Ujjwal Nikam is an Indian senior criminal lawyer who has served as Special Public Prosecutor in the Maharashtra government in many prominent cases related to terrorism and murder including the 1993 Bombay Bombings and Gulshan Kumar murder case.
Ujjwal Nikam was born on Monday, 30 March 1953 (age 70 years; as of 2023) in Jalgaon, Maharashtra. His zodiac sign is Aries. After completing his schooling, Nikam pursued a Bachelor of Sciences degree at a college in Jalgaon. He completed his law degree in 1978 from S.S. Maniyar College Jalgaon, Maharashtra.
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Ujjwal belongs to a Marathi family.
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Deoraoji Nikam. His father was a judge and barrister while his mother was a homemaker. Ujjwal has two brothers, one elder, and one younger. His brothers own around 150 acres of agricultural land in Jalgaon.
Wife & Children
Ujjwal got married to Jyoti Nikam on 5 February 1980; She is a homemaker.
Ujjwal Nikam with Jyoti Nikam
Together the couple has two children, a son, Aniket Nikam, and a daughter, Sharbari. His son, Aniket, is a Mumbai-based criminal lawyer.
Ujjwal Nikam with wife and children
He resides at Ramdas Colony, Nikam Nagar, Mahabol Road, Jalgaon, Maharashtra, 425001.
Nikam started his professional journey as a civil lawyer, handling numerous cases related to cooperative societies and sugar mills in Jalgaon. However, in the early 1980s, he chose to shift his focus towards criminal law. He served as a public prosecutor in Jalgaon district for a while before moving to Mumbai for the 1991 Blast Case.
Ujjwal Nikam was appointed the special public prosecutor by the Maharashtra Government in the 1991 Kalyan Bombing case. Ravinder Singh Bittu who was involved in bombing the train on 8 November 1991 was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by the apex court of India. In the 1993 Bombay Bombing case, Ujjwal was once again appointed special public prosecutor considering his expertise in such matters. He put forth his arguments and managed a sentence to life imprisonment for Yakub Memon, mastermind of the case, and others involved. Later, Deepak Salvi replaced Ujjwal as special public prosecutor and dealt with the further developments in the case.
In the 2003 Bombing incident, two taxis loaded with explosives blasted which resulted in the death of 54 individuals and approximately 244 injuries. The bombings occurred at Zaveri Bazar and the Gateway of India in Mumbai. Ujjwal served as the prosecutor for this case, which was tried in a Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) court. The death sentences awarded to Mohammed Haneef Sayed, his wife Fahmeeda, and his aide Ashrat Ansari by the POTA court were upheld by both the Mumbai High Court and the Supreme Court of India.
Mohammad Hanif Ansari, convict of 2003 Bombay Bombing case, going for hearing
In the case of the 2008 Mumbai Attacks, also known as the 26/11 attacks, Ujjwal served as the prosecutor. He was instrumental in securing a death sentence for Ajmal Kasab, the only surviving attacker out of the nine involved. Following this case, Nikam received many death threats, taking note of which the Maharashtra government provided him with Z+ security.
Ujjwal Nikam after the pronouncement of the death sentence to Ajmal Kasab
In the mid-1980s, Nikam appeared for the first time as a public prosecutor in a criminal case in which a pregnant lady was murdered. He successfully managed to bring the accused into the court who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1997, Ujjwal appeared in the murder case of the singer Gulshan Kumar who was shot dead on 12 August 1997 in front of a temple in Andheri, Mumbai. 19 people were charged in the case but all were acquitted except one.
Abdul Rauf Dawood Merchant convicted in Gulshan Kumar murder case
On 29 September 2006, the Khairlanji Massacre took place in which four members of a Dalit family were beaten and murdered by a mob in Maharashtra. Ujjwal took part in the court proceedings of the case as the special public prosecutor. On 15 September 2008, six people were sentenced to death and two others were given life imprisonment in the killings. The death sentences were later commuted to life in prison by the upper court.
Ujjwal Nikam shaking hands with Bhaiyyalal Bhotmange, the lone survivor of the Dalit family, after winning the case
In 2006, BJP leader Pramod Mahajan was murdered by his brother Parveen Mahajan due to a family dispute; Parveen was sentenced to life in prison in 2007. In addition to this, Ujjwal appeared in many prominent murder cases including the Pallavi Purkayastha murder case (2013) and the Preeti Rathi murder case (2013).
Ujjwal Nikam with Poonam Mahajan, daughter of Pramod Mahajan, outside the court premises
In August 2022, he was appointed the special public prosecutor in a 19-year-old case that occurred in 2003 in which a 62-year-old obstetrician, Asha Goel, was murdered.
Ujjwal was a special public prosecutor in the Marine Drive rape case that took place in 2005 when a police constable, Sunil More, raped a 15-year-old girl in the police station. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Nikam appeared in another shocking event, the Shakti Mill Gang Rape Case 2014, in which a photojournalist was gang raped by four people. The judge in his verdict sentenced to death three accused and one was sentenced to life term in prison.
Ujjwal Nikam interacting with the media after pronouncement of the punishment in the Shakti Mill Gang Rape Case
The Kopardi Rape Case of 2016 was the tragic rape and murder case of a 15-year-old girl. Nikam led the prosecution against the three accused, and the trial started in a local court on 19 October 2016. The Sessions court ultimately pronounced a death sentence to all three convicts.
Ujjwal Nikam going for hearing in Kopardi murder case
In December 2020, Ujjwal was appointed as the prosecutor for a distressing case involving the sexual assault of a 3-year-old girl in Pen, a town in the Raigad district of Maharashtra. The accused in this case was Deepak Patil, a man with a criminal record that included serious offences such as rape, theft, and murder. Patil, who was already serving a life sentence for his previous crimes, had been granted parole just a week before the incident.
