Indu Malhotra, Senior Advocate

lawz magazine.comHaving a backup of two earlier generations of legal professions, still Indu Malhotra had to start her career as any other young legal professional would do. It is her sheer hardwork and dedication towards the profession because of which she has been able to make a place for her in a profession which still is male dominated. She is the second person to have been designated as a ‘Senior Counsel’ by the Supreme Court of India- an honour which had only been bestowed once earlier on Justice Leela Seth in the 1970’s.  Ms. Indu Malhotra talks exclusively with the Lawz team in this special interview.

I am a second generation lawyer

 I did my masters in Political Science and then my LLB from Delhi University. I am the second generation lawyer. My father is a lawyer and author of law books. He has written 5 editions of Law relating to Industrial Disputes and 2 editions on law of Arbitration and Conciliation. My elder brother and sister are also in the legal profession.  As such law as a choice of career came to me naturally and also because of my family background. Also there was an infrastructure which was already created by my father in terms of an office and a legal library, which influenced me to some extent to join the profession as I knew I would not have to be worried about establishing the basic infrastructure. But apart for the office infrastructure I did not receive any other help from my father. I worked hard and created my own practise brief by brief.

Initial year of practise were tough

 Initial years of practise were no doubt tough. Like every other young professional I also had a tough time creating a space for myself in the legal profession. I was an apprentice with Mr. PH Parekh for 3 years. Working with Mr. Parekh was an experience. While in his office I briefed almost every top senior counsel of the country. This gave me tremendous exposure. I used to draft and prepare briefing notes for the senior. This involved a lot of reading and understanding of law.

Being designated by the Supreme Court as a senior counsel

 I was designated as a senior counsel by the Supreme Court of India in August 2007. Being designated by the Supreme Court as a senior counsel is a matter of pride and honour. I was very happy when the news reached me that the full strength of the Supreme Court has approved my name for designation as senior counsel. It was a great moment.  Justice Leela Seth was designated as senior counsel by the Supreme Court and that also in the 1970’s. The selection procedure by the Supreme Court is very tough. There has to be unanimous agreement of all the judges. Even if one judge disagrees, the application is rejected.

“I have been seeing lawyers in my family. As such law as a choice of career came to me naturally and also because of my family background. Also there was an infrastructure which was already created by my father in terms of an office and a legal library, which influenced me to some extent to join the profession as I knew I would not have to be worried about establishing the basic infrastructure”.

Inspite of such pressure the disposal rate of cases are high

I have been practicing for the past 25 years now. I have been primarily practicing in the Supreme Court. My experience has been that in the last 25 years, the entire procedure in the Supreme Court has streamlined. Matters do get disposed off expeditiously. The filing, listing and hearing procedures have become streamlined and transparent. I must add here that there is a lot of pressure of work in the Supreme Court. Unlike the High Courts or district courts, cases come from all over the country. As such the work pressures are much higher. Moreover the judges of the Supreme Court have to go through the entire record of proceedings of the courts below, before deciding the issue or question of law involved in the case. In spite of such pressure the disposal rate of cases are high in the Supreme Court. This I think is commendable and all the high courts should follow the path of the Supreme Court.

I have been seeing lawyers in my family. As such law as a choice of career came to me naturally and also because of my family background. Also there was an infrastructure which was already created by my father in terms of an office and a legal library, which influenced me to some extent to join the profession as I knew I would not have to be worried about establishing the basic infrastructure.

An ordinary man cannot afford to go to the courts

 Yes I do agree that today litigation has become expensive. An ordinary man cannot afford to go to the courts today because of rising litigation costs- in terms of the court fee, the counsel fee and the arguing counsel’s fee. But there is no remedy to this. More demand for good lawyers, higher is the level of fees. As such it then becomes extremely difficult to work on low fee levels. But we have a good legal aid system working in our country which has been helping the poor in providing legal awareness as well as legal support.

Judgeship and advocacy are two sides of a coin

 I think that judgeship and advocacy are two sides of a coin. Each has its separate challenges. It would be unfair to compare the both and say which is more challenging. As an advocate every case is a new challenge. It is an opportunity to learn new areas of law. At the same time you need to make a good presentation of your case before the court. A lawyer needs to be extremely thorough with his brief before he steps into the court room. So a lot of hardwork and preparation is needed before one addresses the court. Similarly the same kind of hardwork goes for the judges as well. On a Monday or a Friday, a Supreme Court judge has to read atleast 60-70 files. This again is a difficult situation. A lawyer may be preparing at best 10-15 cases per day. But judges are reading and preparing atleast 50 cases a day on admission hearing. To sit and work continuously for hours also needs tremendous strength both physical and mental. Legal profession is such where you cannot work by your watch. One has to work 24×7. As such, be it advocacy or judgeship tremendous hardwork and sincerity is required to be successful.

On a Monday or a Friday, a Supreme Court judge has to read atleast 60-70 files. This again is a difficult situation. A lawyer may be preparing at best 10-15 cases per day. But judges are reading and preparing atleast 50 cases a day on admission hearing. To sit and work continuously for hours also needs tremendous strength both physical and mental.

This pattern of education followed by the National Law Colleges

The present level of legal education imparted in the law schools is extremely good and of world standards. The 5 year integrated courses are more focused and there is a lot of practical courses like the moot courts, compulsory apprenticeship, courts visits etc. This gives a student an overall knowledge and idea of the legal system. This pattern of education followed by the National Law Colleges is a sharp departure from the conventional way of teaching and I think is very practical and focused.

I used to travel a lot earlier

 Taking out time for myself has become difficult. The work pressure and expectations of the clients have further resulted in shortening of the day. I am very fond of traveling. I used to travel a lot earlier. But now travel has remained confined with work. If I am traveling it has to be related to my work and not for leisure.

-This Interview was published in Lawz March 2008 Issue.

One thought on “Indu Malhotra, Senior Advocate”

  1. Pingback: Indu Malhotra, Senior Advocate | Law Gupshup
  2. Trackback: Indu Malhotra, Senior Advocate | Law Gupshup

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *