Utilizing Young Lawyers In Urbane Dispensation Of Justice: Challenges & Opportunities
Young lawyers are fresh legal graduates who enter into a practical world, who are excited, agile, fresh read and who are looking for an appropriate opportunity to work, where they can learn and grow as legal professionals. Problems in the smooth dispensation of justice are multifold. This work focuses on bringing out the problems being faced in justice dispensation system and how young lawyers can be utilized in restricting the same.
POTENTIAL OF YOUNG LAWYERS
Legal education system in India witnessed a ground-breaking transition in the year 1986 when the first ever NLU – the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore, was set up, bringing in the concept of 5-year integrated B.A., L.L.B. (Hons.) course, which was brought to bring the legal education at par with other professional courses, like management (IIMs) and engineering (IITs), where a student out of high school, can make an immediate career choice and in order to improve the quality of courtroom lawyering, thus, enhancing the quality of assistance in the administration of justice. The curriculum for the course in NLUs is a mix of social science subjects (like sociology, political science, economics, psychology etc.) and standard legal subjects, along with compulsory moot court exercises, internships and specialization in a legal subject, which gives an all-round exposure to the aspiring young lawyers. At present, the concept of 5-year integrated course has been adopted by many private institutes/universities and 18 premier national law universities across the country. Therefore, the whole legal education system in India has improved to an unprecedented extent paving way to bring out qualified young lawyers of the country.
Young lawyers today are well accustomed and equipped towards new facets of law, technology, researching tools like Manupatra, SCC Online, LexisNexis etc. Young lawyers are novice, agile and, thus, can utilize their energy to become more active and vigilant in dealing with cases and, with this, can influence/encourage others to follow the same.
CHALLENGES IN URBANE DISPENSATION OF JUSTICE
Meritorious Young Lawyers not joining the litigation space
It has always been contended that the 5-years integrated B.A., L.L.B. (Hons.) course only benefitted the corporate sector and not the justice delivery system, as a whole, because the young lawyers after graduating from law schools, join law firms/ corporate sectors due to a handsome salary, which is correct up to certain extent. The reason behind this is that the national law schools and other private institutes who offer the 5-years integrated course are expensive in nature and litigation in India does not pay enough to justify the costs of a law school education, especially in the initial years of practice. While a good percentage of students is passionate about litigation, there is also a large percentage of students who do not opt for litigation despite their interest, on account of the fact that the senior counsel often pays their juniors in pittance. In comparison of which, law firm offers a steady assured income, which at the end becomes difficult to draw bright young lawyers to litigation until it is more conducive to the needs of the student.
Improper Policy Making Due To Exclusion Of Young Lawyers
According to American legal philosopher and law teacher Roscoe Pound: “Law is social engineering which means a balance between the competing interests in society,” wherein lawyers are described as social engineers. The Supreme Court in the case of State of Punjab and Ors v Brijeshwar Singh Chahal and Ors, observed that legal profession was essentially a service oriented-profession, as a responsible officer of the court and an important adjunct of the administration of justice, it was also noted that the changed profile of the legal profession because of the expansion of the public sector activities necessitated maintenance or public institutions as law officers. The apex court held that the obligation is upon them who handle the affairs of the state, who are duty-bound to select the most meritorious, whatever the method adopted for such selection and appointment may be. It must show that the search for most meritorious candidate has been made and not because of the political affinity.
Problem of Access to Justice
'Access to Justice’ has always remained an inseparable part of justice delivery system. It encompasses the rule of law, administration of justice, good governance and democratic ideals. This flows from the well-known doctrine ubi jus ibiremedium i.e. “when there exists a right, there is a remedy”. Thus, any impediment on accessing the courtroom is an impediment to the fundamental and human right of access to justice. The problems of poverty, illiteracy and development still exist, because of which the problem of access to justice is still persisting.
Pendency of Cases and Efficiency of Justice Delivery System
Delay (in disposal of cases) and pendency are the most important challenges that India’s legal system at present is facing. The Supreme Court has launched the public access portal of the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), a step towards demystification of the judicial process for the ordinary citizen, which will contain all the data pertaining to number of cases pending and disposed in a particular state and in whole country. The reasons for the long-pending cases are many and numerous suggestions have been brought forward by the Law Commission of India in various reports. It has also been found that the government (both state and Central) are major litigating parties in majority of the cases pending before the courts. In order to curb the same and bring accountability and responsibility in the system, a national litigation policy was proposed to be brought into existence, but the same is still pending as on date.
It’s a normal public perception that the ‘judiciary’ is the sole reason behind pendency of cases, the same was found to be incorrect as the same is due to various other factors including the “inefficiency in the assistance being provided in the administration of justice”.
