“I am unhappy with rising costs which has made it difficult for the common man to seek justice. I am getting disillusioned. Justice should be a fundamental right. Today it is not a right at all unless you are able to afford it.”
Mention aviation law, and the one name that you are referred to is Ravi Nath. Nath, a partner at Rajinder Narain & Co., is regarded as the foremost aviation lawyer in India. He headed the Aviation Committee of the International Bar Association in 2008 and has been deeply involved with the promulgation and implementation of the Cape Town Convention. All major players in the world of aviation including banks, manufacturers, finance and leasing companies in the world are amongst his clients. He is the only Indian on the International Registry’s Advisory Board and the Legal Advisory Panel.
Son of Rameshwar Nath, one of the founder partners of Rajinder Narain & Co., Nath joined the firm in 1970, after short stints in different law firms. Trained in England, he topped both the Bar Council and Advocate=on-Record exams.
Nath had contemplated becoming a Chartered Accountant or an officer of the Indian Foreign or Administrative Service. “My father was my idol. He had great influence on me. He did not put any pressure but I knew that if I joined law, I would please him,” says Nath. He has emulated his father by holding a similar liberal disposition towards his own children about their career choices, though he feels that “children, son Nikhil and daughter Chiara, have opted for non-legal careers. Whilst Chiara decided to study design, Nikhil, chose management even though he has a scholarship to study law at Cambridge in the U.K. He went instead to a French business school on scholarship.
Known for his straight speaking, Nath says he is unhappy with rising costs which has made it difficult for the common man to seek justice. “I am getting disillusioned. Justice should be a fundamental right. Today it has become costly for the common man and the process is slow. Too many adjournments affect time and the continuity.” He is all praises for judges who work under great pressure. He admires a number of them and enjoys arguing matters himself whenever he can get away from his commercial corporate work.
The erudite lawyer, who derives “a lot of joy in writing,” was a co-author with, among others, cabinet minister P. Chidambaram and Fali Nariman, on a book relating to the legal aspects of doing business in India. Besides contributing to the New York Times and the Washington Post, he is the author of the India chapters in two books: Aircraft Finance: Registration, Security and Enforcement and Aircraft Liens and Detention Rights, both published by Sweet & Maxwell. He is also the co-editor of the book Aircraft Repossession and Enforcement – Practical Aspects. He has written various papers and spoken at gatherings all over the world. A particular joy for him is to lecture at prestigious world universities, such as Oxford, where he finds stimulation in interaction with students and faculty.
Nath, who thinks he is “lazy by nature,” is actually quite a fitness enthusiast, and was a good squash player, swimmer and jogger till just a few years ago. Today, however, he is more into golf. Yoga has become a part of his routine too. “The profession takes most of my time, with golf confined to no more than twice a week when I am in town.” As for wife Madhulika, who learnt to sing classical music and modern dance and then played some golf, today if is bridge that she enjoys the most. However, whatever be their individual preferred mode of relaxation, what they both enjoy even after over 40 years of marriage, says she, is their walks together. “Though he is busy for most parts of the day, we find the time for long walks and discus everything,” she confides. A relationship based on mutual love and respect, their camaraderie is evident when Nath comments with mock anger that “nothing can come into the house unless she (Madhulika) says yes” only to be countered by his wife’s comment that “he (Nath) says you go ahead but at the end it is he who decides.”
Introduced by friends of her elder sister, Nath married the Lucknow girl. “We (Nath and his friends) all fell in love with her charismatic elder sister. Madhu was no more than just out of her teens those days; she had a strong mind of her own,” confess Nath. In return Madhu also compliments her husband. “He is a very strong personality. He knows how to keep things under control,” says she. He has mellowed over the years, she concedes.
Madhulika’s father was a Chief Engineer in the UP State Electricity Board. Her grandfather, Dr. C.M. Sogani, was a Professor of Physics at Banaras Hindu University, and was Dr. C.V. Raman’s Associate in his quest for the Nobel Prize.
Nath’s family can trace back their seven generations in Delhi. Nath spent his early years at Barakhamba Road, with his grandparents whilst he was at the Modern School.
Nath says he can see certain changes in himself. For one, he doesn’t lose his cool easily. “I don’t get angry fast. I sense more equanimity and control than before. I would get very upset by corruption, inefficiency and government servants not doing their work. Over the years I have come to terms with the situation.” Besides, there is better work-life balance and family and health have taken precedence over everything else. “I suppose I have matured as a person. I look at things differently. Earlier I was impatient and raring to achieve.”
Perhaps “leaving the world a better place” than the one he came into is what drives him today. “Whatever I can do to help family and friends and others, he says “Today, if I am reading something, I will put it down and listen to whoever has come to me with a query or a problem and try and help out as best as I can. I wouldn’t have done that ten years ago.”
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