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'Even if I have to beg, I will do it in the High Court.'
These were the words of Arvind P. Datar, India’s leading corporate and tax lawyer, when his father asked him to join Cost Accountant post of Scindia Steam Navigation Company at a princely sum of Rs 2250 per month salary, and Mr Datar at that time was earning Rs 300 as a junior lawyer at Madras High Court. Mr Datar’s life is an inspiration for all the law students who have no law background in their family. Mr Datar was born in Mumbai and started his education in Marathi medium and then his family shifted to Chennai. Later he joined boarding school in Pune. Mr Datar wanted to be in Merchant Navy and open his own shipping company but he was disqualified in the medical test. He also prepared for IIT exams but didn’t appear due to serious health issues. He joined Ramnarain Ruia College in Mumbai for BSc (Hons) degree in physics and mathematics. There he attended a lecture by the legend Nani Palkivala on that year’s budget. He was very much influenced by that and decided to become not just a lawyer but a tax lawyer. After graduation in 1976, he joined Madras Law College to pursue law. He simultaneously with his LLB also joined Cost Accountancy course at the Institute of Cost & Works Accountants of India. In Madras Law College he was introduced to mentors who were highly competent and were also practicing lawyers at Madras High Court. He is proud to be a product of a college that produced eminent lawyers like Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, M.K.Nambiar and many others. The first two years at the college was good but after that when the emergency ended, strikes in college became a common scenario which disrupted the college classes. This helped him concentrate on his cost accountancy course. During that time he also wrote his first book titled “Preparation for MBA Entrance exams”.

After college he enrolled as a lawyer and joined the office of M/s Subbaraya Aiyar, Padmanabhan and Ramamani which was a leading tax law firm at that time in the south. Mrs Ramani Natarajan and her husband helped him a lot and also supported him while Mr Datar planned to start his independent practice. One of the advice that Mr Natarajan (one of his senior lawyer) gave Arvind was ‘ It does not matter if you decide to be a cobbler; just make sure that you become the best cobbler in the world’. Within a short span he established a good practise at the court and started getting famous cases, one of them was of Michael Jackson when his concert was to be held at Mumbai but a petition was filed for injunction, Mr Datar appeared for Michael Jackson and the court refused to grant injunction and the concert was successfully held at Mumbai.

Mr Datar was also a part time lecturer at Institute at Cost Accountants of India, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and the Institute of Company Secretaries of India. Mr Datar has also a fine writing skill and has written a commentary on Central Excise titled ‘Guide to Central Excise: Law & Practice’ published in 1988. He also wrote Nani Palkhivala’s biography ‘Nani Palkhivala: The Courtroom Genius’ with the then Attorney General Soli Sorabjee. He has also written a lot of articles on taxation related matters and this helped him to become famous. Being famous for a lawyer is must but he cannot advertise himself so the only way to become famous is by writing articles and books.

He was designated as a senior lawyer in the year 2000. He appeared in a famous case recently of Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd. v Securities and Exchange Board of India on behalf of Sahara Group.

Mr Datar’s life is like an inspirational quote for any bidding or junior lawyer. He despite of many hurdles never gives up and finally attained a conspicuous position in the field of Independent practice in India.

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