Salve grew up in Nagpur and still socialises with his close friends whom he has known for the last three decades. But no one is from the legal profession.
It was Nani Palkhivala who inspired Salve to take up law. He soon lost interest in accountancy and became interested in tax matters. His interest grew deeper, and he decided that if he were to practise taxation, then he should opt to become a lawyer.
Harish’s first day in office was as an article clerk in a chartered accountant firm in Nagpur. “I would earn a stipend of Rs 50 made it worthwhile,” Harish said.
Salve believes his legal career began when he assisted his father in 1975 in Dilip Kumar’s case. The department had assessed Kumar on allegations of having earned black money, something for which Bollywood was notorious.
In 1978, Harish decided to relocate to Delhi to try his luck by setting up practice at the Supreme Court, and joined J. B. Dadachandji & Co as an intern. It was at this time that he got an opportunity to assist Palkhivala in the Minerva Millscase (Minerva Mills Ltd vs. Union of India, AIR 1980 SC 1789).
When Salve joined the Bar Council of Delhi in 1980s, his father was not happy. He wanted Salve to look after Salve and Co., the reputed chartered accountancy firm set up by him in Nagpur. “I had worked for Salve and Co. I did my articles with them and even passed my CA exam while working at the firm. My father wanted me to do taxation laws as he felt that it would be within my comfort zone in the family run firm,” said Salve.
Salve was designated as a senior counsel by the Delhi High Court in 1992. “I am fortunate to have the opportunity to appear in important cases involving corporate bigwigs like the Ambanis, the Mahindras, several Tata companies as well as representing Ratan Tata in his right to privacy matter,” said Salve.
Harish also represented the Italian Embassy and defended its two marines, who were charged with killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast. Later, he withdrew from the case when the Italian government threatened not to return the marines.
“I owe a lot to Nani Palkhivala. He has been my idol,” said Salve. Palkhivala would often tell Salve, then a budding lawyer, that the measure of how well you’ve argued in court comes not from the decision of the court, but from how you personally feel you’ve performed.
He is passionate about forests and nature and this has driven him to tirelessly battle in the Forest Conservation case as amicus curiae for almost the last two decades.