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Mukul Rohatgi

22 August 2014

The Supreme Court told the government that it should explain within four weeks how the “leader of opposition” post should be interpreted under the Lokpal Act, since the Congress party lost to the BJP so badly that it can’t muster enough members in the Lok Sabha to count as an opposition. 55 MPs was stipulated by speaker Sumitra Mahajan as a minimum required to be allowed to choose a leader of the opposition in the house. NDTV.

India Today reported that the Supreme Court “made it clear that if the government fails to resolve LoP issue, the court may give a larger interpretation to the term LoP so that it may include leader of the largest party or leader of the larger group”, as attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said the government would review and seek to amend certain provisions of the Lokpal Act.

Furthermore, the apex court questioned why none of the nine members of the Lokpal have been appointed to date.

09 July 2014

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi accused the SCBA of “crass commercialisation and periodic auctioning and re-auctioning”, on its decision to rename the Supreme Court’s “Dr LM Singhvi library” to “Dr Awadh Behari Rohatgi library” after senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, instead of Singhvi, ended up donating the money required for the library’s renovation this year. Bar & Bench reported that in addition to this accusation, Singhvi also alleged that the SCBA had possibly “squandered” the Rs 20 lakh he had donated for the library in 2009.

According to the B&B report, Singhvi said:

“In 2008 and 2009 they took Rs. 20 lacs from me. I gave it with happiness for the service of the Bar. I had also asked them to keep the money locked in corpus, so that it is not squandered for dinners and lunches. It was not done. Till 2014, nothing happened.”

The SCBA had in May asked for Rs 20 lakh from Singhi to renovate the library, but after he had allegedly qualified the donation with four conditions the association had decided to strip the library, named after his late father, of its title. Rohatgi has now donated Rs 25 lakh toward the library’s renovation and the library will be renamed after his late father.

SCBA president PH Parekh told B&B:

“[Singhvi’s] daily income is more than Rs. 20 lacs. If it was a lawyer who did not have money, we would not have asked for a single penny. It is when he set out those four conditions that we decided that enough was enough. […] It is not a question of payment but about the conditions he imposed. He said that he will pay Rs. 20 lacs but he will dictate the terms. We felt very hurt by that and did not like it. By imposing a condition that an inaugural ceremony should be held, he was trying to show his money power. So, the point is that we did not like the way in which he troubled us for a couple of months before agreeing to pay and then imposing those conditions.”

11 June 2014

The BJP government's law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad signed off on senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi becoming Attorney General of India yesterday, reported the Times of India and other papers citing ministry sources, which is set to be approved by the president in a day or two.

Although Rohatgi's appointment as AG had been in the offing for weeks now, for a while alongside the name of senior counsel Harish Salve, over the weekend papers reported that senior advocate and former BJP member Ram Jethmalani had written a letter formally objecting to Rohatgi's appointment to the post because of his allegedly weak stance against black money - the subject of a case that Jethmalani is fighting in the Supreme Court.

For more on Rohatgi's court craft, as King of Miscellaneous Days and Storyteller Supreme, read Court Witness' profile of the man from 2012.

09 June 2014

The appointment of Mukul Rohatgi, who was considered a shoo-in to become the next Attorney General of India, appears to have been put on hold following a critical letter by senior counsel and former BJP member Ram Jethmalani to the BJP leadership.

Jethmalani told the Indian Express: “Yes, I have written to the Prime Minister, asking him to not appoint Rohatgi to the post. I have asked Modi to not appoint anybody who is opposed to the move to bring back black money from foreign accounts to any post. It will send a wrong signal since one of the major reasons for the electoral victory of the BJP was the reluctance of the previous government to take effective steps to bring back black money.”

Jethmalani had filed a petition in the Supreme Court on the issue of black money held overseas.

28 May 2014

Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati and Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran have tendered their resignations as is customary on change of government, reported the PTI. The AG’s and the SG’s tenures are conventionally co-terminus with the term of the existing government.

According to speculation senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi are contenders for the post of AG, while Ranjit Kumar is frontrunner for the SG’s post.

Vahanvati – the first Muslim to become the top law officer of the country - was appointed AG in 2009, after being SG for five years during the UPA-I’s rule.

Son of former AG K Parasaran, Parasaran was appointed SG after senior advocate Rohinton Nariman resigned mid-tenure from the post. He was appointed ASG by UPA-I in 2004.

16 May 2014

The Mail Today, said that "sources" have told it that the BJP government's favourites for the job of attorney general would be senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi (of course, the paper had made the same prediction already a month ago, when it also added that Ranjit Kumar was in the running, and that Salve was the top contender). A "top source" also told the DNA two days ago that Salve and Rohatgi were the top contenders.

According to the Mail's report, Kumar and Gujarat advocate general Kamal Trivedi are first picks for the post of solicitor general, if the government resets its legal adviser roster, currently headed by AG Goolam Vahanvati and solicitor general Mohan Parasaran, as is customary.

21 April 2014

A detailed report in the Eco Times on the long-running legal scuffle between McDonald's and its local JV partner Vikram Bakshi. McDonald's has accused Bakshi in the Delhi high court of forum shopping by launching Company Law Board (CLB) and Delhi high court challenges to a London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) proceeding between the parties.

Bakshi, represented by senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi to date, has been fighting for his reinstatement as managing director of the joint venture after he was ousted by McDonald's in 2013.

