Rani Jethmalani, social activist and Supreme Court lawyer passed away here on Saturday morning due to terminal illness, her brother Mahesh Jethmalani told The Hindu. Ms. Jethmalani, daughter of renowned lawyer Ram Jethmalani, worked relentlessly for women's rights. “She was a fiery social activist,” her brother remembered her.
She is survived by a son whom she had adopted years ago.
“She was a Supreme Court lawyer, but since the past 10-15 years, she had not been very interactive due to health reasons. She had undergone liver transplant in 1995 and kidney transplant in 2002. There was terminal decline in her kidney condition. She passed away at the Breach Candy hospital today morning at 10 am,” Mr. Mahesh Jethmalani said.
She was cremated at Chandanwadi crematorium here on Saturday afternoon.
“She was a crusader for women's rights. She was in the forefront in the Supreme Court to fight many cases about dowry, bride-burning,” he said.
She was a law professor at Kishinchand Chellaram College here before she started her practice as a lawyer. “She taught constitutional law there,” he said.
She also tried to make her mark in politics. “She was a member of the Janata Party in 1977. She contested elections thrice for the Lok Sabha, but could not succeed,” he said. Her frail health took a toll on her and made her inactive in the social life more than a decade ago.
“Her son is a lawyer now and will soon join the bar,” Mr Jethmalani said.
Women's rights issue was very close to Ms. Jethmalani's heart. She founded the Mahila Dakshata Samiti to campaign against the social evils against women. Commit-2-Change, a non-profit organisation, where she served as a Board Member, described her as a lawyer who made “most significant advances in the area of dowry and dowry-death related cases. Her innovative use of public interest litigation in criminal trials challenged societal and cultural trends.”
She also co-founded the WARLAW (Women's Action Research and Legal Action for Women) to research and challenge the outdated traditions, and to make the implementation and practice of law more gender-neutral.