Criminal Law Is a Great Career Option for Students: Sidharth Luthra

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India), May 30, 2015 | Go to article overview

Criminal Law Is a Great Career Option for Students: Sidharth Luthra


New Delhi, May 29 -- Regarded as one of India's leading legal luminaries, Sidharth Luthra needs no introduction. Besides being a senior advocate, he served as the additional solicitor general of India in the Supreme Court from July 2012 to May 2014. Both as an independent senior lawyer and in his capacity as the additional solicitor general, he fought several high-profile criminal and constitutional matters in the Supreme Court and established himself as one of the top criminal lawyers of the country.

Luthra believes criminal law is a great career option for students as white collar crimes are on the rise. "Every now and then there are scams and it's exciting to deal with various aspects of human nature while -handling different cases," he says.

Though Luthra's father, K K Luthra, was also an eminent senior advocate, he was not initially inclined to follow the legal profession and was more interested in architecture or journalism.

While doing his BA in mathematics from Hindu College in 1987, Luthra tried his hand at freelance journalism. It was only after he wrote a few articles on legal issues that he realised what his real calling was. It was then that he decided to do his LLB from Campus Law Centre, Delhi University. After completing the course, he started his career as a civil lawyer in district and consumer courts.

So what are the challenges that lawyers face? "Most litigations have a long gestation cycle. One not only has to prepare to argue the case in court but also interact with the police and other investigating agencies. The working hours are long and one has to be ready for phone calls at any time in the night (or day) since personal liberty, its deprivation through arrest or detention have no time! Also at the start of a criminal case, the clients are desperate for relief and there may be a quick change of lawyers which can be quite disheartening. One has to be ready to face all these issues that can happen at any stage of one's career," says Luthra.

To become a successful criminal lawyer, one needs to be dedicated, willing to put in hard work, have tonnes of stamina and loads of perseverance. "I believe these four qualities and integrity are fundamental to a successful career in criminal law. People believe that criminal law involves limited drafting and that the workload is not heavy. But be it a trial strategy, a bail or a cross-examination, one has to put in long hours of research before work begins in court. If you are not dedicated to this profession, this may not be the right career for you," he says.

Luthra believes that people who aspire to be successful criminal lawyers, must spend one to two years in civil trial work and at least one to two hours in a trial court doing criminal trials as "these are essential."

Besides LLB, Luthra also holds an M Phil in criminology from Cambridge University. He is of the opinion that anyone who wants to become a successful criminal lawyer should do a master's degree in -criminal law or criminology and also have a fair understanding of forensics - scientific tests or techniques used in connection with the detection of crime. He has handled numerous cases related to white-collar crimes, and extradition and cyber-related frauds.

Currently a visiting professor at Northumbria University, UK, Luthra's long professional career as a criminal lawyer has seen him handling all kinds of cases. A very challenging one involved a man in dire financial straits. "In 1995, I once got a poor client released from jail by making an oral mention to a high court judge at his residence who gave an unprecedented oral telephonic order of release of my client. I felt extremely good as I helped my client get what he deserved. It was Justice K Ramamoorthy who passed this order. He now practices in the Supreme Court. For this particular case, I spent a whole day running around for the client's release and though I had the bail order, the magistrate on vacation had refused to accept bonds while my client languished in custody," recollects Luthra. …

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