89-year-old Lawyer Dies while Arguing Case

Mumbai, Sep 2:
Donning his gown till his last breath, one of Bombay High Court’s oldest lawyers,
Vinayak Walawalkar, 89, died of a massive heart attack while arguing a case in the high court on Monday.

Walawalkar, a senior counsel adept in property matters, had just sat down after objecting to a point made by advocate PG Lad, who was opposing him in the case, when his head dropped to one side at 11.45 am. Lad was the first to notice that something was amiss and brought it to justice RM Sawant’s notice.

Walawalkar had fallen unconscious and within minutes died of a cardiac arrest. After the court’s resident doctor pronounced him dead, his body was placed in room number 36, where judges and other lawyers came and paid their last respects.

On Monday, Walawalkar, the oldest member of the Western India Advocate’s Association (WIAA), came to court as usual in his light blue Fiat car. “He looked absolutely normal when he came to the bar room in room number 36 in the morning.

He came to his seat, took his briefs and left for the court,” said Sudhir Prabhu, who sat at a table adjoining Walawalkar’s.

“He was the oldest member of the bar and lived a completely moralistic life. It’s the first time ever that all the judges voluntarily stepped down from the dais to condole an advocate’s death,” said Shankar Thorat, president of the WIAA. He said Walawalkar’s father who too was an advocate had died while on his way to court.

A former judge of the City Civil Court, Walawalkar is survived by his wife, daughter, and son Narendra Walawalkar, a senior counsel. A few lawyers said he was a follower of the Rasthtriya Swayamsevak Sangha and had been imprisoned during Emergency in 1975.

The morning session of the court was discontinued after news of Walawalkar’s death was conveyed to the judges. Judges assembled in court room 37 to express their condolence.

According to senior lawyers, three lawyers have breathed their last in the high court building — one in a courtroom, one in the court library and one near the lift.


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