Why they matter: From visionary jurists to fearless advocates, and even the most judicious judges, India’s legal landscape is shaped by these constitutional savants. Journalist Noor Anand Chawla delves deep into the lives of those who balance the scales of justice.
There are few lawyers that command a courtroom like Harish Salve, KC (the title being short for King’s Council, a prestige accorded to only the best lawyers admitted to the Bar in England and Wales). A sweep of his gown into a crowded court is enough to grab everyone’s attention. Before long, the room is enveloped in silence as the audience hangs on to every word in his eloquent argument.
From Mukesh Ambani to Salman Khan, Salve has represented the biggest names in the country and also been instrumental in delivering some of the most defining decisions of the past few decades. Yet, Salve wasn’t always a lawyer!
Born into a Maharashtrian family, he initially decided to follow his father’s profession and became a chartered accountant, only making the switch to the legal world when he began working at JB Dadachandji & Co. in 1980. He swiftly rose through the ranks by assisting the most renowned lawyers in the business, including Nani Palkhivala and Soli Sorabjee. He was appointed a Senior Advocate in 1992 and became the Solicitor General of India in 1999.
Salve has been an integral part of several landmark events in Indian law, with his arguments echoing throughout the nation. While he’s known to be the richest Indian lawyer, he famously represented India in the case to free Kulbhushan Jadhav from Pakistan, charging only Rs 1 for his exceptional arguments.
He had simply said: “When you believe in the case, you do it pro bono, and this was such a case. The Government of India sought advice from me at the initial stage, after which I researched the case and gave my advice.”
Representing Tata Sons, Salve also played a key role in their suit against the late Cyrus Mistry, in what was perhaps one of the most high-profile legal battles in recent Indian history. Moreover, he had challenged the Bombay High Court’s refusal to grant bail to journalist Arnab Goswami.
A prominent legal eagle he may be, but Salve isn’t all work and no play. Currently residing in London with his wife, Caroline Brossard, he enjoys taking time off every evening to dedicate to himself and his family. A keen piano player and health buff, he recently stated in an interview, “I sometimes feel guilty about being a piano-playing lawyer, not a pianist with knowledge of the law!”
To see who else is on the list, grab the copy of HELLO! India’s August 2023 issue right here!