This article is part of the Human Library Series

By Siya Aggarwal

The second speaker as part of the Human Library was Anand Desai who, other than sharing his journey with us, touched upon the topics of Property Law, Succession, and the importance of adapting with technological advancements.

Anand Desai has been Managing Partner at DSK Legal since it was founded in April, 2001. Recognized as a leading practitioner in India, Anand has over 35 years of extensive domestic and international experience being a trusted counsel to several large multinational and Indian corporates and high net worth individuals, including many business leaders and celebrities. He has been featured in the book titled “100 Legal Luminaries of India,” published by LexisNexis, and in the Top 100 A-List published by India Business Law Journal. He is also listed as one of the leading lawyers in India in Whos Who Legal, Chambers Global, IFLR, Asia-Pacific Legal 500, and Asialaw Profiles.

An astute litigator and negotiator, Mr. Desai has developed a strong track record of successfully representing many high profile clients in criminal and civil litigation including in the areas of real estate, commercial disputes, intellectual property, antitrust and information technology, as also getting several large commercial deals concluded.  

Question: What is the impact of technology and the new age’s integration into it on law? 

“In India a lot of people have not thought through the value of intangibles, social media, intellectual property, and many other aspects of our lives today which are not new anywhere near  what they used to be. To give you a sense of how the world has evolved, companies with most monetary value are primarily the technology companies around the world. More and more it’s being said that data is the new oil, not data is the new gold or data is the new land but data is the new oil. So oil has taken over our lives to a large extent for its sheer value and now that same trend is being seen with data. Technology and data become so important that data protection is something that we are going to have a law about in India. I don’t know what shape and form it will finally present itself but it is an important part of the new age.”

Question: Could you talk a little bit about property law in India?

“Talking a little bit about property law and succession; As we all read in the newspaper it seems to be an ever-changing matter in this country. I’ll touch upon the aspects and then come to what I believe the future is going to look like. Many of you must have read the rights of the daughter in a Hindu family in matters related to property – it’s known as joint family and now finally recognized. there is the judgement that supposedly said that the nomination in the society may take precedence over a will. there are many differences between succession and the Hindu law, muslim law et cetera. My understanding which may not be commonly accepted by everyone is that in terms of the nomination, the ‘will’ ultimately takes effect and societal nominees are temporary. In terms of succession laws historically perception has been that Hindu parents give the girl child in marriage and that is a commonly accepted notion. From the idea that the family she goes into is where she belongs and not the family she comes from. It’s interesting to look at how history has unfolded and how to change from where we are today. There has been development towards equality in law as The Supreme Court has said that The Hindu girl child from a joint family has equal right over property law and so do her children. There have been multiple judgements which I won’t be going into but this was just a touch about succession.”

Question: What advice would you give to aspiring lawyers?

“I come from a family of lawyers which I believe makes some difference initially, thereafter I don’t think it really makes a difference. One thing I learned along the way on my journey to get what I am now, is really trying to ask clients to have clarity of thought and I believe that sometimes itself adds a lot towards what the client hopes to achieve. Very often I find that clients come with a certain objective that may not be their own objective, but comes from a variety of interactions with other people who have told them what they should do, rather than what they themselves want to achieve. I genuinely believe I have remained as privileged as working with many senior counsels and senior partners of law firms, and there’s one quality that comes really evidently distinguishing them from others with the clarity of thought that comes from them and that they bring to the table.”

In conclusion, Mr. Desai proved to us with his illuminating and informative session that law is more than what meets the eye. He was effectively able to convey interesting and advisory knowledge while simultaneously adding a personal element. His journey has been one filled with achievement, accomplishment but also with many learnings whose he eloquently imparted to us all.