I salute Chief Justice Sathasivam for speaking about the allegation of unpardonable aberration by one of his former colleagues on the Bench on the occasion of Law Day celebrations. The whole world knows what it is.Soft spoken, but determined CJI has assured that justice will be done. The courageous reference to unpleasant allegation makes Law Day-2013 slightly different.
The Law Day, a day to commemorate the marathon exercise of making the basic text-‘The Constitution’and its formal adoption has become more of a ritual, just another day in the Court calendar.In the past, the commemoration was considered to be the privilege of Supreme Court alone, and over a period of time, like every other ritual, it found more followers in High Courts and subordinate courts. The more it is followed, the less it is observed.
To put it in an unforgivable sarcasm, for many,law day is when they see a large ‘Pantal’ on the Supreme Court lawns. An evening affair with photocopy speeches of the dignitaries with slight variations. You are informed of the statistics as to how many cases decided and disposed of. Of course, there is a compelling incentive provided by Supreme Court Bar Association ‘the high tea’ in the cold winter evening.
I have been interacting with my colleagues to know as to what Law Day means to them. To the careerist and a budding arguing counsel, it is an opportunity to interact with the non-interactable, the judges. You get all of them at an arms-length. You can boringly please them, it gives you return in courts, not always in terms of relief, but surely you are assured of a kind treatment in court. The least expected from few judges of the Supreme Court is only a ‘pleasing dismissal’ of your case.
The situation is so grave that you shouldconsider yourself lucky if your matter is not listed before judges who act like despots. In criminal matters, the more you try to convince, the threat comes from the Bench for notice for enhancement. The intonation of admonishment during the hearing often questions the very existence of you as a lawyer. You may think of retorting, the words of displeasure rise within you, but it is swallowed as usual. You are too junior to retort and seniors never do it.
We have heard of stories where leaders of the bar stand up to correct the erring judge with authority, the time has made them to be untouched and unmoved. They would advise you to be clam and dispassionate, to learn the ‘Court Craft.’
Recently one lawyer was moving a discharge application. The judge, the master of reprimanding, allowed it by saying ‘get rid of’. Was it an advice to the lawyer to get rid of the client or get rid of his Court? In both ways, it is surely a non-judicial conduct, but the Judges can do no wrong, you have to oblige. While mentioning this, I must remind all of you that we have and had wonderful judges who are extremely patient and well mannered.They are never forgotten.
One lawyer friend has stopped reading the paper book when he sees the name of a particular judge. He says the learned judge is beyond his convincing power. The present CJI who has mastered the art of keeping cool against most cantankerous and provoking arguments may be aware of conduct of his brothers and sisters in court room and hope that he would take remedial measures.
The Law Day should be a day to reflect and introspect. We as a community of lawyers are failing ourselves and society. Most of the senior members of the bar, barring few exceptions, just specializein the art of money making. Their speaking silence on the issues and desire to be non- controversial has set new standards for younger members to emulate.
Let the Law Day be a time for an open audit, irrespective of whether you are a Judge or a Lawyer.
*Amicus is a lawyer in Supreme Court. You can follow him on Twitter.