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Convulsions in commerce chambers... High court work disrupted again Glorious, My Honour India’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Merchants of deception Lawyers should look at their clients’ owes also... A case for Uniform Civil Code Before our Faith is Lost Lawyer's Side Blunt parting shot A catalyst for economic development... When the judiciary is hyper-active The Djinns of Concrete
 
High court work disrupted again
There is serious concern over the piling up of cases at the Madras High Court and the frequent interruptions to court proceedings.

There is also lack of modern management systems that would help streamline listing and the quick disposal of cases.

There has been a huge increase in the number of persons graduating with degrees in law. There is no entry barrier for law graduates to enroll as advocates. Many of these take to practice with little training to equip themselves with the intricacies of court procedures or with case laws. Understandably, often many of these do not have worthwhile practice.

 

Huge unemployment/ under employment...

There is an uneven spread of clientele. An estimate points to 10 per cent of lawyers at the top end accounting for over 80 per cent of remunerative occupation. This state of unemployment and under-employment is often at the root of agitations and disruptions to court proceedings.

Time was when reputed lawyers from Tamil Nadu were in demand for arguing cases in courts in Delhi and other states, as also before the Supreme Court. Today, we see the sad spectacle of even Tamil Nadu government and its corporations entrusting cases to lawyers from Delhi and elsewhere at hefty fees. Look at the senior judicial officers of the government suffering the indignity of serving such advocates along with their retinue briefing them on cases, making several trips to Delhi.

 A senior advocate also points to the humongous fees charged, running into lakhs of rupees, by such senior advocates. He suggests that such fees should be mentioned in the affidavits. Of course, the fees are only part of the total costs involved in paying for their transportation, stay…

 

Confrontation of lawyers with police, judges...

The High Court witnessed a serious confrontation between lawyers and the police in February 2009 when the police station inside the court premises was burnt down and the proceedings were disrupted for several days. Strained  relations among lawyers, the police and the judges continue till date.

    The appointment of the chief justice and other senior judges from outside the state suffers from short tenures of these. Senior members of the bar are becoming increasingly assertive, resulting in the erosion of the authority of the chief justice.  

 

Conflict over caste...

For long, the agitations hovered around rivalries between lawyers owing allegiance to the two leading political parties, the AIADMK and the DMK.  But the recent conflict revolves around caste.  

Senior advocate R Gandhi challenged the names recommended for appointment as judges by the collegiums of Madras High Court judges in December 2013. His petition questioned the eligibility and lack of effective consultation; he pointed to the first and second judges in collegiums, being new to the state, not aware of the local social problems. Judges from other states do not know the caste system in Tamil Nadu, it was contended.

The anti-Brahmin movement, started over nine decades ago in the state, is well entrenched. In this period, being a Brahmin is a practical disqualification for holding any government post.

It is gathered that the objection extended to the list including three Brahmin advocates. They contended that already this caste is over-represented.

For a state deeply divided on the basis of caste, there is demand for reservation in proportion to the strengths of the different castes in any and every post controlled by the state.  For several decades political parties in power have been distributing government posts at various levels, including vice chancellors and other academics of state universities, seats in Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha and state assembly on the basis of caste as political patronage.  The demand now extends to specialist doctors and to judges.  A senior advocate raised a pertinent question: “can we afford to have a judge appointed on the basis of his caste? He will always be obliged to the members of his caste. How can he do justice then?”

While states like Bihar and UP are moving out of caste-based agitations, it is sad that Tamil Nadu ,that started the movement towards a casteless society nine decades ago, should be so deeply entrenched in perpetuating appointments on the basis of castes.

 

Curioser and curiouser...

The situation is becoming curiouser by the day with the High Court Chief Justice R K Agarwal complaining to the Supreme Court that a judge had barged into his chambers and hurled a volley of invectives at him and has requested for his transfer to another court. The concerned judge holds that it was his bounden duty to establish the veracity of his allegations and therefore his presence in the Madras High Court was absolutely essential.

Such concerted and pointed efforts, we wish, are directed in reforming the present judicial system and contribute to the disposal of cases to specific timelines. -

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