Tax Titans

It is always inspiring to be reminded of the success of others who had walked the same path as the one we are now on. We must learn about the stalwarts and learn to cherish their discipline, their skills and above all their principled conduct. The legendary gentlemen featured here have not only widened the horizon of law but have also become paradigms for emulation by young professionals because of their erudition, intellectual prowess and strength of character.

Harish Salve

Can Harish Salve Bail Out Nokia In The Rs. 6000 Crore Tax Evasion Case?

Vellalapatti Swaminathan Iyer

Nokia India has got itself into a terrible mess over alleged failure to deduct TDS on royalty payments to its parent company. What would have ended with a mere 10% tax rate has now morphed into a horrendous tax liability. Nokia is now desperate to sell its assets but the Income-tax department has a strangle-hold over it and is calling all the shots. It will take all of Harish Salve’s wizardry to pull Nokia out from the deep hole it is in. Can he do it?


It scarcely lies in the mouth of the taxpayer who plays with fire to complain of burnt fingers” Lord Greene M.R., in Lord Howard De Waldan v. IRC [1942] 1 KB 389


Anybody dealing with multinational conglomerates will tell you that their biggest problem is one of overconfidence and lack of accountability, especially when dealing with poverty-stricken third World countries. Deals worth billions of dollars are put through by some expatriate executive, high on adrenalin, sitting in an exotic location like New York, London or wherever, without a second’s thought for the legal and tax implications in the dusty by-lanes of the Third World Country where the deal is to be implemented.


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Mohan Parasaran Harish Salve

Mohan Parasaran Won The Vodafone T. P. Battle But Will He Win The War?

Vellalapatti Swaminathan Iyer

The war for supremacy in the Vodafone transfer pricing controversy has thrown fascinating insights into the brilliant strategies adopted by two of the finest legal minds in the Country, Harish Salve and Mohan Parasaran. Mohan Parasaran has drawn first blood but Harish Salve has his foot firmly in the door. Will Mohan be able to dislodge him? At stake is Rs. 1400 crore


What can be more intellectually stimulating than watching two equally well prepared lawyers battle it out in the court room?


Mohan Parasaran, the wily Solicitor General, has the unenviable job of defending the indefensible. He knows that the weakest link in the department’s case is the merits. On the face of it, the department’s case is unbelievable. Vodafone allotted shares to its holding company as per the FDI norms at a premium of Rs. 8591 per share. The TPO claims that Vodafone should have allotted shares at a premium of Rs. 53,775 per share and that the difference (totaling Rs. 1308 crore) is assessable as income in Vodafone’s hands. How? When a company allots shares at a premium is the premium chargeable to tax as income in the issuer’s hands?


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fali s nariman

Book Review: “Before Memory Fades” By Fali S. Nariman

Vellalapatti Swaminathan Iyer

Fali Nariman’s autobiography “Before Memory Fades” deserves to be read and re-read because hidden in the fine print is some very valuable advice on the techniques that professionals should follow to improve their life and practice


The race is over, but the work never is done while the power to work remains


Sir Jamshedji Kanga in ‘The Law & Practice of Income-tax”


The first thing that strikes you when you look at Fali Nariman’s cover spread photo is how messy his desk is. It is not a very large desk. There are files and papers and books strewn all over it in an untidy manner. There is a simple wooden chair for Fali to sit on. Behind it is an open bookcase which is stuffed to the brim with law books. And each of those books wears a worn out look with the cover torn in many.


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Justice Shiavax Jal Vazifdar

Be Inspired By The Hard Work Of Nani Palkhivala: Justice S. J. Vazifdar

Editorial Staff

Nani Palkhivala continues to inspire generations of lawyers & CAs, even though several years have passed since he left for his heavenly abode. Though a genius, his success was largely due to sheer hard work and the ability to do ordinary things the proper way. Justice Shiavax Jal Vazifdar urges all professionals to live up to the high standards set by Palkhivala and aspire to reach the heights reached by him


The heights by great men, reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept were toiling upward in the night:
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Speaking at the 10th Nani Palkhivala Memorial National Tax Moot Court Competition, 2013, Justice Shiavax Jal Vazifdar of the Bombay High Court reminded the young audience about the magic of Nani Palkhivala and asked them to live by his high standards and work ethics.


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India's Top Lawyers Harish Salve

India’s Top Lawyers & their formula for success (.. and the fees they charge!)

Vellalapatti Swaminathan Iyer

The best way to learn law is to see the great masters at work. The way they study the facts, analyze the law and make their presentation to the Court can teach you more than you can ever hope to learn in a classroom. And the fees they charge can inspire you to do your best in the profession. Surprisingly, these great wizards of the law don’t have a magic wand. Instead, their secret recipe for success is sheer hard work and concentration


The really clever people now want to be lawyers: A. N. Wilson

Lawyers across the World are amongst the most highly paid professionals. Indian lawyers are no exception. Apart from a 5 figure fee for one appearance, limousines to transport you, business class travel (chartered flights, if you are in the super-elite category) and five star accommodations (only VIP suites, if you are in the super-elite category) are de rigueur. Of course, there is no question that all of this is fully justified! So, lets’ get down to listing the top lawyers and see if we can get some inspiration from them.


