After passing Law from Surat Law College, I decided to practice Law in Gujarat High Court. One of the seniors suggested that when you have ample time, why don’t you do LL.M. I found that idea good since I was interested in taxation and corporate matters, I decided to study LL.M. with taxation.
During the course of my study in LL.M. income-tax was one of the subjects. The Professor of Income-tax suggested, "Kamal" if you want to learn income-tax and also cultivate good English language. You must read a book on income-tax written by Mr. Nani Palkhivala." I immediately got the book and read it 3 to 4 times because of my examination point of view. At that time while reading the book, I was greatly impressed by the learned author. Though income-tax was considered to be a complicated subject the commentary on the said Act is quite easy to understand. The learned author made Income-tax Act very simple by his own style so that even a layman can easily understand the same. The language used is very lucid. When you read the book, you feel that you are reading a book on some English literature. Ultimately, I passed my LL.M and started active practice in 1972.
During my practice also, in some of the tax matters which I was handling, I have always relied upon the book of Palkhivala. On a few occasions, I had an opportunity to listen to his speech at Ahmedabad However, I had no opportunity to meet him personally.
Some time in October 1980, during my Diwali vacation, I had gone to Atul Township, near Valsad, where my father was serving. Shri Palkhivala came there to deliver a speech. I also attended the same. After the speech, Shri Siddharth Kasturbhai. the then Managing Director, decided to organise a tea party in honour of Shri Palkhivala to which I was also invited.
During that time I had a good personal discussion/conversation with Shri Palkhivala. He enquired of me that you are practising in which branch; how is the work in the Gujarat High Court and all related issues regarding practice. At that time, I informed the learned author that Sir you are glad to know that I have read your book 3 to 4 times. I had barely completed my sentence, he immediately asked me Mr. Mehta why did you read my book 3 to 4 times. I explained to him, "Sir, income-tax was my subject in LL.M. Those days, they did not ask direct questions relating to" the subject. Instead the paper setter quoted some sentence/ quotation from your book and then expected the students to discuss the same. So unless and until a student had read the Palkhivala book, he could not answer the question correctly."From my statement he understood that (in those days), if one had to successfully complete his LL.M with income-tax, he had no option but to read his book thoroughly. He had, thereafter; trust and confidence in what I had said. In fact I narrated to him one of’ the quotations from his book at that time. He was greatly impressed by the fact that I had read his book many times. After my conversation was over, he immediately informed me that Mehta when you have read my book 3 to 4 times, I request you that if you find any mistake please tell me. If you point out any mistake, in my new edition, I will try to correct the same. I was clearly flabbergasted with the humility of the learned author. He was an international lawyer and I was very junior advocate at that time. Still, I saw his humility. I was greatly impressed by the same.
Secondly, in February 1983, a group of matters concerning interpretation of Section 4 of the Central Excise Act was fixed in the Supreme Court. The issue was of considerable public importance and large revenue was at stake, and, therefore, our advocate on record J. B. Dadachandji decided to engage Shri Nani Palkhivala in the said matters. I had two or three matters out of 50 matters group. On the very first day, before start of the matter. we had a detailed conference at Delhi in Taj Hotel. We were about 25 to 30 people, various advocates and a number of representatives of the clients who were discussing the matters. Shri Palkhivala was asking questions to each of them. to ascertain their view point and what they wanted to submit before the Supreme Court. When my turn came, I also informed him that in this matter there are main issues but there are also two secondary issues which are related to my case. I explained to him my view point. In support of the same, I had handed over xerox copies of relevant section. rule and judgments in that behalf. For 5 to 7 minutes, he had gone through my note regarding section and rule. My note was a small paragraph of 8 to 10 lines. After reading it very carefully, he noted the relevant sections and rules. He immediately told that what Mr. Mehta says is correct and what you have said has lot of substance and when I argue the matter, I will definitely put this issue before the Supreme Court in my own way. My confidence in that matter was immediately increased. Other advocates and representatives had congratulated me after the meeting was over because my submission had been appreciated by Shri Palkhivala.
The innate intelligence and inborn skills of
Indians are so great that India can reach the top if only we can have education, organisation
Nani in "My Experience as an Ambassador"
[Source: Article published in book titled "Nani Palkhivala – The Role Model edited by Major General Nilendra Kumar, Pg. 117
Every idea that strengthens you must be taken up and every thought that weakens you must be rejected,
— Swami Vivekananda