Who is Sanjay Hegde, the Lawyer Asked to Mediate with Shaheen Bagh Protesters


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked senior advocate Sanjay Hegde to talk to protesters at Shaheen Bagh and try to persuade them on shifting the protest site.

"We will be meeting all parties to assist them to resolve the issues in a manner that respects and safeguards both the rights to protest and the right to orderly civic life," he said.

Hegde recently made headlines when Twitter twice suspended his account — once for posting an anti-Nazi picture and then for sharing a poem by Hindi poet Gorakh Pandey. The lawyer has appeared for citizens excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC), in a habeas corpus case on Kashmir, in cases related to mob-lynching, and in the recent Aarey forest case in Mumbai.

Hegde's account was suspended for the first time on October 27 after he tweeted an iconic photograph a year back as his profile photo. The photo showed shipyard worker August Landmesser standing with his arms crossed and refusing to do the Nazi-salute in 1936 Nazi Germany. The account was restored for Hegde after he removed the photograph.

Following this, Hegde had sent a legal notice to Twitter. “The issue is not Sanjay Hegde, the issue is not his tweet," he said. "The issue is, when freedom of speech becomes the subject of corporations what is the corporation’s liability? Or is there any liability?” the lawyer asked. These are some questions a court of law has to consider, Hegde said.

Hegde is a senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India. He began his career in 1989 while working as a lawyer with M/s Mulla & Mulla & Craigie Blunt & Caroe Solicitors. He gained his LL.M while at work and thereafter moved to Delhi to practice in the Supreme Court in the Chambers of Senior Advocate G Ramaswamy.

During this period he worked on several high profile cases, appeared for the Government of India before an international arbitral tribunal and from 1996 to 2004 was on the Union of India’s arguing panel before the Supreme Court.

He also worked for a decade as the Advocate on Record for the State of Karnataka and thereafter focused on private practice. He has frequently engaged in legal journalism including appearing on television panels and writing as a columnist for newspapers.

In an interview to a news media website, he had mentioned that he was selected by the UPSC for a non-IAS service, which he kept on hold for a couple of years, while starting out in the Supreme Court with the then attorney general G. Ramaswamy who was his “guru” in court-craft.

He further elaborated in the interview that he had been a debater and a quizzer “so a quiet life behind my desk in a solicitor’s firm (that’s what we called corporate law then), did not appeal to me. It had to be courtrooms or nothing in my case.”

Hegde graduated from KC Law college in Mumbai.