By Meenal Dubey
Bollywood often churns out stories of a middle class hero taking up cudgels fearlessly against the rich and the mighty. In real life though, there are few like the Delhi-based lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan.
He is fighting a crucial public interest litigation (PIL) in the 2G spectrum allocation case. An outcome in his favour, many powerful people will see the insides of a jail for the first time in their lives. If you ask anyone in Delhi’s legal circles about Prashant Bhushan, they will tell you one thing The man means business and if you are on the wrong side of the law, then he will come after you.
“The name Bhushan is synonymous with fear for corrupt judges, politicians, bureaucrats and now corporate honchos,” says a top Supreme Court lawyer.
Unlike many well-heeled lawyers of the Supreme Court, Bhushan is known to have turned down fees worth crores and remuneration like large tracts of land for defending a guilty person.
“If he has taken up your case, then it means that he is convinced of your innocence and will fight tooth and nail to prove it,” the lawyer adds.
His contemporaries also acknowledge that Bhushan refused to charge a penny for the needy and won their cases.
A former alumnus from St. Joseph’s College Allahabad, he joined IIT, Madras, in 1973. However, he left a year later and pursued a BA programme with Philosophy, Economics and Political Science. Thereafter, he went to Princeton University and completed his Masters in Philosophy in 1982. A year later, he returned to India and enrolled as an advocate.
Bhushan has worked on 500 public interest litigations (PIL) in a career span of 15 years and the figure has only grown over the last few years. Many say that he has inherited this streak for justice from his renowned father and India’s former law minister Shanti Bhushan, who has been named on the panel for the Jan Lokpal Bill.
Many high-profile cases have seen the appearance of Bhushan. These include the Niira Radia tapes, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Bofors, the contempt of court case against Arundhati Roy, Enron, the Right to Information Act, and the oil companies disinvestment case.
At a time when PILs are filed on anything from the name of a Bollywood film to a serious cause, his principles and upright approach to law have earned him the formidable reputation of a man not to be taken lightly.
“I think the general public is fed up of the corruption and the callousness of our enforcement agencies and politicians who are a part of it,” he said.
He argues that there is no need for fear if one is on the right side of law. With the spotlight on him after his petition demanding the prosecution of the likes of Ratan Tata, Anil Ambani, and Sharad Pawar in the 2G scam, he appears remarkably cool and collected.
“I will never ask the government for protection because I know that the accused can only try to malign my reputation. They will not harm me,” Bhushan assures.
An avid badminton player, Bhushan does not get too much time for watching sports on television but he likes to indulge himself in an occasional Bollywood or Hollywood flick.
Unlike other rich and powerful lawyers, Bhushan prefers to keep a low profile. He avoids glitzy parties and is most comfortable in his non-branded regular clothes and shoes.
Post the 2G spectrum case, Bhushan’s primary preoccupation is the Jan Lokpal Bill. While he would like to holiday with wife and sons for the summer break, he knows there will be no holiday this year.
“But then, no regrets,” comes the cheerful reply.
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Updated Date: Oct 19, 2011 17:04:51 IST