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Anil B. Divan, senior advocate, constitutional expert, and one of the most respected members of the Supreme Court bar passed away on March 20. He was 86.


Divan started his legal practice in the Bombay High Court and did well in company matters. He later moved to the Supreme Court where his interest in public causes came to the fore.

Divan’s contributions in the legal field have been manifold. A founder of the Centre for Public Interest Litigation in the 1980s—when the concept of PILs was still emerging—he appeared in many landmark cases including the Jain Hawala case (as amicus curiae), the Oleum gas leak case, the Bhopal gas tragedy case, the case challenging the Prevention of Terrorism Act and Rupa Hurra vs Ashok Hurra in which the law relating to curative petitions was set out.


He was president of the international organization of legal professionals in the Asia Pacific region and president LAWASIA from 1991 to 1993. In 2013, Divan made significant contributions to the discourse on the opening up of the legal profession in India to foreign law firms.

With a clear perspective on rights’ based issues and a balanced need for an independent judiciary, he had appeared in the NJAC case and had also been a member of the Committee on Judicial Accountability. 

The father of eminent Supreme Court senior advocate Shyam Divan, Anil was yet to hang up his gown, having appeared in the Cauvery water disputes as counsel for the government of Karnataka over a long period of time and had recently been appointed by the Supreme Court to replace Fali Nariman as Amicus Curiae in the BCCI case.

—India legal Bureau

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