Buzz by the Bay is a new interview segment on the FPJ YouTube channel, which features a diverse line-up of achievers and newsmakers across various fields. We recently invited Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court and MP of the Rajya Sabha from the BJP, Mahesh Jethmalani, to our studio when he was on one of his fleeting weekend trips to Mumbai, where his family resides. He spoke to us on a whole host of issues ranging from Hindutva politics, urgent legal reforms, his father’s (Ram Jethmalani) great legacy, his biggest regrets in court and the issues he wants to bring to the forefront in Rajya Sabha. His hard-hitting, candid style is reminiscent of his father and legendary lawyer Ram Jethmalani, even if his political loyalties are vastly different to that of senior Jethmalani’s in his later years. Excerpts of an interview by ANUSHKA JAGTIANI.
How do you divide your loyalties between Mumbai and Delhi?
My Matra Bhumi is Bombay, my Karma Bhumi is Delhi.
For a fresher at the bar, give us some insights into what it takes to hone the art of preparation, presentation and persuasion?
Like most vocations, law is the cliché; 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Lots of hard work. You also have to have a passion for the law. You have to have a sense of justice, a flair for advocacy. You’ve got to want to lay down new laws and think out of the box.
What if you have a client who wants to take on the government? Can you accept such a client?
If the government is supporting a particular legislation, obviously it would be undisciplined on my part to go against the government of which I am a part. If it’s a conscience issue, then you can. There have been some conscience issues where I’ve been asked to take matters for the government and I have said no I can’t do this and the government has been very fair to me. There was the Bilkis Bano case, where I was offered a brief for the government and I said no I don’t do rape cases. On ‘same sex marriage’ I was conflicted. I started by taking a brief and then I found that it was unworkable.
You think it’s unworkable?
It's unworkable in the presentation; it’s not a matter for the judiciary. Arguing the matter before the judiciary would lead to nowhere. It involves too much interference with personal law.
Do you think the BJP wants to establish a Hindu Nation?
We are a Hindu Nation.
What I mean is do they want to do away with the idea of secularism?
No it can never be. Nobody is going to disenfranchise the Muslims. We are never going to have a state religion. We are never going to be a theocracy. Every other country is a theocracy. We are a true democracy. Nobody is disenfranchised. Alright, so there are communal riots and hate speeches, but we still live together and we celebrate Eid and Iftar and Holi together. Nobody said there should be lynching. But if there is lynching, it should be punished. If there are hate speeches, they should be cracked down upon.
What is it like to be with PM Modi and the Home Minister outside of Parliament. Tell us something about their human side?
They have a tremendous human side, both of them. I can’t say that I’ve met them that frequently to make sweeping statements about them. Both of them are very congenial, very polite. You get the best hospitality when you visit their respective homes. They talk mainly about politics and cases. You always get great food. And If you go to Amit Shah’s house, you will get strawberry ice cream.