KHAI­TAN & CO: VANGUARDS OF THE LE­GAL PRO­FES­SION

Some­times ad­mired, some­times re­viled, the law pro­fes­sion and its prac­ti­tion­ers elicit mixed re­sponses from the pub­lic at large. Yet there are those within the law fra­ter­nity who owe their suc­cess to a rep­u­ta­tion wo­ven to­gether through decades of cut­ting-e

Marwar - - Contents - Text Joseph Rozario Pho­to­graphs Cour­tesy Khai­tan & Co

Some­times ad­mired, some­times re­viled, the law pro­fes­sion and its prac­ti­tion­ers elicit mixed re­sponses from the pub­lic at large. Yet there are those within the law fra­ter­nity who owe their suc­cess to a rep­u­ta­tion wo­ven to­gether through decades of cut­ting-edge prac­tice and qual­ity ser­vices. A glow­ing ex­am­ple is the Kolkata-based Khai­tan & Co, a cen­tury-old law firm.

Reams have been writ­ten about Mar­waris’ un­canny en­tre­pre­neur­ial acu­men and predilec­tion for set­ting up busi­nesses, which no doubt have been the cor­ner­stones of their over­all suc­cess as a com­mu­nity. But even as build­ing in­dus­tries took them up the rungs of suc­cess, in­cept­ing them and then keep­ing them well oiled and run­ning meant com­pli­ance with the le­gal frame­work. It is here that an­other group of the Mar­waris, roused by pa­tri­otic fer­vour and fra­ter­nal feel­ings, felt the need to sup­port their brethren who were be­gin­ning to chal­lenge the Bri­tish stran­gle­hold over the In­dian in­dus­try in the tu­mul­tuous pre-In­de­pen­dence years. Among them was a fam­ily from Ram­garh, whose pa­tri­arch, Nau­ran­grai Khai­tan, in a for­tu­nate stroke of serendip­ity, pro­pelled one of his sons, Debi Prasad, to­wards the le­gal pro­fes­sion, thereby paving the path for set­ting up the il­lus­tri­ous Khai­tan & Co that con­tin­ues to re­main one of the na­tion’s top law firms over a cen­tury later.

The story of Khai­tan & Co dates so far back that much of what we know to­day about the in­cep­tive stages of the com­pany is based on tit­bits of in­for­ma­tion gleaned from mem­bers of the Khai­tan clan, the staff of Khai­tan & Co and their friends and as­so­ciates. Am­i­cus Cu­riae, a 385-page tome au­thored by Aditi Roy Ghatak which was pub­lished to com­mem­o­rate Khai­tan & Co’s cen­te­nary in 2011, sheds light on these as­pects.

Law in the blood

It is al­most as if the law pro­fes­sion runs in the Khai­tans’ genes. A peek into the fam­ily’s early his­tory, dat­ing back to the early nine­teenth cen­tury, re­veals that Nau­ran­grai Khai­tan’s grand­fa­ther, Ke­wal Ram, was a judge in Fateh­pura, a town in the Sikar district of Ra­jasthan. Un­able to put up with the op­pres­sive ways of the lo­cal thakurs, he left Fateh­pura to re­set­tle in Ram­garh (also in Ra­jasthan), where his son, Pu­ran­mull also took up the le­gal pro­fes­sion. As fate would have it, Pu­ran­mull too had to leave home, where­upon, like so many other Mar­waris of his time, he turned east­wards, pitch­ing camp in Pu­ru­lia in Ben­gal, where he started a small clothes busi­ness to­gether with his broth­ers. His fam­ily, how­ever, stayed back in Ram­garh, where, in 1854, his son Nau­ran­grai was born. Pu­ran­mull died soon af­ter Nau­ran­grai’s birth.