Less number of judges
In addition to the lack of infrastructure, the decreasing number of judges in our country is a major problem, which brings pressure on the institution as a whole. In 1987, the ratio was 10 judges for one million population. The Law Commission recommended that India required 107 judges per million population, It also suggested that to begin with, the judge strength could be raised five-fold (to 50 judges per million population) in a period of five years. Today, the ratio is still decreasing. The figures of our nation is very different from that of other countries where the ratio stands as 41.6 in Australia, 50.9 in England, 75.2 in Canada and 107 in the United States. India is the second largest democracy and, thus, needs a substantial amount of judges to dispense justice in the most accountable and responsible manner.
CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTIONS
In order to mitigate the above challenges, there can be several ways by which opportunities for young lawyers, can be created to utilize their potential and ultimately help in the justice dispensation system. Some of the suggestions are as follows:
Bringing meritorious young lawyers in litigation space
The government (appropriate authority) and other stakeholders must take appropriate steps / actions to get the attention of young meritorious lawyers in the litigation space. Positive steps in this regard must be taken, so that young lawyers who join senior advocates are not exploited and the interest of the young lawyers in litigation remains maintained. It will have its own benefit which will eventually help in enhancing the quality of assistance and in administration of justice.
Including young lawyers in policy making
It is important here to bring attention to the measures taken by the Chhattisgarh government. The Law and Legislative Department of the Chhattisgarh government takes young lawyers directly from HNLU, Raipur (the National Law University of Chhattisgarh). In the year 2013, six students; in the year 2014, 15 students; and in the year 2015, 16 students were placed with the Chhattisgarh government. The step appears to be unique, as it is absent in other developing states of our country. Young lawyers will not only bring in a new culture, but will also help in proper policy-making, if their potential is utilised in the right direction.
Bringing Accountability and Responsibility
The problem of access to justice is multifarious, whose liability cannot be shifted to the government alone. To curb the same, it is important to bring the role of individuals, who must act as accountable and responsible citizens. When individuals understand their legal right and become accountable, they will not only raise their voice for themselves, but will further help others in getting access to justice. In today’s era of information, wherein knowledge of anything is available to at fingertips due to vastly available internet, knowledge of basic legal rights is pre-requisite which will get a push when individuals act in an accountable and responsible manner, at the end it will help in minimizing the problem of access to justice.
Including young lawyers in alternate dispute resolution mechanisms
Young lawyers must be included in the alternate dispute resolution mechanisms like Conciliation and Mediation being operated by the government at the ground level, which will help the young lawyers to understand the practical difficulty and will help in bringing better results out of such alternate dispute resolution mechanisms. Young lawyers should also be included in the ADR centres of the courts, it will help them improve their mediation kills and will subsequently help the institution at large.
Including young lawyers as legal assistants in the high court and district court
The problem of the large pendency of cases is not unknown. The 230th Law Commission Report had taken a serious note of the ever-mounting arrears in the courts and suggested: ‘Many cases are filed on similar points and one judgment can decide a large number of cases. Such cases should be clubbed with the help of technology and used to dispose other such cases on a priority basis; this will substantially reduce the arrears’. Young lawyers, who will be posted as legal assistants, will help the judges of the high court or district court by assisting them over the cases and similar cases, by which the assistance in the justice dispensation system will certainly increase.
Bringing ‘All-India Judicial Services’ or ‘All-India Legal Services’ in place
‘All-India Judicial Services’ in line with the ‘All-India Services’ has been mooted since Swaran Singh Committee’s recommendations (1976) to various reports published by the Law Commission of India. The All India Judicial Services will have unmatched benefits to the institution, as it will attract competent law graduates to judiciary who currently go through the individual state judicial services, because of the hassle involved into it. Compassion and wisdom are expected more from judges, along with other qualities such as integrity, impartiality and fairness. Young law graduates, after appropriate selection and training, can be best utilized in this regard, as they are fresh read, excited and competent. It will bring more efficiency in the judicial system at ground level, which will eventually help in reducing the long pendency of cases, adjudicatory delays and also reduce appeals. Recently, there has been substantial development in this regard at appropriate level. However, ‘local language’ has been pointed out as barrier in introducing the same. India is a multi-cultural and multi linguistic nation, which is its strength. Local language has never been contended as a problem / issue for any other All-India Services and thus, solution to it can be found.
If not the ‘All-India Judicial Services’, then at least ‘All-India Legal Services’ may be created. As pointed earlier, the government (central and states) are the major party, involved in litigation and majority of the cases, which are pending, wherein the government (central and states) is a party. Young lawyers, who will be recruited from an All-India exam duly conducted by institution like UPSC, will constitute ‘All-India Legal Services’, post selection of which, they will be trained appropriately and will be utilized sufficiently at specialized manners like in ADR mechanisms, criminal-related cases, Corporate Law-related cases, etc. Young lawyers recruited for such services will also help the appropriate government in policy-making and effective execution of laws, policy and regulations, if posted with specific institution or organization.
 (2016) 6 SCC 1 – para. 31
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