Sunday, November 26, 2006

Legal vultures

Mr DJ an elderly small time businessman went to court, because the then Bishop of Bangalore was selling Church land to a powerful land mafia. I am not going to talk about the case here. The case unfolded some startling truth about our lawyers.

When the case was registered, the page in which the entry was made was mysteriously torn off. Therefore summons could not be issued to the land sharks. Then the lawyer fighting for Mr DJ leaked out all the case details and preparation that made the other party have an upper hand in preparing their defense. Finally DJ got monetary aid through a philanthropist and hired a good lawyer and won the case.

A friends Dad was fighting a case against an illegal commercial construction that had come up in his neighborhood. Even in this case, lawyers of both parties got together, exchanged files and prolonged the case for their monetary benefit.

Another neighbor, a retired couple gave their house for rent and moved to their expatriate son’s house. The tenant broke the walls inside the house and made cubicles that she let out as accommodation for working women. Here too, Lawyers of both parties worked together to keep the case going without conclusion.

And there are thousands more such cases. A little bit of enquiry with a friends Dad who is a Supreme Court lawyer revealed some disturbing facts. Unlike the US, here in India laws governing professional conduct of lawyers is practically non existent and what little exists is outdated. It is next to impossible to stop your lawyer from sharing information with the rival lawyer and as a rule lawyers get together and prolong cases. If a lawyer does not appear in court when a case is called, he can get away with an explanation like a traffic jam.

Lawyers getting pulled up for misconduct or malpractice happens but in the rarest of rare cases. And what is disquieting is the fact that there is no debate or discussion in the media or anywhere about this. Nor does the government seem interested in changing the situation. Lawyers are a united lot, and as a result clients fear to complain against them because no lawyer will take his case after that. There is absolutely no way the common man can get his lawyer to discharge his legal duties as per laid down rules as the rules are almost non existent. The lawyer always acts in his interest, never in the client’s interest.

Why are we, the fastest growing economy in the world so slow in changing our outdated laws? A death of a colleague about which I wrote in this post, bought to fore the ridiculous traffic laws we have. Rules are regulations governing lawyers is the urgent need of the hour and a step towards speeding up trials and clearing back logs.

As William E. Gladstone rightly said: “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

But is anybody listening?


Sachin R K said...

Hmm..I am reminded of a case against Vinod Mehta ( current Outlook editor ) which was dismissed recently after due consideration ( read 12 l-o-n-g years ) by the learned judge. Coincidentally , the case was dismissed exactly one week after Mr Mehta wrote about the case in Outlook.

Recently there was a report on BBC about a court case in India regarding the theft of a cow . The case has been going on for over 30 years. The cow was recovered within a week, the person who filed the case is dead, but the wheels of justice are still sowly grinding their way like nobody's business. It would have been funny if it wasnt so pitiful.

Dr.asish said...

i think the lawyers must b made accountable in d consumer redressal forum, or some other such mechanism.

silverine said...

sachin r k: That is amazing. The laws especially pertaining to conduct of lawyers need a thorough overhaul. They can get away with anything that in another country would have landed them in a slammer.

dr asish: We have to make strict code of conduct for lawyers. This profession for some reason has not been in the limelight inspite of being so corrupt.
p.s am not able to access your blog.

alex said...

This sure in disheartening. Thanks for pointing this out. I never knew the existence of this.

Accountability needs to be imposed.

Scribbles said...

:( This is new Knowledge to me.. Frustrating , disgusting and helpless..just like the red tapism and corruption...
Wish the system would improve..a lot can be done if the laws are in place and made real real strict..Otherwise, as usual the big shots will wriggle out of the law and the system continues as it is...

Mind Curry said...

you know..its all so true..but then its a very very scary thought..i sometimes keep forcing myself to believe that the legal system and judiciary is still capable of doing what its suppsed to do..if that also fails then whats the alternative? power and money is the only thing that works? sad state it will be..

i dont know from where we have developed this culture of opposing ANYthing..whether good or bad..we just have to refuse change! crazy!

nandita said...

how can a common man go to a lawyer after reading about such just shakes the belief in the whole legal machinery of the country..
its not only misuse of position by the lawyers but also disregard to the conscience.
sad indeed..unless society as a whole reacts nothing changes..can a PIL be filed against such lawyers?

Puchu said...

They definitely are a slimy lot. A prime example being the highly publicized Jessica Lall murder case. I believe Sabrina Lall, sister of the victim had approached Mr Ram Jethmalani seeking his advice on the case a few years ago. Today, a few years later, Mr Jethmalani has metamorphosed as the lawyer for the accused Manu Sharma. Sabrina approached the court asking them to stop Mr Ram Jethmalani from fighting for the accused. But the court apparently dismissed Sabrina's claim. Its a shame.

I once again feel, the more our judicial system behaves in such an unabashed manner, the faster will be the uprising among the denizens of this country. I am sure there is a limit to which people will tolerate such nonsense.

silverine said...

Alex: We are in dire need of strict rules that govern the conduct of lawyers.

scribbles: The system stinks!!! It needs a system administrator :P

mind curry: Actually I have faith in the judiciary after seeing several cases against the rich and powerful getting due justice. But you are right, people just hang onto old laws and oppose any move to change it.

nandita: Who will bell the cat? Which lawyer will file a case another lawyer? :(

puchu: People like that Ram Jethmalani are true icons of the rotten system. We need to rein in the lawyers. And I think only a public uprising like you mentioned will bring the issue to the fore, but our laws are so complicated that the people who hire lawyers believe them blindly.

Puchu said...

Who will bell the cat? Which lawyer will file a case another lawyer?

For the right price you will find some scheming lawyer to fight another slimy lawyer. But then whoever has the money does not want to change the system coz most probably he would have got to make all that stinking money thanks to the stinking system. And if he is in his right mind he would not try to kill his goose.
And if you do find a noble soul who is willing to put in his money to clean the system, you will find enough stinking rich people who will put in their money to keep the system as is.

Jiby said...

mom is a lawyer and she has so many stories like these to tell...i will just reveal one such case that screwed her partner's political career forever and damaged his reputation.

this man was a junior lawyer at that time and his senior lawyer requested control of the "thondi" items and conveniently switched them and asked him to go submit them back to the court where he had to affix his signature, not knowing what had happened. when the thondi-item was taken out in court it was found to be bigger in size than the original and the case dismissed.

it became the inspiration for the film "anaval mothiram" and another case was registered against the junior which came back to haunt him almost 20 years later.

Anonymous said...

This is something that should be written in "save kerala" blog and be brought to light in print, with the names of dirty lawyers.

I have my personal opinions about what should be done to Manu Sharma, but Jethmalini needs a refresher course on morals.


silverine said...

puchu: Well said!!! Why kill the golden goose?

Jiby: oh my god!!! I have absolutely no words to describe what I am feeling now!

kajan: Something has to be done and fast!! You can see from Jiby's comment how rotten the system is!

Anonymous said...

heard abt a case where a woman lawyer had to take back her harrassment case after nine years as she was left with no hope for justice and had by now lost her faith in the judiciary!!!!

silverine said...

Anon: That is really sad :(