A bright spark

Around 1866, when Nau­ran­grai was about 12, he left home to join his un­cles in Pu­ru­lia. Here, one day, in an in­ci­dent that was to change his life, he ran into Colonel E I Dal­ton, the deputy com­mis­sioner of Pu­ru­lia, who hap­pened to be on a rou­tine sur­vey of his ter­ri­tory on horse­back. In­tim­i­dated by his awe­some pres­ence, the lo­cals as usual scam­pered for safety, but an un­fazed Nau­ran­grai not just faced the bur­rasahib but also ac­tu­ally held a stim­u­lat­ing con­ver­sa­tion with him, which so en­thused the English­man that he went out of his way to meet his un­cles to sug­gest and even in­sist that they send Nau­ran­grai for higher education. Nau­ran­grai’s un­cles com­plied. Liv­ing up to the colonel’s expectations, not only did Nau­ran­grai go on to per­form bril­liantly in aca­demics, but at a later date, when the Khai­tans’ pros­per­ous fam­ily busi­ness went bust, he once again greatly im­pressed Colonel Dal­ton with his work, af­ter the lat­ter stepped in to help him with a job as a sub-jailer at the Pu­ru­lia jail. Thereon, Nau­ran­grai went on to be­come the deputy su­per­in­ten­dent of jails—the first In­dian to be hon­oured with the post—and was put in charge of the re­gion’s big­gest jail which was in Buxar. So able was he at prison

As the years wore on, Nau­ran­grai’s for­tunes grew with his im­prov­ing sta­tus that brought him wide­spread re­spect and hon­our and also the za­min­dari in Pu­ru­lia

ad­min­is­tra­tion work that em­i­nent per­son­al­i­ties from the coun­try over, in­clud­ing poet Rabindranath Tagore lav­ished praise upon him.

As the years wore on, Nau­ran­grai’s for­tunes grew with his im­prov­ing sta­tus that brought him wide­spread re­spect and hon­our and also the za­min­dari in Pu­ru­lia that the fam­ily had lost when their busi­ness ran aground. The year 1906 marked the high point of his ca­reer when he was con­ferred the Rai Ba­hadur ti­tle by the Bri­tish. With his el­e­vated so­cial sta­tus, his out­look to­wards the so­cio­cul­tural en­vi­ron­ment of the times changed also. It had him en­sure the best pos­si­ble education for his chil­dren— this was a time when education was looked down upon by the Mar­wari com­mu­nity—and even go so far as to dis­re­gard the taboo at­tached with English education and send his son Debi Prasad to the Buxar District School, where the medium was English.

The found­ing of an in­sti­tu­tion

Nau­ran­grai was mar­ried to Surya Devi, the daugh­ter of Gu­la­brai Jhun­jhun­wala of Jhunjhunu, through whom he had seven sons and four daugh­ters. Among them were el­dest son Lak­shmi Narayan, who was fol­lowed by the four daugh­ters and the re­main­ing six sons, who were Debi Prasad, Kali Prasad, Durga Prasad, Gauri Prasad, Chandi Prasad and Bhag­wati Prasad. Debi Prasad, the sixth child and the sec­ond son, was born on Au­gust 14, in 1888. A bril­liant stu­dent, he went on to earn a first class first in the en­trance ex­am­i­na­tion from the Patna divi­sion and also a schol­ar­ship that led him to the most hal­lowed ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion of the day: the Pres­i­dency Col­lege of Cal­cutta (now Kolkata). In time, he was to earn a master’s de­gree, fol­lowed by a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in law, which put him at the pin­na­cle of aca­demic achieve­ment. Among his co-stu­dents at the Pres­i­dency Col­lege were some of the most bril­liant minds of the time, in­clud­ing Ra­jen­dra Prasad, who was to later be­come the first pres­i­dent of the Re­pub­lic of In­dia; Badri­das Goenka, who was to be­come the chief ar­chi­tect of the RPG busi­ness em­pire and the first In­dian chair­man of the Im­pe­rial Bank of In­dia (now the State Bank of In­dia); and J N Mazumdar, to­gether with whom, he was to lay the foun­da­tion of the iconic Khai­tan & Co in 1911.

