Vaibhavi Sharma is an Advocate associated with New Delhi-based Prosoll Law Inc. in the field of Criminal Law, especially Corruption Cases emanating from the Prevention of Corruption Laws and similar Economic Offences.
Q. Prosoll Law mainly deals with matters pertaining to corruption, bribery, economic offences and white collar crime. Could you tell LQ about some of your clients and specific cases you/your firm have worked on? Also, tell us more about your law firm.
Prosoll Law Inc. is a Law firm established in 1987 by my father Mr. Harsh K. Sharma and since then he has established his own niche practice. His vision was to provide ‘Pro Legal solutions’ to all the firms’ clients, that is why the name “Prosoll Law”. The firm believes in effective legal representation, in a cost effective manner which begins with understanding the clients’ quandary.
The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 came into force and the firm got its first PC Act Criminal defence matter in 1988 itself, and it was followed by several other briefs under Delhi Rent Control Act, Summary Suits under Order XXXVII CPC, Probate Petitions, Company Winding-up Petitions, Trade Mark Registrations etc. However, in 1995, the firm was having more than 50 Trap Cases, both registered by CBI and the Anti-Corruption Department of Delhi Government and that was the turning point for the firm when my father decided to focus on Criminal Defence Litigation originating from the Anti-Corruption laws read with Indian Penal Code and since then he has been representing a large number of senior politicians, bureaucrats, senior government officials and a number of business tycoons from the past 32 years or more.
Prosoll Law has grown as a team possessing high standards with deep expertise in the field of law. Team Prosoll, comprising of enthusiastic advocates having expertise in different fields of Law, handles a gamut of matter comprising of Trap cases, Disproportionate Assets matters, Bank Frauds, forgery, money laundering cases and other Economic Offence matters along with Service matters, Commercial, Matrimonial and Civil matters; appearing before numerous forums all over India, for Instance the CBI Special Court (PC Act) Delhi, District Courts dealing with PC Act Matters in Mumbai, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Hyderabad; Adjudicating Authority for Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Appellate Tribunal for Prevention of Money Laundering, various Commercial Courts, Civil courts, Central Administrative Tribunal, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court, Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court, Hon’ble High court of Rajasthan and many more.
Q. Do you enjoy working on cases of white collar crime? Would you like to work on other cases in future? If yes, then what kind of cases.
Well, I thoroughly enjoy the work I do. I am working on matters comprising of Trap cases, Disproportionate Assets matters, Bank Frauds, money laundering cases.
However, I feel that for gaining expertise in the field of Law, one should ideally work on a variety of cases. Mere theoretical knowledge of the statutes will not equip us lawyers to combat the challenges of a trial or appellate proceedings. Going forward with this ideology, I am currently representing business houses with their disputes which are commercial in nature. With the introduction of Commercial Courts Act, 2015; separate Commercial Courts, Commercial Divisions, and Commercial Appellate Divisions, have been constituted, which are being presided by judges experienced in commercial disputes.
I am also actively handling matters involving the Specific Relief Act, Negotiable Instruments Act, Matrimonial Laws, just to name a few.
Q. As a young lawyer who started practicing about five years back, what was your first impression of the Indian judicial system? Have you faced any systemic problems as a lawyer?
I vividly remember my first day in court as a lawyer. I had appeared for a remand matter on a Sunday! The CBI, i.e. the investigating agency in the Delhi CMO graft case, had arrested 2 public servants and 4 private individuals for custodial interrogation in light for the FIR registered for the offence of Criminal Conspiracy, cheating, forgery under the Indian Penal Code read with the Prevention of Corruption Act and I had appeared as an associate of the firm, representing one of the accused persons.
So, for me it has been extremely motivating to witness how diligently and tirelessly the Hon’ble Judges, both at the appellate courts and the trial courts, preside over their respective court rooms, at times spend extra hours to deal with the pendency of cases.
Indian Judiciary is armed with extremely balanced and learned Judges, and it has been my pleasure to have appeared before them.
Further, after working for a considerable time and on a daily basis before different forums, I can only say that the Indian Judicial System is evolving with the changing times. The Hon’ble Apex court and the Hon’ble High Courts and the District courts are relentlessly working towards meeting the needs of the present times.
Q. What kind of changes/improvements would you like to see in the Indian justice delivery system?
One significant development I would like to see in the entire legal system in India per se is ‘paperless functioning of courts’ at some point in time. Though there are several progressive steps required to be taken in this regard, certain laudable initiatives are seeing the light of the day. In February this year, the Hon’ble Supreme Court issued a circular allowing material to be printed on both sides of A4 sheets, as compared to printing being allowed on legal documents on only one side of a sheet. Several other High Courts have, since then, followed the initiative in environmental interest. This shows a very positive mindset and hopefully we should be moving towards paperless courts soon. Moving towards an efficient Justice Delivery System is important but the need of the hour is to conserve the resources that we have.
