After exchanging the pleasantries, the Interviewer, on behalf of E Justice India, began interviewing Adv. Aakriti Jain, Advocate on Record (Supreme Court of India)
1.Interviewer: Please tell us a bit about yourself?
Interviewee: I am a practicing lawyer since the year 2010. I have completed my law from Amity Law School affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. With the blessings of God, my parents, my parent in laws, my seniors in this profession and well wishers, I have become Advocate On Record, Supreme Court of India this year. My husband Sh. Shanker Chhabra is also a practicing lawyer since the year 2008. He has completed his law from Vivekanand Institute of Professional Studies affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. I am the partner in the law firm “Lawyer Villa”- (Advocates and Solicitors) which is located in South Delhi. Over a span of time, the firm continues to expand and now have notably become the counsel of choice. I have the honour of being empanelled as advocate with New Delhi District Legal Services Authority, Patiala House Court, New Delhi; National Commission for Women, Government of India; DSS Group. I have been appointed as Amicus Curiae by Hon’ble National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. Furthermore, I have been appointed as local commissioner by the Additional District Judges of different district courts for recording evidence. I and my husband have also authored a book named “START” in which both of us got appreciation from the Hon’ble Judge of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. The said book is a very handy and brief books which helps the young budding lawyers and fresh law graduates in their early year of this noble profession. In the said book, some very useful tips are being penned down which are lacking now a days. The said book has been written by the authors on the own experiences, challenges and struggles which they have faced during the initial years of practice being the first generation lawyers who are not born with the silver spoon. I am sure the book titled above will help the young and budding colleagues in their initial teething period trouble.
The other senior partner of the law firm Sh. Shanker Chhabra has the honor being appointed as counsel for Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Bank of Maharasthra, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation, National Insurance Company, Ravi Prem Sabha Dharamshala and Cottage Crafts Emporium.
2. Interviewer: Any specific reason to choose career in law?
Interviewee: Legal profession is a self reliant profession which is required and needed by all other professions such as doctors, engineers, and accountants as lawyers helps a vital role in drafting rules and regulations etc. I choose law because it helps me in improving my standard of thoughts, skills and knowledge in all the various fields and profession. I am a bold and an independent girl and do not shy away from any challenges, struggles and conflicts. I love to confront them. The same is in a legal profession, every day you face a new challenge, a new hurdle. Sometimes you are being grilled by the Hon’ble Judges, sometimes by the opponent senior advocate. So you have to keep yourself upto date to face the challenge. I strongly believe – “Zindagi Har Kadam Ek Nai Jung Hai”.
3. Interviewer:Who/What was your inspiration and why?
Interviewee: My family is my inspiration, whether it’s my husband, my father, my father in law, my mother or my mother in law.
My parents as my inspiration -Back on 15.03.2002, A Friday was the turning point in my life and career as I scored less marks in mathematics in class 9th due to which my result was hampered. Society made their decision and judged me a weak person by judging my mathematics marks which hampered my result. But my father and mother constantly motivated me and encouraged me and because of their boost, I decided to study law which is a bold profession and wanted to prove that the so called society was very wrong by judging me because of my low marks in mathematics. One subject cannot decide your fate and life. With the blessings and support of my parents, I became an advocate in 2010. My father has always taught me that “failure is the stepping stone to success and never quit no matter what”.
My parents in laws as my inspiration- Generally there is a myth in our society that a married women cannot do anything and after a child, to achieve your goals become very difficult and sometimes next to impossible. But with my parents in laws who supported me and loves me like their own daughter have always motivated me and encouraged me to grow in life and with their blessings and support ,I have become Advocate On Record, Supreme Court of India in 2020.
My husband as my inspiration- he is a role model to me, a great mentor, a great guide, a great motivator, a great teacher who also keeps supporting me and helps me in solving my legal cases and law points. Being into the same profession, he understands what hard times, challenges and struggles a lawyer faces.
4. Interviewer: Tell us about your journey from being a law student to being an Advocate On Record in Hon’ble Supreme Court of India?