Debi Prasad Khai­tan’s ini­ti­a­tion into the world of law ac­tu­ally had its roots in a prom­ise made by the then Gov­er­nor­Gen­eral of Ben­gal to Nau­ran­grai to se­cure his (Debi Prasad’s) fu­ture by mak­ing him a district mag­is­trate. In truth, this was an in­cen­tive by the gover­nor-gen­eral to re­tain Nau­ran­grai, who was con­tem­plat­ing go­ing back to Ra­jasthan af­ter his suc­cess­ful ten­ure as the ad­min­is­tra­tor of pris­ons in Buxar. With his ca­reer path thus chalked out, Debi Prasad turned his fo­cus to­wards a fu­ture as a district mag­is­trate, but fate took him to­wards at­tor­ney­ship in­stead. This hap­pened on the ad­vice of one Ernest Hard­wicke Cowie, an in­mate in Nau­ran­grai’s jail whose help Nau­ran­grai had sought to write the ap­pli­ca­tion to the In­spec­tor of Pris­ons, in­di­cat­ing his de­sire to con­tinue with his em­ploy­ment, pro­vided Debi Prasad was made a mag­is­trate. An erst­while part­ner in a firm of so­lic­i­tors and also a mem­ber of the In­cor­po­rated Law So­ci­ety, Cowie felt that with Debi Prasad’s ex­cel­lent aca­demics, it would best serve him to train to be an at­tor­ney.

How­ever, no English law firm would em­ploy Debi Prasad as an ar­ti­cled clerk—a prepara­tory stage for as­pir­ing at­tor­neys. Ul­ti­mately, he joined a firm by the name Manuel and Agar­walla, and a few years on, in 1911, cleared his at­tor­ney­ship ex­am­i­na­tion with fly­ing colours. The next chal­lenge was to se­cure part­ner­ship in a law firm, which again proved dif­fi­cult with no Bri­tish firm ac­cept­ing him. Choos­ing to start on his own, he be­gan with a few loyal clients (among them was Ghan­shyam­das Birla, whose ca­reer as a jute baron was still to take off), un­til his or­a­to­rial and ar­gu­men­ta­tive skills earned the ad­mi­ra­tion of the Chief Jus­tice and those present at the court one day, while fight­ing a case as a ju­nior, un­der the leg­endary Desh­bandhu Chit­taran­jan Das. Af­ter hours of co­gent ar­gu­ments, Debi Prasad won the case, which made him an in­stant hit. Work started pour­ing in for the Young Turk af­ter this, un­til em­bold­ened, he teamed up with his col­lege mate J N Mazumdar and set up their own firm at 10, Old Post Of­fice Street, in Cal­cutta. Khai­tan & Co was born. The law pro­fes­sion was held in high es­teem in Ben­gal in those days, and it was a mat­ter of im­mense pride for Mar­waris that one of their own had be­come an at­tor­ney long last.

A swadeshi per­spec­tive of law

The ear­li­est in­stances of Bri­tish law in In­dia date back to early eigh­teenth cen­tury. By the 1770s, the Bri­tish East In­dia Com­pany had set up courts in sev­eral cities, in­clud­ing one in Cal­cutta in 1774. By the early twen­ti­eth cen­tury, pushed to the brink by Bri­tish hege­mony, the In­dian free­dom move­ment started gath­er­ing steam. Among the dreaded in­stru­ments of Bri­tish op­pres­sion was a bi­ased ju­di­cial sys­tem, which roused na­tion­al­is­tic feel­ings among In­di­ans at large and also sec­tions of the le­gal fra­ter­nity, who re­solved to achieve im­par­tial­ity by per­pe­trat­ing the ex­ist­ing ju­di­cial sys­tem with an In­dian per­spec­tive. Khai­tan & Co chose to be among them.

