Rajiv Dutta, Senior Advocate
Rajiv Dutta is one of the eminent Senior lawyers of the Supreme Court of India. He joined the Supreme Court Bar Association in 1976 and since then has been active with the bar activities. He was elected as the vice president of the SCBA in the year 1996. He was designated as a senior counsel by the Supreme Court in the year 2000. But success has not come to him easy. Rajiv Dutta shares his experience with our lawz team.
I am the first generation lawyer in the family. My father was in the police and many other members in the family were in the forces. I never wanted to get into law. I did my LLB so that I could take law as a subject for my Civil Services examination. I appeared for my civil services examination twice without success. I completed my law in the year 1975. Even after qualifying as a lawyer, I was not quite motivated to practice. I was motivated to persue law as a career option by my Senior S.N Kakkar, who was the Solicitor General, during the Janata Dal regime in 1977. He found me to be an energetic junior and understood that I wanted to do more than just to be a part of this profession therefore he in his own clever way created my interest in the profession. He imposed full faith in me and that helped me gain confidence in myself. Gradually I found myself deeply involved in many important matters. This way I developed interest in law and I started enjoying my work.
I was lucky to get briefs at an early age.
I joined the Supreme Court Bar Association in the year 1975. I passed the Advocate on Record exams in 1981. I think luck played a very important role in my grooming as a lawyer. I was lucky to be one of the first juniors to SK Kakkar, who I owe a lot for what I am today. Being the Solicitor General, he was not allowed to accept private briefs. But his clients always used to approach him with cases. Since I was the only junior, he used to refer all the cases to me. This way I was lucky enough to get briefs from the very beginning. If compared to the 1980’s to nowadays I find that at that time we did not have many forums, like CESTAT, BIFR CLB etc. For all the matters the High Court had competent jurisdiction. High Court was like a paradise for practicing lawyers. I got a lot of exposure this way to issues relating to customs and excise. I used to prepare my briefs and also argue them myself. Even if I was appearing on behalf of my senior, I never used to give up any opportunity for arguing a case.
“I was in the executive committee between the years 1982 – 1986. I was also the Vice President of SCBA in the year 1996. Infact I was the youngest ever elected VP of the SCBA”.
Working of SCBA needs to be set right.
I was always very active with the Supreme Court Bar Association activities. I was in the executive committee between the years 1982 – 1986. I was also the Vice President of SCBA in the year 1996. Infact I was the youngest ever elected VP of the SCBA. As far the activities of the Supreme Court Bar Association is concerned, I feel that it is firstly necessary to set right the working system of the Bar Association. The working duration for the elected body of SCBA is very limited. It gets elected in mid-May and the Supreme Court closes for vacations thereafter. Then we have the Dussehra and Diwali vacations, followed by the Winter vacations and Holi vacations. So the elected body does not get too much time to conduct the bar activities. But yes, I totally agree with the suggestion that the SCBA must do more to benefit the society as a whole. We must conduct programs for promoting legal awareness. There must be active participation by members of the Bar. Infact the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee already does a fantastic work in this area. But the SCBA needs to be more aggressive in this regard.
I am very impressed with the present day legal education system.
The present day legal education system in our country is far better than what it was in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Today the law colleges and universities are guiding the students at a professional level. They are exposed to courts, drafting of pleadings etc. at a young age. I think the five year integrated course is a blessing to all the young professionals. I see my son, who did his law from Amity Law School, as a much better lawyer than what I was at his age. This is because his legal education has been in a much advanced and better institution than mine. He got exposure of better technology and infrastructure. I would rate the legal education in India at par with the foreign universities.
Arbitration needs to be taken more seriously.
We are not at all taking the Arbitration proceedings seriously. I must say that neither the lawyers nor the arbitrators are taking their responsibilities seriously. Arbitration proceedings go on for years without results and even after the award is passed the courts take their own time disposing the objections to the award. The proceedings are not conducted seriously. I have often seen arbitrators giving new interpretation to the contracts between the parties by way of their awards. This is absolutely unfair. The Culture of arbitration needs to grow in this country. This Alternate Dispute Resolution mode needs to be taken more seriously and the interference of the Courts should be minimal.
I am very happy with the young professionals.
The young generation is very bright, aggressive and energetic. I would just advise them to be honest to their work and be patient for the rewards. Never be in a hurry and enjoy your work. Try to learn the principles and interpretations of the legal system. Invest time today to enjoy your future.
-This Interview was published in LawZ June 2007 Issue