LexTalk World interviews Rajat Baijal, Born on 12th September, 1975, did B.Sc. in Life Sciences in 1997 from University Maharaja's College, Jaipur. Did LL.M with specialisation in Comparative Constitutional Law from Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati University, Ajmer. University Topper at LL.M examination, had also been a Fellow at National Law University, Jodhpur whereat pursued much of Research Studies and Field Survey on the issues of Gender Sensitivity and Gender Discrimination with a targeted approach to Gender Sensitive Lawyering. Later on, authored commentary on the Law of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence and been honored for the same by the erstwhile Chief Justice of India on the Law Day Function held on 26th day of November, 2017 on behalf of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Supreme Court of India. With very rich academic interest in the developments and dynamics of Law, is also a member of the Indian Law Institute, New Delhi and is constantly guiding till date, hundreds of students to prestigious Law Positions all across the nation, with a very rich part-time teaching experience at various Law Coachings and Law Institutions.
Besides, since the last two decades unto the present, a Regular Independent Practising Advocate at the Hon'ble Rajasthan High Court and the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India and a active counsellor in matters pertaining to All India High Courts dealing with Civil, Criminal, Appellate and Writ Matters pertaining to Service Laws, Educational Laws, Revenue Laws, Family and Property Laws and various other branches of Law.
On International Frontiers, is a Distinguished Member of the International Council of Jurists, United Kingdom London and a Honorary Member Advocate with a couple of other International Organisations and Federations including the International Federation of Global Green Information Communication and Technology, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Been internationally active on the global concerns of Ecosystem Sustainability and Planet Green Earth, Global Warming, Biodiversity Conservation and Wildlife Conservation & Protection.
Host : If you could please describe your legal journey so far and also help us understand about the initial days when you were starting as a legal professional, how it really started?
Rajat : I started my legal practice in 2000. Thereafter, the initial days were much struggling. You had to prove yourself. You had to prove your grit, that yes, you can stay in the practice, you are dedicated towards the practice and that is your passion.
So, slowly and slowly with the time, I kept learning. I started my learnings from the basics trial court and from trial court onwards, I moved to High Court, I moved to Supreme Court with different kinds of cases coming to me, it was always a kind of journey that was every case was a challenge, every case was a take, that required you to prove yourself and with time, I could learn so many things, I could get to know so many people from the public, from the common public, from the elites, it was a journey providing me a great exposure, I could prove myself in the cases before the Hon'ble High Court, before the Hon'ble Supreme Court and it is still continuing to be a journey, because everyday a new challenge, everyday a new take, everyday every case having certain kind of a certain kind of a requirement, that you need to prove, that you need to be confident about. So I suppose, the journey is very good, the journey is very challenging, the journey is very interesting and it's continuing.
One more thing, which is very good is that I could not only have my talents at the national level, I was also given an opportunity to represent my views, to represent my ideas at the International Level and that is very good if I see to it, that is very good because you are exposed at the international level, not only at the national level, at the international level; that's very good about it.
Host : Tell us about those complex legal issues that you had to work on and describe the complexity, tell us how you approached it.
Rajat: There were many issues coming to me in various kinds of cases and I should describe some of the interesting cases that came up to me. It was, if you go very recently, the pandemic was around the entire world and there were voices that some kind of a investigation should be there about the role of China into it and through the International Council of Jurists our President could file a petition asking for investigation and everybody knows that WHO went into the process of investigating the entire pandemic, what were the causes, and there were a lot of scientific discussions over it, there were a lot of political discussions over it. So on the international frontier, if you ask me, I would like to be very much grateful to our President Dr. Adish Aggarwala who went ahead with this petition and I could also pour in certain of my views, certain of my insights into it, and that was very good; one thing on the international frontier.
On the national frontiers, there were cases dealing with Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act and there was one very great ruling which was fought from our office, the case was of Toofan Singh and the ruling was that any kind of a statement that is given to the authorities with Narcotics Control Bureau, that kind of a statement cannot be believed in itself, until and unless it is been corroborated by other evidences on the record; and that was one thing which was very good for us, because the case got cited in very many journals also.
There were cases dealing with Insurance Claims we could make a lawpoint thereat in one such Motor Accident Claim Case that the involvement of the impugned vehicle is not required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt. If the preponderance of probabilities weigh into the fact that yes the involvement of the vehicle, vehicle by which the offence is committed, the accident took place, if the preponderance of the evidences weighing to show that yes the involvement of the vehicle is there, it is enough for the claimant to get his insurance claim. So these were kind of points. In Service Laws also there was a case which was requiring the authority to decide whether the Honorarium can be considered to be Wages or not and if you see to the Payment of Wages Act, wages has been defined as any kind of a payment in terms of money that is given to the employee, so we could make the point before the Authority, that yes, honorarium is a part of definition under; that is how the Wages are defined, so honorarium can also be considered to be a Wage and it is very much justified for a claimant to claim it under the Payment of Wages Act.
So there are a lot of cases. It's very difficult to pick out a single one from the rest of others, because every case got me some kind of a proving out, proving out a Lawpoint. So that way it's fabulous.
Yes, there were many cases, which were very interesting to watch in Supreme Court of India. For example, it was the case of the Rafale Deal, it was the case of National Judicial Accountability and all these cases were also interesting to everybody. So it's very difficult to pick out one from the rest, because every case for a lawyer is a take, it requiring him to learn something, so that way, it's needless to say about what was the favorite one, what was because if you pick out one favorite, you mean to say that others are not favorite. So to me, each and every case was my favorite.
