Meet India's Most Expensive Lawyer

54 year old Harish Salve, former Solicitor General of India, is, arguably, today's most expensive lawyer in India. He has represented high-profile cases like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Prakash Singh Badal and Lalit Modi but his reputation (and legal fees!) started sky-rocketing after he won Mukesh Ambani's gas dispute against brother Anil who was represented by Ram Jethmalani. His latest on-going-case is representing private colleges in the ongoing NEET-PG case.

Hiring Harish Salve as lawyer does not come cheap. He charges a massive fee of Rs 30 lakhs per day. His fees alone is supposed to have cost Mukesh Ambani a whopping Rs 15 crore. Even this pales into insignificance when you compare it with the Rs 60 crore which he is supposed to have collected in the Forest Case of TN Godavarman Thirumulpad.  In addition, he has to be provided overnight five-star suites and first class air-tickets. A dinner for him and his team at a five star hotel can cost over Rs 2 lakh. Clients have been known to present him a hot Vertu phone or a Jaeger-LeCoutre watch to keep him in good mood. Further, Salve will  only accept the first brief. In other words, he will never be the second counsel to anyone else in any case. Salve drives a Bentley and has a holiday home in Goa. Fashion-conscious Salve visits London frequently to shop for his clothes. That is when his clients do not get them for him as in the case of Mukesh Ambani who is supposed to have bought an entire wardrobe of clothes for him when fighting his brother!

The Indian public are already contemptuous of our slow and corrupt judiciary. What they are not so aware of is that only the super rich in our country can afford to hire our top lawyers who alone can win court cases. In America, it is well known that you can get away with any crime because a good lawyer can get you out of the consequences of your crime. The names of Michael Jackson and  OJ Simpson immediately come to our minds. But, in a country like India which can boast of lawyers like Gandhi and Nehru, should we not expect more?

Indulgence: He must have an Apple product within 48 hours of its launch. Salve loves to play the piano, enjoys jazz and drives a Bentley.

Harish Salve is undoubtedly one of the best and most expensive lawyers in the country. And going by his career graph as a lawyer, Nagpur-born Salve now belongs to where he is - Delhi, the seat of the apex court of the country. Salve shifted to Delhi in 1976 and joined eminent lawyer Soli J. Sorabjee's chamber in 1980 and set up an independent practice in the mid 80s. He was designated as a senior counsel by the Supreme Court in 1992 and was appointed the Solicitor General of India in 1999.

His stakes touched the pinnacle recently when he won the over Rs.1,1000 crore Vodafone tax case against the government before the Supreme Court.

Salve has appeared for one of the Ambani brothers in the gas dispute between them. He defended Keshub Mahindra when the CBI filed a curative petition to revive culpable homicide charges in the Bhopal gas tragedy case. Ratan Tata, who has approached the Supreme Court against alleged violation of his right to privacy with the publication of the Radia tapes, has also availed his services. Recently, he represented the CII in the Presidential Reference.

He represented the Delhi Police in the matter concerning the mid-night crackdown on supporters of Baba Ramdev who was protesting against corruption and his able defence led to Ramdev's indictment as well. His success story has made Salve the first choice of litigants who can afford him. But it is not always for the money. Salve is the amicus curiae in the Gujarat riot case and in environment matters heard by the green bench of the apex court. He appeared against the accused in the Uphaar fire tragedy case. According to a lawyer who has known him since 1980s, Salve has been successful because he is very convincing and never seems to be forcing his view on the judge.

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