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Chief Justice S. H. Kapadia

Chief Justice Kapadia: Inspiring Story Of Journey From Clerk To Chief Justice

Vellalapatti Swaminathan Iyer

Chief Justice of India Sarosh. H. Kapadia battled acute poverty and hardship to rise from the level of a clerk to the highest post in the Judiciary. He did this through sheer dint of hard work and perseverance. His attitude towards work, his sense of humility, integrity and compassion makes him a symbol of inspiration and a role model for all professionals, says the author


Forbes has paid rich tribute to Chief Justice S. H. Kapadia over his stellar role in being one of the finest judges and administrators and in “redefining judgeship”.


What is noteworthy is that Chief Justice Kapadia comes from a very humble and poverty-stricken background. His father had grown up in a Surat orphanage and had worked as a clerk while his mother Katy was a homemaker. The family could barely make ends meet.


However, while the parents were poor, they were persons of great principles. From a tender age, Kapadia was taught never to accept obligations from anyone and to always live an ethical and moral life.


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My Name Is Harish Salve

April 29th, 2012
Harish Slave

My Name Is Harish Salve

Vellalapatti Swaminathan Iyer

Harish Salve is known mainly for his spectacular success in the Vodafone matter but there are several aspects to his personality – professional and personal – such as his sense of modesty coupled with his refreshing views on personal fitness & personal wealth – which make him a role model for all of us, says the author and adds that Harish Salve’s name deserves to be taken in the same hushed tone in which we take the names of the Legends


There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures (Julius Caesar, Shakespeare)


For all tax professionals keenly following the litigation between Vodafone International and the Union of India in the Bombay High Court and then in the Supreme Court, Harish Salve was the face of Vodafone. Even now, when the Government threatens to rob Vodafone of its hard-fought victory through the proposed retrospective amendments, one can sense Harish Salve crouching in the shadows, with bloodshot and impatient eyes, waiting for Parliament to give its nod, so he can attack the Government, go for its jugular and have the amendments declared ultra vires.


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N. A. Palkhivala

Nani Palkhivala’s Top 10 Secrets Of Success

Vellalapatti Swaminathan Iyer

Nani Palkhivala incredible professional success has inspired several generations of youngsters to improve their own performance & become better professionals. But how did Palkhivala achieve such great level of success? Yes, he was a genius with great intellectual ability but were there any techniques that he followed that we can emulate as well? The author investigates and reveals Nani Palkhivala’s top 10 secrets of success


Nani Palkhivala was a genius and his incredible success as a lawyer has inspired many generations of youngsters. The law reports are full of cases where he has argued complicated points of law and his treatise “The Law of Income-tax” continues to be a best-seller decades after it was first written.


So what was Nani Palkhivala’s recipe for success? Are there any tips or techniques that we can emulate as well in our careers that will help us become better professionals?


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N. A. Palkhivala

When Nani Palkhivala was accused of Piracy!

CA Vellalapatti Swaminathan Iyer

It sounds unbelievable but is it true? Did Nani Palkhivala copy from Sampath Iyengar’s book? The author traces the fascinating battle between two of the finest legal minds over the originality of the Commentary to the Income-tax Act that all of us use in our day to day practice and reveals fascinating insights into Nani Palkhivala’s genius personality


Well, life all comes down to a few moments. This is one of them: Bud Fox in Wall Street


It seems incredible that anyone would have the temerity to accuse the great Nani Palkhivala of piracy and copyright infringement especially on a subject such as income-tax law. And what makes this even more astounding is that the person making the allegation is not some deranged and raving lunatic frothing at the mouth but Sampath Iyengar, the highly respected lawyer and author of the best selling treatise “The Law of Income-tax”.


So, what possessed Sampath Iyengar to make this preposterous allegation against Nani Palkhivala?


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Sohrab E. Dastur

August 10th, 2011
Sohrab E. Dastur

A Trip Down Memory Lane!

Sohrab E. Dastur

On the occasion of Mr. Dastur’s “Golden Jubilee” in the profession, we pulled out an old article by Mr. Dastur which continues to be as inspiring as ever. Mr. Dastur talks of his humble beginnings and how he succeeded in the profession through dint of hard work & perseverance after being inspired by other stalwarts. There is an invaluable message in the article for all professionals


On account of the delay in penning this piece pursuant to the persistent request of Kahn Narang, I find that it is today almost 34 years to the day when I was enrolled at the bar (7th August to be precise).


When I joined the Chambers of R.J. Kolah, the general advice which all new aspirants received was that the profession was overcrowded. Today my advice to a new entrant is that with the creation of so many Tribunals, Commissions and quasi-judicial authorities, there is unbounded scope for a person with reasonable intelligence, a little more common sense and the capacity to take pains. The great change between now and, say, 30 years ago (and undoubtedly 50 years ago) is the desire in the profession whether of chartered accountancy or of law (and even of medicine) to increase the `turnover’, which is a term that causes so many interpretation problems insofar as S. 44AB and S-80HHC are concerned!


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