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Jerome Merchant + Partners

Jerome Merchant + Partners, formerly known as P&C Legal, was started by Vishnu Jerome.
19 January 2010

An innocent girl, an avid tennis player, 14-year old Ruchika Girhotra had not the faintest idea of what fate held in store for her, when she walked into the office of the then Inspector General of Police and head of Haryana Lawn Tennis Federation, S P S Rathore. 

What commenced as a crime of molestation committed on a young girl has today, after 19 years and pittance of a punishment, translated into the molestation of the faith that the people of this nation vest in the judiciary and investigation authorities. Though an internal police inquiry had found him guilty within two weeks, according to Haryana’s former Home Secretary, J K Duggal, ‘political pressure’ prevented the filing of an FIR 

As if the meager punishment that has been awarded to the offender was not enough to humiliate the tireless efforts put in, there is incessant political mud-slinging about which government is responsible for burying the truth or which is responsible for promoting Rathore to higher ranks. 

It very conveniently lost sight of the fact that plight of the victim’s family is not lessened by discussions of how or why the offender was glorified after having committed a crime. 

To my opinion, this case highlights not just the failure of the judiciary in handing warranted punishment to Rathore but also seeks to ignite an argument on the need to free the judicial and investigating authorities from the clutches of politicisation. 

There is public outcry when a judgment such as this is pronounced, but the problem has to be dealt with at the grass-root level. Such cases, instead of being opportunities to wash dirty linen in public and proclaim ‘self as saint’ on the part of many officials, must be treated as an eye opener to the current situation.  

The case discloses a harrowing tale of what a victim’s family was made to go through for 19 long years. It has been stated by the father of the victim that successive chief ministers, including Bhajan Lal, the late Bansi Lal and Chautala ‘virtually shielded’ Rathore and promoted him. 

It is a wonder why the offender was not tried for abetment to suicide though in the initial stages itself, the special CBI Court Ambala held that a case for abetment to suicide was also made out. 

It is of little consequence that the victim took the ultimate decision of ending her life after three years of the incident and this should not mitigate the punishment nor absolve the offender of any possible charge. 

The extreme anguish that went on in her mind due to constant harassment of her family by the police compelled her to end her life. This case shows in a brazen manner the treatment that victims of molestation, rape and other instances of outraging of a woman’s modesty receive. As far as the woman is concerned there is not much difference. All of them are indicators of a society dominated by political whims, administrative hassles and judicial incapacity, and not to forget, social ostracisation. 

The Union Law Minister, M Veerappa Moily immediately spoke of ‘fast-tracking’ cases relating to women, especially those of rape, dowry and molestation. According to Moily, classification and prioritisation would ensure that such cases were fast-tracked in courts.

However, what has to be ensured is that such plans are actually put into practice so that the anguish faced by the family of Ruchika Girhotra is not endured by any other. 

As the State toyed with the idea of whether to place Rathore under Section 305 (abetment of suicide of a minor) or Section 306 (abetment of suicide of a major), the accused had been projecting himself as a hapless victim of the media.

Though the Special Public Prosecutor, CBI, C P Pandey, has said that they have received the requisite sanction to file an appeal for enhancement of Rathore’s six month sentence, the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge R S Atri has extended SPS Rathore’s bail till 8 February 2010. 

What remains to be seen however, is whether the public outcry and the immediate pacifying announcements by the State, in actuality do help the family of Ruchika Girhotra to taste justice. 

18 January 2010

An Indian law student has taken up the baton to defend Indian legal process outsourcing (LPO) against an onslaught of anti-Indian-lawyer comments on self-styled US legal tabloid AboveTheLaw.

Although the majority of comments on ATL are intentionally offensive and ironic, it has been a while since anybody has stood up for Indian Law Inc.

Indian guest commenter writes:

"As an Indian law student, I've had a good time reading some of the comments above.

Firstly - Suck it up. Okay, we get it. Some of you are pissed off, you're losing your jobs / work. But - your rant on a blog is hardly productive. Your time is better spent moving along and exploring ways to be more efficient with whatever work you have left. Until then, yes. You're going to keep getting your ass whooped by a 24 year old law student.

