Garden Court Chambers mourns the death of Navtej Singh Ahluwalia

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Navtej Singh Ahluwalia, 8th March 1970 – 24th February 2018   In a time of unbearable grief for chambers already, we are devastated to have to pass on the news that our dearly loved friend and colleague Navi (Navtej Singh Ahluwalia) died peacefully on Saturday 24th February.

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Navi came to Garden Court in 2009 from Tooks Chambers. He had previously been the Assistant Director at the AIRE Centre with which he retained a strong association throughout his career. From the beginning of his legal career to the end he was involved in some of the most significant and high-profile cases in Strasbourg: including the landmark cases of Osman v UK and Bensaid v UK.

In his final case he was led by Manjit Gill QC (with whom he had a long and close working relationship) representing Coram Children’s Legal Centre intervening in the Supreme Court in SM(Algeria) v Secretary of State [2018] UKSC 9 – the judgment being handed down less than two weeks ago on 14 February.

He had a lengthy history of working with Non-Governmental and International Organisations to protect and further human rights and was particularly active on behalf of the Sikh community (notably with the Sikh Human Rights Group and the campaign and research related to Chahal v UK (1996) 23 EHRR 413).

Alongside his own work, Navi was selfless in assisting and advising others in chambers and passed on his knowledge and expertise through writing, training and always being available at the end of the telephone when a complex EU point of law arose.  He was a passionate, fluent and charming advocate and speaker.  Colleagues who have worked with him note his ability to charm an audience, one noting, ‘He came forward and perched on the edge of the table, no lecterns or formality and had the audience eating out of his hand!’

Navi's passion for human rights was at the core of his being. Whether when stopping off for a coffee, or even in the last few weeks at the hospice, Navi would advise those around him on their legal status in the country and how to best secure a good future for themselves and their families. He was a member of a support group for terminal cancer patients at The Mulberry Centre and true to form, had turned them all into budding political activists.

As all of those who had the pleasure of experiencing this first-hand, Navi was passionate about his love of music, and he was the finest lawyer DJ in the country by a mile. As he himself wrote on his chambers website entry: "Navi has a passion for soul, funk, and Latin jazz music and has, without question, one of the best record collections at the Bar”.

His overriding wish was to be of benefit to others and we have absolutely no doubt that, just as he was of so much benefit to so many of us during his life, the legacy of his work will carry on after his death.

We will miss him more than anyone can put into words.

Navi is survived by his two young children, Nya and Dhyaan. Our thoughts and profound love are with them, his mother, his sister, Ansa and the rest of his family as they come to terms with this very sad and untimely loss.

There is a short service at South West Middlesex Crematorium, 355 Hounslow Road, Feltham, TW13 5JH at 10am on Saturday, 3rd March 2018, followed by prayers and langar (food) at the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha Gurdwara, 142 Martindale Road, Hounslow, TW4 7HQ. All are welcome. Please note parking is restricted and it is best to find parking in the nearby streets. Everyone will be required to cover their heads at the Gurdwara (ladies please bring a scarf, men please bring a large handkerchief).

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