worn very lightly….All in all, a compassionate work written by someone who comes across as a compassionate man.

Fali Nariman’s autobiography…is a joy to read. No doubt the author starts at the beginning but it’s not his life story he relates so much as an honest account of the important events that stood out in his life…it is exceptional for two other reasons…First, it deftly avoids the pitfalls most memoirs inevitably hurtle towards and, second, it discovers the real secret of a delightful read…He’s not just the raconteur but the man in the middle too. An autobiography that makes you think. The author makes you engage with the book rather than simply read it.

-Hindustan Times

The book is brilliantly planned and beautifully designed. The 18 chapters, laced with quotations, anecdotes and series of vignettes…provide a glimpse of his jurisprudential wisdom…It is a must not only for judges, advocates, students of law and political science, but also for editors, people’s representatives, administrators, academics and all those who believe in the sanctity of constitutional values, the majesty of law and, above all, independence of the judiciary.

-The Tribune

What makes his autobiography very readable is the all-pervading sense of modesty and touches of humour.

-Khushwant Singh

Fali S. Nariman, the legal luminary, lifts the dark veil from the facts long shielded from public view in his autobiography Before Memory Fades. Nariman serves us shining examples of the exceptions, both of the bench and the bar.

-Business Standard

Chapter 1
The Great Trek 11
Chapter 2
More Watching than Pleading 29
Chapter 3
Judges during and before My Time 61
Chapter 4
Lawyers and the Legal Profession 79
Chapter 5
Lessons in the ‘School of Hard Knocks’ 89
Chapter 6
Turning Points in My Life - And in the Life of the Nation 117
Chapter 7
Move to Delhi 133
Chapter 8
The Internal Emergency 163
Chapter 9
Some Reflections - Post-Emergency 117
Chapter 10
The Bhopal Case 203
Chapter 11
The Good and the Great 253
Chapter 12
An Interlude 265
Chapter 13
Can They Not Perform Better than They Do? 279
Chapter 14
About Some Judges of the Supreme Court 307
Chapter 15
Judicial Governance and Judicial Activism 365
Chapter 16
A Case I Won - But Which I Would Prefer to Have Lost 387
Chapter 17
In Parliament - And Out of It 407
Chapter 18
The Finishing Canter 437
Acknowledgements 447
Index 449
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