Interviewee: The journey was not an easy one. At every stage, being a first generation lawyer, I had to face many hardships but due to the support of my family, I crossed each hurdle. During my college times, I made it sure to do internships every summer and winter vacations and have participated in most of the moot competitions. In fact I had also undergone online certificates courts by Indian Law Institute and Symbiosis College of Law. There was no one to tell as there was so much of competition so I had to find it out myself. The entire 5 years of my college life, I was adamant to go in corporate. But during my internships one of my senior Sh. P. H. Parekh (senior advocate and former president of Supreme Court Bar Association) gave me an example that litigation lawyers are the batsmen in the game of cricket. The entire game depends upon them. They have to face the judge, face the opponent, are answerable to client. This motivated me and forced me to change my mind. I had a privilege of working under the supervision and fruitful guidance of Sh. Amarjit Singh Chandhiok (Senior Advocate and former ASG and President of Delhi High Court Bar Association) and it was the toughest time when we were being grilled to work hard day and night and early morning briefings in the chamber. During my initial years as a lawyer, I had read all constitutional judgments starting from 1950. I had an opportunity to appear in Armed Forces Tribunals, Debt Recovery Tribunal, Delhi High Court, Supreme Court of India, Consumer Courts, National Green Tribunal etc. Delhi Legal Services Authority gave me a great exposure of learning. Because of my parents, I became an advocate. There is a strong notion that it is very difficult to achieve the goals after marriage and a child. After my marriage, I did my one year mandatory training under the fruitful guidance of Sh. Rajiv Nanda (Advocate On Record) and due to his constant support, I cleared the examination. My husband, parent in laws , parents and a 4 year kid fully supported me and because of their constant motivation and encouragement I succeeded in becoming an Advocate On Record. Miles to go as this profession is an ocean of learning. The journey has not yet completed and is never ending as learning never stops.
5. Interviewer: Any particular case/incident in your legal career that made a different impact on you as compared to other cases?
Interviewee: I had a privilege to get one of the oldest case which was pending in Tis Hazari Court and the same was lingering on one pretext or the another. The preliminary decree was already passed 40 years back and only the final decree was to be passed. It took me and my husband only 5 dates and a consent decree was passed and the matter was decided. So it is up to the advocate, whether he can get the case finished in few dates and vice versa. We were shocked to see how case can be manipulated and dragged for years.
6. Interviewer:Your views towards number of pending cases in different courts of India?
Interviewee: The pendency of cases in India has been an issue over a period of times and if one goes to find out the reasons they are numerous. Listing couple of them would be extreme work load due to high population, lack of judicial officers in the country and tendency of both bar and bench to delay litigations sometimes. Though times are changing but we would have to match up with the requirements soon else the gap of the pendency and the justice to be delivered would be huge.
7. Interviewer: In this time of Corona pandemic, cases are being heard through video conferencing system/apps. What do you think about this method? Wouldn’t it endanger privacy of the parties involved?
Interviewee: In my opinion, this method of video conferencing is more efficient, affordable, time saving and witness friendly. Many countries have already adopted this concept of e-courts long time back. Adversity created by the corona pandemic has been turned into an opportunity by the administrators of justice, by use and adoption of technology, for dispensing justice in cases requiring an urgent hearing. According to me I don’t think that video conferencing hearings in these difficult and different times infringe any right to privacy of anyone. Therefore, one of the last areas where technology was yet to make its inroads, has now been captured.
8. Interviewer: “Yato Dharma Tato Jaya”-This is the motto of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. What do you feel about its relevancy in today’s world?
Interviewee: The moto of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India is as relevant in modern times as it was in older times. The changing times have not in any way impacted the “Dharma” or the “Truth” prevalent in the society. The Supreme Court and for that matter all courts in India work on the principle of discovery of truth by balancing the rights of litigating parties before it and therefore the motto of the Supreme Court is very much active in words and spirits even today and would be applicable in future as societies would change but the concept of right and wrong and the truth would always remain the same.
9. Interviewer: How is transparency maintained in Indian Judicial System and how can it be improved?
Interviewee: Indian Judicial System is one of the oldest judicial system in the world. It is part of inheritance which we have received from the British over 200 years ago. Though we have changed everything in the country but transparency in judiciary is still an issue from the constant struggles that the country is facing in ending the collegiums system, lack of structure for internal governance of judiciary and many other issues. Transparency gives way to accountability and it is high time that judges being the citizens of the country first and then judges should take up accountability for their actions in the office as a judge for establishing justice in the true sense.
10. Interviewer: Please give your enlightening and inspirational words for all the law student out there on how can they succeed in their legal life. Any success mantra?
