Upon graduation, Sarvesh Singh (Class of 2006) first worked at Remfry & Sagar. Thereon, he shifted to mainstream litigation. Currently, he is the only AIL alumni who is an Advocate on Record at the Supreme Court.
The Blue Pencil: How was your experience in AIL? (seniors, juniors, moots debates)
Sarvesh Singh: Ah, I miss those good old days!
It was a wonderful experience with seniors guiding the juniors to cope up with the semester exams and moots.
In fact, though competitors in moots, I remember seeking guidance from our seniors. Seniors were generous enough to correct us, and, then at the time of competition we would argue against each other! This in itself speaks for the camaraderie we shared with each other which now continues in Court.
AIL has literally become part of my family, there being three other Ailians in my family. Mini AIL reunions are quite common at our home.
TBP: How were your initial years of practice?
SS: It was an uphill task to have a substantial clientele to start with. Fresh lawyers have to study the provisions of law in great detail and also look for relevant case law, which an established lawyer would know by virtue of his/her experience. I spent countless hours in the Supreme Court library and on SCC online looking for and reading important judgments. Also, gaining trust of the initial clients as a fresher in litigation is of paramount importance, as they are the ones who will promote and talk about your work (if satisfied) leading to gaining more clients. I can proudly say that my first clients still wish me in Diwali!
The general perception is that it takes many years to establish a law practice, however I look at it from the point of view that there is no retirement age for lawyers, very few uniformed services have such a luxury. Therefore, having patience for 2-3 years and gaining Court exposure is advisable.
Before venturing into litigation, I was working at Remfry and Sagar, and, gained a rich experience in IPR work. However, like an actor performing different roles, I too wanted to deal in different cases. Therefore, I started AOR training at the Supreme Court. I drafted Writs, SLPs and Counters on diverse fields, and, also dealt with Arbitration and other matters before the High Court of Delhi.
TBP: How is litigation in Supreme Court?
SS: Litigation, in general, is a thrilling and extremely competitive area of law. Thrill of a gladiator without ‘risking your life’ is a privilege indeed. Supreme Court litigation gets even more exciting as here it’s akin to playing the finals of a swordfight!
In such circumstances, it is imperative to construct the case with all the supporting documents as well as cases germane for the adjudication of the lis between the parties. In doing so, the primary focus is to attack the judgment pronounced (or, any part thereof) by the concerned High Court Judge thereby warranting interference by the Supreme Court.
Like an artist, Supreme Court lawyers have to shade the facts (not conceal) of a case, so as to highlight the glaring error committed by the concerned High Court Judge. Drafting is also important as in case one misses to take a cogent ground, the same cannot be argued later. Therefore, we may appreciate the arguments advanced by a counsel, but in doing so, we must also consider that the very same argument was in the first place built up in the petition. The art of advancing arguments would be developed by experience in Court and even watching the Court Proceedings.
Of course, the best of efforts by a lawyer would not always lead to a favourable judgment. One may win or lose, but, the lawyer must endeavour to represent the correct facts within the contours of law to the best of his ability.
TBP: What are your fields of practice in Supreme Court?
SS: I am presently working on matters involving Private International Law, Election disputes, Matrimonial disputes, Intellectual Property Rights, Arbitration, Property disputes, Writs, appeals from Armed Forces Tribunal, NCDRC as well as criminal matters such as quashing of FIR, Anticipatory bail, Murder and Counterfeiting cases.
As an AOR, one gets the opportunity to deal with different types of cases. Our focus should be on training of mind than memorizing the legal provisions. By investing some time, we should try to grasp the new areas of law. Therefore, one may endeavour to be the Jack of all trade and master of all!
TBP: Any advice for budding advocates from AIL who also wish to be an AOR or practice in the near future?
SS: After completing 4 years (that’s the least number of years mandatory, it could be more as well) of practice, one needs to undergo a training with an advocate-on-record having over 10 years of experience for 1 year. After the training is completed, written exams are conducted by the Supreme Court consisting of 4 papers, namely, Practice and Procedure, Leading Cases, Ethics and Drafting.
One year of sincere training with the advocate-on-record along with a thorough grasp on the Rules of practice in the Supreme Court and regular reading of Supreme Court Cases is sufficient to make an aspirant pass the said exams. It is advisable that one may initially start litigating in his/her own State’s High Court for 2-3 years, and, then shift to Supreme Court. In doing so, one builds up a strong network of lawyers and clients from the concerned High Court who would at some point in time require assistance in the Supreme Court. I too had good exposure to litigating in the Delhi High Court before becoming an advocate-on-record.
As an Officer of the Court, one has the primary duty to represent the correct facts before the Court. As they say, the Bench and the Bar are two wheels of the Chariot of Justice. In fact, many advocates subsequently get designated as Senior Advocates, and, thereafter get appointed as High Court Judges. In the recent past, three senior lawyers were directly appointed as Judges of the Supreme Court. Then there are some senior lawyers who have even refused direct appointment as Judges of the Supreme Court. I have highlighted this to show that growth in litigation is indeed exponential.
In Litigation one must always bear in mind that there is no substitute for hard work. Hard work, honesty and perseverance are the key to success. This reminds me of the famous quote of Joseph Story:
“..I will say that it (legal profession) is a jealous mistress, and requires a long and constant courtship. It is not to be won by trifling favors, but by lavish homage.
Sarvesh Singh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.