Host : Here we would like to talk about the pandemic. You just talked about the pandemic a bit in the first question as well, so the pandemic saw some courts being moving towards more remote proceedings and availability. Is this sustainable and a positive way to increase access to justice, in your opinion?
Rajat: To be very frank, no one can deny that sudden switching over on the technology, sudden switching over on virtual court hearings and these kinds of things were taken to be a challenge by the legal fraternity as well as the judiciary. There were initial hiccups but there was one thing very good about it, you know that encouraged the entire legal fraternity to get on to be upgraded to the technology, to get discover the positive points that are involved in how sitting at one place we can argue, we can put the lawpoints before the Hon'ble Court and I think it is sustainable but there are certain points which everybody should keep in mind that firstly I would like to say that any kind of a technology we as human beings need to see in what ways and in what manners can it be fruitful to us and in what ways and in what manners it becomes cumbersome to us. So in the Law Industry also the very reasoning goes that as far as technology is concerned for the Legal Industry it is a tool. For example, in the Supreme Court of India and the Hon'ble High Court of India where a lawyer only needs to bring the Lawpoints before the Hon'ble Court and the documents can be very well placed online before the Judge as well as a Lawyer, it's good.
But in trial courts where evidence is required, where a lot of statements of witnesses are required; so we need to develop a lot over it and in relation to technology this is a transition phase. We cannot hold ourselves back, we cannot restrain ourselves, you know, from not making use of the technology, we have to make use of the technology and day by day we have to make it more and more user-friendly and accustomed to our purposes.
So, I feel, if with this kind of a spirit we move on, making technology adaptable and friendly to us, solving our purposes, if, keeping this thing in mind, with a flexibility, that yes, we are open to technology, we are open to use the technology and with the encouragement to the common public that yes you must technologically upgrade yourself; I feel the movement is very sustainable. I think there is no reason why the movement cannot be very sustainable if we take it with a positive mind, positive frame of mind.
Host: Here we talk about the current legal system. So how do you rate the current legal system's drive towards encouraging access to justice? Is that a tangible movement in enclosing the justice gap? Do you think?
Rajat: I feel, be it the Legal Fraternity or be it The Judiciary, we at the Legal Fraternity and the Judiciary, we all from the core of our heart, do strive that justice must be accessible to each and every person without any limitation. In that drive you can see there are very many Legal Aid Camps to make the public aware of their rights, there are Legal Aids Societies and there are legal aids provided to the indigent persons who cannot afford to pay the lawyer and then the systems like Alternate Dispute Resolution Systems, to cut away the delay that is involved in a regular judicial process, in the regular process of deciding a case, all these things, if you get to see, are giving a clear-cut indication, that yes, we at Law, whether it be at the Bar or at the Bench, are very much encouraged, are very much encouraging towards providing a easy access to justice and if you in that light ask me these virtual court hearings and these online conferences, online meetings are also a way to encourage a person to access justice.
For example, if I am sitting at one place and my client is sitting very far off from me but he has a tangible case to be fought in court, with technology, with these kinds of things we are having, the client need not travel to me down to meet me. He can very well sit at his own place, talk about the case, discuss about the case, get the opinion, so I think the flow of things is very much towards encouraging Justice and making it accessible to the remotest person of the country, of the nation.... that's it.
Host: Moving onto the legal technology a little bit. In the era of Legal Technology, what are the most commonly used tools for you?
Rajat: You see, no doubt, this is the Information Technology Age and in the Law Industry also, technology has become to us a "sine qua non". If you ask me the software, the databases have been to me a very great tool in accessing the kind of decided law points that have been decided, so that I can cite it, applying it to a particular case in my hand and that is one tool which is very much, right even before the pandemic, it was very much a tool which was of value, of utility to a lawyer,..a lawyer like me and secondly the technological upgradation, the technological stride which has made things so easier, the Information Technology, that these days, you know, if any kind of a case has been decided by the Supreme Court of India or by any High Court of India, there it is on the Law Sites, there are so many Law Sites which are just reporting and doing this very thing only that they are reporting the latest case-laws decided by the Supreme Court, decided by the High Courts, and that way, these technological strides, these modern day technologies and even before the pandemic, these were the tools which were very grateful, which were very usable, very friendly to me and I could get justice to so many of the parties, using this technology, using the databases, the software, so this has been the tool I have used the most.
Host : Time is money in any profession and in the legal it's the most of all. How do you ensure to make the best out of your time as a lawyer?
Rajat: As a lawyer, I would like to tell everyone that the more relaxed you are, the less time-conscious you are, unconsciously, you make the very best use of your time. Once you get on to the pressures that time is running out, once you get on to the tensions that I have to do this very quickly and all these things. you know. A lawyer must be a person with a very cool mind. You have to be very systematic, no doubt about it, you have to plan your schedules, you have to keep pace with the time, you have to keep pace with the people and I could manage well my time because everyday of my life till date, I have assigned it to some task, to some purpose and I have been aware that very many of the tasks and purposes are to my schedules and we can complete it; very many of the tasks and purposes are to others' schedule and we have to be, you know, relenting room to the limitations that are involved in it and with a very systematic planning, with a very systematic way of working, I could make the fullest utilization of my time, I can say that I didn't wasted a minute of my life till date of my life.
Follow LexTalk World for more news and updates from International Legal Industry.