I passed my SSC and HSSC Examinations from the Regina Martyrum High School Assolna in 1976 and joined the SP Chowgule College of Arts and Science. I graduated in the Science stream in 1981. After completing my Bachelors in Science degree, and owing to the fact that I did extremely well, I decided to carry on and started my Masters in Science degree course. This field however, didn’t capture my heart and I quit after finishing one year and shifted to law. The main reason, I feel, prompted this switch, was my perennial involvement with the various student movements and student unions in the late 70s and early 80s.
I was an active member as I believed that we could bring about the necessary change. I was the General Secretary of the Student’s Movement at the Chowgule College and was also the General Secretary of the All Goa Students Union.
The second reason that I shifted to law is, back in my school days, I used to participate in elocutions and debates and was a proficient public speaker. This speaking ability is what I believed would give me an edge in relation to the career that I had in mind, that of an advocate.
I obtained my LLB Degree from Bombay University in 1985 and was enrolled as a member of the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa in the same year. I joined the chambers of Advocate Jose Bosco Vasconcelos in the year 1986. In 1989, I moved to Pune and joined the University of Pune and obtained my LLM Degree. I returned to Goa and began teaching at the Kare College of Law. I have been on the college lecture rolls since 1989. I started out teaching only the graduate level course but now I teach both, the graduate as well as the post graduate levels courses. I have been teaching Constitutional Law since 1989 till date except during the period from December 1991 to December 1992 when I functioned as a Civil Judge and a Judical Magistrate First Class at Ponda and Panjim.
After quitting the post in 1992, I carried on teaching and also started practicing law. I have now been practicing in various courts in Goa, basically on the civil side, from 1986 till date except from December 1991 to December 1992.
Due to my outstanding work as a practicing lawyer and an academician, I was chosen as a member of the Board of Studies, Faculty of Law at the Goa University for the term 2007-2008. I was also the President of the South Goa Advocates Association from 2004 to 2006. I have been under the chairmanship of Ramakant Khalap.
One of the most honourable and humbling moments in my life till date was the day I got to share a lunch with the Dalai Lama, something I still remember with profound fondness.
Another of the many proud moments in my life was when I was invited by the Gomant Vidya Niketan for their centenary celebrations to address the gathering on the topic of ‘Ethics in Society’ in the distinguished presence of Justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari.
My other proud moments include being a part of the Government Committee to revise the Town and Country Act Revenue Committee, the Forest Monitoring Committee and also, the Goa State Legal Services Authority. That apart, I have been and still am a regular contributor of features and columns to newspapers, magazines and periodicals on legal and constitutional issues.
Among my most memorable cases is a consumer rights case back in my early years of practice. A child fell from the third floor through the metal staircase railing and died. As per the National Building Code of India, there is supposed to be a full wall for the staircase. The builder acknowledged this but stated that he had no obligation to do so as it was not part of the contract with the residents. I won the case, however, and the builder was held responsible and punished.
Throughout my career I have always worked hard and made sure that I have maintained my integrity, which I believe is of utmost importance in the field of law.
All I have to say to upcoming defenders of law is that losing and winning is part and parcel of the game. You need to strategize your game plan. The judge plays a key role in all cases and you need to align your understanding with the judge’s view point. You also need to make a niche for yourself. This is a crowded profession, but you need create a name and space through your hard work and integrity
- As told to LYNDON PINTO