Parliament was recently rocked by arguments among legislators over judicial overreach. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had a tough time answering pointed queries from MPs on what the centre felt about the issue. Any discussion on judicial overstepping would be incomplete without acknowledging the contribution made by Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court, VIKAS SINGH. As Additional Solicitor-General, it was he who had raised the issue vehemently and strongly in the Supreme Court in a “forest matter”, way back in 2007. His arguments with the then CJI YK Sabharwal over the need for the judiciary to respect other institutions was reported widely by the media.
In an interview with APN NEWS’ NAVANK SHEKHAR MISHRA, Vikas Singh talked at length on a whole range of issues, from landmark cases to his favourite movies. Excerpts:
Why did you choose to become a lawyer?
No one in my family is a lawyer. A friend’s father was the chief justice of the Patna High Court and it was then that I got my first exposure to the legal profession. I was a school student at that time.
When I was studying in my first year at law college, I got a job with the Steel Authority of India. I joined the company and for nine years sold steel. But the desire to become a lawyer was still strong enough and I resigned from the job. I started practising as an advocate in 1990. After 14 years, I was designated a senior and the next year I became the Additional Solicitor General of India.
The journey to success was very tough but I persisted with hard work and recognition came along slowly. There were times when I had self doubts. After all, no one from my family had any knowledge about the field and could not help me while sons and daughters of lawyers were much ahead in the race. By God’s grace, it has finally paid off well.
Any landmark judgment or case you would like to recall in your long journey as a lawyer?
I have been involved in a wide array of cases, be it criminal, constitutional, income tax matters so on and so forth. I have been associated with many significant cases like appearing before the constitution bench in the Arunachal Pradesh case. I also appeared in the admissions to medical colleges case, where the corruption is rampant.
I have also contributed significantly in pressing for separation of powers between the judiciary and other institutions. I believe that courts should not enter into matters that lie in the domain of the legislature and the executive. The legal fraternity and the governments should not invite the courts to decide on such matters. The governments should be proactive on several issues and take a call rather than asking the courts to do it. I have always kept my stand clear on the issue and even had severe heated arguments with the then CJI YK Sabharwal. The media, especially the dailies, had covered it prominently and extensively. It was a rare occurrence in the history of the Supreme Court. To sum up, my contributions have been significant in some areas and I shall continue to endeavour for a strong judicial system and see that the judiciary does not stray from its avowed path.
What has been your favourite area of practice as a lawyer?
Every lawyer’s dream is to become an adept constitutional lawyer. He wants to be a part of the cases that will impact our constitution. I am privileged to have been a part of arguments in important matters related to the constitution. I want to be remembered as a well-known constitutional lawyer.
What do you do in your spare time?
I have a passion for tennis, which is a great stress-buster. I have played tennis in all parts of the globe. I am also the president of international lawn tennis club. As a member of the club, I have played tennis at the Wimbledon court in 1999, and this is one of the high points of my life.
What kind of movies do you watch?
I prefer humorous movies, but not those showing cheap humour. I am also game for serious movies but they should be well-made, for example Black, where Rani Mukherjee played the role of a blind girl.
If you were asked to play roles of a Bollywood actor, what would be your choice?
Shah Rukh Khan. He is a versatile actor. I personally know his family. He is also a great person in real life.
What advice would you give to the budding lawyers?
The practice of litigation requires lot of hard work and struggle. But the one who bears the phase stoically wins the game. I am such an example. Coming from Bihar and making a mark in Delhi was not easy for me. There was nobody to back me up in the legal profession. I had no godfather. But the effort I put in during my initial years as a lawyer paid off well and I have tasted immense success. I never bothered about the results during my struggle days.
I would advise the young lawyers not to run after money during their initial days. Do not think about extracting money from your clients. Always think about their welfare.