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Kapil Sibal: The Return of the King?

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Spotting Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal in the morning flight to Kochi from Delhi, the first thought that would have crossed the mind of any presumptuous Malayali would be that of another busy lawyer using the Diwali vacation to frolic on the beaches of Kovalam and Varkala.

 

I have to admit that his black and white attire did escape my attention; but it was not long before I caught sight of other black bats around him giving away the purpose of his visit – the Kerala High Court. I later learnt from twitter that he was being flown in by the State government to defend the Vigilance Department in a desperate attempt to save the State Finance Minister – KM Mani.

Mani’s choice was hardly surprising; Sibal has been the “go to” lawyer for close to two decades. Way back March 31, 1997 this is what India Today had to say about him:

Kapil SIbal in the India Today article

Kapil SIbal in the India Today article

“At 49, Kapil Sibal has moved into the hallowed list of ‘top seniors’, a stratospheric perch where lawyers command between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh per appearance, and clients thank their stars if their briefs are accepted.”

Kapil Sibal is perhaps the most multi-faceted lawyer in the history of independent India. Lawyer, government law officer, parliamentarian, party spokesperson, Cabinet Minister, a poet and last but not the least, an actor par excellence.

Born in 1948 in a refugee camp in Jalandhar, Sibal graduated from St. Stephens, Delhi, where he acquired a reputation in theatrics leading to the name – Kapilious Sibalious. His acting skills would later play a very big role in his rise to prominence at the Bar.

He followed his wife Nina Sibal to USA and completed his Masters from Harvard. He then worked in a law firm in USA – Cole & Deitz – before returning to India to set up his practice here (a pattern his son Amit Sibal would also follow). Sibal the lawyer first came into prominence when he secured a victory for Mohiuddin Malik, the expelled speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly. A Senior Advocate termed it the birth of a North Indian star – signalling the end of monopoly enjoyed by Bombay and Madras lawyers in Supreme Court.

Senior Advocate designation in 1983 by the Delhi High Court, a number of high profile cases, and a short stint as Additional Solicitor General during the tenure of VP Singh government made him a known face in the Delhi legal circle.

But it was the impeachment proceedings against Justice V Ramaswami in 1993 that shot Sibal into limelight. Representing Ramaswami, Sibal became the first non-parliamentarian to address both the house of the Parliament. Subsequently, his standing as a lawyer shot up.

As India Today puts it,

“Three years ago, Sibal set a new landmark when he defended his client, Justice Ramaswamy, successfully against impeachment on the floor of Parliament.

Sibal, though respected for years as a lawyer endowed with an exemplary persuasive skill, could enter the super league only in the ’90s, after that dazzling performance as Ramaswami’s defender.”

There was no looking back.

In 1996, he contested the Lok Sabha elections for the first time without success. However, by the end of the decade, Sibal had cemented himself as a politician too and aside from his Rajya Sabha tenure, he also served as spokesperson for Congress party. Eventually, it culminated in his election to the Lok Sabha in 2004 and his long hiatus from law.

Ministerial positions in both the 2004 and 2009 Congress led UPA governments saw the complete transition of Sibal from a lawyer to a politician. With great power comes great responsibility and it was no different for Sibal. He virtually became the face of Congress party in the second half of the 2009 term when the government was rocked by scam after scam. However, the low point of his ministerial tenure also came during that time when he allegedly tried to usher in internet censorship culminating in popular sentiment against the ruling dispensation.

He had once said that law is his profession while politics is his passion. And it was not long before the “profession” beckoned him once again. After a heavy loss in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Sibal, at 66, donned the gown once again. After a decade of absence from the Bar, his re-entry, however, was not into any “hallowed list”, but into a class apart.

This exclusionist one-man group is unarguably the most sought after lawyer today, thanks in part to many of his contemporaries choosing to serve the new government as law officers and absence of certain others from the Bar and the country. He is also, arguably, one of the most expensive lawyers in the country.

Since his return to practice in mid – 2014, Sibal has made his way to the pinnacle of the profession. Running from one courtroom to another on miscellaneous days, he has replaced the current Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi in that avatar.

With some of the most prolific corporate clients in his kitty, Sibal is giving another Senior Advocate, Abhishek Manu Singhvi a run for money. The Sahara Group, Jindal Steel, Sun TV and N Srinivasan are a few in that list. However, defending politicians, especially those from the Congress party, sets him apart from other lawyers who restrict themselves either to corporate cases involving big stakes or to Constitutionally relevant cases.

Manmohan Singh, Digvijay Singh, Teesta Setalvad, Hardik Patel are a few examples of those who have gone to Sibal for their cases in the Supreme Court.

