Nitesh Rana, a former special prosecutor with the Enforcement Directorate (ED), resigned from the post in March..As a prosecutor, Rana has represented the ED in a number of high-profile cases, including ones against former Union Ministers P Chidambaram and Lalu Prasad Yadav, the Trinamool Congress' Abhishek Banerjee and Robert Vadra..In a chat with Bar & Bench's Aamir Khan, Rana speaks on why he quit the ED, memorable cases he has argued and the criticisms often surrounding investigations conducted by the premier probe agency..Edited excerpts follow.. Aamir Khan (AK): It has been been six months since you resigned as the prosecutor of Enforcement Directorate. Why did you resign?.Nitesh Rana (NR): I joined the Enforcement Directorate in 2014 or 2015 and it has been almost seven to eight years. It was quite a long period. I had a great experience working with them and I learned a lot. The best part about it was when I started working, the Enforcement Directorate was, so to speak, growing in terms of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases, multiple prosecutions and more work. There were different kinds of things happening — attachment orders, prosecutions, et cetera. The reason I resigned is because I had worked with them for quite a long period of time and wanted to move to private practice. I thought it is high time and I must move to the private side of law practice. There was no particular reason to resign. .AK: What took you so long to start your private practice? .NR: Well, I resigned from the Enforcement Directorate in March, but it was not accepted by the present dispensation and I was asked to wait.One of the reasons was that I was handling the largest number of cases of the agency, including matters of national importance such as terror funding and political cases. It was not possible to relieve me or accept my resignation immediately. It took almost about six months and it was eventually accepted in September.I now have many important matters and I'm enjoying my private practice. I feel happy that I've been accepted by the private litigant and they are approaching me in arrests and attachments, appeals in the Supreme Court, High Courts, trial courts, special courts, everywhere. .AK: What attracted you to criminal law, especially white collar crimes?.NR: When when you spent 10 or 11 years in the profession, you want to decide on which side of law you should be in. Thankfully, I got an opportunity to work on the criminal side, especially, in cases of white collar crimes. I dabble in both blue collar and white collar crimes. These are great areas to practice. .AK: You represented the agency in several money laundering cases such as Aircel-Maxis, Sterling Biotech and Religare, involving some of the biggest names from the political and business arena. Did you feel the pressure?.NR: When you are working on big matters - in the sense of the stakes or quantum - there is pressure to perform since it involves prosecution and arguments against some big names.So the pressure definitely is on you. And then that level of preparation is also required. You work hard for that, because you get the best of counsel of this country pitted against you.The stakes of those matters are very high as they are cases of national importance, involving fugitives who have left the country after siphoning off the country’s money. So, yes, there was pressure in terms of performance, not of any other kind. .AK: What was your most challenging case as ED prosecutor?.NR: There are many matters. Every matter in its own way is challenging. But when a couple of cases, especially terror funding cases, were handed over to me, a lot of my friends and family asked me if I was petrified that I was going prosecute some dreaded terrorists from Pakistan and Kashmir and other parts of the country. I told them I wasn’t at all.I took the cases happily and did them pro bono.These things are part and parcel of the profession and you've got to deal with it. You have to strike a balance between your work and the pressure. I learnt how to handle pressure better with the Enforcement Directorate..AK: Why is the rate of conviction low in money laundering cases? The ED is often criticised for going beyond its scope of power and investigating. As someone who has worked closely with the agency, how do you respond?.NR: The money laundering law was enacted in 2002, and enforced in 2005. Thereafter, it was not implemented with the kind of rigour and with the force it should have been.After 2014, the law was enforced on a large scale maybe due to international pressure - the Financial Action Task Force (Paris, France) meeting. The government was bound to enforce the law eventually. And then, effectively 2014 onwards, this law was implemented very forcefully.It’s been almost nine years since then. When a matter goes to trial, it does take time because in ED matters or money laundering cases, there is a large number of accused persons. In one prosecution, you will find 100, 150, 200 accused persons and trial will take time. I am sure over a period of time, there will be convictions, because there are some good number of of laundering cases..However, at this stage, there is low conviction just because the ED started pursuing money laundering matters vehemently 2014 onwards. There hasn’t been much time. In the eight years of my working with the ED, I got eight or nine convictions for the agency. On the point of the agency exceeding its jurisdiction, I would say in the beginning when the law is developing, you tend to go beyond the jurisdiction, but slowly you learn and advice correctly. I would advise that in prevention of money laundering cases, the agency is going beyond the predicate offence, and that needs to stop at some point. .AK: How would you describe the differences between working with the ED and as a private counsel? .NR: In working with the government or a premier agency like the Enforcement Directorate, you are bound by certain instructions and you have to work within the framework of those instructions. You have to present your case not beyond the instructions. For me, the agency was a client, so I could not argue beyond what it instructed me. However, when you come to the private side of your profession, you have more liberty. You can dilate, as you are advising a private party and you can tell them whatever is required. Therefore, you have more freedom in the private side than with the agency. .AK: If I am not wrong, you are a first-generation lawyer. Who is your inspiration in the profession?.NR: Well, you're right. I'm a first generation lawyer. When I came into the profession, I didn't know anybody. Therefore, I approached some senior lawyers and I started working with then Central government standing counsel, who is now a judge in the Delhi High Court, Justice Navin Chawla. Then I worked with then Solicitor General of India Mohan Parasaran, and with him I had a great experience. .When I walked in the Supreme Court I watched stalwarts like Fali S Nariman, Harish Salve and I briefed them. They are the frontrunners when it comes legal prowess in our country.At the same time, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi was the Additional Solicitor General of India and I had the experience to brief all of them and it was a great learning experience. I would keep asking myself how much do I have to prepare before briefing them.One never knew what they would ask, so you had to be thoroughly prepared.One highlight at the beginning of my career was the Bofors case. It turned out to be great learning experience because I had to brief Mr Rohatgi every day in the Delhi High Court. These are some of the greatest lawyers in this country..AK: Any advice for first-generation lawyers?.NR: As a first-generation lawyer, I can tell there's a lot of struggle, but one should not get discouraged. Don’t shy away from the struggle. Put in hundred per cent efforts and be tenacious. You kind of surrender yourself and say there is nothing beyond this. Lately, I have seen people on social media and in the press talking about conducting the legal profession in vernacular language, in Hindi. Well, that's fine, it is our national language. However, English is the primary language of the judiciary and all the young lawyers must have very good English.They need to set a goal and try and achieve it before the deadline. Also, read every day. The law is developing every day; new judgments are coming in and so are the interpretations. One needs to read them regularly, in order to have a new perspective.Attend seminars of senior advocates, judges - you get to learn their perspectives on law points.