Legal Luminaries

Tehmtan Rustom Andhyarujina

Everybody starts somewhere, but to hear an ace lawyer say, “First day in court I was to take an adjournment and was shivering!” sounds quite unbelievable. Well it was none other than Tehmtan Rustom Andhyarujina or T.R. Andhyarujina, the former Solicitor General of India. An alumnus of Government Law College, Bombay, Andhyarujina left the portals of the University in 1957. The ace lawyer was also an ace student and was awarded the Sir Charles Sergeant Scholarship and the Vishnu Dhurander Gold medal in law by the Bombay University. At the time when he had to decide on his career, Andhyarujina was even contemplating joining the Foreign Service. A reasonably tough exam to crack, Andhyarujina emerged third in rank at the all-India level. His reasons for not taking it up are simple – “You retire early and the money was pretty bad.” When he consulted Swatantra Party leader Minoo Masani about joining the Foreign Service the latter was quick in his reply: “Take up Foreign Service but make sure you marry a rich wife”. So Andhyarujina joined H.M. Seervai, a close associate of his father’s, instead.

Although he could have joined his father who himself was a lawyer, he was quite clear about what he wanted to do in law, hence his justification, “My father, Rustomji Andhyarujina, was a lawyer too but he was an authority on Rent Act.” In fact, talking of Seervai’s contribution to his professional success, he says, “Whatever I am in law today is because of Seervai’s help and training. He was a giant and the topmost authority on Constitutional Law.”

Having worked with stalwarts like Seervai and Palkhivala, and being a hard worker stood Andhyarujina in good stead. He kept climbing the steps to professional success, and holds credit for working on famous cases such as the Keshavananda Bharti case. Taking nothing for granted, he says, “As a junior I kept notes and today I have written a book on the case.”

He rose to become the Advocate General of Bombay in 1993-95. When the post of Solicitor General was offered to him, he moved to Delhi in 1996. His wisdom in law is well recognized and it was for this reason that the Government of India appointed him the Chairman of the Committee on Banking Laws in 1998. Subsequently, in 2007, the Government once again appointed him a member of the Task Force on the Committee on Centre-State Relations Review.

Having achieved much, Andhyarujina is not one to boast of his feats, but speaking about his family is quite another matter. “My wife, Silloo, is more qualified in law than I am,” he gushes. Silloo holds an LL.M. from Harvard, incidentally also the place where the couple met in 1961 when he went to attend a seminar by Henry Kissinger. They finally tied the knot in 1968 in Bombay. Silloo too, for her part is all admiration for her husband. Remembering their early courtship days, she says, “He used to look absolutely dapper in his black coat. Whenever he wanted to meet me he would send me a note like – ‘How about tea and trying two types of cake?’ on the lines of P.G. Wodehouse.”

The couple has two children. While daughter, Zia, is married to Aashad Mehta, her older son, Rehan, is studying in Queen Mary College, University of London. Younger son, Rishad, is a Class 10 student in Cathedral School, Bombay. Their son, Zal, a Rhodes scholar, is a lawyer settled in Mumbai. Married to Shazia, a UK lawyer settled in India, the couple has two young daughters, Zara and Sophia.

The eminent lawyer is equally proud of his sisters. While Gool Bharucha and Khorshed Jhaveri are lawyers, his sisters Dr. Neena Modi and Dr. Perviz Kavarama are doctors. “Our mother, Freny, made sure we all concentrated on our books,” says Andhyarujina, giving his mother the credit for his success.

His love for reading still remains, especially old classical poetry by Shelley and Wordsworth, and Victorian poets are his favourite. Another passion of his that fills most of his mornings is music. “In the morning he starts the music and it goes on till he finishes breakfast,” confides Silloo. From classical Western opera to old Hindi film songs, this distinguished lawyer’s choice in music is quite varied. Italian opera, especially by Puccini and Verdi, and Talat Mehmood, Mohammed Rafi and Naushad hold a special spot.

A Bombay Parsi to the core, Andhyarujina, who decided to settle in Delhi, says what he misses most about Mumbai are his grandchildren. “I live for them,” he reveals. “And the children adore him,” quips Silloo. His love for children is great. Not many accomplished men like him would have been “happy to teach children in a village school.” There, too, he would have made immense impact.

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

Leave a Comment