We’d love to know more about your journey in the legal field. Can you share what inspired you to specialize in technology law and pursue a career in arbitration and corporate litigation?
My journey as a lawyer technically started in the year 2010, however, I have regularly interned at different offices since 2006-07 (even during law school). I started my career as a chamber junior to Ms. Manmeet Arora (who is now a Judge at the Hon’ble Delhi High). I can proudly say that I was trained by the best and the initial chamber training prepared me for what I was bound to do in my career. Later I moved to Luthra & Luthra Law offices (which it then was), progressing further to being a Partner at SAM and presently, I am a Partner at CAM. My journey from college days till date has been a roller coaster ride, with different experiences, ranging from doing the Aircel Maxis Spectrum Trial, to representing Tech Giants in almost all spheres, to recently being part of the much celebrated NN Global matter. My interest in Tech law grew with my inquisition towards small issues that we face on a daily basis. If you see, Tech and Arbitration are the two fields that are ever-evolving and I think that’s my inspiration.
As a “Future Star” in arbitration, could you tell us about a particularly challenging or interesting case you’ve worked on recently and what made it stand out for you?
In the order of ranking, the most challenging matters that I have been part of as a briefing Counsel would be HCC Ltd. Vs. UOI & Ors. 2019 SCC Onlibe SC 1520, where the 3-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court struck down Section 87 of the A&C Act, second would be Kal Airways vs. SpiceJet Ltd. & Anr. which is still a landmark on Section 9 A&C Act. Recently, I have argued a few important arbitration matters before the Delhi High Court, including HCC vs. NHPC, 2023 SCC Online Del 819, which decided an important question on bank guarantees and till what point the same have to be maintained in case the arbitral award is under challenge. This was special to me as recently I got a call from a Senior Counsel who told me that they relied on this judgment and got an order before the Rajasthan High Court. The next and very important issue on Section 28(2) of the A&C act which I argued before the Delhi High Court is NHPC vs JP Associates Ltd., 2023 SCC Online Del 3294, i argued on Section 31 and 28 (2) and got the award partially set-aside. As mentioned earlier, recently I have made submissions before the Supreme Court in the case of NN Global which put to rest the issue of stamping. Each case was challenging in its own way. The intricacies you learn from Senior Counsels and how you evolve and transform into arguing the same issues yourself is what stands out for me.
Being a member of the Steering Committee at IAMC, how do you see the landscape of international arbitration evolving, especially in the context of technology-related disputes?
I believe arbitration is one field that runs totally on stakeholder involvement. We as practitioners and arbitrators are constantly evolving the field and ourselves. Being part of an institution gives us the platform to get more ideas. The evolution of arbitration in the international context and specifically technology-related disputes has been increasing recently. I Have recently finished arguments in an arbitration where the underlying issue was the performance of an App designed in a particular way. While we still have time to see big tech-related disputes being referred to arbitration, we are taking baby steps towards it and the future is bright for the generation that is following us.
You’ve represented tech companies on issues related to intellectual property and regulatory frameworks. What, in your opinion, is the most exciting or challenging aspect of navigating the legal landscape in the technology sector today?
As I said earlier, the ever-changing nature of Tech is what is the most challenging part of it. While you learn to deal with one particular issue, you won’t even know that the same is obsolete and you have to move to learn the new version. The IP and regulatory framework issues that I have dealt with personally have also changes their nature and shape. Litigants are becoming smarter by the day and know how to navigate the entire ecosystem.
In your career, you’ve dealt with a wide range of disputes in infrastructure, real estate, and corporate matters. Is there a piece of advice you often find yourself giving to clients facing such diverse challenges?
My first advice to every client, whether it’s an infrastructure, real estate, tech or any other issue is to find out a way to settle the matter, so it is a win-win situation for all. Prolonged litigation is what each corporate now wants to avoid and that makes complete sense when it comes to business efficiency and cost benefit analysis.
Having worked on a variety of international commercial arbitrations, can you share some insights into the differences or nuances you’ve encountered in dealing with disputes on a global scale?
I have never found anything very different even while dealing with an international dispute. The ways and methods may be different, but the approach is the same. Yes, if I have to point out a few distinguishing factors, I would say the sophistication and systematic approach that is adopted internationally, is something we must even adopt in our domestic arbitrations.
Representing major tech giants in various matters is certainly impressive. Can you share a bit about the unique challenges or dynamics involved in handling cases for major social media platforms?
The most unique challenge that a lawyer faces in such cases is that any of your actions/reaction in Court will have a far-reaching impact on the entire industry. So whatever way you are presenting your case- pleadings, submissions or oral arguments, have to be well thought out and based on parameters that do not only do good for your client, but for the industry at large.
Given your extensive experience, what skills or qualities do you believe set apart successful lawyers in today’s competitive environment, and how can law students cultivate these attributes during their academic years?
The ability to keep yourself abreast with the latest changes to law, with knowledge of the first principles is what will set you apart. The learning will never stop but one tips I can give to youngsters is that they should be observant. The Red-car theory is something I always believe in. Never say no to any work that comes your way and dedicate yourself to the profession. During academic years, focus on bare acts and law journals. Once you start practising you will constrain yourself to the books that you will be using in your case, so today is the best time to read]
Many students contemplate between pursuing a career in litigation or opting for judiciary preparation. What factors should they consider when making this decision, and are there benefits to gaining experience in both areas early in one’s career?
I think if someone wishes to pursue judiciary, they should start visiting District Court in as many districts as they can. See what is happening in Courts and are you up for it. For litigation, similarly start early. Observe how trials are done, how lawyers argue, how they act in Court and how the judges react. By following this, one can totally connect with what they would want to do and develop the Rio interest accordingly.
Switching gears a bit, outside of the legal realm, what are your personal hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your free time?
I am a biker and a super bike lover. I love to ride early morning during weekends (if work permits). I also like listening to old songs and ghazals and to justify my surname, I have slight inclination towards poetry 🙂
Lastly, we’d like to know your perspective on mentorship. Have there been mentors or individuals in your career who significantly influenced your professional growth, and what lessons have you carried forward from them?
Mentors play a very important role in this profession. Whether some is teaching you with interest or you learn by just following them, the idea is to learn. The most important part of this mentorship is that no one will come and tell you that they are your mentor. You have to choose yourself and follow them. I am lucky to have many mentors in the profession, starting from Ms. Manmeet Arora (“it’s a people’s profession”), Mr. Gaurav Duggal (“anything is possible if you want”), Mr. RS Suri, Sr. Adv (“money isn’t everything”), Mr. Anirban Bhattacharya (“eat, sleep litigate”) and Mr. Tejas Karia (“build your team”). Each one of them I chose as my mentor and all of them at one point or another have taught me things that have helped me grow as an individual and a lawyer and they all continue to inspire me every day.
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