Rajat Rath: the doyen of Orissa High Court Bar
By Satya S Mohanty*
I joined the legal profession in 2008 and embarked on the journey to become a good litigating advocate. I did not have a godfather or any family member in this profession. So, I made it a point to observe, imbibe, mirror and learn from various advocates and senior advocates from the bar. And learn I did – nobody more so than Mr. Rajat Kumar Rath, Senior Advocate, Orissa High Court.
A man whose sound and up-to-date knowledge of law was only matched by his towering and imposing physical traits, both of which were initially intimidating for a neophyte like me.
There are a lot of memories of Rajat Sir. I reminisce an incident narrated by Ben Bhai, who was a fine advocate himself. He had fixed an appointment of his Bengali clients with Rajat Sir for a briefing. The clients, having not known or met Rajat Sir, were quite apprehensive if the latter would forcefully argue his case. After the conference, Ben Bhai asked the clients, whether they were satisfied or should he consult another senior advocate, to which the clients replied……”na na eta ekta bagha”, translating “No No, He is a Tiger”.
As the years rolled by, I had the good fortune of engaging with him a couple of times. I found he would honestly dissuade the engaging counsel if there wasn’t much merit in the brief but if one gave him a thin thread of merit, his eyes would light up and a child like enthusiasm in him would be palpable – That was his passion for the subject of law even after spending decades in the profession. And come next morning, at the time of hearing, he would have weaved an entire argument around that thread of merit and would give his everything for the brief, the engaging counsel and the clients.
His demise is a massive loss to the legal fraternity of Odisha. But an even bigger loss is to the future generations of young advocates who have been robbed of witnessing a living, breathing legal institution at work.
It is an utter misfortune that a large number of us could not pay our last respects to the legend due to lockdown in the backdrop of coronavirus pandemic and that personally would be a regret of a lifetime.
The most significant tribute to Rajat Sir, however, would be the fact that many young advocates feel that if their life was ever on the line – they would want the “Tiger” to fight for them, because they know – “He would give it his all”.
The author is a lawyer at Orissa High Court. He can be contacted through e mail at [email protected]
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of Sambad English.