Sir Pherozeshah Mehta
Mehta in 1909.
Pherozeshah Merwanjee Mehta

(1845-08-04)4 August 1845
Died5 November 1915(1915-11-05) (aged 70)
CitizenshipBritish Raj
Alma materUniversity of Mumbai
OccupationLawyer, politician
Known forCo-founder and president of Indian National Congress
Political partyIndian National Congress

Sir Pherozeshah Merwanjee Mehta KCIE (4 August 1845 – 5 November 1915) was an Indian Parsi politician and lawyer from Bombay. He was knighted by the British Government in India for his service to the law. He became the Municipal commissioner of Bombay Municipality in 1873 and its President four times – 1884, 1885, 1905 and 1911.[1] Mehta was one of the founding members and President of the Indian National Congress in 1890 held at Calcutta.

Early life

Mehta was born on 4 August 1845 in Bombay (now Mumbai) to a Parsi business family. His father, a Bombay-based businessman who also spent plenty of time in Calcutta, was not highly educated, but he did translate a Chemistry textbook into Gujarati and wrote a Geography textbook.[2] Graduating from the Elphinstone College in 1864, Pherozeshah obtained his Master of Arts degree with honors six months later, becoming the first such Parsi, from the Bombay University (later re-established as University of Mumbai). Sir Alexander Grant, principal of the university, nominated him a Fellow of the University and tried to procure him a scholarship founded by Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy to study in Europe. However, Mehta did not avail himself of the scholarship.[3]

Mehta went to England to study law at Lincoln's Inn in London. Here, he met and began association with fellow Indian barristers Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee and Badruddin Tyabji.[3] In 1868, he became the first Parsi barrister called to the Bar from Lincoln's Inn.[4] The same year, he returned to India, was admitted to the bar, and soon established a practice for himself in a profession then dominated by British lawyers.

It was during a legal defence of Arthur Crawford that he pointed out the need for reforms in the Bombay municipal government. Later, he drafted the Bombay Municipal Act of 1872[5] and is thus considered the 'father of Bombay Municipality'.[6] Eventually, Mehta left his law practice to enter politics.

Political and social activities

Statue of Sir Pherozeshah Mehta in front of BMC's HQ next to CST
Statue of Sir Pherozeshah Mehta in front of BMC's HQ next to CST

When the Bombay Presidency Association was established in 1885, Mehta became its president, and remained so for the rest of his years.[7] He encouraged Indians to obtain western education and embrace its culture to uplift India. He contributed to many social causes for education, sanitation and health care in the city and around India.

Mehta was one of the founders of the Indian National Congress.[8] He was the chairman of the Reception Committee in its fifth session in Bombay in 1889.[3] He presided over the next session in Calcutta.[9]

Mehta was nominated to the Bombay Legislative Council in 1887[10] and in 1893 a member of the Imperial Legislative Council.[11] In 1894, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE)[12] and was appointed a Knight Commander (KCIE) in 1904.[13]

In 1910, he started The Bombay Chronicle, an English-language weekly newspaper, which became an important nationalist voice of its time, and an important chronicler of the political upheavals of a volatile pre-independent India.[14] He served as a member of Bombay's Municipal Corporation for six years.[4]

Mehta died on 5 November 1915, in Bombay.


Pherozeshah Mehta featured on Indian Postal Stamp
Pherozeshah Mehta featured on Indian Postal Stamp

A portrait of Pherozeshah Mehta at the Indian Parliament House, shows his importance in the making of the nation.[15] He was known as 'The Lion of Bombay' and 'Uncrowned King of Bombay'.[3] In Mumbai, even today Mehta is much revered; there are roads, halls and law colleges named after him. He is respected as an important inspiration for young Indians of the era, his leadership of India's bar and legal profession, and for laying the foundations of Indian involvement in political activities and inspiring Indians to fight for more self-government.

In Mehta's lifetime, few Indians had discussed or embraced the idea of full political independence from Britain. As one of the few people who espoused involvement of the activity of Indians in politics, he was nicknamed "Ferocious Mehta."[16]

See also



  1. ^,3256124, Biography[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Our Leaders. Children's Book Trust. 1989. p. 5. ISBN 978-81-7011-929-6.
  3. ^ a b c d "An Uncrowned King". Malaya Tribune. 8 December 1915. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b Wolpert, Stanley (2013). Jinnah of Pakistan. Karachi, Pakistan: Oxford University Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-19-577389-7.
  5. ^ "Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation". Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Archived from the original on 24 February 1999.
  6. ^ "Political Figures". Archived from the original on 17 June 2001.
  7. ^ "Great Minds". The Tribune. 30 January 2000. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  8. ^ Rajya Sabha Archived 14 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Presidents of Indian National Congress". Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 23 April 2014.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  10. ^ Biography[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Sir Pherozeshah Mehta – A biography. Retrieved on 29 November 2018.
  12. ^ "To be Companions". The London Gazette. 2 June 1894. p. 2.
  13. ^ The London Gazette. 21 June 1904. Supplement: 27688. p. 4010
  14. ^ "Role of Press in India's Struggle For Freedom". Indian National Congress. Archived from the original on 5 November 2006.
  15. ^ Portraits-Rajya Sabha Archived 14 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Parsi Pioneers of modern India. Retrieved on 29 November 2018.
Wikisource has the text of a 1922 Encyclopædia Britannica article about "Pherozeshah Mehta".