Biography of Soli Sorabjee

We are deeply saddened by the passing of Soli Sorabjee, an eminent jurist, human rights activist, loving father, indulgent grandfather and dedicated jazz aficionado on April 30, 2021. We are fortunate to have our endowed lecture series named after Soli Sorabjee and were privileged to have him speak at Brandeis in the inaugural year.

Our sincerest condolences to Aarti Mody ('10), and the entire family.


The SAS faculty

View his New York Times obituary here

Soli SorabjeeSoli Jehangir Sorabjee was born in 1930 in Bombay. He commenced his legal practice in 1953 in Bombay High Court. In 1971, he was designated senior counsel by the Supreme Court of India. He became the attorney general of India first from 1989-90 and then from 1998-2004.

Sorabjee was a renowned human rights lawyer. He was appointed by the United Nations (UN) as a Special Rapporteur for Nigeria, in 1997, to report on the human rights situation in that country. Following this, he became a member and later chairman of the UN-Sub Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, from 1998 to 2004. He was a member of the UN Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities beginning in 1998. He also served as member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague from 2000 to 2006.

Soli Sorabjee was a champion of freedom of speech and expression. He defended freedom of press in many landmark cases in the Supreme Court of India and was instrumental in revoking censorship orders and bans on publications. He was honored with the Padma Vibhushan award, the second highest civilian award in India, in March 2002 for his defense of freedom of speech and the protection of human rights.


Soli Sorabjee was a prolific writer on the issues of protection of human rights, upholding constitutional law and freedom of speech and expression. He has a number of publications to his credit. He was also a regular contributor to Indian newspapers like the Indian Express.

  • "The Laws of Press Censorship in India" (1976)

  • "The Emergency, Censorship and the Press in India," 1975-77 (1977)

  • "Law and Justice" (2004)

  • "Fundamental Rights" as published in Public Law of India (1979)

  • "The Constitution and the Governor"

  • "Protection of Human Rights in Emergencies"

  • "Equity in the United States and India" published in Constitutionalism and Rights (1990)

  • "Obliging Government to Control Itself; Recent Development in Indian Administrative Law," Spring 1994 issue of Public Law

  • "Freedom of Expression and Censorship: Some Aspects of the Indian Experience,: Winter 1994 issue of Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly

  • "Freedom of Expression," Commonwealth Law Journal Bulletin (1994)

Biography written and publications compiled by Prachee Sinha, Lecture Series graduate assistant.