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My Rating - 4 out of 5 stars

Publisher - Juggernaut
Genre - Non-Fiction/Law
Publishing year - 2020
Language - English
ISBN - 978-93-5345-090-8
Pages - 225

From the Trenches: India's Top Lawyer on His Most Important Cases by Abhishek Singhvi with Satyajit Sarna

Book Review - 

From the Trenches offers readers a captivating glimpse into the world of India's legal battles through the eyes of one of the country's preeminent legal minds, Abhishek Singhvi, with co-author Satyajit Sarna. This book goes beyond a mere chronicle of legal cases, delving into the profound questions of legal philosophy and societal impact.

The book's blurb sets the stage for what readers can expect - it has eight prominent cases highlighting the complexity of India's legal landscape and the broad spectrum of issues that Singhvi has confronted throughout his career. I intend to provide a brief overview of each case, but doing so would make this review excessively long and detract from its purpose as a book review.

However, I am going to talk a little about the cases and its effects:


1. Tata Press v. MTNL

This case established that commercial advertisements are not just a way to draw attention to products and services but also a form of speech and expression. The decision of the Supreme Court in favor of Tata Press has had far-reaching implications for the advertising industry in India, as it has given advertisers more freedom to create and distribute creative, innovative, and engaging ads.

2. D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal

This case had a significant impact on the Indian legal system. It has profound implications for human rights in India, as it helps to ensure that individuals are not subjected to torture or cruel treatment while in police custody and has established guidelines for the arrest and detention of individuals by the police. 

3. The Sabarimala Case

This case centers around the legal dispute regarding the admission of women of menstruating age into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. In 2018, the Supreme Court delivered a groundbreaking judgment that revoked the prohibition on women entering the temple. This ruling also triggered demonstrations and unrest within Kerala, as some groups opposed the verdict.

4. Naveen Jindal v. Union of India

Did you know we didn't have the right to hoist the Indian flag in India? This is a landmark case in the history of the Indian legal system and one of my favorites. The Supreme Court verdict held that citizens have a fundamental right to fly the national flag on private property. This means that individuals can display the Indian flag on their homes, cars, schools, colleges, and other personal property without fear of legal repercussions.

5. Nikhil Soni v. Union of India

This case involved the criminalization of the traditional religious practice of the Jain community called Santhara/Sallekhana, or fast-unto-death. The court held that Santhara is an act of self-destruction and amounts to suicide, a criminal offense under section 309 IPC. However, the Jain community filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) against the order in the Supreme Court. Therefore, the court granted an interim stay on the Rajasthan court's ruling while deciding to entertain the appeal. Being a Jain, this case is close to my heart.

6. Cyrus Mistry v. Tata Sons

This case was filed after Cyrus Mistry was removed from his position as chairman of Tata Sons in 2016. The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) held that Mistry's removal was illegal and ordered his reinstatement as chairman. However, the Supreme Court of India later overturned the NCLAT's verdict. The case has had far-reaching implications for corporate governance in India and has helped establish a precedent for future disputes between shareholders and boards of directors.

7. The Inside Story of Uttarakhand and Karnataka

The President's rule is a provision in the Indian Constitution that allows the President of India to take over the administration of a state in certain circumstances, which happened in Uttarakhand and Karnataka in 2016 and 2018. In both states, Congress won by floor testing. The same defection and President's rule happened in Maharashtra in 2019, which I am sure you must remember. 

8. Idgah Slaughterhouse and Jallikattu

Both of these cases revolve around the cessation of animal cruelty. However, in Delhi's Idgah slaughterhouse case, the primary objective was to relocate the facility away from the city center due to its unhygienic practices and environmental degradation. The Supreme Court rendered a verdict in favor of the relocation.

Concerning Jallikatu, a practice akin to bullfighting in Tamil Nadu, the situation takes a different course. Because of its lethality for the bulls, the practice was banned by the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, the people of Tamil Nadu found this prohibition unacceptable, exerting immense pressure on the government. 

Consequently, bulls were excluded from the list of animals protected under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. This amendment garnered approval from both the state and central governments. This instance highlights how political parties and public sentiment can circumvent legal regulations.

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This concise rendition merely scratches the surface of these cases; a deeper layer of intricacies exists. Numerous interconnected issues, complex legal statutes, specialized legal terminology, and the author's perspectives - encompassing these aspects within this review would be exceedingly challenging.

What truly sets this book apart is its fusion of legal analysis with broader societal considerations. The cases examined touch on various pressing concerns, including free speech, custodial torture, religious practices, animal rights, fundamental rights, and the democratic process. 

Each chapter not only dissects the legal arguments and strategies employed but also delves into the implications these cases have on Indian society, culture, and governance. This holistic approach enhances the reader's understanding of legal decisions' profound impact on the nation.

Abhishek Singhvi's narrative is characterized by its accessibility, and Satyajit Sarna's co-authorship brings a fresh perspective. As a lawyer and writer, Sarna's contributions help bridge the gap between legal discourse and storytelling.

This book serves as both an educational resource and a source of inspiration for aspiring legal professionals. It underscores the importance of understanding and engaging with complex legal issues that shape society. Moreover, it highlights lawyers' pivotal role in safeguarding justice and upholding democratic values.

To sum up, this book is both intellectually stimulating and illuminating. I gleaned substantial insights from the cases, and I'm keen on extending the same opportunity for enlightenment to you. Hence, it is an essential read, particularly for those intrigued by law, justice, and the pivotal influence legal practitioners wield in molding a nation's trajectory. 

I endorse this book with utmost confidence and am readily available to engage in candid discussions about the above cases should anyone express interest.

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