Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given at the end.
When Ratan Tata moved the Supreme Court, claiming his right to privacy had been violated, he called Harish Salve. The choice was not surprising. The former solicitor general had been topping the legal charts ever since he scripted a surprising win for Mukesh Ambani against his brother Anil. That dispute set the gold standard for legal fees. On Mukesh’s side were Salve, Rohinton Nariman, and Abhishek Manu Singhvi. The younger brother had an equally formidable line-up led by Ram Jethmalani and Mukul Rohatgi.
The dispute dated back three-and-a-half years to when Anil filed case against his brother for reneging on an agreement to supply 28 million cubic metres of gas per day from its Krishna-Godavari basin fields at a rate of $ 2.34 for 17 years. The average legal fee was Rs. 25 lakh for a full day's appearance, not to mention the overnight stays at Mumbai's five-star suites, business class travel, and on occasion, use of the private jet. Little wonder though that Salve agreed to take on Tata’s case pro bono. He could afford philanthropy with one of India’s wealthiest tycoons.
The lawyers’ fees alone, at a conservative estimate, must have cost the Ambanis at least Rs. 15 crore each. Both the brothers had booked their legal teams in the same hotel, first the Oberoi and, after the 26/ ll Mumbai attacks, the Trident. lt’s not the essentials as much as the frills that raise eyebrows. The veteran Jethmalani is surprisingly the most modest in his fees since he does not charge rates according to the strength of the client's purse. But as the crises have multiplied, lawyers‘fees have exploded.
The 50 court hearings in the Haldia Petrochemicals vs. the West Bengal Government cost the former a total of Rs. 25 crore in lawyer fees and the 20 hearings in the Bombay Mill Case, which dragged on for three years, cost the mill owners almost Rs. 10 crore. Large corporate firms, which engage star counsels on behalf of the client, also need to know their quirks. For instance, Salve will only accept the first brief. He will never be the second counsel in a case. Some lawyers prefer to be paid partly in cash but the best are content with cheques. Some expect the client not to blink while picking up a dinner tab of Rs. 1.75 lakh at a Chennai five star. A lawyer is known to carry his home linen and curtains with him while travelling on work. A firm may even have to pick up a hot Vertu phone of the moment or a Jaeger-LeCoutre watch of the hour to keep a lawyer in good humour.
Some are even paid to not appear at all for the other side - Aryama Sundaram was retained by Anil Ambani in the gas feud but he did not fight the case. Or take Raytheon when it was fighting the Jindals. Raytheon had paid seven top lawyers a retainer fee of Rs. 2.5 lakh each just to ensure that the Jindals would not be able to make a proper case on a taxation issue. They miscalculated when a star lawyer fought the case at the last minute. “I don’t take negative retainers”, shrugs Rohatgi, former additional solicitor general. “A Lawyer’s job is to appear for any client that comes to him. lt’s not for the lawyers to judge if a client is good or bad but the court”. Indeed. He is, after all, the lawyer who argued so famously in court that B. Ramalinga Raju did not ‘fudge any account in the Satyam Case. All he did was “window dressing”.
Some high profile cases have continued for years, providing a steady source of income, from the Scindia succession battle which dates to 1989, to the JetLite Sahara battle now in taxation arbitration to the BCCI which is currently in litigation with Lalit Modi, Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.
Think of the large law firms as the big Hollywood studios and the senior counsel as the superstar. There are a few familiar faces to be found in most of the big ticket cases, whether it is the Ambani gas case, Vodafone taxation or Bombay Mills case. Explains Salve, “There is a reason why we have more than one senior advocate on a case. When you're arguing, he’s reading the court. He picks up a point or a vibe that you may have missed.” Says Rajan Karanjawala, whose firm has prepared the briefs for cases ranging from the Tata's recent right to privacy case to Karisma Kapoor’s divorce, “The four jewels in the crown today are Salve, Rohatgi, Rohinton Nariman and Singhvi. They have replaced the old guard of Fali Nariman, Soli Sorabjee, Ashok Desai and K.K. Venugopal.” He adds, “The one person who defies the generational gap is Jethmalani who was India's leading criminal lawyer in the 1960s and is so today.”
The demand for superstar lawyers has far outstripped the supply. So a one-man show by, say, Rohatgi can run up billings of Rs. 40 crore, the same as a mid-sized corporate law firm like Titus and Co that employs 28 juniors. The big law filik such as AZB or Amarchand & Mangaldas or Luthra & Luthra have to do all the groundwork for the counsel, from humouring the clerk to ensure the A-lister turns up on the hearing day to sourcing appropriate foreign judgments in emerging areas such as environmental and patent laws. “We are partners in this. There are so few lawyers and so many matters,” points out Diljeet Titus.
As the trust between individuals has broken down, governments have questioned corporates and corporates are questioning each other, and an array of new issues has come up. The courts have become stronger. “The lawyer,” says Sundaram, with the flourish that has seen him pick up many Dhurandhares and Senakas at pricey art auctions, “has emerged as the modern day purohit.” Each purohit is head priest of a particular style. Says Karanjawala, “Harish is the closest example in today's bar to Fali Nariman; Rohinton has the best law library in his brain; Mukul is easily India's busiest lawyer while Manu Singhvi is the greatest multi-tasker.” Salve has managed a fine balancing act where he has represented Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, Parkash Singh Badal and Amarinder Singh, Lalit Modi and Subhash Chandra and even the Ambani brothers, of course in different cases. Jethmalani is the man to call for anyone in trouble. In judicial circles he is known as the first resort for the last resort. Even Jethmalani’s junior Satish Maneshinde, who came to Mumbai in I993 as a penniless law graduate from Karnataka, shot to fame (and wealth) after he got bail for Sanjay Dutt in 1996. Now he owns a plush office in Worli and has become a one-stop shop for celebrities
Which of the following is not true about Ram Jethmalani?
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