Secondly - Considering all the hostility directed towards the Indian lawyers - you should know that we are pretty good at what we do. The steadily increasing number of trainee-level recruits to your bigger firms from our law schools should also tell you something. It would be heartwarming to see you try and not pretend otherwise.

Thirdly - We don't give a shit. There's enough work for us Indian lawyers. With a booming domestic market, we have enough work to keep us occupied. What you should really be thinking is - if your firms are looking to come and give us work - outside of the "economic rationality" which has already been spoken about, it must mean that we're doing something right? Also, as for the "economic rationality" itself, most Indian firms pay pretty handsomely. It's just that the work that the LPOs are taking on - well, even the low - mid level associates can take on that work.

Well said.

But it still makes me wonder - why exactly is there so much animosity towards Indian lawyers doing US work for a fraction of the price?

Surely, it is nothing new and the business model and demand are now beyond question. So when will US lawyers face up to market realities instead of sticking their head in the sand?

15 January 2010

Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar is organizing the 2nd GNLU International Moot Court Competition (GIMC) from February 3-7, 2010. The first edition was organized in 2009 from April 2-5 and was appreciated by all concerned. This year’s edition promises to be even better and bigger than the previous one.

The theme of the competition is International Trade Law. Last year the moot problem dealt with national security, breach of privacy and trade between countries, while this year’s moot problem deals with climate change and trade. In spite of the fact the disputes in the moot problem are arising through a Regional Trade Agreement and are primarily trade disputes, the forum of adjudication is International Court of Justice, making the entire concept very interesting. The reason for the same is that the issue of applicability of International Law to a Trade dispute is still a grey area with no concrete judicial opinion.

GNLU takes great pleasure to inform everyone that for this year’s competition, GNLU and World Trade Institute (WTI) Basel, Switzerland have entered into a partnership agreement wherein WTI would award the winning team with a scholarship to attend its five week Summer Academy on International Trade Regulation.

 The World Trade Institute (WTI) is one of the world’s leading academic institutions dedicated to the regulation of international trade. It is a centre of advanced studies at the University of Bern and is closely tied with leading trade institutions in Geneva. The WTI transcends boundaries by fusing law, economics and international relations in interdisciplinary research, training and advisory services. As host institution of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research on Trade Regulation, the WTI is at the core of a global research network.

 For this year’s edition, GNLU has also partnered with Westlaw, wherein Westlaw is providing passwords to access its database to all the participating teams for the purpose of research. Apart from providing passwords, Westlaw would also be awarding the Winning and Runner’s up teams with books worth INR 50, 000. These are significant steps forward in the achievement of the aims and objectives of GIMC, foremost of which is the dissemination of knowledge related to pressing issues in International trade.

 Apart from association with WTI & Westlaw, GNLU is proud to announce that the final round of the competition would be adjudicated by a sitting member of the Appellate body of the WTO, sitting judge of the Supreme Court of India, senior advocates from Supreme Court and leading academicians from India & abroad. This would be for the 1st time that a sitting member of the Appellate body of the WTO would be judging a final round of a Moot Court Competition. The prelim/ quarter and the semi final round of the competition would be adjudicated by a panel of judges drawn from academia, law firms and practicing advocates, who are experts in the relevant area of the moot problem.

The association of WTI and Westlaw and prize money on offer worth more than INR 75000 makes GIMC one of the most sought after legal events in the legal calendar. GNLU is also grateful to Government of Gujarat and High Court of Gujarat for their constant support in making this competition a reality.

 With 38 teams drawn from Europe, America and Asia including all the leading law schools from India, GIMC 2010 promises to be one of the biggest events in the legal calendar this year.

 For more information contact

Ashish Chandra


GIMC 2010

Ph: +91- 9377404964


05 January 2010

Interesting opinion piece by a UK tax lawyer on the best ways of coming out in the workplace.

Questions are, would this advice also work in India?

Do you know of many openly gay people working in law firms?

