Mukul Rohtagi, Senior Advocate

“I found that Government loses more than half of its cases in the Courts because the
bureaucracy is not interested in pursuing these cases vigorously.”

lawzmag.com

Q. What motivated you to take law as your profession? Was your father who was a leading lawyer and an eminent Judge have any role to play?
A. Obviously, as a youngster when one grows in an environment where your father is a Lawyer or a Judge, the cases and issues are generally discussed at home and gradually interest arises. I would say that I was fascinated with the discussions which my father used to do about his cases and in fact it led me to choose this profession. I would say that I never ever had thought of any other profession.

“In the year 1993 I was designated as a Senior Advocate. There of course is difference between the two. As an Advocate on Record, one has to deal with the clients, ensure timely filing, ensure maintaining the records and to keep entire progress of the case in view. Whereas, being a Senior Advocate you have to place your arguments before the Court. ”

Q. Can you tell us about the first case which you argued on your own? How was your experience?
A. The First case which I argued on my own was a case related to a collusive decree which my client was trying to achieve, for some taxation purpose. Both the parties agreed to a particular situation and sought a decree from the Court based on the said agreement. However, the Court saw through the game and refused to put a rubber stamp on the decree, which the parties were trying to obtain in collusion. The said judgment is a reported judgment delivered by J. Sultan Singh.

Q. When were you designated as a senior advocate? Do you find any difference in practice, between an Advocate on Record and a Senior Counsel?
A. I commenced my practice in the year 1978. I had a substantial practice as being an Advocate on Record, which included drafting, filing, making strategies etc. I dealt in various cases. In the year 1993 I was designated as a Senior Advocate. There of course is difference between the two. As an Advocate on Record, one has to deal with the clients, ensure timely filing, ensure maintaining the records and to keep entire progress of the case in view. Whereas, being a Senior Advocate you have to place your arguments before the Court.

Q. When were you appointed as the Additional Solicitor General? And what was your experience dealing with the Government cases?
A. I was appointed as the Additional Solicitor General in the year 1999. I have done several thousand cases of all the ministries of the Central Government, State Governments and Government Corporations. I found that Government loses more than half of its cases in the Courts because the bureaucracy is not interested in pursuing these cases vigorously, in briefing their lawyers in time and delay in approaching the Courts. The Government is loosing all the cases because of bureaucracy or some other interests which are working within the Government.

Q. What kind of pressures did you face as an Additional Solicitor General of India?
A. It all depends upon how one takes it. As a Counsel for Central Government one has so much of work that a normal lawyer cannot deal with it. As a Counsel for the Government you can do so much work in five years which one cannot be doing in twenty years of practice. As an Additional Solicitor General I more often took work on myself instead of relying upon others, like going to meet the officials and ministers to take appropriate instructions for appearance before the Court.

It is necessary to revamp all the procedural laws and to remove out all the unnecessary appeals, reappeals etc. from the procedural laws. The Courts should not allow the adjournments at any cost. 

Q. Were you at any point of your career offered Judgeship?
A. Yes, I was offered Judgeship when I was practicing at the High Court. But, I thought that it was more exciting to argue cases for different clients. As a Judge one has to sit on a chair for several hours, listening to lawyers and deciding cases. I had closely seen my father as a lawyer and as a judge as well. I therefore was very firm that I did not want to become a Judge.

“In my opinion Judges must be accountable like any other organ of the Constitution. If a Judge is found to be corrupt, then at best he can be transferred from one place to another. However, it is not a punishment or penalty for the erring person. In my opinion a person holding a Constitutional Post like that of a Judge, if found to be corrupt, the least is to be done with him is to dismiss him publicly and be debarred from taking any other public duty.”

Q. Do you intend to join politics?
A. No, there is no such intention. I am not very interested.
Q. Can you tell us about any instance where you got emotionally involved in the cases you were handling?
A. Not in recent years. Because as you grow in profession you learn to detach yourself from being emotionally involved in the cases. In the earlier years of my practice I used to get emotionally involved in the Custody Cases which I used to do.

Q. What is your view on accountability of Judges?
A. In my opinion Judges must be accountable like any other organ of the Constitution. If a Judge is found to be corrupt, then at best he can be transferred from one place to another. However, it is not a punishment or penalty for the erring person. In my opinion a person holding a Constitutional Post like that of a Judge, if found to be corrupt, the least is to be done with him is to dismiss him publicly and be debarred from taking any other public duty. In the recent years we have some very bad examples, which have lowered the dignity of the Judiciary, shaking the confidence of the public in judiciary. The other reason for public losing confidence in the judiciary is the delay in disposal of cases. It is necessary to revamp all the procedural laws and to remove out all the unnecessary appeals, re-appeals etc. from the procedural laws. The Courts should not allow the adjournments at any cost. There is need of a body to look into the conduct of Judges and law is required to make them more accountable.

Q. How do you relax from work pressure?
A: I like to travel. I travel abroad once a year and at-least three to four times in a year within the Country. Reading is another way of venting the work pressure.

-Published in LawZ November 2005 Issue

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