Q. What are the practice areas that you specialize in?
I’ve been practicing at the High Court and NCLT predominantly, taking up writ petitions on the civil/criminal sides, and company/insolvency matters, respectively. Apart from that there are on-going arbitrations and consequent Section 34 applications before the Court. I guess my specialization would best be listed by clients who have got favourable orders.
Q. Could you talk about some challenging or noteworthy cases that you have worked on?
The most challenging case I have worked on was for a private school which was resisting admission of a student under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory to Education (RTE) Act, 2009. According to the school the child did not fulfill the criteria laid out under the Act and its Rules, and the Government was wrongly forcing it to take admission. It was challenging because the matter was essentially a school against a 5-year old, and in the apparent ‘David versus Goliath’, the Single Judge went in favour of the child. Though in the intra-Court appeal the Division Bench found more merit in our arguments. In any case, more than the outcome of the case, it was personally challenging because it took me time to convince myself to go against a child who is seeking education. Thereafter, various arguments were thought of, and a lot of research done by my chamber. Interestingly, the movie ‘Hindi Medium’ released at the same time, showing private schools misusing the Act.
Q. Have you faced any systemic problems as a lawyer? What kind of changes/improvements would you like to see in the Indian justice delivery system?
Unlike other High Courts, Allahabad has a problem of numbers, in the sense that the number of lawyers, staff, clients visiting the premises every working day is very high. Security is a major concern, and the systems in place as of now do not screen all entrants into the building. Lawyers need to be sensitized regarding the potential danger, so that they cooperate with the security personnel on a daily basis.
Q. Do you think Artificial Intelligence and legal technology can be helpful in improving the efficiency of the judicial system?
It can, and will, be very useful, especially in a large state like Uttar Pradesh. The challenge would be to make sure it (technology) is used to the benefit of the majority, and not just a privileged few.
Q. You have done LLB from India and LLM from London, both from premier institutions. What was different about reading law in the UK than in India?
I remember one of my professors at Oxford telling us while we were preparing for our tutorial (which was a session between a small group of one to four students and one or more professors) that the professors know what the law is, but they want to know what we think the law should be. This original thinking or making students apply their minds to formulate new ideas/laws is something which should get more focus in Indian Universities.
Q. What advise would you give to young lawyers and law students in India who want to pursue higher education?
I always encourage young lawyers to pursue higher education, if time and money (for foreign degrees) is not a constraint. Having said that, there are a lot of scholarships which can be looked at. I found that the one year I spent at Oxford helped me gain a different perspective to my education in law, and is certainly an experience I would recommend to every young lawyer.
Q. You have been practicing as a lawyer for over a decade now. How would you describe your professional journey so far? What are your future plans professionally?
The journey so far has been full of learning, and challenges on an everyday basis. The working hours take time to get used to, and unless the Court is closed, there are no weekends to take off. Therefore, it is essential that one must enjoy the work, and that is what keeps me going. To me, a decade in this profession means little, and therefore future plans are to continue reading and preparing, in a hope to keep getting better.
Q. What do you like to do when you’re not working? How are you dealing with the house arrest induced by the unprecedented lockdown?
Over the last few years I have developed a love for reading. This graduated from fiction, to alternate history, to non-fiction and spiritual. It has opened a new world for me, which I cannot get enough of.
Further, I’m trying to utilize the lockdown days to learn something new, with the many online courses available. I was able to finish an introductory course on accounts, something which I had wanted to learn since I started studying law! Also, recently, I started recording a series of short (under five minute) videos on geography, a subject I enjoy, called ‘Map It with Kartikeya’.
Of course, the time I’m getting with my wife and daughter is priceless, and is one of the reasons I do not mind the lockdown getting extended.
Kartikeya Saran is an advocate practicing in the courts and tribunal in Uttar Pradesh, mainly the Allahabad High Court, National Company Law Tribunal, Debts Recovery Tribunal and Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunal. Mr Saran is an almunus of the University of Oxford where he pursued Bachelor of Civil Laws (BCL) as a Commonwealth Scholar. He was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Gold Medal as a student at the National Law University, Jodhpur. He is a Panel Lawyer for the Central government in the Allahabad High Court. Mr Saran has experience in civil, taxation, revenue, criminal, constitutional and commercial law matters, including writ courts. He has conducted trials, argued appeals, drafted original and appellate pleadings and has appeared in Arbitrations.