A grand dinner party was held on 6th November at the Fountain Lawns of the India International Centre, New Delhi to celebrate the 90th birthday of Mr. Shanti Bhushan, the senior lawyer of the Supreme Court and former Union Law Minister.
I felt like a young man in the party, although I am in my 70th year, as I was seated next to Mr. Ram Jethmalani,92, Mr. Fali Nariman, 86, Mr. Soli Sorabji, 85, Mr. K.K. Venugopal, 84. and Mr.Andhyarujina, 82 I said to them " You people are immortals who will never die, while folks like me will come into this world and go away ".
I then began teasing Mr. Jethmalani, something I never fail to do whenever I get the opportunity. " How is it Mr. Jethmalani that whenever I see you you are with a new young beautiful lady ? "
'' Why don't you get some young ladies for yourself ? " asked Mr. Jethmalani.
" Because they have all been captured by you " i replied. " None are left for an old man like me. "
I also teased Mr. Soli Sorabji for being a ' ladies man '.
Hundreds of people came to the party, and enjoyed themselves.
Speeches were then given by Mr.Jethmalani and Mr. Nariman in praise of Mr. Shanti Bhushan.
When I was asked to speak I said :
" I have a special affinity with Mr. Shanti Bhushan as we are both from Allahabad.
"These Bombay lawyers look down at Allahabad lawyers " I said, looking towards Mr. Jethmalani, Mr. Fali Nariman and Mr. Andhyarujina, " regarding us as rustic mofussil lawyers. But let me tell them that they have only drunk the salt water of the Arabian sea at Bombay, whereas we Allahabadians have drunk the sangam water of Ganga, Jumna and Saraswati.".
I then said that when I joined the Allahabad High Court bar in 1971 Mr. Shanti Bhushan had already been earlier Advocate General of U.P. in 1969.. I narrated some incidents about our days in the Allahabad High Court. I mentioned that when he was arguing Raj Narain's election petition against Smt. Indira Gandhi Mr. Shanti Bhushan cited from Lewis Carrol's ' Alice in Wonderland ' the words of the Queen of Hearts " Off with his head ". When some people asked what about holding a trial and a verdict, she said '' All that can come later. First, off with his head ".
I also mentioned that once when a a lawyer said in his arguments before me in the Supreme Court that his client was a very old man of 70, I said ' How can he be a very old man ? Here is Mr. Shanti Bhushan ( Mr. Bhushan was sitting in Court waiting for his case ), 85 years old but still alive and kicking ". At which Mr. Bhushan got up and said ' My Lord, I am still alive but not kicking "