Nani Palkhivala: The Courtroom Genius

Author: Pooja Sharma, 3rd Year, LL.B, Gopaldas Jhamatmal Advani Law College, Mumbai University.

  • Title:  Nani Palkhivala: The Courtroom Genius
  • Authors: Arvind P. Datar  & Soli Sorabjee
  • Publisher: LexisNexis
  • Publication Year: 2012
  • Total Pages: 455

About the authors:

Mr. Arvind P. Datar is a senior advocate having more than 30 years of experience. He has also appeared for various landmark cases in The Hon’ble  Supreme Court of India. He had authored several books and commentaries on the subjects of  Constitutional Law, The Law and Practice of Income Tax, Central Excise Law & Practice and Guide to Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

Mr. Soli Sorabjee is the Former Attorney General of India and was a prominent jurist. He was also honoured with Padma Vibhushan for his tireless efforts to protect Freedom of Expression and Protection of Human rights. He has authored various books such as The Emergency, Censorship, and the Press in India; Search for Values and World of All Human Rights


The book Nani Palkhivala: The Courtroom Genius, was authored by Arvind P. Datar and Soli Sorabjee. This book describes Nani Palkhivala’s career as a lawyer and his journey throughout. This book also chronicles the various landmark judgements in which Mr Nani Palkhivala had appeared. This book makes the reader understand the style of advocacy and the working method of Mr Palkhivala. It contains the secret behind Palkhivala’s success, his life as a child and how he turned into a successful lawyer. It talks about how rapidly Palkhivala came into legal stardom.

The authors have spoken to several people related to Palkhivala before he started writing the book. He got to know about Palkhivala’s early life by Palkhivala’s own brother. The authors took virtual interviews of numerous people who had worked with Nani Palkhivala in order to understand Palkhivala’s way of working; few of them were Late Mr. Y.V Chandrachud, Former CJI of India, Mr. Ravindra Narayan, Mr. Dinesh Vyas, Mr. Bansi Mehta, Mr. M.C. Mehta.

This book makes readers aware about Palkhivala’s legal biography. The book describes various cases in which Palkhivala appeared as a counsel and the decision of the same changed the destiny of the company. As per the authors this is that one book that should be read by every law student, lawyer, Chartered Accountants, member of the judiciary and every well-informed citizen must read.


Secrets of Palkhivala’s Success: Chapter One of the book is highly recommended for the law students which speaks about Nani’s “8 principles of success” these principles are the certain qualities of Palkhivala such as:

  • Thorough study of facts and proper research- Palkhivala used to prefer reading bare Act in order to understand the law.
  • Focus on the task in hand – Palkhivala used to fully concentrate on the task in his hand. He did not multitask.
  • Persuasive style of advocacy – He had a different way of convincing the Court. He was an expert in addressing large number of people in the budget speeches.
  • Time Management – He used to make maximum utilization of time and he used to fit in two to three matters in his daily schedule.
  • Determination to succeed – Palkhivala hated second position. He used to put his 100% and always wanted the first position.
  • Speed reading – He used to constantly improve his skills. He could read a 200 pages book within two hours.
  • Simplifying the complex issues- Palkhivala made complicated issues look simple and boring issues look interesting.
  • Courtesy towards the Bar and the Bench – He was very down to earth and always maintained the decorum of the Court.[1]

Extraordinary Child and Lawyer by Accident: Nani Palkhivala used to stammer as a child and his father tried various therapies by using almonds in order to resolve this problem. This didn’t stop Palkhivala he took part in various debates. Eventually, he conquered stammering. He was a very brilliant student in college. He used to score 1st class in law exams in addition to that he scored the highest in all the subjects and he had set a record in Bombay University.

Meteoric Rise to Legal Stardom: In his career Palkhivala had represented various cases but the turning point in his life was a case wherein he was assisting Sir N. P. Engineer. In this case Sir N.P. Engineer couldn’t argued once but at the time of giving reply to Advocate General M.P. Ameen’s argument he had to leave court due to some reason while leaving he said the court that his junior Mr. Palkhivala will argue the case tomorrow. Palkhivala worked right through the night without sleeping. The way he started arguing the next day within next few hours the courtroom was full of people who had come to listen to his argument as the news spread across the court that a very young lawyer is arguing in a fantastic manner. It had been only two to three years that Palkhivala had started his career.


Authors have described a few cases which were represented by Palkhivala and are few of the landmark cases of India.  The authors have given a brief descriptive story of each case and how he argued in the constitutional cases. While reading the book one gets a closer look at Palkhivala’s life. Few of the landmark cases argued by him were: The Kesavananda Bharti Case, The Minerva Mills Case, The Privy Purses Case, and the IC Golaknath case.

  • International Cases

Nani Palkhivala also represented India in International Cases. In the famous case of Kutch dispute Palkhivala at the age of 45 argued the case with almost 18,000 maps as well as other exhibits. He had got 90% of Rann of Kutch for India. This was one of his fabulous cases.


The book reveals some interesting secrets of Nani Palkhivala’s success formula that can be adapted by any other person who has average intellectual abilities. One of the outstanding features of the book is its clarity while reading. Each scene was nicely described before embarking on to the cases. This book inspires the younger generations and motivates them to do better in their professional life.


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