A. N.Haksar, Senior Advocate
Anant Narain Haksar, an alumni of Doon School Dehra Dun, graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta University in Economics in the year 1971. He then went on to London School of Economics where he obtained a Second Degree in Economics in year 1975. He enrolled at Lincoln’s Inn in 1975 and was called to the Bar in Michaelms 1977. He was awarded the Buchanan award for having stood first from Lincoln’s Inn in Bar final examinations. He has had a varied practice in law with special emphasis on areas such as Indirect Taxation Competition and Consumer Protection law & Company Law. He was designated a Senior Advocate in 1992 at age of 40.
The first and the most important quality is the ability to work hard, which has to be closely followed by tenacity and the proper work ethics. These, in my opinion, are the most essential qualities which every person opting for law must possess.
As far as these qualities and abilities are concerned, some people are born with them and some people develop them with experience. The quality to work hard is natural in some people and some learn it the hard way. Tenacity, I think, one must be born with. If you are not tenacious as a person then nobody can teach you to be tenacious. One has to be really a very strong person if he wants to become tenacious through experience. Ethics are one thing which one is not born with; they must be learned. Proper moral values and work ethics are a must for every lawyer.
“Luck Can Give You The Right Break, But It Is Your Hard Work And Dedication That Will Make You Excel In This Profession”
Law is said to be a very glamorous profession. What did you see in this profession that motivated you to choose law as your career?
I was a student of economics. I did my first degree in economics at Calcutta University and then went to the London School of Economics for my second degree in economics. I had a fairly open mind at that stage and I was considering several options at that time, but law was not yet one of them. I considered taking the Masters in Business Administration exams and also the exams for the Indian administrative services and the foreign services. However, I was always taught by my father to work independently, to be my own boss. As a student of humanities careers like medicine and engineering were out of question. Law was still an open option, although one I had never considered seriously. When I was pursuing my economics degree in London it was compulsory that we take one course in a subject outside our main studies. I had opted for commercial law. I read that subject with interest and discovered that I enjoyed it a great deal. This is when I decided to join the legal profession, particularly in light of what my father had taught me about being my own man.
“If you appear in Court unprepared, the Judges will naturally not favour you”.
What other career options did you explore before finally deciding to go for law?
Before I discovered law I had two option open to me. The first one was that I could have entered the business world. My father was a successful businessman and it would have been easy for me to enter into business. The second option was to do my MBA and get into any good job. But once I started reading law I fell in love with it and then there was no looking back.
Did you face any difficulties as a young lawyer or where you lucky to get early break?
I think I was lucky that way and did not have to struggle much during my early years. After completing law I joined one of the top firms in India, J. B. Dadachandji and Co. There I got opportunity to work with the top lawyers of the country. I had the good fortune to work with Mr. Palkhivala, Mr. Sorabjee and Mr. Asoke Sen, to name a few. I think that luck does count in this profession, but luck isn’t everything. Luck can give you the right break, but it is your hard work and dedication that will make you excel in this profession. I was lucky to get the right break and with hard work I managed to carve out my success in the profession.
You always wanted to be an Arguing Counsel and you started arguing cases on your own at a very young age. Did you face any difficulties from the Bench during the early years?
Well, I think that when you have thoroughly prepared your case and your delivery of the arguments is good, then no court will discourage any youngster. What the court does not want to see is a youngster not prepared with his brief. If the brief is well prepared and facts are correctly placed, then even if he falters at some point I think the court will come to his rescue and try to put him back on track. I think that all courts follow this practice with youngsters. I remember that once I had appeared in one matter before Justice Prakash Narain, the then Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court. He asked me generally as to, why we youngsters must take an adjournment when our senior is not there. I told him that the clients’ insist that we should not argue the matter in case the senior fails to appear when the matter is called. It was then that Justice Narain told me, that in his Court, the next time I appeared for a case and my Senior was not present, I should be thoroughly prepared with the matter and ready to argue the case. The lesson here is, that, always be prepared. If you appear in court unprepared, the judges will naturally not favour you. Be prepared and save the time of the Court and also at the same time build your ability to argue cases on your own.
You were designated as a Senior Advocate at a young age. What difference did you find in practise after being designated as a Senior?
I was just over forty years old when I was designated as a senior counsel. I think that it does affect you in some manner, in the sense that it is a natural corollary for someone who is an arguing counsel to become a Senior Advocate. It is an honour which is bestowed upon you by the Court. It certainly has an impact on the practise in the sense that you get to be accepted by a wider circle of courts. You are known and accepted in your own Court, of course, when you travel as a Senior Advocate it does make a difference. When you appear as a Senior in other Court, where you normally do not appear, then the judges consider what you say with a greater degree of seriousness.
Then also there is another impact which you have to face when you become a senior. When you become a senior, the briefs which you used to have earlier certainly slow down, initially. It is a risk which you take. But if you have the ability and confidence in you, then it is worth running the risk.
Did you ever consider going for the judiciary?
Well, I was offered Judgeship, but circumstances did not permit me to accept the offer. I had my family commitments and had my fairly well set expenses, which I could not have afforded to let go off. I knew that with the limited income I would not be able to meet my financial commitments.
-This Interview was published in LawZ March 2003 Issue