How a small town lawyer reached Supreme Court- My Story & Our ills of Legal Profession Part 1 of 3

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This is my story for young lawyers practicing in Small District Courts to tell them how I climbed up to Supreme Court from a small town of Junagadh(Gujarat).

I will try to be true as per my recollection. But you should be skeptical and accept only that which feels true to you. Nothing in this intended hurt image Judiciary. I am simply recording my impressions, not necessarily true, as I passed life.

You can quit reading anytime you feel bored.

1982
1) In My family there were no lawyers, no godfather to support me in initial struggling period when even if you may be better than others, clients will to not trust their cases of thousands lakhs, crores of rupees and lives into your hand.

The point of telling you this is: Even if you have no lawyer in family, no godfather, you can make a success in legal profession and can climb up to Supreme Court.

2) My type: I am Libra. Libras are considered to love challenges and are justice oriented and are naturally attracted to Law.

I was a voracious reader. In school days, I was usually among first four in class.

Even if I was studying in Gujarati classes, in B.Com Last year, before 3 months of final exam, I opted to give exam in English.

This is called principle of Burning the bridge so that there is no chance to retreat.

Now I have to master English and be ready to write answers in all subjects in English or to fail. This was a courageous or foolish decision. I do not want others to take such foolish suicidal decisions.

I worked hard. Passed with all subjects in English medium with good marks except in English.

In English, examiner gave me only minimum passing mark 36 from 100. Probably he was angry. Because in answer to one question, I was to answer No. But instead, I had written, “No. A thousand times No.” This showed my arrogance. The examiner was also probably arrogant.

I felt my first touch of injustice done to students by examiners in all school and colleges. Courts upto Supreme Court, refuse to enter in this area. Even in Examination which Supreme Court takes, many have lots of heart burning. But courts till today refuse to give relief to students by giving reasons. Judges do not want courts to be flooded by students complaining arbitrary evaluations even in subjects like mathematic were it is very easy for a judge to check whether injustice to student is done or not.

Today, I can feel that all High Courts and Supreme Court may be WRONG in their interpretations in this area of law.

2) Competitions which I surveyed in District Court:

There were good established senior advocates. They used to catch most of cases from city.

There were lawyers who had shifted from villages. They were getting cases from villages.

I tried to join some good office of senior lawyers. They said no. They sensed that I looked intelligent. They did not need intelligent juniors. They needed dumb juniors who can bring cases to them and can stay unlearned and dependent on them for years.

I looked at Legal Aid Cell to offer my free services. There I sensed “Games”. Cases of poor, which could be won, were assigned to Rich and Well established lawyers. And poor people’s cases which were not likely to be won were assigned to lawyers like me.

I avoided legal aid cells. I had gut feeling that same games may be in legal aid cells of High Court and Supreme Court. These are impressions and gut feelings which can be felt but cannot be proved.

I was not political. No chance of getting on any Govt panel of lawyers.

In accident cases, I noticed doctor-lawyers nexus. Doctors were advising to patient to engage certain lawyers and doctor used to give medical papers, not to patients but to the lawyers directly. Lawyers also used to invest by paying their doctor’s bill. Here also, I had no chance to get any case.

Lands of villagers were acquired by Govt and cases were arising in District Courts.

Here I found nexus of Civil Engineers and lawyers. Even before Govt land acquiring notifications were published, some lawyers used to get information.

They used to go to these villages, entering into land deals and were preparing ground work of creating sale deeds to get maximum price from Govt. when lands were notified for acquisition.

They used to invest money and share fruits of litigation. Here also, I had no chance of getting any cases.

I saw criminal lawyers. Their languages were of criminal type. They used to keep revolvers in coats. They had nexus with police. Police used to ask criminals to engage these lawyers to get bail and acquittal. If they engage other lawyers, the police and prosecutor used to fight strongly and they were getting convicted. Govt pleaders used to assist Criminal Lawyers on how to cross examine witnesses.
Here also, I see no chances for me.

Touts: Those who bring cases to lawyers are called touts. In Court compound there were many touts who were giving cases to established lawyers. They ruined chances of junior advocates to get small cases.

I complained to District Judge about touts. He advised,”Never kick on stomach of anyone. He will fight back with his life.” I understood. It was not advisable to complain against touts. Later, I saw many touts in High Court and Supreme Court compounds. But I never complained.

Strategy which I worked out to get cases

Purchased Coat on Loan

Starting legal practice requires investment of buying one pen and a black coat. Purchased a second hand black coat from a lawyer for Rs.500/- to be paid in six months.

The earning first Rs.50/- in legal profession took some time.

Lawyer friends used to give some small work of going to some village court and to take time. Some cases of deserted women could still come to me for filing maintenance application.

I practiced there for four years. I vividly remember two cases.

A husband snatched away one year son from a mother and went away to his village. Mother came to me. I applied for search and custody warrant to judge. I argued, “breasts mother are paining with milk and urgent custody of child needed.”

Judge asked “How do you know? Do you know till what age of child Mother’s breasts gave milk? I had no answer. I was unmarried. I had no idea how a woman body functions. Judge gave order as I had asked. Mother got his son back.

Then a tenant came. Landlord had engaged a Rent Matter Specialist Senior Lawyer. Client said Rent Specialist was entering into secret purchase of property from landlords at low price.

After tenant is evicted, he used to take over properties. This was unethical. Lawyers were not supposed to make such agreements. Client paid me Rs.300/- to defend him.

That night, I thought it over. The other side lawyer was too big for me. Enmity could be costly. Further he was elected as Member of Disciplinary Committee of Conduct Regulating Body of Lawyer.

Next day, I called client. Returned his fees and explained my inability to defend him.

STRATEGY

Being brief less was tiring. There were two other brief less lawyers like me. I suggested a formula to them.

“At any given point of time, there were always going to be some clients who may have been fed up with their lawyers and they may be looking for new lawyers. We should get noticed by them. They may give us some work. We should divide fees in three parts every evening”

We three kept moving whole day in court lobby. We begin to earn something and divide it in evening.

In the meantime, I made friendship with maximum lawyers of District Court. They used to call me “Stuntman”. I never learned why they said so.

Then after four years, one day, I declared that every Monday, I am going to Ahmedabad to High Court. If they want to refer me cases for High Court, they can give me. Then for few Mondays, I kept sleeping at home. My lawyer friends thought that I had gone to High Court at Ahmedabad.

It took some time but strategy paid. I started getting cases for filing and arguing in High Court. After few months, I shifted to High Court at Ahmedabad.

Here, I would like to pause and seek your reactions before continuing. In noway I want to damage reputation of Judiciary and lawyers. But some part of us looks ill. We need help to help us from ourselves.

Continued-

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