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2002 Gruber Justice Prize Press Release

Fali Sam Nariman


Peter Gruber Foundation Honors India's Fali Sam Nariman for Binding Together a Diverse Nation

St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., November 2002-- A lifelong champion of human rights and democratic unity who has worked his entire professional life to help the poor, minorities, and the marginalized claim their basic rights to human dignity won the 2002 Justice Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation. Fali Sam Nariman, a Member of Parliament and a Senior Advocate in the Supreme Court of India, the President of the Bar Association of India, and a practicing attorney, was selected by the Foundation's Justice Advisory Board, a group of seven eminent jurists from around the world.

The prize, $150,000 and a gold medal, was presented to Mr. Nariman at a ceremony in Richmond, Virginia at the home of John Marshall, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The presentation took place on September 22.

Mr. Nariman earned his law degree in 1950, two years after India was granted its independence, and his work has helped to define and refine modern democracy in a country that has a teeming population, six main religions, 14 languages and another 33 dialects, and a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Throughout his career, Mr. Nariman has used the legal system and the rule of law to protect the interests of a number of minority groups and to foster human rights.

In assessing the record of India in synthesizing its diverse population into one nation of equality, Mr. Nariman has written, "The Indian experiment of unity amid diversity has so far succeeded only partially." However, he believes that the freedom of religious and linguistic minorities in India and for religious denominations of every kind is truly remarkable. Nonetheless, he argues that India has not "resolved the complexities that lie buried in the great but elusive doctrine of equality," and he asks, "How far does the Constitution, truly interpreted, direct us to go?"

Mr. Nariman has practiced law for 52 years, and he currently is a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India. In 1999 he was appointed by the President of India to a six-year term in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house, of the Indian Parliament. He is also the Co-chair of the IBA Human Rights Institute, one of the many organizations in which he is involved. In 1995 the International Bar Association named Mr. Nariman as a "Living Legend of the Law."

The citation from the Peter Gruber Foundation announcing Mr. Nariman as this year's winner says, "Fali Sam Nariman, President of the Bar Association of India, has been an exemplary and principled advocate for justice. He has over many years given exceptional leadership in a legal community whose thinkers and doers have inspired the development of a creative jurisprudence that facilitates the binding together of a diverse nation, helps control the exercise of public power and seeks to enable the poor, minorities and the marginalized to claim their basic rights to human dignity."

Peter Gruber, creator of the Foundation that bears his name, said, "At a time when religious and ethnic intolerance present the greatest threat to peace and world safety in generations, it is entirely appropriate that the Peter Gruber Foundation honor Fali Sam Nariman for his lifetime of work at making one of the world's most diverse nations one of its most successful democracies."

Last year the co-winners of the Foundation's Justice Prize were the Law Society of Zimbabwe and that country's chief judge, Anthony Roy Gubbay, for their efforts to uphold the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

The Peter Gruber Foundation

The Peter Gruber Foundation awards a series of prizes annually, recognizing achievements in various areas of endeavor. A distinguished Advisory Board in each field determines the recipients.

The Justice Advisory Board members who select the winners are: the Honorable Mr. Arlin Adams, retired U.S. Court of Appeals judge; the Honorable Mr. Justice Prafull N. Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India and vice chairman of the UN Human Rights Committee; Madame Christine Chanet, Présidente Commité des Droits de l'Homme des Nations Unies; the Honorable Driss Dahak, Premier Président de la Cour Suprême Royaume du Maroc, Morocco; Madame Justice Claire L'Heureux Dubé, Supreme Court of Canada; and the Honorable Albie Sachs, Constitutional Court of South Africa; and Justice Anthony Gubbay, Chief Justice of Zimbabwe, retired.

The Peter Gruber Foundation is a philanthropic organization, funded solely by Peter Gruber. In addition to its international awards program, it provides funding for many charitable initiatives, principally in the U.S. Virgin Islands where it is located.


The Peter Gruber Foundation, located in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, recently established three unique international awards for human achievement--each with cash prize of US $150,000 and a gold medal, each presented annually. Growing out of the life-long interests, researches, and strongly held values of founder Peter Gruber (b. 1929), these awards are among the highest recognitions in each of three realms: Cosmology, Genetics and Justice.

The Advisory Board which selects the recipient is comprised of an international panel of Justices from Morocco, France, Canada, the United States of America, India, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The first Justice Prize was presented at Runnymede in the UK in 2001 to Anthony Gubbay, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the Law Society of Zimbabwe which has supported Gubbay's decisions to uphold the rule of law and independence of the judiciary. The second Justice Prize was presented in Richmond, Virginia on September 22, 2002 to the Honorable Fali S. Nariman.

Like the other Peter Gruber Foundation prizes, the Justice Prize is a distinctively international award. Thus nominators should be encouraged that the Foundation particularly wishes to get nominations from all nations of the world.

To simplify the nomination process, the Foundation this year has developed a shortened nomination form. Nominators can submit a nomination proposal directly to the Foundation by fax, email or regular mail. For a copy of this form, see How to Apply, or contact the Foundation at 340-775-8035, or 6000 Estate Charlotte Amalie, Suite 4, St. Thomas, VI 00802.

Nominations for the 2003 Prize are currently being accepted.

The Peter Gruber Foundation is a dynamic organization devoted to recognizing the world's most important human achievements. We, therefore, welcome comments and suggestions as we further develop our awards programs.