The crammed schedule has, however, come with its share of ups and downs including a number of confrontations with the Bench. While Justice Khehar, refused outright to accommodate him when he sought permission for attending another case, Justice Dipak Misra recently adjourned a case because Sibal left midway during the arguments. Both the judges were very critical of Sibal’s conduct on those occasions.

Whether Sibal can be counted as a successful politician or not is for political pundits to decide. However, his exploits in court has left him the undisputed king among his peers. Whether this comeback to the Bar is a permanent one or not, only time will tell.

 

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Male sex hormones may help treat breast cancer: Study

While endocrine therapy is standard-of-care for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, resistance to these drugs is the major cause of breast cancer mortality.

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Sydney : Researchers have found new evidence about the positive role of androgens, commonly thought of as male sex hormones but also found at lower levels in women, in breast cancer treatment.

In normal breast development, estrogen stimulates and androgen inhibits growth at puberty and throughout adult life.

Abnormal estrogen activity is responsible for the majority of breast cancers, but the role of androgen activity in this disease has been controversial.

The new research published in the journal Nature Medicine showed that androgens have potential for treatment of estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.

A cancer is called estrogen receptor positive if it has receptors for estrogen, according to Breastcancer.org.

Using cell-line and patient-derived models, the global team, including researchers at the University of Adelaide and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, demonstrated that androgen receptor activation by natural androgen or a new androgenic drug had potent anti-tumour activity in all estrogen receptor positive breast cancers, even those resistant to current standard-of-care treatments.

In contrast, androgen receptor inhibitors had no effect.

“This work has immediate implications for women with metastatic estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, including those resistant to current forms of endocrine therapy,” said lead researcher Theresa Hickey, Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide.

“We provide compelling new experimental evidence that androgen receptor stimulating drugs can be more effective than existing (e.g. Tamoxifen) or new (e.g. Palbociclib) standard-of-care treatments and, in the case of the latter, can be combined to enhance growth inhibition,” said Wayne Tilley, Director of the Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide.

Androgens were historically used to treat breast cancer, but knowledge of hormone receptors in breast tissue was rudimentary at the time and the treatment’s efficacy misunderstood.

Androgen therapy was discontinued due to virilising side effects and the advent of anti-estrogenic endocrine therapies.

While endocrine therapy is standard-of-care for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, resistance to these drugs is the major cause of breast cancer mortality.

“The new insights from this study should clarify the widespread confusion over the role of the androgen receptor in estrogen receptor driven breast cancer,” said Elgene Lim, a breast oncologist and Head of the Connie Johnson Breast Cancer Research Lab at the Garvan Institute.

“Given the efficacy of this treatment strategy at multiple stages of disease in our study, we hope to translate these findings into clinical trials as a new class of endocrine therapy for breast cancer.”

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Azim Premji and Dr Devi Shetty chosen for PCB awards

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

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Azim Premji Wipro

Bengaluru, Jan 19: The chairman of Wipro Limited Azim Premji and the founder chairman of Narayana Health Dr Devi Prasad Shetty are among those who have been selected for the annual awards given by the Press Club of Bangalore.

Premji has been chosen for ‘Press Club Person of the Year’, while Dr Shetty and actor-Director Sudeep Sanjeev have been selected for the ‘Press Club Special Award.’

Besides them 25 senior journalists have been selected for the ‘Press Club Annual Awards’, a release said.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa will facilitate the awardees at a function scheduled for the third week of February, it said.

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Elizabeth Olsen: Nepotism creates fear that you don’t deserve the work you get

The actress added that she “always had this need to prove myself to everyone around me that I work really hard”, adding: “I couldn’t walk in a room without everyone already having an opinion.”

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Elizabeth Olsen

Los Angeles, Jan 19 : Hollywood star Elizabeth Olsen says she once thought of changing her surname and distance herself from the success of her family because it was insanity growing up in the spotlight.

“It was insanity. There were times when my sisters would always be spotted and I would be in the car with them and it would really freak me out. It has helped me navigate how I want to approach my career,” said the actress, whose older sisters are Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen.

The actress added that she “always had this need to prove myself to everyone around me that I work really hard”, adding: “I couldn’t walk in a room without everyone already having an opinion.”

Elizabeth opened up om the fears of nepotism.

“The thing about nepotism is the fear that you don’t earn or deserve the work. There was even a part of me when I was a little girl that thought if I’m gonna be an actress I’m going to go by Elizabeth Chase, which is my middle name. And then, once I started working, I was like, ‘I love my family, I like my name, I love my sisters. Why would I be so ashamed of that?’ It’s fine now,” she said.

The actress said fame has made her more of a homebody.

“Fame has also made me someone who is more of a homebody than maybe I would like to be but I know where not to go. If I could do whatever I wanted for the day, I’d start with the gym, then I’d go to the grocery store, because it’s my favourite thing,” Elizabeth told The Sun.

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