Former Supreme Court judge Justice PB Sawant dies at 90

Justice PB Sawant, a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India has passed away, reportedly following a cardiac arrest this morning.

Justice Sawant was 90 years old.

“ His death has caused an irreparable damage to legal and social fraternity, ” said former Judge of Bombay High Court, BG Kolse Patil, who has had a long association with Justice Sawant.

Sawant is survived by his wife and three children and their families.

After obtaining his law degree (LL.B.) from Bombay University, Sawant started practicing as an advocate initially at the Bombay High Court and later at Supreme Court of India. In 1973 he was appointed Judge of the Bombay High Court; among his notable acts was an inquiry on the Air-India aircraft crash in June, 1982. He was appointed justice in the Supreme Court in 1989.

He was also the former Chairman of the Press Council of India (PCI).

Since his retirement in 1995, he was active in public affairs.

In 2002, he served with retired justice Hosbet Suresh on an Indian People’s Tribunal headed by justice V. R. Krishna Iyer to investigate the 2002 Gujarat genocide. Their report includes testimony of the then Gujarat Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister Haren Pandya (since murdered), who testified about a meeting convened by Narendra Modi on the evening of the Godhra train burning. At this meeting, officials were instructed not to obstruct the Hindu rage following the incident.

Sawant chaired the P. B. Sawant commission constituted on 1 September 2003 to investigate corruption charges against 4 ministers of the Government of Maharashtra, namely, Nawab Malik, Padmasinh Patil, Suresh Jain and Vijaykumar Gavit. He submitted his report on 23 February 2005, which indicted Nawab Malik, Padmasinh Patil and Suresh Jain but exonerated Vijaykumar Gavit. It resulted in the resignation of two state cabinet ministers, Suresh Jain and Nawab Malik.