Delivering justice is a rewarding task – Mohit Chaudhary, newly appointed AAG of J&K
Interviews

Delivering justice is a rewarding task – Mohit Chaudhary, newly appointed AAG of J&K

Smrithi Suresh

Mohit Chaudhary was recently designated as the Additional Advocate General for the State of Jammu & Kashmir in Supreme Court.

In this interview with Bar & Bench‘s Smrithi Suresh, he talks about some of the cases that are close to his heart, and what attracts him to the profession.

(Excerpts below)

Smrithi Suresh: Tell us about your early days in the profession.

Mohit Chaudhary: I graduated from Agra University. I must say that my graduation happened without much focus because I wanted to join the civil services and later, when I was preparing for my exams, I opted for law.

In my final year of law, I joined JB Dadachanji and Co. for an internship. Interning with the firm and assisting them on big stake matters made me realize that law could be a good career option for me. I completed my LLB in 2002 from Delhi University and worked with Rajan Narain for a brief time during which I was introduced to work with multinational corporations. I joined the chamber of Dhruv Mehta in 2002 and was groomed under his instructions. Then I went independent and got empanelled with the Union of India.

Smrithi Suresh: How did working with Mr. Mehta help you in your private practice?

Mohit Chaudhary: The strength or the spine of being a lawyer was actually imbibed from there. From how a case comes on your table, what approach should be taken, what strategies to adopt and like techniques were  learnt from him. A turnaround time is very important time for a lawyer and you have to deliver ASAP. Things like how to prepare a matter, go and mention it before the court, procure urgent orders from the court,  within a short period were all ingrained in me from that office.

Smrithi Suresh:- How do you view your role as AAG? What are the possible challenges?

Mohit Chaudhary: The function of the Additional Advocate General is to represent the state’s interest in the best possible manner while assisting the court. As it is a new assignment, it would be a bit premature for me to comment in detail as of now.

Nonetheless, the Attorney General is supposed to be the fountainhead for giving instructions and taking work from AAGs. So I’ll follow suit and try to perform my duties as an officer of the court, to the best of my ability.

Smrithi Suresh: Most AoRs choose to focus their practice in the Supreme Court. You have made your base in the High Court. Why?

Mohit Chaudhary: Initially, till the time I gave my AoR examination I was more focused in Supreme Court. Later I realized that Supreme Court is a one-day business. If you can get a ‘Notice’ in your matter and an interim relief, the case will be called out after 2-3 years. However litigation in the High Court requires a lot more of strategy. That element of strategizing is lacking in the Supreme Court.

To become a complete lawyer, one must work on the original side as well, on the civil front. It is an exciting path to take because you can see your strategy in motion. With that background, I wanted to shift to the High Court and now I feel, I have a balance of both.

Smrithi Suresh: You are a first generation lawyer. 

Mohit Chaudhary: Struggle is an integral part of our profession. The more the struggle, more you are groomed in. My struggle continues! So far as being a first generation lawyer is concerned, it is important to get a brief in the initial days and therein lies the real challenge.

But there is no dearth of opportunities because as a fresher, you do not carry any baggage and can command a lesser fee which gives you an edge. So lot of pro-bono matters can come in. Over a period of time the profession recognizes you, people recognize you and it pays off.

Smrithi Suresh: Which are the most memorable cases that you have worked on and are the closest to your heart?

Mohit Chaudhary: Oh too many! One gets to work on diverse matters in this field. I have done a lot of animal welfare related matters pro-bono and they are close to my heart. I did a matter for slum dwellers of Kidwai Nagar. This happened when the Courts were closed during vacations and the Vacation Bench was sitting.

The MCD & PWD authorities were ready to raze down the slums and due to holidays, there was nobody available to take up the issue. Somehow they contacted our office and we filed a petition. Within 2 hours we could get a favorable order! By the time bulldozers were razing them down, orders were taken to the site and work was stopped.

Smrithi Suresh: You work with a team of young advocates. Any lessons that you would like to pass on to them?

Mohit Chaudhary: First and foremost is that one must get the chance to express; not only in office but as a member of a team that is structuring a case and as the person who has dealt with the matter in court.

A response from a junior should never be ignored. I realized this while briefing Soli Sorabjee on various occasions. He never used to shun juniors. I imbibed that and try to follow that in my office.

A team which involves young blood will always bring fresh thoughts to the case. I try and take their inputs and if situations permit, I even ask them to appear so that they can grow and open up in court.

Smrithi Suresh:  What aspects do you like about the legal profession?

Mohit Chaudhary: Firstly, it allows you to be at the helm of affairs on a topmost level. As a lawyer you have the privilege of addressing the court and if the court is convinced, you can change the Bench’s perception. That is a highly attractive feature to me.

Secondly, delivery of what we call justice to a person in need is also as challenging a task as it is rewarding. These two things excite me.

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