Dronacharya Arun Jaitley – The giver, the man full of love
Mumtaz Bhalla, who joined Arun Jaitley’s chamber as an intern and then worked as a laywer, pays moving tribute to her guru and mentor. She remembers Jaitley as a person ‘full of love’ and someone always led by examples.
Mumtaz Bhalla remembers her ‘Guru’ Arun Jaitley:
* Mr Arun Jaitley wasn’t like a typical boss, he believed in ‘leading by example’
* He was full of positivity, he never judged others, rather motivated all to grow together
* His unconventional research propositions and arguments went on to become binding precedents
* Mr Jaitley was a man full of compassion, love and warmth
* Not just professionally, he was a legend at personal level also
* He taught everyone to be empathetic and humane to fellow human beings
* Mr Jaitley would never give up on something that he believed in
* He would silently and passionately work towards accomplishing it
* Mr Jaitley left too early, he had so much left in him
* Even in last days, he kept himself abreast of latest developments in law & politics
* There will never be another ‘Arun Jaitley’
Words cannot do justice to the legend he was, but words are all I have today, when my Guru has gone. Having a science background in school, I never aspired to be a lawyer and law happened by the way. I joined Sir’s chamber as an intern which culminated into a job for me. But, this job carried with it the pressure to live-up to his expectations. He wasn’t a typical Boss preaching the importance of hard-work continuously, indulging in grandstanding or caring about the time his juniors spent at workplace. He was a Guru who believed in “leading by example” so that his shishya (in fact everyone) was motivated to work towards success. In the two decades I knew him, I had never heard him judging the merit of any other lawyer, which is a rarity in our competitive field. He only had good things to say about every lawyer. He did not feel that bringing others down is the way to grow. He believed in growing by ensuring that others grow along. In my journey with him, I don’t think I would have spoken to him on more than 10 occasions, because I did not want to take that chance where I could come across to be silly, imbecile to him on any issue. Every matter handled with him taught us how to act with dignity yet efficaciously. The research propositions formulated by him were unconventional but the way he articulated them cut ice with the judge immediately and eventually became binding precedents. Sir’s oration was unmatched…it compelled people to listen to him by catching their interest. One time a Judge behaved quirky with him in Court referring to the political statements he read in the newspaper that morning, and Sir, without indulging in explanations, having highest regard for the Judiciary respectfully argued his matter and left the Courtroom. Sir felt for the profession and always contributed in strengthening it several ways, such as being a Chief Guest in conferences, seminars to guide law students/lawyers, joining the management of NLU Delhi to name a few. He inaugurated the Society of Indian Law Firms giving strength to the identity of Law Firms in India recognising that Indian Firms are no lesser than International Firms.
My Guru not just taught me the virtues of law, but also taught me to be empathetic and humane at a personal level. I remember his staff member wanting to shoo away a lady seeking donation which Sir did not permit. The staff member tried dissuading Sir from donating but he “nodded” in his patent style and directed the guy to sign a cheque for her. Seeing all of us astonished (while we were in a client conference with him) he said, “She is my friend’s first wife. He is no more and he passed-on his estate to his 2nd wife and this lady is almost a destitute. Doesn’t matter if I help her this way…it wont hurt her self-respect”. This was “Arun Jaitley” for us. The man with compassion, love and warmth.
He never differentiated between his own kids and the kids of his helping staff. His steno’s daughter, cook’s children and his court clerk’s children went to the same university as his own children and their education was fully funded by him. In the beginning of 2009, his juniors urged him to increase his fees because other lawyers of comparable stature were charging thrice of what he was. He smiled and refused, saying what he is getting was enough for him and he wants people who genuinely need him to be able to afford him. In fact, he insisted that 10 percent of his fees be deposited in a separate account (Arun Jaitley Clerkage Account) for the welfare of his clerks. Sir never let any Client suffer for the mistakes of a briefing lawyer. I still remember that a Bail Petition was listed before the Delhi High Court in the supplementary list and the briefing lawyer neither appeared in Court nor answered the calls we made to him. Instead of leaving the file and proceeding to attend other cases, Sir asked me to brief him on the matter and appeared with me in Court for that matter because he felt for the client who wanted Bail. All these virtues are now deeply imbibed in his juniors and are pretty much a part of our identity.
He always encouraged everyone to pursue their hobbies along-with the profession. Discussions on cricket always enamoured him and he loved watching matches in the stadium .When one saw him in the stadium, it was difficult to comprehend that he was a serious Senior Advocate. The childlike cricket fan in him took the front seat. Back in 2008, when someone discussed Kashmir and BJP, he was candid in telling the person that the youth in Jammu and Kashmir wants jobs and progress. The era of Hindu-Muslim divide is gone. He was sure that Muslims would vote for BJP if it can promise a path of progress. Sir was the big brain behind the Development Agenda of BJP in 2014 elections working silently at the back. This was him, he never gave up on something he believed in passionately and silently worked towards it.
He was discharging all his duties till the last day Modi 1.0 government functioned. He inspired me even then by showing how illness is not an excuse to do what one has to. The pressure on me went up a notch. He had so much left in him. When I went to see him about 10 days before he was admitted to AIIMS, he looked weak, but was abreast and updated with the latest developments, both in law and politics. He assured me that he was on road to recovery. He is gone too soon, breaking the hearts of so many. I hope that I am able to walk the path shown by him. The path of compassion, love, supporting others and of excellence. 24.08.2019, the worst day of my life will be etched forever in my mind…the words “Jaitley Sb nahi rahe” keep echoing in my mind non-stop…No words can express my grief…but while I grieve, I will walk on the path shown by him…with the burden of his expectations…It is not easy but I am sure he will show me light… But I will have to live with the fact that they don’t make such men anymore…and there will never be another “Arun Jaitley”…my Guru is gone…but he is looking at me…hoping that I abide by his principles. I hope to become 0.00000000000001% of what he was some day and be his Arjun. Miss you Sir.Till we meet again.
(Mumtaz Bhalla describes herself as a devoted student of legend Arun Jaitley)