'All he wanted to do was practise law': 28-year-old who died days before call to the Bar posthumously gets name on rolls as lawyer

Mr Vikram Tiwary made legal history by being the first person to be posthumously called to the Singapore Bar.
PHOTO: Ratna Mishra

SINGAPORE - Nine days before he was to be admitted to the Bar, fulfilling his dream of being a lawyer like his father and uncle, Mr Vikram Kumar Tiwary died in his sleep at the age of 28.

On Monday (Sept 20), Mr Tiwary made legal history by being the first person to be posthumously called to the Singapore Bar.

"It's really bittersweet," his mother, Mrs Ramoti Tiwary, 62, told The Straits Times as she held back tears.

High Court judge Choo Han Teck, in granting Mr Tiwary's application for admission, said: "Judging by the efforts of Mr Vikram Tiwary himself, justice will be served if his application is allowed."

The judge noted that not only had Mr Tiwary fulfilled all the requirements for admission, but he had also applied to work full time with the Law Society's Criminal Legal Aid Scheme to represent accused persons who cannot afford a lawyer.

"What ought to have been done, equity treats as done," said Justice Choo, citing a well-known legal principle.

Mr Tiwary graduated with a law degree from the University of Sheffield in 2018, and passed the required Part A and Part B Bar examinations.

He completed his practice training at K&L Gates Straits Law on July 1 last year, and filed his application for admission on March 16 this year. The application was fixed for hearing on June 9.

But in the early hours of May 30, his heart suddenly stopped.

His father, Mr Ram Prakash Tiwary, 65, said the death came as a shock as his only son, the youngest of three children, had no known health problems.

Mr Ram Tiwary last saw his son at about 1.30am. "He helped me put eye drops in my eyes and then we said goodnight," he said.

As it was a Sunday, it was around noon when Mrs Tiwary went to her son's room to wake him up, only to find him motionless on the floor.

"From the time he was a small boy, when he used to see his father go to court, all he wanted to do was practise law. He was just nine days away when he was taken away," said Mrs Tiwary as she sobbed.

"He was my confidante, my best friend, my son, my baby, and he always had a smile for everybody."

Mr Ram Tiwary said: "He was a very polite and very responsible and very loving child. It's a real mystery what happened to him.

"I don't know what happened. I just can't reconcile it."

He spoke fondly of how his son was passionate about classic cars and loved music from the 50s and 60s.

Mr Vikram Tiwary, who drove a 1990 Volvo 240, was well-known in car enthusiast circles, including the Classic Car Club Singapore.

Despite their grief, the family wanted his name to be on the rolls as a lawyer "to fulfil his dream, to let him realise, wherever he may be, that he has been called... and his hard work has been amply rewarded", said his father.

Mr Vikram Tiwary's parents said in a testimonial to the court: "Since he was a little boy, he listened in on discussions between his father and uncle about the law, and knew that the law, and especially representing those with no voice, was what his life calling was."

On June 9, Mr Vikram Tiwary's uncle, criminal lawyer Ramesh Tiwary, asked for his nephew to be admitted to the Bar posthumously.

As there was no precedent, Justice Choo adjourned the proceedings to make sure there were no legal impediments for granting the application.

The judge heard from counsel for the Attorney-General, Mr Jeyandran Jeyapal; counsel for the Law Society, Senior Counsel Gregory Vijayendran; counsel for the Singapore Institute of Legal Education (SILE), Mr Avery Chong; and counsel for Mr Vikram Tiwary, Mr Sanjiv Rajan.

The Attorney-General's Chambers, the Law Society and SILE, which supervise Bar admission applications, had no objections to the application.

Justice Choo noted that there have been cases in other jurisdictions where a person had been admitted posthumously to the Bar.

One example was that of Ms Iris Barry Yake, who was admitted to the Edmonton Bar 40 years after her death, as she was too ill to attend her Bar admission ceremony. Edmonton is in Canada.

Mr Vikram Tiwary's application was also supported by lawyers, including Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, who testified to his good character.

Mr Vijayendran, who is Law Society president, said: "This call has symbolic significance for the family and the legal profession. It will endure as a lasting legacy of the life of a young man whose potential in law practice was tragically cut short in the prime of youth."

He added: “Our heartfelt hope is that with this posthumous admission, it will help Vikram’s family obtain some comfort and closure."

This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction.