Raju Moray has the skills of a storyteller, with plenty of anecdotes to share about the legal profession throughout his 30-year career. The Government Law College graduate also has a Master’s in English literature, and a diploma in journalism to boot. He also happens to be the counsel for the petitioners in the Haji Ali verdict delivered by the Bombay High Court..In this interview with Bar & Bench’s Nitish Kashyap, he shares his experiences as a lawyer, and the importance of pro bono work..Nitish Kashyap: Why the Master’s in literature?.Raju Moray: The purpose of doing a masters degree was to become a professor but then I saw the pathetic pay scales and the politics in universities..IIT Bombay wanted to start a department of social work oriented to working with NGOs, but even though I was selected, they didn’t get enough people to join the course. Then I decided to do law and joined Government Law College in 1982 and got my sanad in July 1985..But when I tried to join the mainstream profession, it was a huge disappointment. After my LLB, I tried to join a solicitor’s firms but I found that they were not even willing to interview me, forget about anything else..Nitish Kashyap: Why?.Raju Moray: In those days there was this firm called Gagrat & Co. that had a senior partner AR Jani. Now Mr. Jani was known to a friend of my father..So Jani agreed to meet me and told me,.“Let me explain to you how this whole thing works. Such positions are reserved for the children of judges.” In the sense that there was an unwritten rule was that they only hired children of judges, or children of big clients, or children of senior advocates.”.He said this is how it works, and since I did not belong to any of these categories, I would find it very difficult..I was taken aback; those whom I had defeated in moot courts – they had connections, they all got placed in firms. Left with nothing to do, I enrolled for an LLM at GLC..One of the professors, the brilliant Professor TN Daruwalla, used to teach us drafting pleadings. Seeing me sitting in the library Prof. Daruwalla asked why I was sitting there. I told him that no solicitor firm would take me. “What nonsense”, he said and gave me, there and then, a letter written out to Mr. Dadi Engineer, Senior partner at Crawford Bayley..Prof. Daruwalla told me to meet him..Now see my luck. I went to Crawford Bayley and Dadi Engineer called me in immediately. He said just the previous day he had hired someone; it broke his heart to say no to a friend! But if I would still like to join, I could meet another Partner in the firm. So I did..That Partner told me,.“My first condition is that you shall never go to court! You will only do desk work and never go to court.”.So I got up, and told him,.“I don’t agree with your first condition so there is no question of doing anything else.”.I went back to the library and told Prof. Daruwalla what happened. He asked me to come to his office where I met his junior, Bharti Bakshani, who suggested that I should get in touch with Michael Saldanha if I would be interested in lower court practise. I said beggars can’t be choosers, as long as I get to go to court I don’t mind..So I went and waited for him at the Government Pleader’s office, he was an AGP in the writ cell. Once he came, we talked about everything, poetry, literature etc. I kept waiting for him to ask about law, he didn’t. He simply said come from tomorrow. I stayed with him for 4 years 2 months till he accepted judgeship..In all those years I went to all courts, did all kinds of matters. Saldanha was the lawyer for a lot of trade unions, and also did a lot of criminal cases. He himself belonged to a legendary chamber, Barrister Rajni Patel who was known as the uncrowned king of Bombay lawyers, (because he was heading the Bombay Regional Congress Committee (BRCC))..During that time, I got to know Indira Jaising and Anand Grover. They said I could come and help them since they had just started a magazine, ‘Lawyers Collective’. Within 3-4 months a cover story was done on the need for non-jargon clear precise English. I started writing a regular feature for them called “Court Jester”. It became hugely popular and I wrote it for ten years. Shortly, it will be released as an anthology..Nitish Kashyap: And what happened when your senior was made a judge?.Raju Moray: He told me that I would not have a problem in getting into any firm now. When I told him that I did not want to work in any firm, that I would start on my own, he replied,.“This is the answer I was expecting from you. My blessings are with you, you will do well.”.So I took an office space in Currimjee building, Fort. And I did a lot of pro bono work during that period, which may not have brought me remuneration but it did bring a lot of satisfaction..Mr. S Radhakrishnan who also later became a judge, also had an office space in the same building. He was already an established name in Public Interest Litigation. I started interacting with him and subsequently we started working on PIL matters together. From him I got to learn the skill and art of drafting a petition in public interest..He used to write by hand, so the brevity was there; otherwise your hand will start hurting..During that golden period the Supreme Court had judges like VR Krishna Iyer, PN Bhagwati and here (Bombay) we were appearing before Sujata Manohar J, Bakhtawar Lentin J, PB Sawant J, SP Bharucha J, then CS Dharmadhikari, and Justice ML Pendse..In each court you had someone worthwhile and it was a challenge and a joy..Nitish Kashyap: Was it easier for a junior to appear back then?.Raju Moray: Certainly, if you were prepared all these judges were willing to help and encourage juniors. Not only judges, but fellow lawyers too. I would often have Firoz Damania (who had SH Kapadia J one of his juniors) on the opposite side..Once, I got to argue a case before Justice SK Desai since my senior was not available. The judge told me come in the afternoon with ‘minutes’ , I had no idea what he was talking about but Damania told me,.