Harish Salve

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Harish Salve
Solicitor General of India
In office
1 November 1999 – 3 November 2002
Preceded byN. Santosh Hegde
Succeeded byKirit Raval
Personal details
Born (1955-06-22) 22 June 1955 (age 64)
Warud, Sindkheda, Dhule, Maharashtra State, India
Alma materInstitute of Chartered Accountants of India
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar College of Law(main branch), Nagpur

Harish Salve is an Indian lawyer and a Chartered Accountant, who specializes in constitutional, commercial and taxation law. He primarily practices at the Supreme Court of India but also appears in various High Courts and in international arbitration, sometimes as counsel and other times as an adjudicator. He served as the Solicitor General of India from 1 November 1999 to 3 November 2002. India Today magazine ranked him 43rd in India's 50 Most powerful people of 2017 list.[1]

Background and family[edit]

He was born into a Marathi family. His father, N. K. P. Salve, was a chartered accountant and prominent politician of the Indian National Congress . His mother, Ambriti Salve, was a doctor. His grandfather, P.K. Salve, was a successful criminal lawyer and his great-grandfather (father of P.K. Salve) was a munsif (subordinate judge).[2] He is married to Meenakshi and has two daughters, Saaniya and Sakshi. He has one sister, Arundati. His family is from Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh state.[citation needed]

He is fond of music and is a passionate piano player. Salve has said that he would like to teach at Oxford University one day.[3] He counts Subhash Chandra of Zee Network and Naresh Goyal amongst his close friends.[3]


He pursued his law degree from R.T.M Nagpur University,Nagpur.Before he became a lawyer, Salve was a qualified chartered accountant and practised chartered accountancy in taxation. He was inspired by Nani Palkhivala, a tax lawyer from Mumbai.[citation needed]

He began his legal career in 1980 at J. B. Dadachandji & Co., first as an intern, and later as a full-time lawyer. During this time, he assisted Palkhivala in the Minerva Mills case (case citation: AIR 1980 SC 1789).[4] Salve was later designated a Senior Counsel by the Delhi High Court.

Salve worked with former Attorney General, Soli Sorabjee, from 1980–1986.[5] He declined to be nominated for a second three-year term due to "personal reasons" when his first term ended in November 2002.[6] He later clarified that his wife was unhappy with him bringing work home..[3]

Salve was appointed as Amicus Curiae by the Supreme Court in some cases, mostly relating to preservation of the environment. However, in 2011, he recused himself from this position during a hearing on illegal mining, on the grounds that he had previously appeared for one or more of the parties.

In 2013, Salve was admitted to the English Bar and subsequently joined the Blackstone Chambers.[7]

Major cases and clients[edit]

Harish Salve argued the first Anti-Dumping case in the Supreme Court of India. He frequently represents large corporations like Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Limited. He has appeared in the Krishna Godavari Basin gas dispute case against the latter's brother, Anil Ambani's Reliance Natural Resources Limited.

Other clients include the Tata Group and ITC Limited, whom he has represented on various matters. He has appeared for several Tata group companies. He has also appeared for Ratan Tata himself.[citation needed]

Salve represented Vodafone in its $2.5 billion tax dispute with the Indian government. He initially lost the case in the Bombay High Court,[8] but later won it at the Supreme Court after taking a temporary residence in London and relocating his office there to focus solely on the case.[9] Salve was extremely critical of the Indian government for passing a retrospective clarification to the Income Tax law in the 2012 Union Budget, which nullified the Supreme Court's decision.[10]

Salve appeared for Bilkis Bano, a victim of the Gujarat Riots, at the behest of the National Human Rights Commission in 2003.[11] He also appeared as a defence counsel in the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder case.[12]

In 2015, he took up the high-profile case of actor Salman Khan. The actor was earlier sentenced to five years in jail for a 2002 hit-and-run accident that left one man dead and four others injured.[13] Senior counsel Amit Desai, a Mumbai-based lawyer replaced Salve for a short time in the Salman Khan trial.[14] The Bombay High Court eventually suspended the sessions court decision and on 10 December 2015 acquitted Salman Khan of all charges for the 2002 hit-and-run and drunk-and-drive case.[15]

In May 2017, he represented India before the International Court of Justice in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case. Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of spying.[16] Due to his efforts, the International Court of Justice has ordered a provisional stay on Jadhav's execution until a final verdict is declared. For this case he charged only ₹1(INR) in legal fees.[17]


In 2011, an article in Tehelka claimed that Salve was misusing his position as amicus curiae in the Gujarat Riots case, by simultaneously lobbying for companies with state government officials, who were part of the investigation he was overseeing for the court.[18] The magazine's correspondent made allegations: "Can the renowned lawyer do justice to the 2002 Gujarat riot victims while referring business deals to the Narendra Modi government? Ashish Khetan has the evidence of impropriety and conflict of interest".

Later, in an interview to Khetan, Salve, while not denying any of the article's factual assertions, rejected any possibility of a quid pro quo or conflict in his role as an amicus in the case.[19] "I am appearing against Narendra Modi and his government's misdeeds. I'm not appearing against Gujarat. If a project is good for Gujarat I will again direct it to Gujarat. If you can show that I have received one rupee from this I will leave this profession and go," said Salve in the interview, denying that he had any pecuniary interest in making recommendations on behalf of Eros Energy. He was also named in the Panama Papers.


  1. ^ "India's 50 powerful people". India Today. 14 April 2017.
  2. ^ "IIFL-Harish Salve-Lawyer-Background and Formative Years". IIFL. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "In conversation with lawyer Harish Salve- Part 1". The Economic Times (ET Now). 10 February 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  4. ^ Swaminathan Iyer, Vellalapatti. "Tax Titans: My Name is Harish Salve". ITAT Online. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  5. ^ "Sorabjee reappointed A-G; Salve Solicitor-General". The Statesman. 1 November 1999.
  6. ^ "Harish Salve declines second term". The Hindu. 30 October 2002. Retrieved 28 March 2008.
  7. ^ "Harish Salve SA — Blackstone Chambers". Blackstone Chambers. Archived from the original on 28 February 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  8. ^ D. Y. Chandrachud; J. P. Devadhar (8 September 2010). "Vodafone International Holdings B.V. versus Union of India" (Judgement). Bombay High Court. Retrieved 4 February 2013.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Vodafone wins $2 bn tax case in Supreme Court". Business Standard. 20 January 2012.
  10. ^ "Vodafone-Hutch deal | Retrospective change to I–T Act". Mint. 17 March 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  11. ^ "Bilkis Bano's Brave Fight". Tehelka. 2 February 2008.
  12. ^ "No relief for the Talwar who faces court over daughter's murder case". GYANANT KUMAR SINGH, MailOnline India. 26 March 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  13. ^ Hindustan Times: The man who saved Salman Khan from going to jail
  14. ^ "Amit Desai, Not Harish Salve To Appear For Salman Khan's Case Today". Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  15. ^ "Salman wins appeal, walks free". The Hindu. 10 December 2015. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  16. ^ "International Court of Justice stays execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan". Hindustan Times. 10 May 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  17. ^ "Harish Salve, who charged Re 1 in Kulbhushan Jadhav case, drives a Bentley, loves playing piano". Kritika Banerjee, India Today. 16 May 2017. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
  18. ^ "WHOSE AMICUS IS Harish Salve?". Tehelka. 12 March 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  19. ^ "If you can prove I received even one rupee, I will leave this profession". Tehelka. 12 March 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2013.