Legal Luminaries


“Giving back to the society is now my agenda through education law reforms and implementation”

A quiet, humble lawyer, P.P. Malhotra is someone who has been shouldering responsibility since the tender age of eight. The eldest among nine siblings, he was born in Pakistan in 1939. And the family came to India in 1947.

Seeing the fruits of his labour, it’s difficult to imagine that Malhotra is someone who has paved his own course in life. A senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India, he was appointed as Additional Solicitor General of India in 2004. He relinquished the post in May 2014. He has practiced law in the High Court and trial courts of Delhi, as well as in other states. He continually served as Government counsel for almost 34 years in various positions after being assigned the job in 1988.

Looking back at his life, Malhotra smiles contently. The journey has been a long, satisfying one with all the support he needed from his wife, Dr. Kamlesh Malhotra. The couple got married in 1968. Dr. Kamlesh calls it a divine decision. She recounts how her father had been looking for suitable matches – all doctors, as she had completed her BDS from King George’s Medical University in Lucknow. During this groom hunting, Malhotra’s match was suggested. Her father had a dream that this was the perfect choice. The two were married as “my father was a firm believer in God’s wishes” and the couples call themselves lucky to be companions in this journey of life.

“She had got a job after completing her BDS but gave it up when we got married,” says Malhotra.

In the early years of marriage, with a huge family to support, there was little time for entertainment or outings. But whenever he had to appear in a court outside Delhi, the family would travel together. Dr. Kamlesh remembers how he never even had a moment to sleep, but would often try to squeeze some family outings when he was traveling for work, “if it was work with a weekend in the middle, we would all pack ourselves in the car and travel with him,”

The couple has two children—Vineet and Sonia and both are lawyers. While Sonia now works with her father, Vineet has his own practice. “Vineet wanted to become a lawyer since childhood, Sonia was unsure and I wanted her to study medicine, but she also turned to law,” smiles Dr. Kamlesh.

Calling life a divine blessing, Malhotra reminisces how his father had a cloth shop in Azad Market. He would help in the shop before going to school and after coming back. Malhora did his schooling from Birla Higher Secondary School and then went on to do his bachelor in science from Ghaziabad. For catching the train at 4.40 am, he would walk four miles to the station from home. This was a daily affair throughout his graduation days. Then he did his law from University of Delhi. On choosing law. Malhotra recounts how he was inspired by two senior relatives in the family who were lawyers.

After enrolling in the Bar, he joined a senior advocate in Tis Hazari. It was a different time for India. He remembers his first argument in court, which was about an accident case connected to a DTC driver. The war with China had started and the driver’s lawyer said that the driver had left for the war and the case be stayed. But the Soldier’s Act said that if the soldier had representation, then the case would be tried. So, it could not be stayed as the driver had a lawyer representing him. Confident with Malhotra’s research, his senior had sent him to court for arguments.

Since then, there has been no looking back. And after three years, another Senior Advocate, Sham Lal Watel, suggested that he work independently, “If you plant a tree under a big tree, it will not get space to grow. But if you plant a tree far from the other big tree, it will grow to its full potential,” he remembers the advice given to him.

The tree did grow, its branches growing long. Malhotra is well versed in all kinds of law. He has handled civil, criminal, tax, constitutional and government matters as well as remained prosecutor, been on panels, attended seminars and conferences.
This versatility has given him the ability to remain calm. His daughter-in-Law, Anupama, says that he is a patient man. “Lawyers have no meal times and homemade food is his preference,” she adds with a slight smile.

The family finally made Malhotra realize that it was time to take a break in 1984-85. Since then, they have enjoyed some cruises across Europe, London is a regular affair. And on holidays and in leisure time, Malhotra plays cricket with his grandchildren, Anant and Akshat.

Not much of a TV or film fan, he does enjoy time with his wife, watching the serials she likes. Watching news is essential, he adds. But there’s a routine he continues since 1980—a 40 minutes morning walk. This has not changed come what may, even if it’s raining.

A man who charters his own course, he now wants that every child in India should be educated. He holds the firm opinion that every child in this country has a fundamental right to education. Malhotra feels the law, Compulsory Education Act, is not implemented to its fullest potential and lots of senior citizens and retired bureaucrats could be given charge to see that it’s implemented. This way, we would have an educated and a well-developed society.

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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