Q 1. What are your practice areas? Could you tell LQ about some of your clients and specific cases you have worked on?
My practice areas are mainly writ petitions under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. I practise a lot on environmental laws, service laws, municipal laws, educational laws and Public Interest Litigation.
I represent the petitioners and also several authorities like West Bengal State Election Commission, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board, the State of West Bengal, several Municipalities and Municipal Corporations, several educational institutions and Universities, the State of Bihar and the Odisha Pollution Control Board in certain matters.
I have been representing the West Bengal Pollution Control Board and the West Bengal State Election Commission for several years now and have appeared in several important litigations. I have had the occasion to appear on behalf of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board in the firecracker matters wherein the decibel level of the firecrackers, as fixed by the Pollution Control Board, was under challenge and also the matters pertaining to the IPL cricket matches to be held in Eden Gardens wherein the aspect of air and environment pollution was agitated. I have also appeared in several litigations over a period of years for the State Election Commission in litigations pertaining to Panchayat and Municipal Elections. I have also represented the petitioners in a lot of important matters pertaining to service, educational and municipal matters.
Q 2. 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?
No, I have really not faced any systematic problems as a lawyer. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the seniors in my profession who have been and still are gracious enough to teach me patiently the nuances of law and decorum.
The Indian Justice delivery system, I strongly believe, is one of the best in the world. It has always delivered and dispensed justice without fear or favour and has always upheld the Constitution of India and its ideals. It has adopted to the changing system and facets of life and society to deliver justice. I consider myself to be lucky to be a tiny cog in the wheel, albeit insignificant, in this wheel of justice.
Q 3. Do you think Artificial Intelligence and legal technology can be helpful in improving the efficiency of the judicial system?
Artificial Intelligence and legal technology can definitely be helpful in improving the efficiency of the judicial system but again, having said that, I also say that the same has to be, at present, used judiciously. Artificial Intelligence, like we are using at present for taking up matters, is extremely important as it allows the affected and aggrieved parties, who have real urgency, to seek justice which is of extreme importance. However, at the same time, I think that sole reliance upon Artificial Intelligence, as of date, may not be a complete solution and it definitely needs to be developed further and also made more accessible to all the concerned and affected parties. However, it is definitely a big step towards the future.
Legal technology, which of course also includes legal softwares, is a huge step forward according to me. This has made legal research much easier and also is very useful during hearings in court, in as much as, it hardly takes time to search out decisions being cited by the other side. Furthermore, the aspect of saving of paper and space by way of books cannot be overlooked. If there is one area which I would like to be developed a bit more forthwith it would be the speech to text softwares, which I think will be of great assistance to the legal fraternity.
Q 4.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?
I have been practising for more than 21 years now. My professional journey so far has been really satisfying and I have cherished every step of this journey since the joining of the Bar. Of course every journey comes with its own share of dissatisfactions and frustrations every now and then but overall it has been an extremely satisfying journey so far. I always wanted to be a lawyer from my school days and, in fact, never considered any other profession.
I would, in the future, like to concentrate more on helping people in need of justice. I do a lot of matters pro bono. I would also like to explore a bit more of environmental issues and aspects of electoral laws.
Q 5. What do you like to do when you’re not working? How are you dealing with the house arrest induced by the unprecedented lockdown?
I have a lot of hobbies, or rather used to have a lot of hobbies. I used to play the hawaiyan guitar and also had represented the school in table tennis. I had, in fact, won the Table Tennis championship of Calcutta High Court after joining the Bar. I am also a voracious reader and a film and music buff. Oh yes, I love to travel.
The unprecedented lockdown has, in fact, allowed me an opportunity to rediscover several aspects of life which I had always enjoyed but was not able to dabble or indulge in much for the last few years. I am reading a lot, listening to music, watching a lot of films which I had always wanted favourites to but had missed out or re watching all time favourite ones. Most importantly, I am catching up on quality family time, devoting plenty of time to my daughter. Hence, seen from that angle, I don’t consider this to be a “house arrest” at all.
Q 6. Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
I am very encouraged with young lawyers joining the Bar nowadays. They are much more confident and prepared than what we generally were in our initial days. I would like to believe that the future of this wonderful profession will be good and shall prosper in their able hands.
Nayan Chand Bihani is a practising advocate at Calcutta High Court. Mr. Bihani pursued his LL.B from the Calcutta University College of Law, Hazra Campus and was enrolled as an Advocate in December,1998. Mr. Bihani deals mainly with Writ petitions, specially in Environmental laws, Election laws, Educational laws, Municipal laws, Service laws and Public Interest Litigations. He also represents several authorities like the West Bengal State Election Commission, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board, the State of West Bengal, several Educational Institutions and Universities and several Municipalities and Municipal Corporations and the Odisha Pollution Control Board.