Date of birth:
5 January 1973
The name of the law school from which you received your first law degree:
Law Collage, Punjab University, Chandigarh, India
Current law firm and office:
DSK Legal, New Delhi
Position within the firm:
Details of any past law firms that you have worked for:
Until 2006, I was heading small firm in the name of Mastan & Company, which I started in 2001. I merged this firm with DSK Legal in 2006.
Key practice areas:
Tax-Direct & Indirect including International tax, Competition Law, Litigation in tax and competition law
Why you chose to focus in these areas:
Due to my accounting background, I have advantage of understanding numbers, which helps me in structuring complicated transaction from tax perspective. Also it helps me in understanding commercials and economics of any transaction from practical perspective. That is why I chose tax in first place. On the competition law side, since it is a new area in India, I realised that this subject is going to have very wide reach and my understanding of corporate law coupled with tax can give me a distinct advantage in understanding commercial agreements and mergers from the competition perspective.
Details of the matter that you have worked on in your career to date that you are most proud of, and why:
Recently, I represented the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in the first ever cartel matter pertaining to the cement industry under new competition regime. Representing the regulator was a unique experience and that too in the most important first cartel case in the country.
I represented the CCI, before Competition Appellate Tribunal (CAT), in the hospital cartel case and obtained a favourable order against the cartel members and sustained the penalty imposed by CCI.
I represented textile exporters in the country in a tax dispute involving $100m before Supreme Court of India and obtained tax relief for the entire textile industry in the country. This judgment was widely reported in the press and media.
I advised and assisted a French company in structuring their transaction and assisted them in minimising their tax liability in case of acquisition of shares of an Indian company. In the matter we got a lower tax ruling from the Authority of Advance Ruling (AAR) in connection with withholding tax liability.
Advised and assisted a foreign investment company while exiting out of its Indian investment company and obtained a zero tax ruling under the India – Mauritius tax treaty. This was one of the imported rulings where tax authorities were confirming tax demand in similar situation as per Vodafone decision.
I am proud of these works as these assignments were unique and worth noting as each one of these had serious impact on industry and economy at large. Moreover, in all the above assignments, I personally appeared before courts or authorities and represented the clients. This is very unusual of law firms, as most of the law firms in India work as solicitor firms and brief senior counsel (QCs) to represent them.
The name of any more senior lawyers that you look up to or consider to be mentors:
In my case, although there is no mentor in the direct sense but I, like other lawyers in the country, look up to Mr Palkhivala and Mr Salve to motivate myself.