Cases in Which Ujjwal Nikam Stepped Down as Public Prosecutor
In 2014, Mohsin Shaikh, an IT sector employee was murdered by a mob belonging to a right-wing group Hindu Rashtra Sena. Maharashtra government appointed Ujjwal as public prosecutor in the case but in June 2017, he withdrew from the case without giving any solid reason. Mohsin’s father, Sadiq, alleged that he was warned earlier that Ujjwal has connections with the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) and the main accused of the case, Dhananjay Desai, is the president of the Hindu Rashtra Sena. Reportedly, Nikam was pressurised by the accused side and as a result, he withdrew from the case.
Dhananjay Desai, prime accused of the Mohsin murder case
In 2016, Nikam was appointed Special Public Prosecutor in the double murder case of artist Hema Hirani and her advocate Haresh Bhambani. In 2018, Nikam quit the case citing that the Dindoshi Session Court is far away and he faces problems while commuting. Bhambani’s daughter alleged that someone pressurised Nikam to quit the case as one of the accused Vidyadhar Rajbhar was represented by Raja Thackrey, a senior CBI public prosecutor.
Ujjwal Nikam coming out after a hearing in the double murder case of Hema Hirani and Haresh Bhambani
In May 2023, Ujjwal Nikam resigned as a public prosecutor from the 2011 Blast Case which occurred at Opera House, Zaveri Bazar, and a bus stop near Dadar Kabutarkhana. The prime suspect in the case was Yasin Bhatkal. Nikam cited personal difficulties and unavoidable circumstances for his withdrawal from the case.
Slammed Salman Khan for his tweet on Yakub Memon
In 2015, Salman Khan posted a series of tweets defending the convict of the 1993 Bombay Blasts Yakub Memon and declaring him innocent. Nikam slammed Salman Khan by saying that whatever he said directly amounts to contempt of court and if he doesn’t retract his tweet then he may face legal action.
Pressurised by a Union Minister to speed up the 26/11 case
In December 2009, during a seminar at a college in Latur, Nikam claimed that he was pressurised by a union minister to speed up the 26/11 case trial so that it would benefit in the upcoming Loksabha elections. He further said that the minister asked him to file 12 separate chargesheets in the trial against the lone surviving Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab to seek a quick verdict in each case. However, Nikam later took back these claims, stating that his remarks had been taken out of context.
The Mutton-Biryani Controversy
During the trial of Ajmal Kasab, Nikam remarked in the media that Kasab demanded the Mutton-Biryani and expensive perfumes while in custody. This remark created aggression in public and everyone demanded the fast-trial. Later, at a counter-terrorism conference in Jaipur, he revealed the fact that Kasab never asked for mutton biryani. He just cooked up the story to divert the public sentiment who, due to the emotional media trials, started seeing Kasab as a brainwashed juvenile who doesn’t deserve the death penalty. In an interview, he commented on the role of media and said,
Media has to play a responsible role and has to be vigilant. They hyped Kasab’s tears and portrayed him as a scapegoat, a young boy, which was not right. There should not be a media trial as Kasab was not repenting, he was just pretending because he was aware of the fact that the whole media was focusing only on him.”
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- Maharashtra Times Nayak of 2006 from the Citizens of Mumbai
- Bhimratna Award 2011
Ujjwal Nikam receiving the Bhim Ratna Awards 2011
- Conferred an honorary Doctorate by DY Patil Deemed University Pune in 2013 in the presence of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam
- Best Public Prosecutor from the Citizens of Pune
- Daksh Nagrik from the Citizens of Nagpur
- Jeewan Gaurav Puruskar 2015 by Padmagandha Pratishthan
- Padam Shri Award 2016 by the President Pranab Mukherjee
Advocate Ujjwal Nikam receiving the Padma Award from President Pranab Mukherjee
- Seva Gaurav Award 2019 by Sahitya Sangeet Kala Akademi, Ahmedpur, Maharashtra
- Inspiration Idol Award 2022 by Dr. Pachlore Foundations
In a media interaction, he disclosed that for the Kasab case, he charged the government Rs 15K per court appearance and an additional Rs 15K for consultation. His hotel expenses were also covered by the government. For other cases, his fee is Rs. 10k per hearing and sometimes Rs. 40k per hearing depending upon the case.
- Nikam’s mother wanted him to be a doctor and his father wanted him to be an advocate but this was the last thing Ujjwal wanted to be. The legal profession had no charm for him. Another reason was, during those days there was little demand for a lawyer groom in rural Maharashtra.
- After completing his law degree in 1977, he wanted to be a judge but his father opposed the decision, arguing that being a judge would limit his learning opportunities and put him into a position where he would always be under the control of higher authorities.
- Nikam loves to wear dark safari suits when he appears on TV because he feels the colour of his dress will make him look more telegenic.
- He is fond of expensive wristwatches and glasses. He has glasses and watches from Brands like Montblanc, Rado, and Tiffany.
- A significant portion of his career was spent in Suite 301 of the Hotel Residency Mumbai, where he set up his office. His journey began in 1993 with the Bombay Bombing case.
- He was awarded the Padma Shri Award 2016 in the public affairs category.
- He is the only lawyer who has Z-plus security in India because there are many threats to his life.
- He represented India at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York, at the global convention on terrorism which was held on 1 December 2010 and with this he became the only lawyer who got the opportunity to represent India at an international conference.
- In June 2017, while he was travelling via train under the protection of Z+ security guards, his mobile phone was stolen. This incident raised questions about the effectiveness of Z+ security at that time.
In 2017, a Marathi film titled ‘Aadesh – Power of Law,’ which was based on the life of Ujjwal Nikam, was released.