With the swadeshi sen­ti­ment sweep­ing through the na­tion, this was also a time when the Mar­wari com­mu­nity of Cal­cutta started wak­ing up to the need for an in­dige­nous in­dus­try, which led to the for­ma­tion of var­i­ous bod­ies like the Mar­wari As­so­ci­a­tion, the Mar­wari Cham­ber of Com­merce and The Jute Balers As­so­ci­a­tion. It was in the back­drop of this awak­en­ing to the ex­i­gen­cies of the time that Debi Prasad proved his met­tle as a top le­gal coun­sel. As a busi­ness com­mu­nity, in­ter­nal con­flicts of in­ter­est were fre­quent among Mar­waris, not to for­get their nu­mer­ous is­sues with the Bri­tish ad­min­is­tra­tion. This had fel­low Mar­waris turn to Debi Prasad for le­gal coun­sel, which he on his part re­cip­ro­cated by tak­ing up the cud­gels for them, mo­ti­vated both by fra­ter­nal feel­ings and the need to ex­pand his fledg­ling busi­ness. That he had made him­self a part of the pow­er­ful Mar­wari As­so­ci­a­tion by of­fer­ing his ser­vices as a mem­ber of its work­ing com­mit­tee also helped in these dual ob­jec­tives. Grad­u­ally, as the num­ber of clients be­gan to grow, he felt the need for help­ing hands and turned to­wards his broth­ers, who, on their part, in­spired by his suc­cess, read­ily obliged by join­ing hands with him.

The mag­nif­i­cent seven

Among the Khai­tan broth­ers, the el­dest was Lak­shmi Narayan. When Debi Prasad was born, the Khai­tans lived in Burrabazar, a Mar­wari-dom­i­nated busi­ness district in Cal­cutta, where Lak­shmi Narayan helped his uncle, Anandi Ram, in his tex­tile and gar­ments busi­ness. Debi Prasad, per­haps, would have joined the fam­ily tex­tile busi­ness too but for the gover­nor gen­eral’s prom­ise to Nau­ran­grai to make him a district mag­is­trate, which changed the course of his life. Given that Lak­shmi Narayan was con­sid­er­ably older than his other broth­ers and was al­ready en­gaged in a dif­fer­ent field, he could not go through for­mal train­ing re­quired for at­tor­ney­ship, and this stood in the way of his be­ing in­ducted as a part­ner in Khai­tan & Co. To get the bet­ter of the im­ped­i­ment, his younger broth­ers made him a part­ner by spe­cial agree­ment, where­upon Lak­shmi Narayan be­came the head of the ad­min­is­tra­tive wing of the firm which he man­aged very ably. Later, his de­scen­dants, how­ever, were

As a busi­ness com­mu­nity, in­ter­nal con­flicts of in­ter­est were fre­quent among Mar­waris, not to for­get their nu­mer­ous is­sues with the Bri­tish ad­min­is­tra­tion

to con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to Khai­tan & Co as at­tor­neys, in­clud­ing his son Kis­han Prasad and grand­sons Nand Gopal Khai­tan, Pramod Khai­tan and Padam Khai­tan and also Padam Khai­tan’s daugh­ter, Nan­dini Khai­tan, who is the first woman lawyer from the fam­ily to join the firm.

Among the first of the brood to join Debi Prasad as an at­tor­ney was younger brother Kali Prasad. The Khai­tan broth­ers prov­i­den­tially were equally blessed when it came to men­tal abil­i­ties, for Kali Prasad too turned out to be a bril­liant stu­dent, who drew wide­spread ad­mi­ra­tion, when he se­cured a first divi­sion in his MA ex­ams. En­cour­aged by the ven­er­a­ble Sir Ashutosh Mukher­jee, a prom­i­nent ed­u­ca­tion­ist, and other pil­lars of the Mar­wari com­mu­nity such as G D Birla and Jam­nalal Ba­jaj, he pro­ceeded to Lon­don for his bar exam which was to qual­ify him as a bar­ris­ter. Af­ter re­turn­ing from Eng­land, Kali Prasad joined the Cal­cutta bar in 1914 and soon es­tab­lished him­self as an able and out­stand­ing mem­ber of the le­gal fra­ter­nity, earn­ing the so­bri­quet of ‘a mov­ing le­gal en­cy­clopae­dia’. His crown­ing mo­ment, how­ever, came af­ter three bril­liant decades of prac­tice, when in 1949 he was ap­pointed ad­vo­cate-gen­eral of West Ben­gal, the high­est of­fice of the state ju­di­ciary.