Senior counsel Harish Salve will appear for McDonald's today, arguing against the Indian proceedings so that the London arbitration can proceed. [Economic Times]

17 January 2014

Anonymised #InternJudge The Delhi high court yesterday restrained anyone from publishing or broadcasting the detailed sexual harassment allegations against Swatanter Kumar, without stating prominently that they are “mere allegations”, as a battery of counsel appeared for the former Supreme Court judge in the court yesterday.

22 October 2012

India Today dockets the lives and times of India’s top eight senior advocates. All of them keep expensive hobbies and none of them bill below Rs 5 lakh – per appearance.

The oldest active lawyer in India, Ram Jethmalani: Aged 90, and enrolled at the bar as the youngest member at age 18, he maintains an envy-invoking Badminton court in his Lutyen’s Delhi bungalow and bills above Rs 40 lakh per matter.

The former law minister recently defended the Gujarat government in the 2002 riots, Baba Ramdev in the case of police lathicharge at Delhi’s Ramlila grounds, the 2G accused, and the Ansals in Delhi’s Uphaar cinema tragedy.

The Philanthropist, KTS Tulsi: The former solicitor general is a vintage-car collector, and can be roped in for Rs 5 lakh per appearance or for free, depending on the cause.

The cause has driven him to oppose the Ansals in Uphaar, refuse to defend the Gujarat state government at the SC after chief minister Narendra Modi justified the Sohrabuddin encounter, and be a special prosecutor in the Punjab terror attacks, during the peak of his career as defense counsel.

The most expensive, Harish Salve: Pianist, Bentley-enthusiast, jazz music lover, and Apple (the company) loyalist, Salve minted Rs 4.5 lakh per appearance until his stakes touched the pinnacle after his recent Rs11,000 crore Vodafone win in the SC.

Once Soli Sorabjee’s junior, anybody who matters in corporate India was (at least) once the former solicitor general’s client – including the Ambani borthers, Keshav Mahindra, Ratan Tata.

But he has fought free too, namely, amicus curiae in the Gujarat riots case and in the environment matters heard by the green bench of the SC. He also appeared against the accused in Uphaar.

The king of miscellaneous times, Mukul Rohatgi: Known for lung power, which he uses during arguments as well as for bustling between courtrooms on miscellaneous days with his extra-heavy load of matters, Rohatgi is a supercar collector, Atlas Shrugged reader, traveller and art-connoisseur.

The former additional solicitor general has been a favourite with politicians including Varun Gandhi and Jayalalitha, and the commonwealth scam accused.

The corporate lawyer, Aryama Sundaram: Plays golf, represents cricket, offers cigars.

The BCCI is a regular client while FICCI was a client in the 2G presidential reference.

The constitutional law expert, PP Rao: “Even judges cannot ignore Rao's interpretations”, writes India Today about the former SCBA president whom the SC looks to despite its own law officers – for instance in the 2G presidential reference, or in the 1992 president’s rule imposition post Babri Masjid.

Controversy’s king, Gopal Subramanium: The former solicitor general of India held the government’s hand through the Kasab trial, the 1993 Bombay blasts, and the recent petition against the grand prix formula 1 race.

The Sherwani-clad, Sushil Kumar: The only Sherwani-clad lawyer in the Supreme Court corridors, he’s seen as the “only one” who can always manage making “holes in the prosecution”.

His clientele – Parliament attacker Mohammed Afzal guru, 2G accused A Raja and Kanimozhi, CWG scam accused Suresh Kalmadi, terrorist Abdul Naseer Maurany and murder-convicted restaurateur P Rajagopal.

“When it comes to final arguments on merits, one needs Kumar to get an acquittal”, claim juniors. [India Today]

14 June 2012

Mukul-RohatgiCourt Witness: To experience firsthand what exactly happens when all hell breaks loose, visit the Supreme Court of India on a miscellaneous day. 

11 January 2010

Either the Times of India thinks that only advocates are lawyers or that law firm lawyers are just not so very top.

While I certainly would not dare disagree with the calibre and legal genius of each of these individuals, could not at least one law firmite have made it to the list?

Here's TOI's full list of top 10 lawyers, along with our nutshell summary of the paper's often brilliant commentary on each:
  1. Fali Nariman
    The "wise man of the Bar" with a stature that "allows him to be blunt in court".
  2. Soli J Sorabjee
    Former glorious AG, fierce free speech and HR advocate, "mad 'bawa' (Parsi) jokes", successful daughter.
  3. Harish Salve
    The "legal robot" and all-round legal talent.
  4. K. Parasaran
    "Articulate" and "ethically driven" "man for all seasons".
  5. Ram Jethmalani
    Passionate about crimes with "rapier-sharp wit", proving crime does pay.
  6. Abhishek Manu Singhvi
    "Buddha of the Bar", youngest additional solicitor general ever and happy enabler of all tricolor-wavers.
  7. Mukul Rohatgi
    Voluble "king" of Delhi HC and Anil's gas dispute trusted counsel.
  8. K.K. Venugopal
    "Constitutional crorepati", Emergency counterweight and collector - but where's the grey hair?
  9. Rohinton F Nariman
    Cheerful corporate stalwart, fast riser to senior counsel, Fali's son.
  10. Ashok Desai
    Reclusive former AG, softly-spoken but packing a serious punch and control.
Ok, so Zia Mody did make it the the list as a footnote but really, is it not time those doing great work in law firms are properly recognised in the public domain?

Possible explanations:

  • court-room work is simply more glamorous than the desk-bound transactional variety,
  • the ones on the list really are a league apart that law firmites have not yet been able to match, or
  • the TOI did not read the Lawyers Collective judgment that "legal practice" includes desk-work.
What's your view?

For Times of India's full list click here - it's a very entertaining read that brings out many a wonderful personality!