Mr. Jayant Bhatt is an Independent litigator based in New Delhi, India. He is an alumnus of National University of Singapore (NUS) and the New York University (NYU), wherefrom he had pursued his LL.Ms. In the past, he has also worked with the Dispute Resolution and litigation team of the Prestigious firm of Clyde & Co. LLP in Dubai for 2 years, before moving back to India and working in the Chambers of Mr. Amit Sibal for one year.
Over the course of his legal journey, Mr. Bhatt has managed to specialize in multi-dimensional avenues of Criminal Litigation in India and handles matters in which the contentious issues involve questions of Constitutional, Criminal, Commercial, Corporate and White-collar crime related laws, in various Courts. He is presently a Senior Panel Counsel for Union of India in the Hon’ble Delhi High Court besides being a Panel Lawyer for the State of Rajasthan in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and panel counsel for Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).
Here are the excerpts of the Conversation
Legal Bites: Sir, as we have seen that your journey has been really interesting; you have witnessed the diversified aspects of the legal profession of different countries. Do you feel that India is lagging behind in legal perspective?
Mr. Bhatt, Before answering this question you need to understand that there are two aspects; when you talk of the countries in the Middle East they have civil law and India has common laws. India has adopted laws from different nations. Civil law is inspired by French laws and both of them have a very different mechanism. The basic difference is with the precedents, India has precedents and they use them in the courtrooms and in the middle-east countries, they don’t rely so much on the precedents.
Coming to your question, see, no, I don’t think that India is lagging behind, even I think on the contrary; in my opinion, India is a very evolving country. We are moving forward as the legal Diaspora is evolving rapidly; new laws have been interpreted by different courts on daily basis. So, I think we are moving at a great pace and especially the new generation like yours.
Legal Bites: Talking about new laws, you deal with PMLA as well. What’s your take on the fugitive economic offenders Act, 2018?
Mr. Bhatt: I think it is crucial to understand the reasons for implementing any law; The Fugitive Economic Offenders Act is a new law, it should have been implemented many years ago and PNB is obviously not the first case of somebody committing frauds with banks or any other financial institutions so I think this law was very late in getting implemented. But now that it is there; it is to be seen whether it is abused or whether it is utilized in a sense where it can actually be fruitful for the society. Also, a person has to analyze the law in detail because it’s a fresh law and with any fresh law the problem it has certain loopholes in it. So we’ll have to wait and watch till the time it finally runs its course in Supreme Court.
Legal Bites: In a very short span of time you have managed to achieve a lot of success which is actually very difficult in the field of litigation these days. People struggle for years and still, they don’t get anything. So, how would you put your success/achievements as of now?
Mr. Bhatt Well! The grass is always greener on the other side. As a lawyer, I don’t know how to define success. I am not comparing myself but when I look at other people with a different variety of practice; I can’t compare myself because everybody has their own set of struggles, success, and failures. Also, I feel at the same time success is a very different term in itself. You may be happy and you may be successful. For me, happiness is also a type of success, it depends, and I am still very young at the bar.
It’s been only 11 years of practice and I have my own set of challenges that I have to conquer. I have my own set of duties and responsibilities that I have a look into. So, the journey has been very fulfilling; it has been very humbling because when I see my other colleagues at the bar and when I see their set of struggles sometimes I do thank my stars and I am extremely grateful to that people have been kind to me and the system has been kind to me because I am a first generation lawyer in my family. Over 11 years of my journey every lawyer I have met I have seen their struggles and success stories and that only inspire me to strive to be a better version of myself.
Legal Bites: We see a lot of young lawyers appearing in the High Court and Supreme Court these days with a very different approach towards the Bar & the Bench. So, when you see this younger bunch of Advocates approaching the Bar. What are your expectations for them?
Mr. Bhatt: I am also part of this younger generation. But I feel that young aspirants entering into practice are restless, and require adequate guidance and focus which doesn’t come to any person on Day 1. You may join a firm, you may choose to be in house counsel or a legal researcher or an Independent Practitioner whatever you choose to do you must know one thing that it will take a person some time to learn the ropes of a profession and learn how things are done. It is totally fine to make mistakes and everybody has an eagerness to be independent but I think what is important is to learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others or those with you are engaged. So that when you enter in your independent practice you don’t repeat such mistakes.
Legal Bites: As General Elections are approaching, do you think politics hampers the Judicial Decisions?
Mr. Bhatt: I don’t think so. I think politicians have a cycle sometimes they stay for a term; sometimes more than a term depending upon their majority in the assembly and the parties coming to power. But Judiciary works 24×7, their work never stops and everybody with any set of problems comes to court with their own set of challenges. So, the Indian Judiciary is very hands-on with matters. I don’t think it has much impact on the judiciary. So far as the appointment of the judges is concerned it may become political but at the same time, I think because it has a very solid collegium system in place so the crust of Judiciary remains intact.
Legal bites: Last but not the least any piece of advice for the budding lawyers?
Mr. Bhatt: Be Patient, it’s very hard. There is always confusion among the young lawyers in trying and testing things out. Internships have become very much in vogue. Almost every law student does an internship but because of the limited time period of the internship, the clarity may still evade a lot of students because they still are unsure about what to do and what not to do.
Second thing is the moment you join the profession in real life lot of challenges may come across to you where you will be thinking whether you have chosen the right path, the right type of law that you want to practice whether you have joined the right type of workplace and there are many other things that keep coming to your mind and then there is the biggest question of the work-life balance. So, my two cents of advice is to enjoy life, have a work-life balance. Work is not going anywhere until you are sincere with your work. But do realize that everyone has just one life and it should not be wasted just on working all day.