Debi Prasad, mean­while, had the rare hon­our of be­ing ap­pointed a mem­ber of the Con­stituent Assem­bly, the au­gust body tasked with the re­spon­si­bil­ity of draft­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion of free In­dia. Ear­lier, in 1925, he had co-founded the In­dian Cham­ber of Com­merce to­gether with G D Birla and oth­ers, and in 1926, had es­tab­lished the Fed­er­a­tion of In­dian Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­tries, in co­op­er­a­tion with Sir Pu­rushot­tam­das Thakur­das and G D Birla.

Af­ter Kali Prasad, the next to join Khai­tan & Co was Durga Prasad. Cast in the same mould as his broth­ers and a con­sis­tent top­per as well, he earned a first class first in both his bach­e­lor’s and master’s de­grees and then in his Bach­e­lor of Law and at­tor­ney­ship ex­ams as well. Thus ini­ti­ated, he joined his broth­ers at Khai­tan & Co, as an at­tor­ney in 1917. Af­ter head­ing the firm for a few years—this was when Debi Prasad had to ded­i­cate his ser­vices ex­clu­sively to G D Birla af­ter Birla Broth­ers was formed in 1919—he served as the coun­cil­lor of Cal­cutta Cor­po­ra­tion and then went on to head sev­eral com­mer­cial bod­ies as pres­i­dent, in­clud­ing the In­dian Sugar Mill As­so­ci­a­tion and the Tan­ners’ Fed­er­a­tion of In­dia. He also served as the vice-pres­i­dent of the In­dian Cham­ber of Com­merce, be­fore join­ing Birla Broth­ers, where he rose to be the vice-chair­man of Bharat In­sur­ance Com­pany. Later, he ded­i­cated his time and ef­forts to­wards build­ing his man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­ness. He passed away in 1943.

Nau­ran­grai’s fifth son, Gauri Prasad’s de­scen­dants were to own Cal­cut­tabased tea ma­jor, Wil­liamson & Magor. Gauri Prasad was fol­lowed by Chandi Prasad who again was ex­tremely sharp aca­dem­i­cally. Un­for­tu­nately, his un­timely death left the Khai­tans bereft of yet an­other bril­liant mind, who might have

pos­si­bly taken the fam­ily name to still loftier heights.

Bhag­wati Prasad, the youngest of the Khai­tan broth­ers, whose il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer and as­so­ci­a­tion with the firm stretched sev­eral decades, made his ac­quain­tance with the city of Cal­cutta as a pri­mary school stu­dent of the his­toric Vishud­dhanand Saraswati Vidyalaya. His spe­cial ap­ti­tude for learn­ing took him through a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from Pres­i­dency Col­lege to a law de­gree from the Univer­sity of Cal­cutta, be­fore he joined Khai­tan & Co in 1928. In 1930, he was in­ducted as at­tor­ney-at-law at the Cal­cutta High Court, af­ter which, in 1934, he was ap­pointed a no­tary by the Arch­bishop of Can­ter­bury. A well-rounded man given as much to aca­demics and phi­lan­thropy, he was an epit­ome of fair prac­tice in a field gen­er­ally thought of as be­ing oth­er­wise. His re­la­tion­ship with his clients was more like that of a friend and con­fi­dant, rather than paid coun­sel. This, among other rea­sons, was to draw clients to Khai­tan & Co in their hordes—es­pe­cially fel­low Mar­wari busi­ness­men and in­dus­tri­al­ists—ush­er­ing the firm into the glory days it has en­joyed since.

In the mean­while, in 1928, the firm’s of­fices shifted to the land­mark Emer­ald House (which also was in Old Post Of­fice Street). Owned by the Ban­gurs of Cal­cutta, in 1979, both the lessors and the lesees de­cided that Khai­tan & Co would re­main the ten­ants of the premises for its en­tirety. Al­most a cen­tury later, Emer­ald House con­tin­ues to be Khai­tan & Co’s head of­fice, now hous­ing plush meet­ing rooms where the lawyers of the firm meet their clients, in ad­di­tion to reg­u­lar of­fices of the firm that have wit­nessed so much of its his­tory.

