INTERVIEW WITH MR. SAHEWALLA- A SENIOR ADVOCATE AT GUWAHATI HIGH COURT AND FOUNDER OF SG LAW PLUS
Request you to introduce yourself to our readers?
Answer: I am a Senior Advocate practicing at Guwahati High Court, Assam. I was also the Chairman of the Bar Council of Assam on two occasions and a member of the Council since 1993.
What interested you to take up law as a profession?
Answer: My father used to tell me, ‘Zar Nai Goti, Hi Kore Vakalati’, it`s English translation is, ‘The one who is jobless, he pursues advocacy’. My father wanted me to pursue MBBS, but since I could not get a seat in a medical college, so I switched over to Law. So, basically choosing law as a profession was not my choice but it was by chance.
How was your Law School life?
Answer: ‘Since I did my law from Sivasagar Law College, Assam, in the year 1978, so that time situation was totally different. It was quite difficult to get access to legal resources unlike the present scenario where one could easily get all the information by just a single click’.
What were the activities and internships you pursued in college?
Answer: As I have mentioned earlier, that pursuing law at 70`s and 80`s was quite challenging and difficult, and we didn`t have much opportunities also, so I had never done any activities or internships while pursuing law.
Please walk us through your professional life after graduation?
Answer: So, as soon as I completed my law degree from Sivasagar Law College, that falls under Dibrugarh University, where I used to stood second class first position as there was no first class first position, I had joined the Sivasagar Bar and then under the guidance of my elder brother, who is also a lawyer there, did various types of drafting and I worked with him for a period of one year. Thereafter, I shifted my practice to Guwahati and since February, 1980, I am practicing at Guwahati High Court and in the year 1999, I was designated as a Senior Advocate along with the Hon`ble Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who now is a Former Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
How do you describe your year-long litigation experience?
Answer: ‘It is not a short-cut method’, which I truly believe. Secondly, one needs to have in depth knowledge of law, whatever one does, in our legal profession it is said that, ‘107 is the smallest case’, but according to me no case is small, even if a professional is doing a single case, he must do it properly by going through the Apex Court judgements, by referring to the High Court judgements and should prepare it well, and then everything will be easier in future.
Moreover, ‘Whatever students are taught in law schools, they must read it thoroughly and must understand the law and should not read it just for the purpose of clearing exams because if one wants to practice law, he/she must know about the subject and also must know what law is all about’. Lastly, the reason behind practicing law for such a longer period is that I used to enjoy this profession, I used to work in my chamber day and night, and, ‘One must enjoy whatever work he/she is doing, because until and unless one does not enjoy, he cannot do practice for a longer period as he will be tired’. I was a slight disciplined person and have written various articles on how to maintain one`s chamber, how to draft a petition, and how to interview one`s client and at last ‘One must be determined and one must enjoy’.
How much significance does CGPA hold concerning practicing in court, going for LLM, and going for judicial services?
Answer: According to me, as far as practice is concerned, CGPA does not hold any significance, because as I mentioned earlier that knowledge of law and understanding of the same at the same time is most important and not just simply reading it without knowing it but if one is going for LLM, then naturally marks are going to hold a lot of importance and in case, it`s a matter of judicial services, then slightly the CGPA is going to hold priority, otherwise in practice, what is law all about in depth is much important.
How does the current COVID-19 situation affect your practice?
Answer: Due to this pandemic, our profession has been badly affected, since now new clients are coming , and also its very difficult to practice via video conferencing as citing authorities and
citations virtually are not an easy task. Also, many of the documents cannot be shown virtually and even it`s difficult for many of the judges as well as for the lawyers since majority of them are not well acquainted with the technology.
What are your comments on “virtual courts-courtroom of the future?”
Answer: If the prevailing situation continues, then it would be very difficult to appear before the court virtually because there are many arguments and documents which cannot be advanced and stated through online platforms, in comparison to face-to-face appearances. Though for young lawyers it may be convenient as they may get themselves acquainted with the updated technology, but for people like me, who are very old in age, might face difficulties’.
National Education Foundation (NEF) Law College, Guwahati