Raju Ramachandran, Senior Advocate
One of the leading Senior Advocates in the Supreme Court, Raju Ramachandran always wanted to become a journalist, but he was destined to become a lawyer. Although he had no legal background, it was out of his sheer will power and dedication that he has today attained eminence in this challenging profession. In the lighter shades of the day, Mr. Ramachandran speaks to our correspondent Renu Sharma.
I graduated in Economics from St. Stephens College, New Delhi. Even when I had joined college I had thought of law as my future profession. What attracted me to the profession apart from the law itself was the thrill of oral advocacy and the independence which this profession offers.
My father was a railway officer, an engineer by profession. As such I had no legal background, which many lawyer’s children have. It was not a natural choice for me to opt for law. But I had an uncle, late Mr. MK Ramamurthi, a prominent Senior Advocate, who had started practice in the Supreme Court without any legal background. He was somehow an inspiration to me for joining this profession.
Do you agree that justice delayed is justice denied? What measures can lawyers as a community take for speedy justice?
Yes, I do agree that justice delayed is justice denied. Even after spending over a quarter of a century in the legal profession, I still despair at the law’s delays, and always wish that people close to me never get involved in any litigation.
I think that courts must become stricter and unnecessary adjournments should be refused. Cases should be decided within a specified time span and there must be a time limit for presenting oral arguments. In this first decade of this new century, we must be able to devise a system by which a client and his lawyer both know the time their case will be called for hearing, the time it will end and the time when the judgment will be delivered.
Lawyers as a community must co-operate in evolving this system. This would necessarily mean preparation of written briefs, which of course would require a high degree of competence on part of the lawyers.
I must further add that the whole mind set of the legal profession and the public perception of a lawyer as one who helps you to fight a case in court, must change. It is imperative that we evolve an institutionalized and speedy mechanism for mediation, conciliation and other pre- trial modes of settlement.
“I would want to give back to the profession, really to the young entrants into this profession, some of the knowledge, experience and tradition, which I myself have been fortunate to imbibe.”
Is arbitration the need of the hour? Are you satisfied with the new Arbitration Act of 1996, where the indulgence/ role of the courts is almost negligent.
Yes, arbitration is the need of the hour. The new arbitration act is definitely a step in right direction inasmuch as it seeks to minimize the role of the courts. Unfortunately, however, the drafting of the this act has left much to be desired and not withstanding its good intentions, arbitration cases are still landing up in the courts, especially in procedural matters like appointment of arbitrator , etc. This frustrates the basic purpose of the Act.
“I have always believed that it is a myth that a busy or successful lawyer cannot find time for his family.”
Are you satisfied with this profession? If yes, would you like your children also to take up this profession?
This profession has given me fulfillment and recognition. It is not so much a question of my being satisfied with this profession, as my gratitude to it, for what it has given me. I would want to give back to the profession, really to the young entrants into this profession, some of the knowledge, experience and tradition, which I myself have been fortunate to imbibe.
I would like my children to chart their own courses, according to their choice, without being under the parental shadow. But if they themselves choose to enter this profession, I would not stop them. I would only want to be sure that they are making an informed choice.
I have always believed that it is a myth that a busy or successful lawyer cannot find time for his family. I have always rebelled against the idea of a lawyer being stuck in his office, at his desk, evening after evening. I have always functioned differently. I have always found time for my family. I have been involved in the growth and activities of my children, and I am sure they are not complaining.
How would you prefer to spend a whole day by yourself?
On a full day to myself, I would start the day with half an hour’s meditation in the morning. I would take an hour long walk. I would read a good book and all the day’s newspapers. I would listen to the music of my teens. I would watch an interesting TV programme, and end the evening with what I would like to consider a well-deserved drink. I would have an early dinner, disconnect the phones and go to sleep early.
If you would had not chosen law as your profession, what would you have been today?
The only profession, which I seriously considered before deciding to become a lawyer, was journalism. I love writing, and have been writing during all my years as a lawyer.
My becoming a lawyer seems to have been destined. I was the result of something curious. I was doing a course in journalism, in the gap between school and college. There was a gentleman who taught us press law. He made the subject so interesting that I became captivated by the law. He was also an astrologer. Many years later, he looked at my horoscope and told me that I could not have become anything else but a lawyer.
This interview was published in LawZ, March 2002 issue