K.T.S Tulsi, Senior Advocate
- What inspired you to take up law as your profession?
During my college days, I was a debater and participated in every public speaking activity like debates, moot courts etc., and from the college
days I was in habit of preparing speeches and it was my passion. We were three friends, all three were good debaters, and we were planning to take up civil services examinations. All the three of us had won several prizes and trophies for the debates and moot courts and we were always amongst the toppers. While preparing for the civil services all the three of us discussed about the possibility of law as career and we came to the conclusion that legal profession gives you the kind of an intellectual freedom which is not afforded by civil services. In civil services one gets into a job, whether you are good or bad is immaterial, and you grow in a given hierarchy whereas, in legal profession one can really make a mark. The civil services and the jobs in private sector would not be able to offer that kind of an intellectual freedom which the legal profession can give. In this profession a person even as a beginner, can say in the Court “I am sorry My Lords that is not correct”. The kind of monetary compensation which this profession is capable of affording is many times higher than most of the jobs one can get in the public as well as in the private sector. So it was essentially public speaking ability, communication skill, confidence and fondness of writing that led me to decide that I am going to earn my bread through my spoken word.
“In this profession a person even as a beginner, can say in the Court “I am sorry My Lords that is not correct”. The kind of monetary compensation which this profession is capable of affording is many times higher than most of the jobs one can get in the public as well as in the private sector”.
- Being a human being, it is natural that emotions do sometimes come into profession. Do you remember any particular case where you have felt so?
Of course in some of the cases you feel that your assessment was correct. Like I was not able to reconcile with the judgment of Supreme Court in Syyed Modi’s murder case. I was representing CBI in the said case and thought we had a great case. However, the judges did not think the same way. I argued that case very passionately. Sometimes I believe that the decision may not have been correct. But the most satisfying case was arguing the case before the Constitutional Bench where the Constitutional validity of TADA was under challenge. The arguments which went on for three months and the Supreme Court did uphold almost all my contentions. But it is very disappointing that even after it was upheld, the Parliament allowed it to lapse.
- Do you think that the perception that one needs a “God-Father” to be successful in this profession is correct?
Entirely wrong. A person who is determined to succeed would succeed by hard work. In this profession, I believe that one invests his youth. When one sets up an industry he invests capital, but investment required in this profession is burning mid-night oil. Hard work is the only key to success, without bothering about when opportunity would knock your doors and reward you for your hard work.
“Opportunity knocks at every door. Make yourself ready to grab that opportunity when it comes and the only factor which luck plays in life is that for some opportunity knocks a little early and for some it knocks a little late”.
“In this profession, I believe that one invests his youth. When one sets up an industry he invests capital, but investment required in this profession is burning mid-night oil. Hard work is the only key to success, without bothering about when opportunity would knock your doors and reward you for your hard work.”
- Did you at any time in your career want to be judge and see the bar from the other side?
To be a Judge is one of the dreams of a lawyer. But, when I wanted to be Judge I did not get it but what I got instead was even better which enabled me to move from Chandigarh to Delhi as Additional Solicitor General. It was the ultimate opportunity for proving my worth. I think being at Bar is more challenging than becoming a Judge.
- How was your initial year of practice as a lawyer?
My father was a class fellow of Mr. Hiralal Sibal, father of Mr. Kapil Sibal. Therefore, my father took me to Mr. Sibal to take his blessings. Mr. Sibal told me that “young man opportunity knocks at every door, make yourself ready to grab that opportunity when it comes and the only factor which luck plays in life is that for some opportunity knocks little earlier and for some it knocks a little later”. The first five years of my career were full of struggle. It’s a vicious cycle as no client would entrust his life in the hands of a raw lawyer and a lawyer would not gain experience unless he takes up the cases. I feel that ‘standing’ means standing on your own legs and arguing, and not standing next to another lawyer. I got no breaks in the first three years of my career. I started a law journal in 1975 called “Chandigarh Short Notes”. This law journal instead of covering the entire judgment contained only the relevant part of the judgment. Publishing a journal gave me an opportunity to interview judges and senior lawyers and this gave me an opportunity to have interaction with them. This journal gave me a standing in the profession where not only work started coming to me but the Advocate-General took me to the panel. In the mean time Punjab University appointed me as a part time lecturer and I was appointed as lawyer for the official liquidator. I would say that my wife contributed a lot in those days of hardship. In 1977, because of experience in reporting, I was appointed as a reporter to the official journal called ‘Indian Law Reporter’. I also wrote a book titled “Tulsi’s Guidance of Accident Claim Cases” published by Eastern Law House in 1977. In 1977 I was engaged by Lipton’s for their cases in different courts in India. I was lucky because I got a break early in my life. In 1987 I was designated a Senior Advocate.
- Is there any professional difference between a senior advocate and an advocate on record?
A Senior Advocate is only a communicator whereas the role of an Advocate on Record is far more comprehensive. An Advocate on Record is the one who evolves strategy, does all the research and masters the art of drafting. Senior Advocates also do lot of research, because if you are arguing as a Senior Advocate its your neck in line and its your reputation, your prestige which is as good as your last case.
- What is your opinion about the young lawyers coming into profession?
The Young Lawyers are far more gifted. The percentage of persons joining law profession by choice was very little at my time, most of them came because they could not get any other job. Today the brightest of youngsters are joining the profession by choice because this profession gives you kind of independence and return which is far beyond the expectations of any career executives.
- Do you have any liking for a particular branch of law?
I like challenges and working in a new branch gives me challenge. Even when I was working as part time lecturer, I taught five different subjects in five years.
“We cannot deal with cases of supersonic age with bullock-cart facilities. I hope that all this would change and the younger generation would not tolerate this.”
- Where do you find yourself 10 years from now? Is there any liking for joining politics?
I am unable to predict what will happen after 10 months. All that I know is that I have lot to learn. There is lot more space for me to improve, therefore, every case is a challenge and provides me an opportunity to learn and become better.
- Any message for the young lawyers and law students willing to join the profession?
Young Lawyers have a great future. This bar is going to be much better in their hands than it was in ours. I am sure the country realizes the importance of judiciary which it had not. We cannot deal with cases of supersonic age with bullock-cart facilities. I hope that all this would change and the younger generation would not tolerate this.
-Published In LawZ September 2005 Issue