“A philosopher at the core of his heart, for Suman Jyoti Khaitan it is the principles of Karma that guide him.”
Whatever comes to life will wither away one day, whatever position one holds, one has to let go off it some day. I believe in reincarnation and I believe that the soul never dies,” says eminent lawyer Suman Jyoti Khaitan. A philosopher at the core of his heart, Khaitan says it is the principles of Karma that guide him. “All my efforts are focused in order to evolve into a better human being,” he reveals further.
Suman Khaitan is the son of eminent advocate Nil Ratan Khaitan of the illustrious Khaitan & Co., Kolkata. His grandfather Debi Prasad Khaitan was the first Advocate General of Bengal and a member of the Constituent Assembly that framed the Constitution of India in 1950. Although Khaitan is very proud of his lineage and grateful for his legacy, he believes it’s his high aim even while keeping his feet firmly on the ground that has helped him achieve his goals. “We should be grateful for what we have received from the Almighty with a good intent and positive frame of mind, and lead a balanced life,” says Khaitan.
Interestingly, Suman Khaitan, who is amongst the top rung of lawyers today, was never keen on taking up the family trade. He started practicing officially only in 1985 even though he was attending the family firm from a much younger age. “I never wanted to do law. Didn’t know exactly what I would have taken up but would have been happy if I could have spent my days reading.” However, family pressure saw him return to Kolkata and study law after finishing his schooling and graduation from Delhi. But soon after a few years at the Kolkata office, he found himself back in Delhi because the Khaitan felt the Naxalite movement had left very little scope for progress in the City of Joy.
His love for books continues even today, with a partiality for Hindu scriptures and sacred texts of other religious, which Khaitan says are a constant source of inspiration for him. “I am an enthusiastic reader and read all kinds of books – Shakespeare to Tagore’s poetry, to books on economics, business management to Hindu scriptures and also other religious books, such as the Bhagwad Gita, Mahabharat, Bible, Quran, Guru Granth Sahib and Buddha Dhammapada. These readings have deeply influenced my beliefs.”
However, his interests are not limited to books alone. And like most Calcuttans, Suman Khaitan is an ardent sports and music lover as well. From football to basketball; and like many a ‘70s youngster, Khaitan is an ABBA and Boney M. fan. Says wife Seema, “He listens to music every time he gets any time off. If not at home, then when he is travelling, he is sure to listen to his favourite old songs or ABBA or Boney rest on.
On the professional front, Khaitan did not rest on his laurels but stepped out from under the Khaitan & Co. umbrella to make his mark by establishing his own firm Suman Khaitan & Co. in 2004. And again in 2007, he set up Khaitan & Partners, which has its head office at New Delhi and branch offices at Kolkata and Chennai. Despite his success, Khaitan says he still has miles to go. However, more than his career he would now like to use his position as a lawyer “to help in the administration of justice, and not merely to make money.” It is these intentions that are reflected in Khaitan’s concern for the society and the country. “There is a lack of accountability in the country. The call of the hour is a huge society revolution. Society must be reformed. Values must be restored and respected. We must stop voting for the wrong people and for the wrong reasons. Electoral reforms are also required along with active and positive participation of the people in the functioning of the country.”
Are the people listening? Does India have the strength to come out of this quagmire and find its voice? That is something only the future can tell.
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. firstname.lastname@example.org