Lastly, and most importantly, I would be keen to see how various courts in the country deploy technology in the truest sense.
Q. You have been subscribing to LegitQuest. What do you think of our product? Do you think technology and Artificial Intelligence should be applied to improve the legal system?
Across the globe today, technological advancements, digitization and innovation in fields like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning is changing the way in which legal system is functioning. As mentioned above, we are living in times when emerging technologies have tremendous potential to add value to the functioning of legal system. For any task that is automated by technology, we can avail the benefits in the form of time saved and hence, reduced costs. I feel AI and Machine Learning tools will continue to contribute to increasing convenience, accuracy and efficiency in functioning of the legal system.
Talking about applying technology to Indian Legal System, it was rather surprising to observe that during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, when physical movement has been restricted, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has swiftly taken action. Virtual Courtrooms, E-Filing and Paperless Courts have finally come to a reality! While earlier this month, a meeting was convened by the Chief Justice of India, whereby members of the bar were encouraged to accept and promote e-filing and video conferencing, the same was implemented within no time. Last week, the Hon’ble Supreme Court introduced the facility of court proceedings over video conferencing. It allowed separate rooms for lawyers to argue their cases over video-conferencing from within the premises. The court also introduce a Mobile-App called ‘VidYo’ to allow lawyers to join the proceedings from their offices. It is heart-warming to see technology being utilized to such a great extent in our day to day functioning and this may usher us into a completely new era of digital courts, sooner than we have expected.
As regards LegitQuest, honestly, being a litigator, I’ve been using several legal research software since a long time. LegitQuest, for me, stood out because of the ‘i-DRAF’ feature, using which I can have the Decision, Reasoning, Arguments and Facts of the case law at a single click. Another feature that caught my eye, as a legal practitioner, is the ability see the treatment of case laws condensed in the form of graphics and segregated in different buckets – overruled, approved, cited, referred and distinguished.
Q. What are your professional plans for the future?
My utmost priority would be to ensure that Prosoll Law Inc. continues to be known for the impeccable standards of servicing and expertise in the niche fields of law. The team, under the aegis of Founder Proprietor, Mr. Harsh K. Sharma, has been doing phenomenal and path-breaking matters related to Anti-corruption, Bribery, Money Laundering, criminal misconduct, Disproportionate Assets matters, Trap cases, Bank Fraud, cheating, and forgery. My professional plan is to continue deepening the firm’s practice in Criminal Law, especially cases related to corruption, white-collar crime, fraud, bribery and expand the team which can cater to the commercial and civil litigation of the firm.
This will certainly call for us to be updated with all latest legal developments, both at legislative and judiciary levels. The firm believes in culture of thorough research and knowledge-building. I intend to personally commit myself to sustaining a robust culture of research and knowledge-building in the firm.
On a slightly more personal level, I continue seeing myself contributing to the growth of the legal profession. To the best extent possible and without compromising on client commitments, I plan to continue supporting Law School Events and initiatives like Moot Court Competitions, Mediation Competitions, in association with various Universities. If time permits, I would continue speaking at relevant forums, conducting webinars and writing regularly about thought-provoking issues like women empowerment through law, use of forensics in criminal law and rights of a common man.
Q. How are you coping with the house arrest due to the coronavirus spread? What do you like to do in your free time?
The rapid and unprecedented spread of coronavirus has exposed people, business communities and the world economy to volatile circumstances. All of us, across the globe, are trying to combat the testing times. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted by this global outbreak.
The house-arrest has, in some way, been a blessing in disguise. I’m spending time by reading up on all the latest legal developments. The speed with which laws are evolving requires one to be abreast of trends that have emerged in other countries and jurisprudence behind the evolution. Thankfully, I’m able to devote quality time in reading and equipping myself with more knowledge.
Further, the technology has converted the world into a ‘Virtual Family’. Platforms like webinars and podcasts bridge the gap and connect people from all over the world. I’ve already conducted a webinar on ‘Career in White Collar Crimes: All What You Need To Know’. The webinar was attended by almost 100 lawyers and law students of different age groups, having interest in the field of White-Collar Crime and Criminal Law. Listening to others’ perspectives and how they view the field I’ve been practicing in was a refreshing experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the interaction and am keen to conduct more such webinars during my free time.
Of course, during this time too, we are connected with clients who may need urgent advice and assistance. Counseling clients in these times of uncertainties assumes far greater value as the clients look up to us for solutions.
Most importantly, the sudden outspread has made all of us adjust to this new way of functioning from home. Spending time with family and simultaneously donning the professional world – I guess that’s what is called ‘best of both the worlds’!