29 July 2022 12:07 PM GMT
The Orissa High Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar has bestowed 'The Promising Lawyer of the Year Award' upon 22 young District Court lawyers on the occasion of the 75th Foundation Day of the Orissa High Court. The event was attended by several dignitaries including all the Judges of the High Court and the Advocate General for the State of Odisha Mr....
The Orissa High Court, under the leadership of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar has bestowed 'The Promising Lawyer of the Year Award' upon 22 young District Court lawyers on the occasion of the 75th Foundation Day of the Orissa High Court.
The event was attended by several dignitaries including all the Judges of the High Court and the Advocate General for the State of Odisha Mr. Ashok Parija. Former Solicitor General of India and eminent Senior Lawyer Mr. Gopal Subramanium also spoke on the occasion.
While delivering his address, Chief Justice Muralidhar gave a detailed account of the scheme for honouring young district lawyers and hoped that the scheme will encourage more young lawyers to adopt the best legal and ethical practices. He thanked Mr. Subramanium for attending the event and addressing the young legal professionals of Odisha.
During the event, the CJ stressed on the importance of having lawyers with integrity and high ethical values to ensure access to justice for all. He remarked that everyone wants 'closure' for their case and therefore, the aim is not to look for the best 'bail lawyer' or 'adjournment lawyer'. Rather, the hunt is for 'full-fledged lawyers', who believe that taking the clients to the destination is what they are in this profession for.
The CJ went on to remark that a very important element of the scheme is to find lawyers of integrity. "Because unless we get lawyers of integrity, we cannot expect judges of integrity. Because these are lawyers, some of whom will hopefully become judges, judges in District Courts and later may be judges in the High Court," he said.
Full Text of the Speech:
Words of Praise for Mr. Gopal Subramanium:
"I am so happy that you got to listen such an erudite speech of a person who stood by the highest values of not only life but the highest legal ethical principles that a lawyer should practice. Gopal has been a role-model for many lawyers of my generation and the generations that followed. At a very young age, he made a very big mark in the legal field and was one among the most sought-after lawyers. When he was as young as just 35 years old, he got designated (as a Senior Counsel) by the Supreme Court of India.
I have the fortune of being guided and mentored by him for many many years. Although I did not work in his chambers as such, I learnt so much just watching him perform in Court and the principles which he espoused. I, of course, have the fortune of assisting him in a large number of cases. I am saying all these because the young lawyers should know that you are very fortunate to hear a person who believes in ethics in the legal profession and he meant every word of what he said today to each of you.
75th Year of Orissa High Court:
This is a very good beginning for the 75th year of the Orissa High Court. This is a very great institution. It has grown by leaps and bounds. It has produced some of the finest in the legal profession, some of the finest among judges, judges who have gone to adorn the Supreme Court Bench, judges who went on to become the Chief Justices of India. This is indeed truly a great institution. It is being nurtured by several noble souls, several brilliant legal minds and today, we have reaffirmed that this institution will continue to grow and that it will be guided by many eminent legal minds, many of whom are present in the audience. But most of all and that is what give us the greatest joy, it will be guided by definitely by the 22 young brilliant legal minds, whom we honoured today.
As Mr. Subramanium rightly said, in honouring them we are actually honouring ourselves. We are honouring the best among ourselves. We are reaffirming the faith in rule of law, in judicial process, in the legal process and most importantly, faith of the common man in the legal system. There is always a challenge as whether we are doing the right thing for the common man, whether we are able to deliver the constitutional promise of equal and fair justice. Are we able to provide access to justice and as Mr. Subramanium said, 'quality justice'?
When we talk of equality of ours, it is not really providing a lawyer to an indigent litigant but providing a lawyer who can match the skills of the opponent. That is the kind of lawyer we are looking for and that is the kind of lawyer we have found in everyone of 22 districts which have got represented here by very able young lawyers, who exemplified the best in their districts. I was particularly delighted to note that among the busiest of the districts, i.e. Khordha or Ganjam or Mayurbhanj or Sundargarh, we have women lawyers beating out everyone else in the competition and come forth emerging as the winners. So, this is another occasion for us to give an extra big hand to each of those women lawyers, who emerged as the best among their peers.
When we thought of this whole award, there were of course many doubts that crossed many of our minds. Normally what happens, anything that we want to try out in the High Court, we first test it with our own officers. Many of them have had vast years of experience of being judicial officers in the districts. So, many of the Registrars who were working in the High Court and assisting all of us, all of our judges day in and day out, they have a hands-on first-hand knowledge of what the District Bar is all about. So, my first point of testing anything new was with my own officers, who have served in the districts and have been judges in the districts, who have watched district lawyers in action and I got a positive response from them and got inputs from them. That is how we will find the scheme itself is quite complex.
Essential Criteria for 'Promising Lawyer' Award:
A lawyer has to not only be a busy lawyer, which means the lawyer files a large number of cases, but the lawyer has to have at least one trial completed. This was a very important benchmark for us. This is because one wants to encourage lawyers to be adversarial lawyers in the system, standing by the side of truth and helping judges to reach the right conclusion.