Spear­head­ing growth

Bhag­wati Prasad’s groom­ing, both pro­fes­sional and per­sonal, had taken place un­der the guid­ance and tute­lage of some of the best le­gal minds of the time, in­clud­ing Ish­war Das Jalan, who was a part of the firm, and, of course, his own broth­ers, who were icons of the le­gal fra­ter­nity. Bhag­wati Prasad was not ex­actly mon­ey­minded. On the con­trary, he was of­ten thought of as be­ing gen­er­ous to a fault. An ex­cel­lent strate­gist, he could ar­gue, per­suade and get the bet­ter of his op­po­si­tion with his con­sum­mate skills as an at­tor­ney. As the head of Khai­tan & Co, he com­manded both awe and re­spect, but at the same time he was com­pas­sion­ate and an ex­cel­lent tu­tor, whose pro­cliv­ity for hard work, fair play and re­spect for the le­gal pro­fes­sion was wor­thy of em­u­la­tion. Clients trusted him to the hilt, and both they and fel­low col­leagues took his ad­vice with­out de­mur. One could see top in­dus­tri­al­ists breeze in and out of his Bal­ly­gunge Cir­cu­lar Road res­i­dence ev­ery morn­ing in the hey­day of his ca­reer.

New in­ductees looked to hon­ing their skills un­der him, and work­ing for him was thought of as the best pos­si­ble on-the-job train­ing for as­pir­ing at­tor­neys. Many of those who worked un­der him achieved unusual com­pe­tence in the field, in­clud­ing names like Ram Kishore Choud­hury and more fa­mously Si­taram Jhun­jhun­wala, whose sons and grand­sons still work for the firm. Bhag­wati Prasad, in fact, had built such a for­mi­da­ble team that the an­nals of Khai­tan & Co are re­plete with land­mark cases fought and won by the firm,

in­clud­ing Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain’s al­leged FERA vi­o­la­tion case in the ‘50s; the trial of for­mer prime min­is­ter, Indira Gandhi, for al­leged of­fences and ex­cesses com­mit­ted dur­ing the Emer­gency; the case of So­nia Gandhi’s In­dian cit­i­zen­ship be­ing chal­lenged; among scores of oth­ers.

Bhag­wati Prasad’s con­tri­bu­tion in the area of phi­lan­thropy was re­mark­able too. Apart from be­ing the founder pres­i­dent of Bal­ly­gunge Shik­sha Sadan, a well-known girls’ school in Cal­cutta, he was also the pres­i­dent emer­i­tus of SV S Shik­shay­atan Col­lege and the trustee of a num­ber of pub­lic char­i­ta­ble trusts. He was also the founder pres­i­dent of the Law Re­search In­sti­tute, a body as­so­ci­ated with as­sist­ing those as­pir­ing to pur­sue the le­gal pro­fes­sion and also with sup­port­ing and de­vel­op­ing le­gal education. The credit of in­spir­ing the first Mar­wari women to study at­tor­ney­ship also goes to him.

The long arm of the firm

As of to­day, Khai­tan & Co is a full- ser­vice law firm and the se­nior most part­ner is Bhag­wati Prasad’s son Pradip Ku­mar Khai­tan ( Pinto to his friends)

Like most other firms, Khai­tan & Co too was a part­ner­ship firm, where work was shared be­tween part­ners, ar­ti­cled clerks and lawyers. It had ded­i­cated teams to han­dle var­i­ous classes of lit­i­ga­tions, but all cases, large or small, re­ceived the same ded­i­ca­tion and im­por­tance which stood the firm in good stead in the long run. Sin­cere and trust­wor­thy, Khai­tan & Co also took on and han­dled all kinds of le­gal is­sues, no mat­ter how com­plex. The firm’s for­tunes es­pe­cially be­gan to rise af­ter In­de­pen­dence, when the In­dian In­come Tax Act evolved, the Com­pa­nies Act came into be­ing, new in­dus­tries were set up, both the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors bur­geoned, col­lab­o­ra­tions were forged (with both na­tional and in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies) and the In­dian in­dus­try grew ex­po­nen­tially.

