A Little ‘Faulty’ Upbringing in the Legal Profession These Days
The article “A Little ‘Faulty’ Upbringing in the Legal Profession These Days” by Jasmeet Singh, Advocate on record, Supreme Court of India is a pensive approach to explicate the various aspects of the legal profession with the core emphasis to remove the loopholes in the system by the higher authorities as young professionals have limited scope in their hands.
Assumptions related to Lawyers
The assumption that a “lawyer” married couple will have more arguments than a non-lawyer married couple is not a completely erroneous assumption (at least on this, my wife will agree, and will not dissent). We, as a couple, made a conscious effort to overcome this professional hazard after becoming parents. The reason was pretty obvious the more camaraderie between the couple, the more conducive it would be for the upbringing of the child. This logic can easily be extended to any sphere of life and will bear the same result.
The learning quotient of juniors in a team will be directly proportional to the amity among the senior associates. Young members of even the national cricket team will perform better when the coach, captain, and board president are on the same page. The examples are endless and the conclusion is one – the leaders have to inspire the confidence of trust and harmony to make the team perform to its full potential.
Of course, it is impossible to achieve complete agreement in all opinions and hence there will be occasions of altercations here and there. Which, the second limb of good leadership plays a part and that is, that such altercations should be resolved amicably and unless necessary, they should be kept under wraps from ‘yet to be matured’ juniors. I don’t think an example is needed to elucidate this, but I would still give a few. The performance of the Indian Cricket Team in the Greg Chappel-Saurav Ganguly controversial period (2005), the confidence of the congress workers upon seeing posts of G-23 leaders, and the retention difficulties a company faces when the founders or directors are at loggerheads.
Thus, for an institution to work well, the feeling that “it is working well” amongst the stakeholders is the most important requirement. If I were to ask the reader what was the most challenging incident your institute faced in the last five years, and what was the most underconfident phase of your institute, every individual will have different answers. However, for an advocate practising in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, the answers will be more or less the same and those will be:- (i) the incident of January 2018, when four senior judges of the Hon’ble Supreme Court held a press conference to mount a virtual revolt against the (then) chief justice, listing a litany of problems that they said are afflicting the country’s highest court and warned they could destroy Indian democracy; and (ii) the most under confident phase for the institute is ‘probably’ NOW.
As an Advocate-on-Record practising in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India for over a decade and a half, I would, unfortunately, have the same answers. If this wasn’t enough, the worst is that the end of this ‘phase’ appears to be as far as the end of Covid-19. Hence, as young lawyers, we are left with very few options. We have to either ignore the underlying incidents or gossip about these incidents. In both these situations, the future of the institute and the confidence of the stakeholders are at peril.
This brings us to the next question, can a toddler/teenager raise questions about his ‘faulty’ upbringing by his parents and what effect will it have? The straight answer to this would be a “YES” and the effect depends on the attitude of the parent.
As a “teenager” in the profession, and being surrounded by the “toddlers” of the profession, today, I am exhausted with numerous unpleasant incidents happening in this ‘under-confident phase’ of our apex institution, some of them being:-
The union law minister publicly announced the Hon’ble Supreme Court collegium system as opaque and suggested that it should not invest a lot of time in bail petitions. The Chief Justice of India, sometimes in conferences and sometimes in open court, gives his retorts to these statements;
The stalemate situations in the appointment of judges, on more than a few occasions;
The public statements by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Vice President, targeting the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India (on National Judicial Appointment Commissions, Keshavnanda Bharti and many more) and the judiciary trying to defend /counterattack its stand;
Nepotism, Casteism, Favouritism and Biasness: Appointment of Judges
The persistent reporting of every friction/comment/remark made by either the bar or the bench led to numerous rumours. For instance, I have heard at least a dozen different interpretational narratives of the incident when the Chief Justice of India told the Supreme Court Bar President “to not dictate the practice” to him.
The theories and stories of the rise of the privileged and arm-twisting of the underprivileged in the profession. Nepotism, casteism, favouritism and bias are levelled upon each appointment of a judge, designation of senior, or even union/state empanelment.
These incidents and many more such incidents have shattered my self-assurance and the confidence of many more in the judicial institutes of our country. It is disheartening to respond to people at large on “what is happening in court these days?” which they ask with a heap of sarcasm.
Unnecessary Publication of Court Proceedings should be Prohibited
I wish that this ‘phase’ will end soon and if the present ‘parents’ of the institute will permit, this teenager has the following suggestions:-
Prohibit unnecessary publication of court proceedings. The readers need not know all comments by the bench or the bar. On most occasions, it only adds to gossip and hampers a confidence in the institution. Of course, a judgment/order/contents of the petition etc. may be published;
The stakeholders, be it the executive or judiciary or legislature may have conferences to resolve at least the administrative disputes (like disputes on infrastructure) amicably, and again, every word spoken may not be published. Non-publishing will not be opaque or undemocratic, as is the case in any other high-level meeting. If the meeting is not possible, devise any other suitable mode of communication (like writing formal letters), as this open house attack on each other brings no good.
The teenager has limited wisdom to suggest a full-fledged and encompassing future course of action, however, this teenager is hopeful that the ‘parents’ will correct the ‘faulty’ upbringing sooner than later.