Career story: One of India’s leading lawyer Harish Salve

The 18th most powerful person in the country and India's leading taxation lawyer.

Career story of one of the leading lawyers Harish Salve

Thinking of a career in law or legal studies? Aspiring to be a successful lawyer? Let us go through the inspirational career story of one of the India’s finest taxation lawyers – Harish Salve.

Family & upbringing

Born in Nagpur, Harish Salve belongs to the family of lawyers. He was born to N K P Salve, who was an eminent politician and a member of the Indian National Congress  and Ambriti Salve, his mother who was a doctor. His grandfather, P.K. Salve, was a successful criminal lawyer and his great-grandfather was a subordinate judge (Munsif). The Salve family is of Maharashtrian origin, but, they hail from Chhindawara in Madhya Pradesh.

Education & career turning point

As a young boy, Salve aspired to be an engineer, but by the time he was ready for college, he was deeply fascinated by Chartered Accountancy. The big turning point in Harish Salve’s career story came in 1975. While Salve was preparing for the CA-Inter exam, he prepared a note on some complicated point on the settlement commission’s proceedings which raised some new issues for interpretation. When that note was shown to Nani Palkhivala (an eminent lawyer), he was very impressed and immediately asked Harish Salve to join the profession.

Subsequently, Harish Salve qualified as a Chartered Accountant and practiced as a CA  in taxation. His interest in Taxation moved him into the legal profession. In 1980, Harish began his legal career as an intern and later on as a full-time lawyer at J.B. Dadachandji & Company. During this time, he assisted Nani Palkhivala in the Minerva Mills case.  Later, Salve was appointed as a Senior Counsel by the Delhi High Court.

Nani Palkhivala suggested Harish Salve that he should join the Chambers of Soli Sorabjee. This was another remarkable development in his career progression.

From 1980 to 1986, Salve worked with former Attorney General, Soli Sorabjee.  In November 1999, at the age of 43, Salve became the Solicitor General of India. He held office till 2002. As a law officer for the Union of India, Harish Salve conducted a large number of important matters like the first Anti-Dumping case in the Supreme Court of India and the first case of privatization of PSUs, the Balco case. He was also involved in important non-litigation work such as conducting the WTO negotiations, setting up legislation for the Competition Commission and drafting the electricity reforms, which gave him a larger perspective to legal matters beyond litigation issues.

In 2003, at the behest of the National Human Rights Commission, Salve appeared for Bilkis Bano, a victim of the Gujarat Riots. Later, in 2009, Salve was ranked as the 18th most powerful person in the country by the India Today.

Noteworthy clientele

Salve’s noteworthy clientele include the TATA group and ITC Limited.. He has also appeared for Ratan Tata  in a privacy petition concerning the leakage and publication of the Nira Radia conversations, which exposed an alleged politico-corporate crony capitalistic nexus, causing a huge scandal in late 2010. Furthermore, Salve also appeared for ITC’s famous 803 crore excise matter. Salve took a temporary residence in London and relocated his office there to exclusively focus on the Vodafone Tax dispute case with the Indian Government. The leading lawyer, Harish Salve initially lost this case in the Bombay High Court, but, later, won it in the Supreme Court. He also represented large corporations like Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Limited in big ticket case, the Krishna Godavari Basin gas dispute case against Anil Ambani’s Reliance Natural Resources Limited. He also served as a Non-Executive and Independent Director of Ferro Alloys Corp. Ltd. from July 2008 to May 2012. Lately, in 2015, he took up the  hit and run case of Actor Salman Khan.

So, that’s the career story of one of the best lawyers in the country, favorite to celebrities, politicians, and top-notch corporate professionals, Harish Salve.