“Don’t worry. Come in lunch time I will tell you how to draft minutes.”.Mind you he was my opponent! He taught me and then he said you type it out and give it to the judge. That is how the atmosphere was..I remember appearing before a bench headed by Sawant J who asked me why I was not arguing the matter. I said I can argue, but if some adverse order comes then I will be the one responsible. He replied,.“Ok, you argue the matter, if we are with you we will pass the order and if we are against you we will wait for your senior to come.”.Nitish Kashyap: That doesn’t happen anymore..Raju Moray: No, it does not. I am very sorry to see how juniors are treated by some judges. Because they have the sword of contempt in their hands, they are misusing it. If they were treated this way when they were lawyers, they would have left the profession!.But in those days the standard of the judges was good. It was a tradition that if you were called by the Chief Justice and asked to take up judgeship it was a great honour, no one refused. Now what happens is people are so busy making money and they are so scared of getting transferred somewhere they say no..When my senior became a judge there was this crisis in the Bombay High Court; judges were boycotted, and there were allegations of corruption..Nitish Kashyap: When was this?.Raju Moray: This was around 1988-89. Judges were transferred for the first time, Justice SK Desai had to resign. It was unfortunate as he was a brilliant judge..Chittatosh Mukherjee was the Chief Justice of Bombay then. He said that to restore confidence of the people, we need people with flourishing practices and impeccable records to join the Bench..In that batch of judges there was Gulabrao Patil, BN Srikrishna, AV Sawant, DR Dhanuka and SM Jhunjhunwalla besides my senior MF Saldanha. Now, Srikrishna, Sawant and Dhanuka were at the peak of their career, and the salaries of judges was so poor that they really took a big hit..[But] this restored the confidence of the people..Nitish Kashyap: Lawyers with lucrative practices often refuse to be elevated to the bench..Raju Moray: Long back, the Supreme Court had expressed this opinion that people with lucrative practices should really do pro bono work, and give back to this noble profession that has actually made you what you are..Now the same thing goes in accepting judgeship. If you do it, do so out of the spirit of sacrifice, for doing something good for the society, and for the condition of jurisprudence..My personal view is that if they do away with the transfer policy, many more people will be interested. See a person who has been living in Cuffe Parade, he may want to become a judge of the Bombay High Court provided you tell him that he will remain in Bombay..At the most he will say I don’t mind doing eight weeks of the circuit bench at Aurangabad or Nagpur but if you are going to put me in Guwahati then I don’t know..Nitish Kashyap: What about transferring chief justices from other states?.Raju Moray: Now what they are doing is indulging in Bharat darshan of Chief Justices. You take somebody from Gujarat, then you bring him to Kerala, then you transfer him as CJ to Kolkata, then you bring him to Himachal, then you bring him to Bombay..In my days there were stalwarts like MA Rane, KJ Abhyankar, CR Dalvi, these people were activist lawyers who had the guts to go and tell the Chief Justice that this won’t work. Today there is nobody, today people snigger and laugh if a junior is being ridiculed..I remember an anecdote recounted by Barrister Ghanshyam Kalsekar..Kalsekar was a junior in the chambers of former Solicitor General SV Gupte. He went to mention a matter, and the judge insulted him and sort of dismissed him. Somebody witnessed that and at the lunch table mentioned this to Advocate General Seervai, who then took Kalsekar straight to the then Chief Justice, SP Kotval ..Seervai told the Chief that Kalsekar was a member of the bar and for no reason he had been insulted by one of the judges for no reason..Seervai said the judge should apologize otherwise consequences will follow. When CJ Kotwal asked Seevai whether he was threatening him, Seervai repeatedly said something like,.“No I am just telling you the facts. As an AG, I am responsible for the members of the bar and a member of the bar cannot be treated like this by a member of the bench. Both are wheels and we have to work side by side.”.The next day, the judge called Kalsekar to his chambers, and apologized..Can you even imagine that today?.Nitish Kashyap: No. Who were some of the other stalwarts of that time?.Raju Moray: One of my fondest memories was working with Nani Palkhivala. I was representing the SBI officer’s federation. There was this one matter involving tax laws, a totally new field for me..It just happened that Nani Palkhivala had given them an opinion on this particular aspect. I prepared the petition on the basis of that opinion..One day the SBI people told me that they had managed to show the petition to Palkhivala and he wanted to meet me. I was shocked. He was one of my idols! He really liked my work, and asked me,.“Do you mind if I appear as counsel in this matter?”.I couldn’t believe my luck!.The matter was to be heard by a bench headed by Justice Pendse. So Palkhivala said ask the judge to keep the matter at 2:45. When I went to court, I asked for the matter to be fixed at 2:45 and the judge asked,.“Why? You know we don’t fix matters like this..I said, “Yes but Mr. Palkhivala is appearing in the matter.”.The judge said,.“Mr. Nani Palkhivala! Ok come at 2:45”.The word spread and Courtroom 43 was packed. Nani reached the court dot at 2:45. I could see the judges bowing to him..“What a pleasure to see you Mr. Palkhivala what brings you here?”.And then he began arguments..He said some person somewhere decides to make a law that has no basis, no constitutional validity. It is the country’s misfortune that those who can’t even write their own name are sitting in Parliament!.The judges said that can hardly be a legal submission Mr. Palkhivala. They asked him what is the relief he sought. He replied, that he needed the impugned provision to be stopped, that there was a need to examine it’s constitutional validity..Ad-interim stay was granted, and the stay continued for almost 10 years!.Later I went to Mr. Palkhivala to pay my respects. On the docket he had written, “No fees charged”!..He signed a specially bound cover copy of his book We The People, and gave it to me. That experience taught me this is what law practice is about, when it is for a cause you do it pro bono..I realized that it gives immense satisfaction when you do something for people who need your help. But I got out of Public Interest Litigation when “Professional” Public Interest Litigants came into the field..Nitish Kashyap: How did the Haji Ali matter come to you?.Raju Moray: A law intern who is the daughter of a friend of mine got me to meet Noor Jehan Safia Naaz (of Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan). After listening to them I said we could make a constitutional case. Then the issue of money came and I said I will not charge any money. But my junior who was to be the advocate on record, Sagar Rane should be paid. Just because I can afford doing pro bono work doesn’t mean I should impose this [on my juniors].Although the main matter was assigned by the then Chief Mohit Shah to a bench headed by SC Dharmadhikari J and he had even framed eight constitutional questions, the matter was re-assigned to VM Kanade J’s bench. It came up in February 2015..You know the rest of the story..Nitish Kashyap: During all this time, did you ever feel like giving up?.Raju Moray: No. When we tried to move an application based on the the Anil Rai judgement after court vacations got over in June, the matter was placed for directions on 9 June 2016. In open court Kanade J said our judgement is almost ready we just needed the Shani Shingnapur order and the status on Sabrimala..Nitish Kashyap: What was the significance of that listing?.Raju Moray: We gave the bench the two-page order in Shani Shingnapur and also the update on Sabrimala. After that, he announced that the judgement would be pronounced on June 28. Then every newspaper ran a story that the judgement would be delivered on June 28..And then the anti-climax – no judgement! My only fear was that as per Anil Rai, after 6 months it would be re-assigned to another Bench..I must say Justice Kanade was trying to persuade the trustees to settle this amicably from day one. Nobody could have tried more than he did. On more than one occasion he said these are sensitive issues, there could be a law and order problem..Nitish Kashyap: The Advocate General clearly said that it is this court that must decide..Raju Moray: No doubt Aney’s exposition was exquisite as far as the law goes. Then after stepping down as AG, he has gone on record to say that the state government had not asked him to take this position..It pricked his conscience as an Advocate General of the people of Maharashtra, not of the state and he decided to take up this stand. Now, my fear today is that if you are an officer of the state, your brief is from the State of Maharashtra and they have asked you to remain neutral then what does it mean?.Aney expounded on the Constitutional Principles in a neutral manner, as he was invited by the Court to assist in the matter. But it is a very thin line. When you openly say, that the State’s instructions were to remain neutral but I did this, out of a larger sense of duty, it gives way to an unnecessary controversy. Because what may happen is that the force of his legal, constitutional submissions get weakened by him saying it was his personal opinion as a Constitutional expert, and not the State’s opinion in the matter! It gives a small opening [to challenge the decision]..If I were to play devil’s advocate, as a dargah trust lawyer, I would say there was no affidavit filed by the state in this matter. The only affidavit was filed by the trust. State government’s submission is not an affirmed affidavit!.So to that extent one should be a little circumspect about what one says to the media in such matters..Nitish Kashyap: What kind of changes do you wish to see in the justice delivery system in the future?.Raju Moray: There are so many things that need to be improved in the criminal justice system. I feel we should have something like public defenders of America, just like we have public prosecutors. Here you have a legal aid thing, people give their name but the representation from the victim’s side is not nearly as strong as the accused. If you wish to make the right to be represented by a counsel meaningful in criminal law then there has to be an office of the public defender on par with the office of the public prosecutor..Litigation is provided as an institutionalized safety guard. To man that wall, to make it meaningful, the bar owes the responsibility which unfortunately they have not done to the extent they should have.