By Our Special Correspondent
PUNE—Former Supreme Court judge and co-convener of Elgar Parishad P B Sawant died at the age of 90 here on Monday morning.
He was ailing for some time and breathed his last after suffering a cardiac arrest in presence of family members.
He is survived by two daughters- Sujata and Rajashree, son Vishwajeet and wife Jayshree (75).
He was a former Chairman of the Press Council of India.
Justice(retd) Sawant was the main force in organizing the first Elgar Parishad on Dec 31, 2017 and served as its co-convenor along with firebrand retired Bombay High Court Judge B G Kolse Patil.
P B Sawant was born on June 30, 1930 and completed his LLB degree from Mumbai University and started practicing since 1957 as a lawyer in Mumbai High Court. He was appointed as a judge in Mumbai High Court in 1973 and his important decisions include ordering an inquiry in June 1982 Air India crash case. He was appointed as a Supreme Court Judge in 1989 and retired in 1995.
He worked with Justice(retd) Suresh Hosbet on an Indian People’s Tribunal headed by Justice V R Krishna Iyer to investigate the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Justice(retd) Sawant stood for the oppressed
Paying glowing tribute to him, Justice (retd) Kolse Patil said, “Justice Sawant was the personification of justice at all cost and never cowed down before the powers that be and he is an example of humility and a beacon of hope and justice for millions of Indians. His court decisions not only aimed at bringing political and social justice for the victims but economic justice as well. His commitment towards social causes was unending and he remained active and tireless to the very end of his life. He was an example of standing for truth and justice for the oppressed and the next generation must follow him in all walks of their lives”.
Justice Sawant condemned the arrest of intellectuals in Elgar Parishad case as witch-hunt of innocents
Justice (retd) PB Sawant in 2018 had condemned the police crackdown on civil rights activists and their arrests. He was one of the co- convenors of the ‘Bhima Koregaon Shaurya Diwas Prerna Abhiyan’, an umbrella group of 260 organisations which held the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on December 31, 2017.
Stating that citizens had a right to protest and express dissenting views, he had alleged that the action against the activists in Bhima Koregaon case amount to state terrorism.
Chaired judicial commission to probe charges against corrupt NCP ministers in 2003
Justice(retd) Sawant also chaired the judicial commission which was set up in 2003 to probe the corruption charges against four NCP ministers by social crusader Anna Hazare.
Politicos and legal luminaries offer tributes to the former Judge
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh tweeted,”Pained by the demise of noted former Justice P.B. Sawant Ji. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this hour of grief. May the departed soul rest in peace”.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, in his condolence message, said that the social reforms movement in Maharashtra would suffer an irreparable loss in the demise of Justice Sawant. “Justice Sawant will be remembered for his contribution towards the judiciary and social reforms. We have lost a person who was vocal on various social and political issues of the country,” he tweeted.
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s great-grandson Prakash Ambedkar tweeted, “We have lost a great ethical legal stalwart today. Justice PB Sawant held a massive passion for social justice and upholding the Indian Constitution. His demise is a huge loss to our society. May he rest in peace.”
Prominent Civil Rights lawyer Advocate Indira Jaisinh tweeted, “ Look at his innocent smile. Justice P B Sawant is no more. Truly a judge committed to Justice not only on the Bench but more importantly, post retirement, remained committed to all social movements of the oppressed till the end. RIP.”