A Padma Bhushan awardee, Desai held office as the Attorney General of India from July 9, 1996 to May 6, 1998.
Earlier, he was the Solicitor General of India from 18 December, 1989 to December 2, 1990.
Desai studied at the prestigious Fergusson College in Pune and thereafter went to Government Law College, Mumbai.
He started his practice in 1956 at the Bombay High Court and was designated as a senior advocate on August 8, 1977.
Desai took up several landmark cases, including decriminalisation of homosexuality, Vineet Narain case relating to investigation into allegations of corruption against high-ranking public officials in the country,
Narmada Dam case and Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) (IMDT) Act in Assam, among others.