These brought more work for Khai­tan & Co, a fair share of it com­ing from Mar­wari busi­ness houses. Many of them re­posed blind trust in the firm and many still do, thanks to Khai­tan & Co’s un­ri­valled rep­u­ta­tion and in­ti­mate un­der­stand­ing of the Mar­wari mind­set, Mar­wari fam­ily struc­tures, the Mar­wari ethos, Mar­wari fam­ily values and in­tent.

In the ’70s, Cal­cutta went through a sea change with the com­mu­nists tak­ing over and an anti-cap­i­tal­ist sen­ti­ment per­vad­ing the state which had most cor­po­ra­tions pack their bags and re­lo­cate to other cities. Khai­tan & Co did like­wise, but did not leave bag and bag­gage. In­stead, of­fices were opened in ma­jor me­trop­o­lises, start­ing with New Delhi in the seven­ties (where Om Prakash Khai­tan, an­other grand­son of Lak­shmi Narayan was in charge), Ban­ga­lore (now Ben­galuru) in 1993 (where Ra­jiv Khai­tan was in charge) and Mum­bai in 2001 (where Bhag­wati Prasad’s grand­son, Hai­greve Khai­tan was in charge).

As of to­day, Khai­tan & Co is a full-ser­vice law firm and the se­nior most part­ner is Bhag­wati Prasad’s son Pradip Ku­mar Khai­tan (Pinto to his friends), who over the last four-and-a-half decades has ac­quired a for­mi­da­ble rep­u­ta­tion like his fa­ther. The firm boasts 115 part­ners and di­rec­tors and over 500 fee earners (in­clud­ing part­ners and di­rec­tors) across its four of­fices. It ex­er­cises a global in­flu­ence, thanks to its good work­ing re­la­tion­ships with in­ter­na­tional firms, and is ca­pa­ble of ad­vis­ing any client in In­dia or else­where in the world, in any mat­ter. Among its ar­eas of prac­tice in­clude merg­ers, joint ven­tures, ac­qui­si­tions and sales of con­trol­ling in­ter­est, mi­nor­ity sales, in­vest­ment, pre-IPO place­ments, pub­lic takeover of­fers, hos­tile takeovers, man­age­ment buy-outs, busi­ness trans­fers and as­set sales in both do­mes­tic and cross-bor­der trans­ac­tions. And with that, the cen­tury-old leg­end called Khai­tan & Co not just lives on but con­tin­ues to con­quer new grounds as it marches to­wards a dou­ble cen­tury.

Left: Nau­ran­grai Khai­tan Fac­ing page, (from left): Debi Prasad Khai­tan, Lak­shmi Narayan Khai­tan, Bhag­wati Prasad Khai­tan

The home at Chandil (near Pu­ru­lia), where the first gen­er­a­tion of Khai­tan lawyers was nur­tured

Right: Debi Prasad Khai­tan with Sir John An­der­son, 1st Vis­count Waver­ley, the Gover­nor of Ben­gal from 1932–1937; Bot­tom: Debi Prasad Khai­tan (left) with friend, philoso­pher and guide, J N Mazumdar

The Khai­tan broth­ers. (L-R) top row: Durga Prasad, Lak­shmi Narayan, Debi Prasad, Kali Prasad; Bot­tom row: Chandi Prasad, Bhag­wati Prasad, Gauri Prasad

From top left: Bhag­wati Prasad Khai­tan, Emer­ald House, the home of Khai­tan & Co

Clock­wise from top left: The Khai­tans with the Bir­las. (From left) G N Khai­tan, G P Birla, K K Birla, S K Birla, M P Birla and B P Khai­tan; Bhag­wati Prasad’s favourite dis­ci­ple, Si­taram Jhun­jhun­wala, whose sons and grand­son work with Khai­tan & Co even to­day; Bhag­wati Prasad Khai­tan with for­mer prime min­is­ter, Indira Gandhi

Three gen­er­a­tions of Khai­tans– Bhag­wati Prasad Khai­tan (left), Pradip Ku­mar Khai­tan (cen­tre) and Hai­greve Khai­tan

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