One of the most talented jurists that India has produced in recent times, Gopal Subramanium was born in 1958 in Bangalore. He completed his schooling from St. Xavier's School, New Delhi, closely followed by a degree in law from the University of Delhi.
Mr. Subramanium commenced his legal practice in 1980 in the Supreme Court of India, under the guidance of Mr. Soli J. Sorabjee, jurist & former Attorney General for India. In 1993, Mr. Subramanium was designated a Senior Advocate (the equivalent of a Queen's Counsel in the UK) suo motu by the Supreme Court, one of the youngest to be designated in the Supreme Court's history.
In 2005, Mr. Subramanium was appointed Additional Solicitor General of India. He went on to serve as Solicitor General of India between 2009 and 2011. During his tenure as a law officer, Mr. Subramanium was honoured with the National Law Day Award for Outstanding Jurist, presented to him in 2009 by the President of India, for his consistent professional excellence and adherence to the highest traditions of the Bar.
Mr. Subramanium continues to act as lead counsel in several path-breaking matters. He acted as lead counsel for Novartis AG in Novartis' challenge before the Supreme Court to a denial to grant it an Indian patent for the cancer drug ‘Glivec'.
Mr. Subramanium's arbitration experience includes appearing as lead counsel for Indian companies in ICC and domestic arbitrations. In addition, Mr. Subramanium also deposes as an expert witness on Indian law in SIAC and other international commercial arbitrations. He has also served as a member of the arbitral tribunal presided over by Justice R.S. Pathak, former Chief Justice of India and Judge, International Court of Justice in arbitration between Transammonia AG and MMTC Limited. In 2017, he represented Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo in enforcement proceedings before the Delhi High Court for a US$ 550 million ICC award with the seat at Singapore. He was recently granted permission to appear in challenge proceedings concerning the same award before the Singapore High Court.
Mr. Subramanium has also appeared in a number of landmark cases concerning the law of arbitration in India, including the BALCO case (2012), where the Supreme Court of India ruled on the applicability of Part I of the Indian Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996, to arbitrations held in a foreign seat, and awards arising therefrom, and Sundaram Finance (1999) (in respect of a court's powers to grant interim protection to parties pending arbitration). He has appeared in a number of matters in the Supreme Court and various High Court concerning arbitrability of disputes, appointment of arbitrators and challenge to arbitral awards including those arising out of defence contracts, EPC contracts and infrastructure contracts.
In 2017, Mr. Subramanium acted as lead counsel for the Petitioners in Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India where a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India unanimously held that there was a fundamental right to privacy under the Indian Constitution.
In 2013, Mr. Subramanium acted as a member of a Committee to Recommend Amendments to Criminal Laws (headed by Justice J. S. Verma), which recommended much-needed amendments to various Indian laws to ensure the safety and dignity of women and young children.
Further, among his other scholarly works, Mr. Subramanium has contributed to, and edited, "Supreme But Not Infallible: Essays in Honour of the Supreme Court of India", a comprehensive work on the evaluation of the working of the Supreme Court of India, published in 2004 by the Oxford University Press.
- Acting as counsel (in 1991 - 1992) to a judicial commission headed by Justice J. S. Verma (then a judge of the Supreme Court) to inquire into security lapses leading to the assassination of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India;
- Acting (in 1993) as prosecuting counsel for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the trial of persons accused of setting of a series of bomb blasts in Bombay. He acted as CBI's counsel in this matter till 2012 when appeals in this trial were heard by the Supreme Court;
- Acting as a special commissioner appointed by the Supreme Court in 1994-1995 to investigate into allegations on wrongful detention of persons in mental hospitals in the State of Assam.
- In 2001, he was appointed as counsel to a judicial commission headed by Justice K. Venkataswamy (a former Supreme Court judge), to inquire into sting operations carried out by a news publication to expose corruption in defence procurement transactions.
- Shortly thereafter, he acted as the Special Public Prosecutor in the prosecution of accused of the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001.
Between 2005 and 2009 he held the office of Additional Solicitor General of India, and subsequently served as the Solicitor General of India from 2009-2011. During his tenure as Solicitor General, he also served as the Chairman of the Bar Council of India. As a senior law officer to the Government of India, Mr. Subramanium represented the Government, as lead counsel, in a wide range of matters involving complex questions of constitutional and criminal law such as:
- Acted as the Special Public Prosecutor in the prosecution of Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving terrorist who carried out attacks on Mumbai in November 2008;
- Acting as lead counsel for the Union of India in the matter of Ashoka Kumar Thakur v. Union of India, wherein he defended state-sponsored reservations for Other Backward Classes of persons in India;
- Acting as lead counsel for the Government of India in 2010-2011 in litigation concerning irregularities in allocation of 2G radio-spectrum bandwidth to various private telecom operators;
- Acting as lead counsel for the Union of India in 2006 in the matter of Raja Ram Pal v. Speaker, where he successfully defended a contempt of privilege action taken by the Speaker of Parliament against certain members of Parliament, who were found guilty of raising questions in Parliament for illegal monetary gratification;
- Acting as amicus curiae to the Supreme Court in 2011 in the matter of Bachpan Bachao Andolan v. Union of India, where he presented a report on the realities of trafficking of children in India, and assisted the Supreme Court in framing guidelines to deal with the menace of trafficking.