I, for one, suspect that there are few if any "equal opportunities and empowerment policies" at any law firms here but please correct me if I'm wrong.

James Quarmby - partner at UK national firm Thomas Eggar - suggests:

1. Do, if possible, choose your firm carefully before joining. Some of the bigger firms have fancy equal opportunities and empowerment policies, normally a good indicator of the level of acceptance you can expect. Others - often the smaller regional firms - are still living in metaphorical caves with their animals. Expect them to have less enlightened attitudes.  2. Don’t make any grand gestures or announcements. Hanging a banner over your desk emblazoned with the words, ‘Yes, I’m gay, get over it’, probably isn’t the best move. Lawyers are conservative creatures by nature and are easily shocked by… well… anything really. 
3. Do drop casual remarks into social conversations. These should leave no doubt which side you are batting for. “Oh, my boyfriend and I went to the theatre last night to see that play…” If said by a man, it leaves no room for misinterpretation.
4. Don’t make a big deal out if it. The less fuss you make about your newly declared sexuality, the less others will think it worthy of comment.
5. Do take your significant other to the firm’s Christmas party. You can be ­guaranteed that, within a few hours of arrival, the gossips will have done their work and that every last man, woman and child will know all the fabulous details. However, it’s probably best to avoid getting heroically drunk and snogging to the slow numbers on the dance floor. This may be a step too far.
 6. Don’t feel the need to conform to any of the stereotypes. I have never felt the need, for instance, to express a love for musical theatre. And girls, it’s really not necessary to drive to work in a Jeep.
7. Do challenge homophobic behaviour when it arises. In my experience this is never normally overt and when it is, takes the form of carelessly inappropriate remarks or jokes. These need to be stamped on and crushed like a bug so that the offender is under no illusions that a repeat performance will be tolerated. 
8. Don’t look for or expect homophobia where it doesn’t exist. We’re lucky to be in a profession that is generally well- educated, intelligent and tolerant. Most of your colleagues will want to be supportive if you come out. If they’re not then hit them over the head with a club. That last bit was a joke. Just. 
9. Do remember to keep your sense of humour and have some fun. It’s not all deadly serious. In short - loosen up, for heaven’s sake.
10. Finally, for those who are ashamed or embarrassed about being ‘abnormal’, remember the words of the late Derek Jarman, who famously opined: “Heterosexuality isn’t normal, it’s just common.”

Please share your local law advice or experiences in the comments.

16 December 2009

road-closed-signThe Bombay High Court has decided that the 1961 Advocates Act applies to all lawyers, irrespective of whether they appear in court or act in non-litigious matters. Download the judgment and share your learned views.

03 December 2009

Kaden-Boriss_Hemant_BatraGurgaon-based law firm Kaden Boriss Legal LLP has promoted four of its senior associates to partner in its new limited liability partnership (LLP) structure.

We have asked the firm's management about the joys of LLP.

21 October 2009

Smiley-faceWe need your help in creating one of India's first and most comprehensive associate satisfaction surveys.

Encouraged by several requests from readers in the past weeks, we would like to hear from you about your firm, the things you like and the things you would like to see improved.

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Please be truthful in your responses.
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07 October 2009


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18 September 2009

Email newsletterWhat skills does a good lawyer need?

15 September 2009

shipyard_the-tahoe-guy_thJ Sagar Associates (JSA) and S&R Associates have advised Pipavav Shipyard on its proposed initial public offering (IPO) of up to Rs 5.5bn ($110m).

28 August 2009

mail_at_triLuthra & Luthra has called the bottom of the slump, painting a longer term picture of where the law firm market as a whole may be headed.

20 July 2009

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06 June 2009
Friday, 5 June 2009

There cannot be a better time to be reporting legal news from India.

Legally India kicked off two weeks ago with the revival of what could be India's largest cross-border M&A deal ever. AZB and Freshfields pocketed the lead roles and it is understood that one certain firm has all but sewn up the Indian mandate for MTN, although no official appointment has yet been made.

28 March 2009

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18 March 2009
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18 March 2009

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18 March 2009

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08 March 2009

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