Man For All Reasons
By Sanjay Raman Sinha
Senior lawyer R Venkataramani has begun a new innings. The president of India on September 28 appointed him as the centre’s top law officer for three years. Soft spoken, but firm Venkataramani, has made a place for himself in the legal firmament by sheer dint of hard work. From humble beginnings, he has risen to the post of the first law officer of the country. His appointment came after senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi refused the government’s offer to take the office of the attorney general after KK Venugopal’s retirement.
Venkataramani had always maintained a politically neutral profile. As such his new assignment has raised many eyebrows as well. The 72-year-old veteran is considered an expert on taxation issues, but he has argued and won many landmark cases in diverse fields as well. Venkataramani has been appointed as amicus curie in many important matters. He has been member of the Law Commission of India twice. His concern for human rights is well known, but less known is his poetic abilities and wordsmanship. As a scholar, author, poet, he has donned many caps. He had also contributed to the Constitution Review panel headed by former CJI Justice MN Venkatachaliah.
Speaking to India Legal, Justice MN Venkatachaliah said: “I am delighted to know that Venkataramani has accepted to be the attorney general of India. My impressions of Venkataramani go back to almost 35 years where I first contributed a foreword to his excellent book. Venkataramani is an extraordinary soul. He will stand up for justice and will uphold the Constitution. He is dedicated to the cause of justice and law. He is an extraordinary personality. In a lighthearted way, I used to always say that he was a great communist with a great faith in God. It is my prayful wishes that Venkataramani will enrich the office which he has been invited to occupy.”
Venkataramani has pushed the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme in one of his cases and now the compensation paradigm is an established legal doctrine in India. He has also been associated in the Amrapali case as a Court Receiver.
Recently, he argued the case for a group of teachers who opposed the wearing of hijab by Muslim girl students in Karnataka. Justice MK Sharma, former judge of the Supreme Court recalled: “I know Venkataramani as a senior advocate for a very long time. In fact, he was appearing before me when I was in the Delhi High Court as a judge. At that point of time, he was doing mainly service matters. I found him to be very amiable, straightforward and persuasive. Thereafter, he has gone up the ladder, became a senior advocate and established himself as an efficient lawyer in the Supreme Court. He is very sincere and hardworking, and therefore in my opinion, he is a very capable and fit person to be appointed as the attorney general of India. I am confident that he will be able to discharge his duties very efficiently and very effectively, and to the satisfaction of the government who has appointed him and given him this assignment. I wish him all the best for his new assignment. “
Law education is another passion of Venkataramani. He takes classes in several law colleges whenever his tight schedule permits. A scholar and humanist at heart, his appointment as the top law officer of the country will certainly add heft to the post.