Being Conferred Senior Designation Is My Most Cherished Memory Says Senior Advocate Pramod Dubey

In a candid fireside chat with Krishnendra Joshi, ace criminal lawyer and Senior Advocate Pramod Dubey opens up about his illustrious journey, his support system at home and much more.

From being a brilliant science student to becoming one of the top criminal lawyers in India? If you could use only one word, how would you define your journey of more than two decades?

It has been a romantic journey. If I have to define it in one word, I would say, It has been a roller coaster of a ride.

The legal profession is a jealous mistress. Did you ever have a moment in your career where you felt like giving up? What were the struggles of trying to find your feet as young first-generation lawyer when you started?  

When I joined law at Delhi University, it was not my priority. I came to Delhi to start preparations for a competitive exam and during that phase, I applied for my admission in the Law Faculty, Delhi University and I got admission. I passed out in 1995. 

Then after passing, I was absolutely clueless to what will be the next journey because I was a first-generation lawyer, and like many first-generation lawyers, I was not having any support system and was not familiar with a place like Delhi. It was very difficult for me to find a senior in the initial days. But in due course, I found a senior in Mr Luthra.

So far as the question of giving up is concerned, it never occurred to me. Once I set my foot in the profession, I did not look back. I put my hardwork even in routine matters and never entertained notions that I am not going to survive in the profession even though I was not getting where I was aspiring to reach in the initial days of the profession.

What was the biggest turning point in your life?

It is very difficult to say. I consider every case a turning point in my career. When  I started my practice from my chamber. I remember, I had very important matters to argue but I must confess here that the learnings I got from the Tehelka Commission case were immensely enriching and proved to be a turning point in my career. While the case was going on, I was given the job to prepare lengthy cross-examination. Going back and forth with the edited version of the recording and synchronising everything to prepare questionnaires to be asked to different persons involved in the case was an experience in itself. In the same matter, I enjoyed the opportunity I got to argue before the single Bench of the Delhi High Court and secure the order in my favour. 

There was another case involving a rape victim in which I had a memorable experience in terms of cross-examination.

You credit a big chunk of your success to professor BB Pande. Could you tell us about how he made a difference to your career and life?

Being a first-generation lawyer, I could not find a senior in my initial struggle after completing L.L.B. At a time when I did not know anyone in the legal fraternity, Professor B.B. Pande’s advice and encouragement came as a blessing. I was planning to leave Delhi and start my practice at my native place in Bihar but Prof. Pande convinced me to stay in Delhi and made me join a senior’s chamber in the national capital.

Which has been your most memorable case?

If I could take the liberty of naming more than one case, I would say, the Tehelka commission case and the Tarun Tejpal rape trial. Besides these two, there was a case before the single bench of the Delhi High Court that involved charges on a journalist for conducting a sting operation under the Official Secrets Act. This case was special because it was one of the earliest landmark decisions of my career.

Which has been your favourite failure in your career?

In my journey so far, I have never felt negative about any circumstances I encountered in the profession. I have always been an eternal optimist in my life and career and would not like to label any incident or setback as a failure. It has been and continues to be a learning process that I have thoroughly enjoyed.

What was the biggest learning you imbibed from your senior Mr K.K. Luthra?

Mr Luthra always emphasised on virtues like honesty and integrity. These virtues, I believe, are the hallmark of the legal profession. Besides, the way he respected his colleagues, juniors and staff members was something to imbibe as a necessary trait to succeed not only in the profession but in life. Being respectful and courteous to everyone around you is a crucial character trait for everyone to inculcate in today’s times.

What has been your most cherished memory to date?

Being conferred Senior Designation is my most cherished memory to date.

In our previous interaction, you briefly touched upon the fact that your wife has been your biggest strength in your journey? Tell us a bit about your support system?

Practising criminal law can be tough at times. If you don't have a support system at home, you might not be able to do justice to your brief. My wife has stood by me right from my days of struggle. She looked at life’s situations very practically and always guided me to keep a calm head on my shoulders. She always encourages me to give my best to the case whether I get success or not in a particular matter.

What would be your mantras for success for the young and aspiring lawyers?

Success for me in the profession means maximum recognition at the Bench and the Bar. While money is seen as an important barometer for success always remember that the legal profession is a profession of the elite and will always remain a noble one. 

My senior Mr KK Luthra imbibed in us the three core values fundamental to the profession. These are Discipline, Patience and Integrity. 

This profession demands discipline and integrity every day. The young generation must never get impatient in their pursuit of success. It takes time to hone the craft and earn recognition from your peers in the profession. And if treat the court as a sacred temple, you will never fail in your duty towards the Court and your client and success will come incidentally.

And before we close, I want to know from you, What it means or rather, how much it means to be a Senior Advocate to you.

Krishnendra, There is no radical change as such. In criminal law practice, you are as good as your last performance. I would say, I have immense satisfaction for being recognised by the Delhi High Court and the journey has been fruitful.

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