INTERVIEW WITH MS. HIMANJALI GAUTAM, AN ADVOCATE AT THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Law Mentor: Ma’am, I Request You To Introduce Yourself To Our Readers?
Ms. Himanjali Gautam: I’m an Advocate at the Supreme Court of India. I am handling cases independently, since 2016 and have worked as a Legal Counsel for various notable organizations and individuals. I started my career under Senior Advocate Mr. Pravin H. Parekh Sir and assisted him in representing and advising leading organizations like Reliance Industries Ltd. and people at eminent positions including the President of India and former Chief Ministers. I have worked on Civil, Criminal, Revenue, Company, Competition, Family, Environment Law, and PIL cases. I have authored several articles and appeared frequently on various national news channels on issues of national importance.
Apart from working as a lawyer under constitutional obligations, I also led various campaigns for the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections and ‘legal awareness’ initiatives in remote locations of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. I’ve also been Femina Style Diva 2013 finalist. I have been a President at Law Centre 2, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi, and also been a ‘Best Student’ of Daulat Ram College adjudged on the basis of overall performance in Academics and extracurricular activities.
Law Mentor: What Interested You In Taking Up Law As A Profession?
Ms. Himanjali Gautam: Having pursued my undergraduate course in Political Science, I found that there was an overlap of syllabus between that and LLB, so that was one of the factors that motivated me to take up law. However, that was just a technical point of view. Emotionally, the biggest motivation for me is my Mother. She has always been engaged in social work and in uplifting the subjugated and I felt that taking up Law will provide me with the medium and the tools to further that resolve and bring about a constructive change.
Law Mentor: How Was Your Law School Life?
Ms. Himanjali Gautam: Law School was one of the most happening and enlightening time of my life. It taught me a great deal about who I am and played a great role in shaping up my personality. Becoming the President of LC2, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi was one of my greatest achievements and it was a huge learning experience for me as I understood a great deal about leadership. I had been right in the middle of all important activities, having established the Legal Aid Society, the Human Rights Society, and Moot Court Club and organized various events which taught me a great deal about how to get out of my comfort zones and deal with so many new people around me and working under pressure. My Professors and classmates at the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi were very supportive and that played a significant role in shaping up my personality.
Law Mentor: What Were The Activities And Internships You Pursued In College?
Ms. Himanjali Gautam: I was the President of my batch, so I actively participated and organized a lot of events like seminars, competitions, cultural and educational events. I started my internship career from Bhasin & Bhasin Associates in the month of Feb 2011 – Aug 2011. Then I joined Sankhala & Co. in Jul 2011 – Oct 2011, Further, I joined Kochhar & Company for the year of 2012.
Law Mentor: Please Walk Us Through Your Professional Life After Graduation.
Ms. Himanjali Gautam: I started my career when I joined the offices of Mr. Pravin H. Parekh in the Supreme Court of India. I learned a lot from that experience and it provided me with great exposure as I worked on a lot of high stake matters that required utmost focus and competency. After a while, in 2016, I started my individual practice as an Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and from the very time of my first experience, I felt the difference.
“The difference in remuneration,
The sense of independence
Being able to be my own boss was a thrilling feeling”
I started appearing on various TV channels and indulged in various Lok Sabha Election Campaigns like “Main Bhi Chowkidar”, “Modi once More”, “Saato Seetein Modi Ko” etc. Starting my independent practice also gave me some time to work on various articles and since then I have become a part of many Columns and Journals either by getting my article published in such forums or by being on the advisory and editorial board of various journals and Legal Columns. There were times when I was not receiving any new clients or getting my hands on new work, but I kept pushing through and as the phase passed, I got retained by several big companies and individual clients.
Law Mentor: How Do You Describe Your Year-Long Litigation Experience?
Ms. Himanjali Gautam: My 8-year long experience in the field of litigation has been vibrant and enlightening. Right from when I started my work as an associate to Parekh Sir my experience has been copious of learning and growing. I have appeared as a legal counsel for a number of big firms and government bodies. My experience of briefing top senior advocates like Mr. Harish Salve sir, Mr. Kapil Sibal sir, and Mr. Ram Jethmalani sir had been one of the most learning experiences of my litigation career. I started practicing independently in 2016, and since then have been appearing as the legal counsel for much high profile government as well as private companies. Thus, I would say, my command over theoretical as well as practical skills in the legal profession has really helped me in my litigation career to be one of a kind.
Law Mentor: How Much Significance Does CGPA Hold Concerning Practicing In Court, Going For LLM, And Going For Judicial Services?
Ms. Himanjali Gautam: Students firmly believe that obtaining a high CGPA is the only gateway to securing a good job. A good CGPA/GPA is the prerequisite for those who look forward to doing their Master in Law (LL.M) from abroad, apart from that a law student needs to work on recommendations and their overall work experience.
“Grades or scores are never the best indicators of a person's ability”
, be it in any profession. Talking about the legal profession, we have seen how several students during their college days get anxious about scoring good grades. For the sake of the same, many of the students would just resort to cramming up of all the sections and concepts right before their exam and thus manage to get decent grades.
However, the legal profession requires a good command over practical skills, in addition to theoretical knowledge, and for the same, a student must engage himself in activities like mooting, debates, paper presentations, legal writing competitions, trial advocacy, etc.
For LL.M in India, more than CGPA, the scores obtained in entrance exams matter. I certainly believe that while one is preparing for entrance exams of some good colleges for LLM, what the institutions focus on is your knowledge and not CGPA. What matters is the amount of effort and hard work we put into clearing the particular exam.
If a student is interested in going for judicial services, I think CGPA does not really matter because one has to sit for the state judicial service exam, based on whose merit, a student gets selected for the judicial services. However, we should understand this that such scores may reflect your ability in numbers, but are not the 'only' indicators of your talent.
Law Mentor: How Does The Current COVID-19 Situation Affect Your Practice?
Ms. Himanjali Gautam: Yes, it did affect my practice to a certain extent. It delayed the hearing of my case, my clients suffered, their businesses suffered and so did mine. The entire system broke down. When the nationwide lockdown was announced Supreme Court declared that only urgent matters would be addressed by them via video conferencing. But what accounts as important was left at the discretion of the court officials. It was hard to explain to my clients that their matter may or may not qualify as an “urgent matter”. So Yes in a nutshell I did suffer.
Law Mentor: What Are Your Comments On “Virtual Courts- Courtroom Of The Future?
Ms. Himanjali Gautam: A few months back,
Who would have thought that the field of expressions, the legal industry, which banks on the physical presence of the client, the lawyers, and the judge, will have to take a virtual turn?
So a virtual courtroom is a conceptual idea of providing justice without being physically present in the courtroom. I am of the opinion that it has both pros and cons. Issues like lack of infrastructure, internet connectivity in remote and rural areas, has plagued the bread and butter of the young independent generation of lawyers. While e-filing and virtual hearings are good for some, the other, newer additions to the legal community are still facing trouble.
Presidency University , Bangalore
BBA LLB (1st Year)