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A Piano Player, Harish Salve, India’s Face at ICJ, Was a CA Before Turning into One of the Best Legal Minds

File photo of senior advocate Harish Salve.

File photo of senior advocate Harish Salve.

Salve specialises in constitutional, commercial and taxation law and primarily practises at the Supreme Court of India, various HCs and in international arbitration, as counsel or as an adjudicator. In January 2015, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: July 17, 2019, 8:41 PM IST
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New Delhi: There is more to Harish Salve, the senior advocate who successfully represented India at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the death penalty awarded to Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan, than meets the eye.

A piano player and jazz aficionado, who according to former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had charged only Re 1 as fee, didn’t start out as a lawyer. The 64-year-old was a chartered accountant and was inspired by jurist Nanabhoy Palkhiwala to take up law.

Born into a Marathi family, Salve has law in his genes. Although his father NKP Salve was a chartered account and his mother, Ambriti Salve, a doctor, his grandfather PK Salve was a prominent criminal lawyer and his great-grandfather was a munsif (subordinate judge). His own legal career began in 1980, first as an intern and then a full-time lawyer.

Since then, Salve has become one of India’s finest legal minds working with the likes of former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee and appearing in some of the country’s biggest cases.

He represented Vodafone in its 2.5-billion dollar tax dispute with India. After initially losing the case in the Bombay High Court, he later won it after moving the Supreme Court. Salve appeared for Bilkis Bano, a Gujarat riot victim, and was also a defence counsel in the Aarushi Talwar murder case.

He was also a part of the team that had previously successfully argued at the ICJ against a bid by Marshal Islands, suing India for violating nuclear disarmament obligations.

Salve specialises in constitutional, commercial and taxation law and primarily practises at the Supreme Court of India, various high courts and in international arbitration, as counsel or as an adjudicator. In January 2015, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan.

The ICJ has ruled in the favour of India in its appeal against the death sentence given to Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan. Affirming the right to consular access, the court said Jadhav’s death sentence should remain suspended until Pakistan effectively reviews and reconsiders the decision.

The court, however, rejected most of the remedies sought by India, including annulment of the military court decision convicting Jadhav, his release and safe passage to India.

The 49-year-old retired Indian Navy officer was sentenced to death by the Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” after a closed trial in April 2017. His sentencing had evoked a sharp reaction in India.


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