On December 8, the Supreme Court of India designated P Niroop as a Senior Advocate. He becomes the first lawyer from the State of Telangana to be selected to the position by the Apex Court.
For those who know him personally, his over three decades of journey in the legal profession and friends it indeed must have been time to rejoice. In my case, it’s another alumnus of the over 130-year-old Nizam College, whom I know well making it big and continuing to excel in the profession or society.
A career lawyer
After obtaining a BA degree in 1980 and then a Law degree from the Osmania University, Niroop moved to New Delhi in the later half of the decade. He found his way to practising in the Supreme Court. When, my own Journalism career moved from PTI to The Hindu BusinessLine took me to the national capital, one of the college friends I caught up with was Niroop. I met him at his home in Sarvapriya Vihar, opposite to the IIT, Delhi and close to the Press Enclave, South Delhi. He was associated with the Justice J S Verma Commission, which investigated the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in May 1991. Incidentally, Justice Verma went on to become the Chief Justice of India during 1997-1998.
Niroop gained rich experience during his two long associations with legal luminaries. First, practising in the Chambers of V R Reddy, (Former Advocate-General, Andhra Pradesh and later the Additional Solicitor-General of India), and second with Gopal Subramanium, (Former Solicitor-General of India) and a top notch Advocate.
During his 30 years standing at the SC Bar, Niroop earned 30 Reported Judgments on sensitive subjects of national importance, in the areas of Private International Law, Environmental, Infrastructural, Land and Agricultural & Constitutional Laws.
Before being nominated to the present designation, the 61-year-old Niroop served the State of Goa, representing it in the Apex Court for the years 2013-2016 as their Senior Standing Counsel. Later, he served as the Additional Advocate-General for the State of Meghalaya at Delhi & Shillong for the years 2017-2018.
From a political family
Niroop was a year senior to me in Nizam College. The first impression about him was that of an ‘emerging’ politician. He had won as an office bearer in a hard fought Students Union election in 1978-79.
The elections were a hard fought battle dubbed as the team consisted of Shashidhar Reddy, Amarender Reddy, Niroop Reddy etc. But, for Niroop, politics ran in the family. He was the son of the seasoned Cong (I) leader, P Ramachandra Reddy. Post winning, however, he did not appear the serious student leader as he preferred to be a bit detached thereafter. He appeared the reserved type.
Interestingly, his brother, P Swaroop was my classmate in plus two in the Government Jr. College, Aliya, which was opposite the Nizam College. And, incidentally, Swaroop also contested elections and won the President post in the College Student’s Union defeating Ch Prashant Reddy. I was the Editor of The Aliyan– college magazine.
My connections with Niroop’s family go back to over 40 years. Never close but ranging from professional to friendly. Starting from Swaroop to Niroop as friends to their father, Ramachandra Reddy garu as a professional contact to their brother in law, Thilotham Kolanu, an environment expert at the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) and later with his own enterprise.
Ramachandra Reddy garu, a lawyer, rose in AP politics from a legislator to Industries Minister to Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in 1989 when Dr Marri Channa Reddy was the CM. A very accessible leader, we had opportunities to spend some informal times at the Fateh Maidan Club, where he was a regular member. He was a key leader along with Baga Reddy in the campaigns of Indira Gandhi winning the Medak Lok Sabha seat in 1980 and also the 1984 election fought under Rajiv Gandhi, post the assassination of Indira Gandhi in October that year.
When Rajiv Gandhi held a large meeting in Sangareddy, Ramachandra Reddy’s house ( which I visited) was one of the key organising points. However, Reddy got disillusioned with the Cong(I) towards the end of his career and moved to the BJP. He unsuccessfully contested on the BJP ticket from Medak Lok Sabha. Interestingly, Niroop too tried his hand at the hustings fighting on the BJP ticket from Medak against the film star and TRS candidate Vijayashanti in 2009, but lost badly.
Over the years had the chance of meeting Niroop on numerous occasions in Delhi, at Mumbai airport and in Hyderabad, most often as our travels crossed path. He was always engaging in discussions on important subjects like patents, environment, agriculture and human rights. On one occasion thanks to my good friend Durgam Ravinder (Journalist and MCJ classmate), we met at the Kamat Lingapur, Begumpet for breakfast. He was closely associated with issues concerning SKS Microfinance, the big venture of Vikram Akula, an American banker.
SKS hit bigtime with its growth in rural microfinance. It came up with a successful IPO too. But, it landed in controversy with the founder Vikram forced to quit. Niroop was closely associated with Gujja Bhiksham, a rural expert, especially in water and irrigation from the Deccan Development Society (started by Satish, Ex-Doordarshan). They did some trouble shooting for SKS Microfinance.
Niroop is quite passionate on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), especially the TRIPS ( Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights), those related to Agriculture, the World Trade Organisation, human rights and global environment laws. In the new role that he has been vested with, the Advocate with a wealth of experience can hopefully contribute well in matters of law that concern the State and the nation.
Somasekhar Mulugu, former Associate Editor & Chief of Bureau of The Hindu BusinessLine, is a well-known political, business and science writer and analyst based in Hyderabad