A superb legal thriller novel How to Kill a Billionaire (Juggernaut) by a lawyer, UN legal affairs officer and writer Rajesh Talwar takes you behind the scenes of courtrooms especially when it comes to heinous crimes like rape.
Well-written legal dramas never fail to keep the readers engrossed and if it comes from a qualified lawyer, one can expect a more authentic recreation of the proceedings. From lawyer Rajesh Talwar comes this thriller of a story ‘How to Kill a Billionaire’ woven around courtroom proceedings based on a billionaire’s son, who goes missing. And, a young girl commits suicide after being raped. While writing this book based on revenge, Rajesh turns a story that could easily become run-of-the-mill, into an engrossing tale of how a lawyer uses the weakness of the legal system to confront and confound one of the richest men in the world.
Rajesh Talwar studied Negotiation at Harvard, Human Rights Law at Nottingham, and Law and Economics at Delhi University. He has worked for the United Nations on legal and justice-related issues in Somalia, Liberia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Timor-Leste. Prior to working for the UN, he practiced law and taught law at Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia. He is the author of more than a dozen books, many of which are available and listed at www.amazon.com/author/rajeshtalwar. In non-fiction, he has most recently written ‘Courting Injustice: The Nirbhaya Case and Its Aftermath’ (Hay House, 2013).
Evidently, this book not just plays around his knowledge of the law, it mirrors the problematic legal system in India. It talks about corruption in and around courts and takes you behind the scenes on what could go wrong when handling crimes on women like rape.
While narrating this story based on revenge, Rajesh turns a story that could easily become run-of-the-mill, into an engrossing tale of how a lawyer uses the weakness of the legal system to confront and confound one of the richest men in the world.
The following extract gives you a glimpse of his narration skills as he recreates a courtroom scene brilliantly.
‘Case bulao,’ the judge instructed the court crier. ‘Call out the case.’
The court crier’s job is simply to go outside the courtroom and bellow out the
case name and number so that if any interested party is in the vicinity he can come
rushing in. The grey-uniformed man passed by us all, stood outside the courtroom and
gave a great shout in the manner of a vegetable trader hawking potatoes.
‘Bara sau bees number,’ he yelled. ‘Case number twelve hundred and twenty.
Lard Patel’ – I smothered a laugh – ‘versus Ramesh Kumar.’
We all drew closer to the judge then – Lord Patel, his lawyers and myself.
Balram stayed a bit behind. As a lawyer, I had the option of either representing myself
in this case or getting one of my colleagues to act for me. It’s generally considered
advisable to have someone else represent you – that is the conventional wisdom – but
this case was different and I had decided to represent myself.
‘Okay,’ said the judge. ‘Let’s get started. Please call your witness. How many
are you calling?’
‘Only two, sir,’ Centre Parting said. ‘That should be enough. We have a
simple and easy case.’
‘Call your witness,’ said the judge noncommittally.
The first witness was a court clerk who appeared with the records of a case I
had previously filed against Amit Patel seeking his eviction from the White House.
The statement was over in a matter of minutes.
‘I have brought the original case records,’ this witness said. ‘Yes, there is a
vakalatnama, the letter of authority in favour of a lawyer. Yes, the case has been filed
by one Ramesh Kumar.’ And, in reply to a question from Curly as to what had been
the consequences, he answered competently that Amit Patel had been successfully
evicted from the premises.
‘Are you Ramesh Kumar?’ the judge asked me once the witness had finished
giving his statement.
‘Yes, Your Honour.’
‘The very Ramesh Kumar who filed the petition that has been brought to the
‘The very same one,’ I said.
I heard supportive laughter in the court. The lawyers from the Thirty
Thousand Courts were behind me, even if no one else was.
‘Your witness,’ said the judge.
‘No need, Your Honour. These are all matters of record.’
‘Call the next witness,’ the judge instructed.
And now it was paunchy, sloppy Balram’s turn to show up; only he wasn’t as
sloppy today. He was wearing the usual security guard’s uniform but it was crisply
ironed and starched. He came up in a brisk manner, confidently enough. Singhania
and Kapoor first conducted their examination-in-chief, and like a parrot trained many
times over he spoke of my arrival at the gates of the White House in a taxi and the
threats I had issued against Amit Patel. He was smooth, too smooth, I thought, and I
detected something amiss there.
‘Your witness,’ Centre Parting said.
I stepped forward.
‘You have just said on oath,’ I said, ‘that I came to the White House and
threatened your master. Is that correct?’
‘It is correct,’ he said. ‘And you very well know this is what you did.’
He was being polite, but wouldn’t be for much longer.
‘What was my threat?’
‘You would evict him, kidnap him and kill him.’
‘All three things, eh?’ I smiled. ‘If you have such a good memory, can you tell
me the colour of the shirt I was wearing?’
‘It was . . .’ He paused, trying to remember. ‘It was blue.’
‘And was I wearing a coat? A lawyer’s coat?’
‘I don’t think so.’
‘Was it a working day?’
‘I was working.’
‘That was not my question. You work even on Sundays. But the day when I
came, was it a working day?’
‘Yes, it was. It was a Tuesday.’
‘Do you know my profession?’
‘Yes, you are a lawyer.’
‘So wouldn’t I be wearing a lawyer’s coat on a working day – assuming that I
‘Maybe,’ I said. ‘Maybe not.’ I turned towards my colleagues momentarily.
‘He is not sure.’ I turned to face him again. ‘So you are not sure.’
‘I am not sure.’ He looked disconcerted now.
‘You are not sure whether I was wearing a coat, but are certain that I was
wearing a blue shirt?’ I allowed myself a small laugh. ‘How can this be?’
He was quiet.
And then I said, very politely: ‘I put it to you that you are speaking an untruth
when you say you remember I was wearing a blue shirt.’
‘I am not sure,’ he muttered. I could see he was sweating.
‘You have said in your statement I came in a taxi – is that correct?’
‘That is right. You were in a taxi.’
‘Can you tell me the number of the taxi?’
‘I did not note the number.’
‘What kind of security guard are you?’ I said, a bit loudly. ‘Don’t you note the
numbers of the cars that come to visit your master?’
Lord Patel was taking little prancing steps up and down, whispering into his
lawyers’ ears. I could understand his tension, the excitement and the pain he was
experiencing at that moment. The butterfly continued to dance around his buttoned-up
shirt, but, inside, the man’s heart trembled. And why wouldn’t it? He was after all
standing next to the man he had accused of kidnapping and possibly murdering his
‘Your Honour, our witness is being intimidated,’ Curly Hair said.
(Extracted with permission from Juggernaut)