Clients are looking not for lawyers just to get them a bail or an adjournment or an interim bail or a parole or extensions or stay in civil case. They are looking for conclusion of the dispute. There cannot be a conclusion of dispute unless the lawyer participates fully and takes the case to its destination. It is so important for the case to reach its destination. We are looking for lawyers who have that degree of commitment.
We are not looking for lawyers who are simply 'bail lawyers'. There are lawyers who specialise in bail. These are good bail lawyers, these are good adjournment lawyers, these are good interim injunction lawyers. We are looking for lawyers who are 'full-fledged lawyers', who believe that taking the clients to the destination is what they are in this profession for. Unanimously, I think I heard each of colleagues in the committee say today that next year's competition is going to be a stiffer competition and that is how it should be. We want the district lawyers to say yes, we will conduct trials. We will make sure that nobody who is to reach the goal of justice is deprived of it.
Contribution in Ensuring 'Access to Justice':
When we say 'access to justice', we mean access to justice not just to people who are brought into the system as accused or suspects or as plaintiffs but those who brought in as victims, as witnesses, as defendants as intervenors. We want all of them to get justice. We want closure for everyone. It is only lawyers with a great degree of dedication, a great deal of commitment that can ensure that this happens across Odisha.
Also, our hope is that if we focus on this age group of 30 to 40, then we have a hope that this will trigger off a movement across the judiciary in Odisha, where more and more lawyers look up to lawyers like the ones who received the awards as their 'role-models' and try to emulate them.
Democratic Process of Selection:
I must say, this entire process has been as democratic as it should be. This is for the larger audience. I am addressing the larger audience who is participating in the event online by watching it on a link. This was truly a democratic process. We had a draft scheme. We circulated that scheme to every District Bar Association and not just main headquarters but also to the outlying stations. We gave them time to comment on the scheme. We got their inputs. We incorporated many of those inputs, which were very constructive for the scheme and that is how our final scheme came up and it got launched about a month or two ago and we gave sufficient time to lawyers to send in their entries.
So, this has been a truly democratic process but I can vouch for this that as a High Court we are not rigid about this scheme having only these many features. One suggestion came from Mr. Subramanium himself about the use of technology, about the use of e-filing techniques. Now, you have an e-filing station in every District Court. Maybe we should think of incorporating another element in our scheme about lawyers who use these systems and do e-filing of cases. But ultimately, we want lawyers who show a great deal of commitment to the legal profession itself.
These lawyers have overcome several challenges. Challenges not just about being in society and choosing law as a legal profession because it is a struggle for many a young lawyer to find their feet in the legal profession. It has always been a struggle over the ages. It is even a struggle today. There are a lot of temptations across lawyers, temptation to use unethical means. You do see other colleagues resorting to unethical means but you decide to refrain. Therefore, a very important element of the scheme that we want lawyers of integrity. Because unless we get lawyers of integrity, we cannot expect judges of integrity. Because these are lawyers, some of whom will hopefully become judges, judges in District Courts and later may be judges in the High Court. We want to encourage that kind of a lawyer who will stand by principles, who will have ethical practices and will stand as a model for other young lawyers to follow.
What is special about this award is the selection process itself. The jury in each district consisted of the District Judge and the Chief Judicial Magistrate and also the President of the Bar Association and two senior lawyers nominated by the District Judge to be on the panel. So, this was an evaluation by a combination of the judiciary and the legal profession which is unique in itself and it somewhat replicates the kind of committees we have for designation of Senior Advocates.
An Initiative to Recognise Young Talents In District Bars:
In fact, this scheme was thought out only because we did not have anything parallel to what we have in the High Courts where we designate Senior Advocates, basically recognising them for their potential and their contribution to the development of law. There is no reason why we should not have another system recognizing the potential among District Court lawyers, who also work tirelessly day and night, as Mr. Subramanium said, to the development of law, to contributing to the course of justice.
Taking a cue from the system we have in the High Court, the Haricharan Mukherjee Memorial Trust which honours young lawyers of the High Court in the age group of 30 to 40 for their contributions to the development of law, we also decided that in the District Courts, we will focus on the younger generation of lawyers between the age group of 30 to 40. 30 because you would have attained a certain degree of maturity, you would have been in the profession for at least five to six years and you would be in a position to conduct trials on your own. That is why we chose 30 and the upper limit of 40, because this is the peak period between 30 to 40 when the lawyer is in full stride.
I am very happy to know about the results. We did not expect this kind of response from districts. Next year, I am sure there will be an even greater response. We will have an even brighter crop hopefully of lawyers. These 22 lawyers have shown the way and it is a very important day in the epoch of Odisha's judicial history, that we have lawyers who have emerged as exemplars of the best practices in District Courts and who will be the torch-bearers of the best practices for lawyers in the districts. They will be the role models. They will be the inspirations and when we look back at this day, we will say that a very important moment occurred in the Odisha's judicial history when we honoured District Court lawyers to showcase the best practices and for other generations of lawyers to emulate."