Legal Luminaries

Mukul Rohtagi

He is quite the speedster. If 20 years of experience could be packed in 5 years, it happened to former Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi as he became the Additional Solicitor General in 1999, which marked the beginning of his practice in the Supreme Court. However, the adrenaline does not only come rushing through this single highway of law for this advocate, who became a Senior Advocate at the age of 39. The owner of a line of Audis, Land Cruisers and Bentleys, he frequently takes to the highways and expressways to test these powerhouses on wheels. “It is the best stress-buster,” concedes the advocate.

Stress would also add up to be only as much of a limiting factor as Mukul Rohtagi would allow it to be. He has never actually indulged in it. Even while he was in college, he was clear in his mind that he would not be pursuing the subject he was studying. It was at his father’s behest that he took up Commerce as his father wanted him to be a Chartered Accountant. Mukul on the other hand hated Accountancy.

Mukul’s father, former Delhi high Court judge, Justice Awadh Behari Rohtagi, was a first class first in Law and was appointed permanent lecturer for life by Sir Maurice Gwyer. Since his father was a lecturer and a lawyer, Mukul was witness to an environment that breathed law, and cases were discussed like the daily newspaper. All such factors just added up to build his passion in law. An alumnus of Hans Raj College and then the Bombay Government College, he gives due credit to his school for influencing his life.

“I would have to say two people had great influence on my life. The first was my father and second was my school Principal M.N. Kapoor. Both these people instilled discipline and taught me time management.” Further sharing the credit of his success he says, “God and fortune have been very kind to me. And equally kind was Mr. Y.K. Sabharwal who later became the Chief Justice of India.” He got his first case within two weeks of joining Sabharwal. Requisite experience and practice then led him to start his firm.

His earlier experience in the High Court has also been a path of revelations for him. Albeit happy about the bonanza that liberalization brought in 1990s, he is not very happy with the recent trend of tribunals being set up. “All tribunals should be abolished and jurisdiction should be returned to High Courts because they have the infrastructure, as it is not correct to bypass the High Courts,” says Rohtagi. He further adds that, “all that is needed is some special benches like green bench or commercial bench.”

His tenure as a law officer of the Government of India led him to handle important matters in the Supreme Court of India and various High Courts. His immense knowledge has gained him high regard in political, constitutional, as well as corporate litigation. As varied as his interests are, he has appeared in litigation involving different areas of law too, some of which include constitutional law, commercial and corporate laws, criminal law, property law, arbitration law among many others. he was awarded the National Law Day Award for 2008 by the then Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh.

The same understanding of situations guided him to marry a girl who understood the nuances of his profession well. Going back to Delhi, after a brief working stint in Bombay he entered into matrimony with Vasudha, a qualified lawyer and law came from belonging to a family wherein her grandfather was a lawyer while her brother a sitting judge of the Delhi High Court. The couple have two sons, the elder, Nikhil – alumnus of University College London, and the younger, Sameer – alumnus of Warwick University.

Striking a balance, whether it be law or home, never seems to be a problem for this lawful thinker!

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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