This week's guest on Legal Eagle is one of Bombay's best-known lawyers. Senior Advocate Darius Khambata has a master's from Harvard, is a successful international arbitration lawyers, and was the Advocate General of Maharashtra.
In this week’s ‘Legal Eagle With Rhythm’, senior advocate Darius Khambata opened up on free speech misuse and his advice for government law officers. At the outset, Senior Advocate Darius Khambata delved into his formative years and mentioned that his love for the moot courts kindled his passion for law. He also spoke extensively about his experience studying at Harvard.
Stressing that he was encouraged to think out of the box at Harvard, he elaborated, "It was a Master's degree- a one-year course, very intensive. I think it was that year abroad that finally set my course to join the bar. It is an amazing law school. I am sure the other law schools are also very good. But that was an amazing law school because they taught through the Socratic method which is to say- it didn't teach you from A to Z. They threw problems at you, issues at you, theories at you and made you think and argue with yourself, with others in the classroom. You would be dunked with 200 pages of course material for every class which you were expected to go through."
Reminiscing his experience at the chambers of Sir Jamshedji Kanga, the ex- Maharashtra Advocate General stated, "I was very fortunate to have joined Sir Jamshedji Kanga's chambers. He had long expired by then. He died in 1969. But his spirit just lived on in those chambers. Everyone spoke about him so warmly. I don't think I have heard a senior in the profession being spoken about as warmly and affectionately as I have heard Jamshedji being spoken about."
On his relationship with the late BJP leader and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, he added, "In the Indian Express matter, you mentioned some of the seniors. We also had Goolam Vahanvati, P Chidambaram and Arun Jaitley. I struck up a very warm friendship with Arun from those days. He was of course much senior to me, a very paternalistic person. And I would love those walks at the end of the day in what was then Madras, now Chennai. We would have a walk in the evening. He would share his experiences which were vast by then."
"The funny part is that I succeeded more in cases for the government because I didn't identify with the government. Because the court always felt that I was taking an independent line, I think the government got the benefit of doubt in several cases. And you have to be independent of any client more so if it is the government. Because when you are appearing for the state, whether it is the state or the union, you are actually appearing for the Union of India or the state of Maharashtra. You are not appearing for any particular government. That's the idea of constitutional offices. It is very important to make that distinction for yourself. It helps you in your legal thinking," Khambata gave this piece of advice to government law officers.
On the possible misuse of freedom of speech and expression, the former Additional Solicitor General opined, "A vibrant democracy cannot survive without freedom of speech. And what I also mean by a vibrant democracy is a democracy that values and encourages entrepreneurship, free enterprise, creativity- both scientific and artistic. Ultimately both of these are linked to a system that allows you space for freedom of thought and expression. Of course, freedom of speech and expression is misused by so many. You have so many hate speeches and misuses. The misuse of it should not lead you to throw the baby out of the bathwater."