Patel completed his LLB in 1958 and became a law professor in Ahmedabad, after which he pursued an LLM degree at Harvard Law School and Hague Academy of International Law. In 1964, Patel was named a member of University Senate and principal of Law College in Ahmedabad.
In Ahmedabad and beyond, Patel was known as a persistent and imaginative lawyer, the first one to have filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Gujarat high court. Through years, he filed more than two hundred petitions on issues such as women, livelihood, minimum wages, rehabilitation, and shelter.
When asked by one of the judges why file so many PILs when they easily may not succeed, Patel famously responded: “Sir, to disturb your sleep so that your Lordships may not go to bed with a feeling that everything in this country is fine.”
For all those who knew him, Patel embodied the values and qualities we call humane. He expressed his love for and commitment to the disempowered through acts of sacrifice, giving, and cooperation, and believed that human rights can become meaningful, effective, and real only in a democratic society, economy, and state.
Patel will be dearly missed for his contributions to the human rights advocacy and his accommodating and gracious presence both on the court and in the classroom.