This post is in reference to a list of 30 under 30 released by Forbes India. I am not qualified to comment on the persons included in the list except for one, i.e. Gautam Bhatia, who is a lawyer. He is a known face on Twitter and also a darling of the so-called “liberal” websites. I was actually surprised to see him included in the list. But on doing a little research, I have kind of found a reason. Anyways, let me state at the outset, I have read two of his articles, which he publishes on his blog. In both the articles, the errors committed by him belie his projected high competence as a lawyer. The details are presented herein below in the footnote. Anyone interested in it can read it.
However, Gautam Bhatia is just epitomic of the hyperbolization of normal talent by corporate media. As per an article published in Times Now, Forbes’ criteria for this selection are following: “the extent of impact of their achievments, and their ability to disrupt the status quo; scalability of the business or line of work and; their potential to stay a long-term player.” Except for assisting a senior advocate in Aadhar matter and writing blogs, I don’t know any other of his achievements unless getting a degree from Yale is also considered an achievement. Scalability of business or line of work, I think, can’t apply in legal profession for it is neither business nor entrepreneurship, and since he is already assisting a senior advocate in Supreme Court, I wonder how it can be scaled any further up as International Court of Justice is at par with Supreme Court, not over and above it. In legal profession, everybody is a long-term player. In fact, many senior lawyers have fought tiring battles in mofussil courts with high degree of ingenuity but sans any monetary benefits, but they have still not been recognized as senior advocates in any high courts leave aside Supreme Court — I agree not all grey-haired lawyers are deserving of recognition but am sure there are many who deserve much better.
Actually, I need not have wasted my time in writing the above for this hyperbolization is extensive in the corporate media. However, I do want to accentuate the fact that the so-called “liberal” websites, who aren’t typically corporate media, have been providing platform to him and many others similarly placed, which is beyond my understanding. For a few days after the Aadhar judgement by Justice Sikri, I was diligently reading various articles written by these junior advocates, who had assisted some senior advocate or the other on both sides of the spectrum. And not one of them was up to the mark. I have discussed one article written by Gautam Bhatia during that period, but I don’t think this is the right forum to discuss others especially when I have not mentioned them by name. However I do think selection of Gautam Bhatia is injustice to similarly placed junior advocates.
Btw, I am 40+ but with only eight years of lawyering experience, mostly in litigating personal matters and chamber practice, but, of course, I have appeared in all forums from district courts to Supreme Court and have a fair idea of relative competence of lawyers and the politicking involved in this profession. So, the objective of writing this article is not any professional jealousy. Rather, I am too over qualified for this profession, for I have completed MBA in Finance from a top institute before studying law. My main motivation for studying law was fighting my own cases, from which experience I can authoritatively claim justice is denied by default in our legal system. However, I do have a motivation in writing this article. I want to declare that I am a liberal in true sense, not a Commi/Congressi/AAPian psuedo-liberal, who derive from corporates very much like Sanghis. So, I will “spew venom” on both sides: Sanghis (whom I hate beyond comprehension) as well as pseudo-liberals. Just for record, I have been blocked more by pseudo-liberals than Sanghis for unknown reasons. Having made the declaration thus, I end this post.
The following quoted portion from the article entitled The Aadhaar/PAN Judgment: Decoding the “Partial Stay” dt. 12.06.2017 authored by Gautam Bhatia and published on https://indconlawphil.wordpress.com is “manifestly” wrong. The stay granted in the said judgment was merely a stop-gap arrangement purely to avoid hardship to people. No finding wrt cancelling PAN cards, “manifestly unjust” or whatever, was reached in the judgment contrary to what has been stated in the article. You can’t read more than what is stated in the judgment.
It is important to note that in the Aadhaar/PAN case, the Court could have granted the partial stay that it did, only if it was convinced that the proviso to S. 139AA(2) (cancellation of PAN if not linked with Aadhaar for paying taxes) was “manifestly unjust” or “glaringly unconstitutional”. Indeed, Mr Arvind Datar, senior counsel for the Petitioners, made the specific argument that the proviso was unconstitutional because it amounted to a disproportionate interference with the Petitioners’ fundamental right to trade and commerce under Article 19(1)(g): to deprive a person of a PAN card was effectively to shut them out of the formal economy, leading to effective “civil death”.
As I have argued in my previous post, ultimately, the Court failed to return a specific finding on the Article 19(1)(g) issue. However, as paragraph 125 demonstrates, the Court did agree with Mr Datar that the consequences of the proviso were “very severe“, and specifically cited the various transactions for which a PAN Card is compulsory as the reason why it was granting a stay, while the overall Article 21 challenge to Aadhaar remained pending before the larger bench.
Since there are no observations on “glaring unconstitutionality” – in fact, the Court categorically refused to express an opinion on the pending Article 21 challenge – it would be fair to assume, therefore, that the Court considered the draconian step of cancelling PAN Cards to be “manifestly unjust”.
In another article published on the same website entitled “Historically respectable personalities”: The Supreme Court invents a new exception to free speech dt. 14.05.2015, the author, Gautam Bhatia, has made a bold claim that SC has invented a new exception of “historically respectable personalities” to free speech, suggesting thereby that free speech against figures like Gandhi, Nehru, Padmavati, et al, has been restricted by Supreme Court. I had actually missed the relevant judgment. I accidentally learned of it while reading Rohith Vemula’s notes. He also thought free speech has been so restricted. Then I read the whole judgment and did a Google search where I found this article. I was so surprised that I, for a change, left a comment, which I normally don’t do. The fact is no such exception has been created in the judgment. I am reproducing the screen shot of the comment below.