Friday, September 05, 2014

Former Attorney General Goolam Essaji Vahanvati -- A Junior's Tribute

Goolam E. Vahanvati does not just pass away. He stays with you.

A mentor refers to an experienced and trusted adviser. For the last four years, he has done a lot more than mentor me. He treated me, and everyone else is in his chamber, like family. Every rap on the knuckle was followed by an apology, even though the rap was occasioned by a lapse on our part. That is who he was – eager to drive his juniors on so that they excel in what they do. That is the person I know. A smile, a wink, a laugh, a hand on your shoulder.

There are people, advocates and otherwise, who have known him for a much longer period than I have. I do not have the standing as yet to comment on Boss’ court craft. But one thing I will say – when he argued, we all listened spellbound. Even though we knew exactly what his propositions were and what he was going to submit. He made every argument sound like a captivating story, with the audience wanting to know what would come next.

The amount of preparation and meticulousness that went into each submission is a lesson for one and all. I could go on, and give details of various cases he argued, but then I know he would admonish me for being verbose.

It will take us all who have worked with him months, maybe years, to come to terms with the fact that he is not physically present anymore. But the impact he has had on our lives is etched in stone. If, at the end of my career, I manage to become a fraction of the advocate he was, I will be a content person.

I would say thank you, I only wish I had got the chance. Hopefully, I will manage to show how grateful I am one day.

For every judgment I am unable to find, and for every proposition of law I have trouble developing, he will be there, telling me, in a gentle voice which is barely audible, how to do it. Like I said, he stays with you.

Keep rapping us on the knuckles Boss. We would not have it any other way.

Guest obituary by Anoopam Prasad, Advocate, who works at the former Attorney General's Chambers. 

Tributes to Vahanvati have also been paid by the present Attorney General, by Arvind Narain and Mayur Suresh, who are human rights lawyers, and by the journalist and commentator, Vikram Doctor.
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