Interviewee: Failure is the lesson to success. Never ever give up and quit as quitter never wins. It is like do or die. Being a first generation lawyer, I know it is very hard to survive the teething trouble period as you don’t have any back up and silver spoon. For all those who are first generation lawyers, fresher, new advocates etc. I have authored a short handy book titled as; “START-Little steps may be the beginning of JOURNEY of GREAT LAWYER”. The said book contains some useful tips for lawyers and law students and is a must read book.
My success mantras are excerpted in my book START. I am narrating few of them for the kind perusal:
1.Be respectful: respect towards judges, seniors, colleagues and workplace. Respect must be given outside the court also. For example if you see any car of the judge, just give side and let it go first as a token of respect.
2.Learning never stops: while sitting in court rooms and waiting for your matter to come, I have witnessed many advocates, interns etc are busy on their phone with facebook, twitter, whatsapp etc. Rather than wasting time on social media, carefully listen to the arguments and law points involved in it. Read all constitutional judgments. Always remember, degree from universities can only equip us to pursue profession but learning is an ongoing process.
3.Our cultural tradition- Attithi Devo Bhava which denotes that a guest must be treated as God. Any visitor to your office should be surely and must be properly welcomed as in he or she must be offered water, be it anyone, a lawyer, client, clerk, courier boy etc. Always instruct your office staff that whenever he get the serving, it must be first served to the guest and then to the boss. On the other hand, whenever you visit someone’s office, never refuse water. We must respect the other person’s sentiments and accept his hospitality. Furthermore, have one meal with office staff in a week.
4.Accepting defeat- in a battle one wins and one loses. Same is in litigation. Each defeat should be considered as a new learning experience. Lawyer, as a representative of client, must give his best to the case. Anyone who witnesses your arguments must say “Well Done” irrespective of your winning or losing the case.
5.Honesty-lawyers must be cautious while giving any statement in the court or even in judge’s chamber if called. A false statement at the behest of the client should be completely avoided. Sometimes it happens in the case that you are not able to answer the queries raised by the Hon’be Court. In such a situation, a lawyer shall ask for some time by saying that “ I will seek instructions” or “I will get the necessary details and come back to the court”. Never try to confuse the judge. Always keep in mind that you as a lawyer have to have a long association with the court. Furthermore, never give 100% guarantee to the client about the winning of the case. Just do your best.
6.Court Etiquettes-a lawyer should be polite and calm towards the court, court master, court staff, reader, clerk etc, Your behavior speaks yourself. Even if you lose the case, never misbehave with the judge. Always use the words like “grateful” or “deeply obliged” even if you have lost the case and bow your head.
7.Preparation of case-first and foremost when you open the file for the case, one must see the memo of parties and find out for who you are appearing. Thereafter start reading the petition from the first page, word by word and keep in mind that you do not miss any content and never try to cut short by reading only list of dates of synopsis. While reading a petition, make it a habit to read the annexures thoroughly along with the petition where they are referred. It is always advisable to points and flag the important pages for your quick reference. Make a habit to keep different coloured pens while preparation of case. Example- blue coloured pen is used for general purpose, green we use for points in favour and red for points against the client. Such things are very helpful at the time of arguments.
8.Appearance-some young lawyers are not able to differentiate between their college and court. One should completely avoid funky hairstyle while coming to the court such as coloured hair, spikes etc. For girls avoid applying eye catchy nail paints like blue, black, yellow instead apply muted colour. The white band must be spotless and properly ironed. No sports shoes in the court please. Always remember a decently dressed up person commands respect.
9.Punctuality- to arrive in court before time is a good habit and it carries its own benefit. A lawyer should also maintain a time schedule for his office and should always be punctual for the meetings.
10.Your Own Library- start making your own library and collection of books from the first day of your professional career. Normally, fresher have the tendency to spend their first salary or stipend in buying gifts or throwing parties or rapping around here and there. It is much better to express your feelings by spending some part of your salary in buying books and rest on your loved ones. Never ever think that you are wasting your money in buying books. Sometimes you get a feeling that your colleagues are partying or hanging around and you are spending the same salary on books. It may give temporary pleasure to them but in the long run you will get sweet ripen fruit taste when they will come and appreciate your collection of books.
There is many other success mantra which are mentioned in my book “START”. I will strongly recommend the same for all fresher and young advocates. Furthermore, I will strongly advise the fresh lawyers to get themselves empanelled with Delhi Legal Services Authority as you will get a great exposure of learning.
11. Interviewer: Any message for us at E-Justice India, I mean about the work we do?
Interviewee: Excellent work and a great initiative by team E- Justice India. Thank you for giving an opportunity to give this interview.