Nani Palkhivala continues to inspire generations of lawyers & CAs, even though several years have passed since he left for his heavenly abode. Though a genius, his success was largely due to sheer hard work and the ability to do ordinary things the proper way. Justice Shiavax Jal Vazifdar urges all professionals to live up to the high standards set by Palkhivala and aspire to reach the heights reached by him
The heights by great men, reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept were toiling upward in the night:
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Speaking at the 10th Nani Palkhivala Memorial National Tax Moot Court Competition, 2013, Justice Shiavax Jal Vazifdar of the Bombay High Court reminded the young audience about the magic of Nani Palkhivala and asked them to live by his high standards and work ethics.
Justice S. J. Vazifdar is himself a devoted follower of the principles of Nani Palkhivala. One can see this in the way the learned Judge conducts the Court. While he is a very popular Judge with a pleasant temperament, he expects thorough preparation from Counsel on both sides. Also his judgements are extremely well researched and written in a simple and easy-to-understand style.
The remarkable aspect is that when Justice Vazifdar was elevated to the Bench, he had a flourishing practice in constitutional, company and arbitration matters but not much exposure to income-tax matters. However, within a short period of joining the Bench, Justice Vazifdar mastered the complicated subject of income-tax and went on to deliver several landmark judgements such as CIT vs. Pruthvi Brokers & Shareholders 349 ITR 336, Sahara Hospitality Ltd vs. CIT 352 ITR 38, CIT vs. CA Computer Associates 351 ITR 69 etc.
Justice Vazifdar has also mastered transfer pricing law and one can see this in his latest judgement in Vodafone India Service vs. UOI 37 taxmann.com 250 where the redoubtable Harish Salve appeared for the assessee and Darius J. Khambatta, the ld. Additional Solicitor General of India, appeared for the Revenue. The learned Judge has laid down several landmark and far-reaching principles of transfer pricing law in the judgement.
In his speech, Justice Vazifdar adverted to Nani Palkhivala’s secrets of success. While Nani Palkhivala was undoubtedly gifted and was a genius, much of his success came from sheer hard work and adopting the proper technique while doing ordinary things.
For instance, Nani Palkhivala was particular about time management. In his mind, he would allot the time required for the various tasks that he had to accomplish and ensure that they were done within that time. This strict adherence to time management made it necessary for Palkhivala to focus and concentrate on the job in hand and his ability to focus and concentrate made it possible for him to adhere to his self-imposed time restrictions.
Nani Palkhivala’s other trait was that he knew that a point had to be put in a simple manner so that the Judge is able to immediately grasp it. This entailed a lot of thorough preparation because there is nothing more difficult than making a complicated issue sound simple. Nani Palkhivala would formulate his propositions well in advance of the hearing and compartmentalize the facts. So, when he was arguing the matter, it was very clear to the Judges what propositions of law Palkhivala was advancing, what were the facts and what were the case laws on the subject.
Also, Palkhivala would, at least in important matters, prepare written submissions or propositions that would act as an aide-de-memoir for the Judges.
It may be recollected that apart from Justice Vazifdar, Nani Palkhivala has several other staunch followers, such as Harish Salve. Harish Salve paid his tribute to Nani Palkhivala in the following inspiring words: “From him I learnt that genius is a lot of hard work. It entails having the capacity to do what people find boring, that is where you hone your attention to detail. Palkhivala taught me to make excellence an end unto itself. He used to say that the measure of how well you’ve argued in court comes not from the decision of the court, but from how you personally feel you’ve performed. He opened up a whole new dimension of the world before me”.
The noteworthy aspect is that Justice Vazifdar was very impressed with the quality of representation that he saw from the young students in the moot court, especially in the transfer pricing case study. He remarked, only half in jest, that if he had heard the arguments of the students before, he would have delivered a better judgement in the Vodafone matter!