Everyone has a different perception when it comes to voicing their opinions about the legal system in India and how the lawyers “manipulate” it to their convenience. This is an account of the reality behind what actually goes on and how much of it is revealed to the general public. Media is notorious for branding and generalizing trends which are perhaps otherwise quite circumstantial but we choose to believe what is shown to us and often agree with it as long as it is consistent with our thoughts. So let’s dig deeper and see how much of it is true.
The legal system is arguably very slow in the eyes of the public because they don’t know what is happening within. Many even take advantage of this fact and do not fear the law under the pretext of delayed verdicts. They commit more crimes. Of course, there is the provision for bail. Once bail is granted then the police cannot touch you till the end of the trial! Isn’t that something? There are multiple reasons for delayed judgments. But apart from the genuine ones like heavy burden on the courts, less number of Judges and bad infrastructure, the more realistic and practical reasons are that Advocates do not appear before the Court on the given date, they send their juniors and seek time by giving reasons like personal difficulty, some Advocates go to the extent of deliberately causing delay until they have received their fee, delay tactics to wait until vacation so that they get a different bench to hear their case and so on. So next time when you say the legal system is slow, focus on who is at fault, the Judges or the Advocates.
Had this been true we would not have the best judiciary system in the world. The Supreme Court has the power of judicial review wherein any law passed by the legislation if inconsistent with the parameters and ambit of the Constitution can be reviewed and struck down as void. The Constitution of India is a sacrosanct document governing all citizens and laws of the country. Supreme Court Judges have the caliber of passing judgments with less focus on the merits of the case but they evaluate the law applied to it. If all Judges began passing verdicts depending on the merits of the case, there would not be any difference between them and a Panchayat Samiti of a village where the Sarpanch weighs evidence and facts and arrives at a decision. Thus, when you hear of some unreasonable judgment passed in favor of the guilty, make an effort to read the reasons assigned thereto in the text of the judgment and then understand whether law must prevail or the interest of the parties at dispute.
The legal profession is primarily not a business but a service that is provided to the ailing citizens of the country. The sanctity of this profession lies in pro bono work. Alike doctors, some of them have converted their practice into business by quoting specific fee for specific fields they specialize in. Does this mean that one should always look at his pocket first and then approach the lawyer? Or look at a solution to get out of the legal problem encasing him? There are few lawyers who make it large, there are many who make it big, there are even more who make a meager sum but are happy with what they do because it is for the welfare of the public. There is something known as ‘cut practice’ where lawyers make use of each other’s goodwill and quote the client a bigger amount involving a cut for themselves and the bigger chunk for the ‘counsel’ appearing on behalf of him. So next time you find yourself in a problem, ensure where your money goes and why so much.
Wow, I should do law, I’ll keep the money rolling or roll in money! That is absolutely ridiculous! There are lakhs of students who enter the legal field every day and the same number even graduates every year. Legal education is economical and affordable in India, keeping in mind the availability for those who want to learn. Now, once you pass out and you are looking for a job, you get in a corporate firm – earn a fixed income per month, be consistent, elevate to higher levels and gradually earn higher. Sounds easy right? Now, look at the majority of people who wish to get into litigation i.e. practicing in Courts. Their life is a serious struggle for at least the first three to four years. They first look out for a senior who they would like to follow, work under him for free because expecting him to pay something is really funny. After toiling for hours without pay, you are finally given the opportunity to appear in Courts –to seek adjournments as described under Point #1. Later as you grow you are trying to develop contacts to get matters, by now, you have worked so hard that now you start working for money and the whole purpose of why you joined litigation just falls apart and you neither get the money rolling nor you love what you do.
Did you know that Judges at every level starting right from Magistrates to Supreme Court Judges face inspection and inquiry if anything suspicious is found in their possession? Some lower Court Judges have been demanded to resign or face the music at the heart of the public. Their crimes are not hidden. In fact, corruption is offered to them by influential people at every stage of trial, but it is not easy for Judges to sit under a pile of cash anymore. Judges are sincere enough to pass Orders against the party offering bribe because they know the repercussions they would face are not worth protecting someone’s interest.
As it appears, Advocates have to don their suits and blazers, then straighten their collars, button up and tie a two-strip white band around their neck. Once this is done, they button up their suits and wear the expensive looking black silk gowns which fall below their knees almost touching their ankles. Black is a color which attracts heat and should really make the Advocates feel miserable, right? Well, firstly, the lower tier of Courts expect Advocates to only where their suits with the white band. It is only the High Court and the Supreme Courts which warrant wearing gowns as a part of their uniform. It is pretty much tolerable in fact, fortunate because the numbers of ACs inside the courtroom are quite generous and each one is set at a temperature enough to give you goosebumps! How do you manage summer then? Courts are liberal and they allow Advocates in the lower Courts to dispense with the blazers while at High Court, the vacation benches especially prescribe wearing civil clothes during summer. It is pretty manageable. So while black is the favorite color of many Advocates, they all love wearing their uniforms and flaunt.
At this juncture, I’d like to showcase on the Advocates who really value time and consider doing productive tasks instead of whiling it away. The best of the counsels end up spending as equal or more time sitting inside a Court and waiting for their matter to be called out. On majority of the occasions, the Counsels end up spending five hours just sitting inside the Court. If time meant money to these successful individuals then imagine the huge losses caused to them by virtue of wasting time. The reason behind their success is not to be judged on the basis of how much they appear and how they do it but it is measured on the amount of hard work and extra time that they put in to make up for the wasted time. As incredible as it sounds, the best counsels in the country put nothing less than 18-20 hours into work and study daily.
Everyone says law is like medical studies. You need to remember so many provisions and memorize sections, their meaning and association and what not. The truth is law is a subject of constant study. It is not a onetime thing. There are bulky reference books, but there is not one person who has read that book fully from start to end. Lawyers refer to specific sections, read the relevant portions and quote the same in their arguments. The study of various subjects altogether makes it exhaustive. It is not the content alone.
Until next time when you contemplate about this subject, keep thinking about these factors revolving around it and everything will begin to make sense.
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