Katcheri Team : Sir, you are a renowned Advocate of Supreme Court of India and also serving as an advisor on the Boards of many organizations. How did it all start?
Vivek Narayan Sharma: First of all, I say thank you for addressing me as renowned. I feel, I am still progressing and need to achieve much more. As far as advising organizations is concerned, I again feel, sky is the limit to utilize the potentional that I inherit.
It seems like yesterday when I look twenty years back, I hailed from Meerut to Delhi as a young boy with no money, a law degree and a couple of remote acquaintances in Delhi High Court. I had meagre savings from my nascent modelling career that I had decided to abandon as I preferred my dignity, pride and vanity over the easy money and compromises of fashion industry.
Life was very hard. Being a first-generation advocate, it becomes important to stay occupied with work to gain experience and reputation, even if you feel exploited with a meager pay.I had to act with extreme caution for every rupee and that many times meant that I had to walk several kilometers to save that 2 rupee of the bus ticket. I was a body builder and martial-art practitioner and had to plan my diet in my tight budget, I didn’t eat roadside cooked food, I survived on mangoes and bananas with milk and could manage only one meal from tiffin-wala in a day, the content of which was split to be eaten throughout the day for dinner, breakfast or if I could save some rice, it was utilized for lunch.
I was always careful about the choices I made, the desperation of hunger or money, never hindered my wisdom.
Hence, one of the first remarkable experiences include my time as a junior with late Mr. Dipanker P. Gupta, formerly Solicitor General of India and I used to feel pride at the fact that retired Justice Mrs. Ruma Pal (then a sitting Judge of Supreme Court of India) was also a past junior of Dipanker sir. Thereafter, I worked with couple of more seniors and law firms.
Then came a period, when I had made some friends and connects with people based on trust and honesty. Meanwhile, I got hitched to a wonderful life partner in a simple marriage ceremony attended by around twenty guests with ‘zero exchange’ of marriage gifts. By the year 2005, I found myself in my independent practice as a natural flow of things.
Again, I made diligent choices about my profession and instead of having the client hang around and pay for years, appearance by appearance, I decided to charge lump sum and finish the cases as soon as I could. This strategy gave me tough time initially, as I finished the cases very soon and lost on consistent client fee that my fellow legal practitioners made. Gradually and eventually, my clients began returning to me with new litigations and references of quick case dispersals.
After decade of sticking to my principles of quick dispersals, I earned reputation and my practice grew. Few months back, I even finished an eighty-year old case assigned to me by one of my oldest clients merely 20 months ago; the news was published in some renowned newspapers like Hindustan Times, Danik Bhaskar etc. I think pragmatic, unconventional, solution oriented and progressive approach towards my cases helped my clients retain me more than ever.Though my process was challenging due to obvious reason of going against the tide and was tougher than sailing along, yet it gave me satisfaction of highest quality.
I am still transitioning from a small bird flying around to a large winged Pegasus (I know it’s a mythical winged horse)to cover unimaginable lengths in one leap so that I could manage my envisioned multi-dimensional career which has extensive demands of perfection, wisdom and undaunting time commitments. As far as getting materialistically successful, all I can say is that sometimes it is challenging to make the ends meet with the honesty, integrity and principles that I take pride on but I have sincere gratitude to the Almighty to keep me provided with the finances to support my family, staff and my philanthropic urges.
Katcheri Team : What is your daily schedule? How you spent your time apart from the Court practice at Supreme Court?
Vivek Narayan Sharma : If I could have, I would have stayed old-fashioned when it comes to my daily routine, like getting up as early as 5:00 am, going for workout, followed by court and meeting routine, returning home, having dinner with family and switching off the phone at 9:00 pm and sleeping around 11.00 pm, like I did in the middle days of my career. Life is not easy and with the demanding professional life, I cannot live with a fixation on clock. It’s an everyday, every moment decision of what can be done in 24 hours of a day. The two intrinsic things that stay with me is opening my day with few minutes of meditation and finishing my day at home with my family, everything else is an on-spot decision. My workout routine varies as per my court schedule, there are days I need to rush for the court early, preceded with overnight case preparation and I reduce or skip my gym timings in the morning. Sometimes I sneak out during the evenings if I feel the need to burn the calories. I listen to my body and head out for the workout accordingly, its cardio or weight training at the gym, yoga with my wife, lawn tennis with friends or merely golfing with my close buddies or kids.
My breakfast is usually fruits salad mixed with curd and I carry home cooked meal to court. The court proceedings usually occupy the first half of my working days, followed by client meetings or public events. I usually have early dinner between 6:30 – 7:00 pm sitting at my home office, it’s a bowl of makhanas, or two besancheela, or single sandwich or a bowl of salad as I am fond of home cooked food. Evenings are usually spent with case preparation, writing articles and other important meetings, when I close my day, I make sure that I speak to my kids about their daily achievements, any challenges and I love to parent them. I usually keep Saturdays for pro-bono cases and advices, beyond that I prefer to keep weekend for activities with my family & close friends, like sports, get-togethers, excursions or watching good movies, only except for urgent client meetings, as you can see a lawyers life cannot be guided by fixation, as I talk about it, I know, how tricky it is, the idea is to try to optimize and not to lose on anything. In addition, many of my lectures & speeches are organized during weekends and so that provides me inroads to social interaction with the youths, which I love very much.
Katcheri Team : How to become a good Advocate?
Vivek Narayan Sharma : The term good lawyer or a good advocate has an inherited and hidden good human inside. It is of utmost importance that we see that we are good humans with a strong character at the core and then we can have a strong professional skillset, caliber and attitude to take over the world. I know that the world is mad with the rat race of professional and material success but what is the point of crazy racing just to end up rich but lonely or earning shallow fame and adding no value to society.
Be a good person, and you would be a good advocate as a by-product. Follow your instincts and conscience, do not look for small gains at the cost of trust and benefit of your clients. Hold your integrity, it may be tough initially but the benefits that you’d reap in the end would be unmatched. Apply your mind in every situation, be it drafting for your client / senior / firm or preparing a brief. Have a fair representation, with a sound character, your personality would emit confidence and strength. Be consistent, make wise choices, do not be misled by desperation. Look upto seniors and take what you like from them and learn to avoid doing what you do not like from them. Shine through your hard work and inner strength, your reputation and good will is what you must earn in this profession, the success will follow.
Katcheri Team : Throw some light on your timely book “Electionomics”.
Vivek Narayan Sharma : Read the one-page prologue of my book. The tale of Mahabharata begins and ends in that very page and brings us to contemporary times with the King Dhritrashthra and his charioteer Sanjay. I have used the ancientness and spiritualism of King Dhritrashthra as a satire to describe our current Election process. The book is not just the economics of the election but it’s actually a comprehensive Election Science (चुनावशास्त्र).
It compiles 4 layers-first layer is mythological fiction, second- events that take place during election, how politicians act and attract the masses to vote for them, the strategies of election campaigns, the intrinsic tact and manipulations, good and bad practices, the double face of politicians and political parties, everything is explained through the incidents related to the elections. Third layer is the legal, statutory and constitutional provisions related and co-related to the elections that are applied during elections. The last one is how these provisions are interpreted by the Supreme Court, High Courts and Election Commission and also there are 100 carefully picked landmark judgments of Supreme Court, High Courts, and Election Commission of India.
The book presents the complexity of Indian Democracy and elections through the fusion of Mythology by way of 24 shlokas from Shrimad Bhagvad Gita with the current situations, the legal provisions and the helplessness of the youth of the country. The wisdom of Krishna is used to advice the young generation on how to survive in the adverse times, the book “Electionomics” comes out as a Mythological Satire on the complex Election scenario in India. It’s a fusion of reality and fiction awarding wisdom and ease to the readers to deal with harsh life. The book has attracted accolades like accompaniment of Bhagwad Geeta, Mythological Satire, the tale of elections from the eyes of Sanjay and ears of Dhritrashtra etc.
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Katcheri Team : As a Joint Secretary of Supreme Court AOR Association, tell us what are the reforms needed in this Association?
Vivek Narayan Sharma : I see SCAORA body as a possible engine that could drive the judiciary culture to a futuristic vision comprising of no pending cases, quick and fair trial, technological advancement to aid speed and awareness and taking care of the legal fraternity in the best way. To make all this possible, we need right kind of people on board along with supportive infrastructure, staff and resources.
I would say, each member of the committee brings their intention for the upliftment of fellow advocates. I too, add up to the committee with my previous experiences of intention, planning and execution but where we all fail to achieve our vision is the lack of staff, resources and infrastructure, basically, the funding and formation of SCAORA machinery as a functioning body must be maturely established in order to achieve its goals.
For example, since last one and a half year of my tenure, I could push some of the important executions through the SCAORA committee, like medical schemes for advocates, SCAORA e-journal that provides the platform to the fellow advocates to speak up through articles, we also formalized delivery of lectures by Judges and senior advocates for the benefit of bar members to prepare for their AOR examination. All this and more, I have a strong inclination for technology and so, apart from bringing e-journal, I also pushed all possible resources for these lectures to be made available online. Having made all this effort, I want to stress upon that all of this could have gone a long way if there was more support available in terms infrastructure and resources to SCAORA, for which our request to the Chief Justice of India is pending consideration. The CJI has assured us for providing supportive infrastructure to SCAORA soon and have also agreed to resolve the necessary issues of registry, which advocates are facing for years. I am happy to say that some of the issues have already been resolved. I am happy to say that the present SCAORA Committee is progressive and mindful and is a pleasure to work with.
I am happy to say that we could also add a feather in the cap of the SCAORA committee by organizing an elite “National Conference on ‘Technology, Training and Infrastructure: Keys for Speedy Justice’; and ‘The Changing Face of legal Education in India’ held at Vigyan Bhawan in Sep’ 2018”. This was the first time in the history of Supreme Court that the SCAORA Committee organized such a successful and valuable program that the whole legal fraternity could take pride. My previous exposure of successful huge social events enabled me to drive the planning and execution of the National Conference against all odds and challenges. I had in mind that we had to ensure the smooth flow of the event, since it was prestigious and being inaugurated by the President of India and under the chairmanship of Chief Justice of India and attended by all the other Judges of the Supreme Court of India. I am so grateful for the whole team members who worked extremely hard for it.
Basically, I feel we need innovation, pragmatism and zeal to implement various episodes to uplift fellow lawyers. I wish to execute much more and seek the blessings of Almighty, to be in the position to achieve more in the field of health, fitness and financial security of my legal fraternity.
Katcheri Team : Would you like to give any suggestions or advices to the young law students across the country?
Vivek Narayan Sharma : I remember simplifying my vision as I had to explain it to my five years old, I call it, PEPC2, let me reiterate it for the college students too.
Its “Patience, Endurance, Power, Courage and Compassion”.
Always remember these five principles in whatever you decide to do. As I have said previously also, these principles help one to become a good human before really worrying about becoming a good advocate. Develop your character and professional skillset both. Don’t chase shallow success, develop yourself and gain mastery and ease at what you do along with a vision of creating value for your dear ones and society. Create a fine vision for yourself! Vision with preparation is intrinsic for any success!