UPA replaced Harish Salve with Pak ICJ lawyer for Enron Arbitration

NEWSSCAN

There is a bit of history to the hyped fight between two legal titans — Harish Salve for India and Khawar Qureshi for Pakistan — in ICJ on May 15 in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case.

Salve’s arguments for India on May 15 had a connect with the judges on ICJ bench, which unanimously rejected Qureshi’s arguments to stall India’s attempts to save Jadhav from possible execution.

To mat Qureshi, Salve had charged India Re 1. More than 15 years ago, there was a curious turn to events when India was forced to face arbitration at an international tribunal in the US initiated by Enron over the closure of Dabhol power project.

Millions of dollars were at stake for India. Salve, who had quit as solicitor general of India in November 2002, was retained as India’s counsel at the arbitration tribunal. In 2004, the UPA government came to power as also a new team of law officers headed by attorney general Milon Banerjee. To manage the highstake arbitration over Dabhol against Enron, the government chose Fox and Mandal law firm.

Union government sources said Salve was sounded out whether he would continue as India’s counsel in the arbitration proceedings. Salve confirmed and informed the new government that he would continue to charge a concessional fee of Rs one lakh per day’s hearing in the US-based tribunal.

However, all of a sudden there was a change of decision and Fox and Mandal was informed to hire Khawar Qureshi. India lost both ways, the case to Enron and a lot of money that was paid to Qureshi as legal fees.

Salve confirmed to TOI that he had agreed to conduct the case for India in the tribunal despite change of government. “It was a professional decision to defend India in the tribunal. But, I learnt from media reports later that Qureshi was hired and I could become his deputy. That was not what I was told by the government. So I had decided to keep away wishing India the best.”
Salve refused to get drawn any further into the controver sy steadfastly refusing to divulge any more details of how he was replaced by Qureshi in 2004.

An article from 2004 in ‘The Lawyer’, states that Serle Court chambers’ lawyer Khawar Qureshi had been appointed as counsel for the government of India. A host of UK firms had been invited to take India’s case. A spokesperson from the previous law firm had said: “Following the appointment of the new attorney general, the entire legal team, including the Indian advisers, was replaced.”

As reported in TOI on May 21, 2017, 01.52 PM IST

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