“Travelling to various Courts per-se add a great value, however, arguing a matter before another Court apart from your regular Court adds more experience and sharpens the argumentative skills”- Devmani Basal, Associate Partner at SNG Partners

This Interview has been published by Pragya Chandni and The SuperLawyer Team

Sir, could you please share the story of how you initially decided to pursue a career in law? Were there specific experiences or influences that led you to choose this path? 

First of all, I am a second generation lawyer. I was motivated to pursue law from the beginning as Law is a noble profession and contributes a lot to society. Since my childhood, I have seen my Father’s contribution towards society as his core practice area was Criminal Law. However, during my college days, I was much inclined to pursue my career in the stock market being financially connected which goes to my core passion. Simultaneously, I was pursuing Law and finally, I decided to shift myself to Law especially in Commercial matters, which is a mixed bag of finance and commerce. I, then, shifted to Delhi.

With almost 12 years of experience across litigation, commercial arbitration, and consumer and company litigation, what motivated you to specialize in these specific areas within the legal field? 

I am passionate to read and learn more and more deep into financial activities related to business and commerce. This interest connects me with the litigation and enlightens me to understand the problem of a businessman in a much better way, which ultimately led to making a business decision. Law can be practiced by anyone but having basic knowledge over the general subject of the case either commercial, arbitration or consumer or company makes things easier to resolve the query in an effective way. Like an Advocate having understanding of stock market would be able to pursue a case related to stock market than a novice. Since I have interest in reading these topics, I was more inclined to specialise in the above specific areas in the legal field, so that I can deliver better than ordinary. 

Your career includes appearances before various High Courts, the Supreme Court of India, and various tribunals. Can you highlight a particularly challenging case you’ve worked on and discuss the strategies you employed to navigate through it successfully? 

It was in Sep’ 2014, when I caught up in a matter before Hon’ble Supreme Court. I briefed a Senior Advocate, however, he was stuck in a traffic jam and could not make it on time. I was called upon by the Bench to argue. With hesitation, I began and strenuously argued the matter. When I finished my arguments, my Senior reached the Court. However, by that time, the Hon’ble Court reserved the matter for order. The judgement was delivered in the month of March’ 2015 and finally, we succeeded. This case taught me to always be ready with the brief irrespective of engaging a Senior Advocate. I have fearlessly appeared before almost 11 High Courts of the country and numerous District Courts and Tribunals across the country and independently argue the matters. This rich experience and exposure are completely devoted to my Senior Colleague Mr. Ajay Abhay Monga Advocate, who always reposed faith on my skills and offered opportunity as and when it appeared.  

Given your expertise in Consumer Laws, Commercial Law, and other areas, how do you stay abreast of the ever-evolving legal landscape, especially with regards to amendments and changes in laws and regulations? 

In the current scenario, especially the deep presence of online updates and platforms, it becomes easy to keep updated. However, specific laws get evolved as and when I work upon a case file. I must state that sitting in Court, in idle time, is indeed a good way of learning and keeping updated, apart from learning argumentative skills and to have a broad idea about the temperament of a Judge.

You’ve been associated with significant reported judgments, such as Millennium Wires vs. The State Trading Corporation of India. Can you share the role you played in these cases and the impact they had on your legal career? 

As explained to you above, the case you highlighted was a game changer for me as it was an opportunity to independently argue a case before the Hon’ble Supreme Court in addition to the fact that many stakes were involved. I was quite nervous in the beginning, however, after the hearing concluded, I felt immensely satisfied with my performance and it boosted my confidence to argue a case before any Court. I was involved in the above case since it was before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi, therefore, I had good command over the facts and coupled with the fact that I briefed the Senior Advocate for hearing, so I was quite prepared with the case. The preparation, briefing and discussion with Senior and deep involvement in the case since inception, in fact, gave power and confidence to present the case independently.

Having worked on matters related to FEMA, PMLA, and other financial regulations, how do you approach advising senior management on the legal implications of business decisions, particularly in the context of financial laws? 

Advising on the legal implications of financial laws certainly depends upon the kind of business my client is involved in coupled with their requirements. Those days are gone by, where businesses can flourish without legal support. Presently, the laws are quite stringent, which require legal advice at every stage of business decisions. Therefore, after understanding the business model and the requirements of a particular trade, I would advise my Client in making its business decisions in line with the financial laws.

From being an Associate to now being an Associate Partner at SNG & Partners, can you discuss the key milestones and challenges you faced in your career progression? 

I belong to Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh and shifted myself to Delhi in Sep’ 2011 to pursue my career in law. Since, I was not much active during my college days, therefore, I was completely raw, when in fact, I entered the profession. I initially practiced with some Advocate for a period of 4 months and thereafter, I began my career with SNG & Partners in March’ 2012. Our Managing Partner, Mr. Sanjay Gupta is a kind-hearted and a great mentor, who always encourages the juniors. In the beginning, rushing from one Court to another gave me an exposure to a variety of laws. I was working under Mr. Ajay Abhay Monga, Senior Partner, who gave me ample opportunities to argue the matter independently. Later on, he handed over the outstation cases portfolio to me, which added more exposure in my experience. Travelling to various Courts is per-se add a great value, however, arguing a matter before another Court, apart from your regular Court, adds more experience and sharpens the argumentative skills. Travelling to different Courts gives independence as well as enhances decision making without the support of your colleagues. It also helps you to understand the local practices of various Courts. I must add that there are no free lunches anywhere and the same goes with different Courts in different states. You will face challenges like language barriers as all the Courts in this country are not following English as their base language but these exposures not only add experience but also shape an Advocate to argue a matter in challenging circumstances as well. My journey with SNG is full of challenges in each case, however these challenges make an Advocate. I am always thankful to my Seniors for always appreciating my work and finding me suitable for new challenges. A special regard to Mr. Monga, who has been a great mentor for me and guided me in my hard times and always motivated me.

As someone with a rich and varied legal career, what advice would you give to fresh law graduates who are just entering the legal profession? What key lessons have you learned along the way that you would like to share with them? 

A law graduate must understand that law is a learning process, which would never end. Therefore, reading and understanding the law and its implications are essential. Like practice makes a man perfect, similarly, the more you read, the more you gain. Law graduates, during the initial days, must visit Court everyday and observe the Advocates arguing their cases and the kind of questions raised by the Benches. This will make them understand how the case is presented. You can make notes and read the file thoroughly, however, there are certain spontaneous questions, which would arise and those questions can be answered, only with your general acumen. A law graduate must not refrain from reading the topics, which are not necessary for the kind of legal practice he/she is involved in. He/She must understand that presenting a case before the Court is an art crafted by an Advocate. Thus, every advocate has a different way of presenting the case. Thus, the argumentative skills can only be learnt, when you hear and listen in a Courtroom. I wish All the Best to all the Law graduates.  

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