Legal Luminaries

Aman Lekhi

For Aman Lekhi life is a battleground where to be victorious you have to first win the battle in the mind. While studying in college Aman was afflicted with ‘writer’s cramp’ which disabled him from writing on a flat surface. It was a frightening experience for a brilliant student who found he could neither write notes or take an examination. But as he says, “One has to be unyielding in adversity. You cannot be daunted if you want to win.” He devised himself a method to write and not only completed his academic and professional career but completed it with distinction, topping his college and becoming the Best Student Advocate of Campus Law Centre, Delhi.

It is the same spirit that has helped him forge ahead in his legal career as well. “In law, it is not mere preparation or knowledge but nerve, pluck and doughtiness which count. Pursuit of any cause has to be fearless,” he says. And advocacy is “a true measure of your development as a person,” he claims/Despite the well –earned success, when your father is the illustrious P.N. Lekhi, comparisons, comparisons are inevitable. Aman Lekhi finds comparisons “futile distractions”. “Each person is unique,” he says, and one “should never try to be a copy!” Aman says his approach to life and cases was always very different from that of his father. But he really idolizes him. Says Aman, “He was the ultimate lawyer combining supreme intellect with integrity and intrepidity. There will not be another like him in law.” But comparisons were always made and when in such a situation there is “no alternative but to make sure comparisons are favourable.” Says Aman, “by God’s grace my style is distinctly mine. I have inherited his best attributes and embellished them.”

If those in the know are to be believed, Aman is very much a chip off the old block. Like his father, he is a man of impeccable integrity and opposition has little impact on him. His preparation is always impeccable and grasp of law complete. And unlike most lawyers who are limited to particular fields, the range of his practice straddles all branches of law.

“I am never affected by opposition counsel.” A judge once called him “one – man demolition squad.” “The meek,” he says “have no place in court if one is serious about his profession and committed to the position taken.” There are two ways to work he says: networking and working! He has always chosen the latter- a natural choice in tough cases when the chips are down. Even though Aman, unlike his father, is yet to take up cudgels in public interest, his reputation like his father’s is that of a fighter and someone with a lot of initiative. “Much before activism became a fad, my father was pushing the boundaries. He was a ferocious lawyer. And we as a family don’t get intimidated, we fight. You need character to fight,” stresses Aman.

Interestingly, even though Aman clearly worships his father, Lekhi senior attitude towards his son, especially his career, appeared to verge on nonchalance. “My father never promoted me. His attitude was if I was good I should not need help and if I am not good no amount of help will help!’’

But Aman says he never needed nor sought props. On his first day in court “the judges to have fun at my expense told my father that he should sit and asked me to argue. I seized the opportunity and argued for 25 minutes. That afternoon when I reached home my mother gave me a hug – which was unusual and I asked what had happened. She said dad had told her I was prepared with the case and argued very well… I asked her how they could ever think I would be unprepared in court!”

Aman during his formative years in the profession had a difficult time. “All those judges and other lawyers to whom P.N. Lekhi had given a tough time took it out on me as they found in me an easy target. I used to be taunted and even my good cases were dismissed. It has not been a bed of roses, as many think it should be, because I am P.N. Lekhi’s son,” say he.

Whether it was simply a difference in perspective or whether Lekhi senior believed that learning the hard way would make Aman a better lawyer has to remain a matter of conjecture. Aman, however, believes that so different were their perspectives that when one of P.N. Lekhi’s clients was very rude to Aman because he did not like a suggestion made by Lekhi Jr., his father did not intervene. “I thought my father would say something, react, but he didn’t. I then realized the gentleman had voiced my dad’s viewpoint. That’s when I decided that I was not going to work with my father. I got myself a table and chair and started on my own barely six to seven months after I had joined the practice.”

The first thing that hits you about Aman is that he is a wordsmith par excellence. Words simply appear to trapeze out of his mouth with unbelievable fluency. This was not a talent he was born with but a talent born out of the zeal to excel. “I used to shut myself in a room and speak in front of the mirror for hours together. In law, it’s like chiseling a statue. With how much clarity you make your point is the key in law.”

Law, however, is not the only passion in Aman’s life. His house is quite a treasure trove of old Tanjores, Patachitras, Pichwais, Bronzes, panels, pillars and doors from various corners of India. For Aman, these are not just artworks, but a celebration of India.

“I am a proud Indian and like to panegyrise my country. This is an appreciation of our legacy, an education about our heritage and traditions.” Also to be found in the Lekhi household are a handwritten Constitution of India, besides seldom-ever-seen prints depicting young martyr Khudiram’s hanging, a 1930 illustration of Dharasana Salt Satyagraha showing Sarojini Naidu and a number of very old lithographs. Says Aman with true nationalistic fervor, “It’s a contemporary record of our times.

Today, we are selective about whom we fete. But there were many others who gave their lives for our freedom.” Aman is very fond of photography and writes very well too.

Aman’s wife Meenakshi is a Lok Sabha MP and spokesperson for the BJP. She is also a competent counsel. But Aman himself is wholly apolitical and claims “ideology cannot be coloured by partisan orientation.” Aman has two sons, Anirudh and Pranay, both of whom are “brilliant” and who seem fit to “carry forward the legacy they have inherited.”

We acknowledge “100 Legal Luminaries of India” by Lalit Bhasin (Lexis). The multicolour coffee table book printed on art paper in Hardbound is priced at ` 5995/- and is available at Universal Book Traders, C-27, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001.

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