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Who is AG Noorani

A prolific author, eminent constitutional expert, political commentator, historian and columnist, Abdul Ghafoor Noorani was born on 16 September, 1930, in Mumbai. He attended Government School and obtained his Law degree from Government Law College, Mumbai. He is highly respected for his constitutional expertise and scholarship which are marked by documented analysis and deep insight.

AG Noorani has been practising law as a distinguished advocate in Bombay High Court as well as in the Supreme Court of India. Outspoken and fearless, he has always stood for justice. He defended Shaikh Abdullah during his long detention.

Although a lawyer by training and profession, AG Noorani has distinguished himself as a writer, historian and commentator. As a sincere and conscientious public intellectual, he participated in umpteen seminars and conferences and presented papers and delivered lectures educating audiences across the country about their constitutional rights and other issues. He also used the columns of a number of newspapers and magazines, especially Frontline, to enlighten readers with his documented, incisive and penetrating analyses of issues and events. These writings greatly influenced national life during the last five decades.

The distinguishing feature of Mr. Noorani’s writing is that he takes a firm and clear stand for the deprived, victimised and marginalised sections of society. His overriding concern is his commitment to humanity and justice. 

As an author, Noorani has a knack for writing on complex and sensitive issues and topics which intellectuals usually avoid. He is regarded as a symbol of bold and uncompromising scholarship. He chose to write on the complex and controversial issue of Kashmir and, as a result, we have The Kashmir Dispute (1947-2012), in two volumes, probably the most documented, impartial and objectively written work on the subject. Similarly, he has provided a formidable array of historical, legal and political evidence to expose the brutal manner in which Hyderabad was made a part of the Indian Union and how Babri Masjid was usurped. His expertise and insight into the Indian Constitution are reflected in his outstanding works, Article 370: A Constitutional History of Jammu and Kashmir; Constitutional Questions and Citizens’ Rights; The Muslims of India: A Documentary Record, and India-China Boundary Problem (1867-1947): History and Diplomacy. He also chose to write the biographies of towering personalities like Bhagat Singh, Badruddin Tyebji, Dr. Zakir Hussain and others whose lives and sacrifices seem to have played a vital role in shaping his own personality.

Noorani likes to be known as a "secular Muslim" who has heeded to his inner voice, upheld the highest ideals and values of secularism and shown unwavering commitment to probity in public life. Inspired by the high values of secularism, he has produced such pioneering works as The Trial of Bhagat Singh: Politics of Justice and Jinnah and Tilak: Comrades in the Freedom Struggle, etc. His uncompromising belief in secularism also prompted him to expose the politics of Hindutva by producing such well-documented works as The RSS and the BJP: A Division of Labour and Savarkar and Hindutva. He has been exceptionally outspoken in his criticism of Hindutva and has persuasively argued that it poses a serious threat to the secular fabric of the Constitution, the unity and integrity of the country and the rights and identities of minorities, particularly the Muslims.

A.G. Noorani writes with courage of conviction and all his works, particularly The Destruction of Hyderabad and The Babri Masjid Question (1528-2003): A Matter of National Honour, in two volumes, bear testimony to his personality and scholarship.

During his long academic, journalistic and public career, Noorani has taken up issues that have been a matter of concern and anguish for Indian Muslims. These include the marginalisation and demonisation of Indian Muslims, the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Shah Bano case and the Babri Masjid issue. He was one of the few senior lawyers and constitutional experts who systematically exposed the flawed reasoning in the Shah Bano judgement and its constitutional shortcomings. Mr. Noorani not only unequivocally condemned the demolition of the Babri Masjid but also produced irrefutable historical and legal evidence to substantiate the claim of Muslims. His intellectual contribution is indeed extra-ordinary.     

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 June 2015 on page no. 12

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