How a small town lawyer reached Supreme Court- My Story & Our ills of Legal Profession Part 2 of 3

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In earlier, part 1, I briefly explained my recollections about how I struggled for cases in District Court and how I moved to practice in High Court.

My aim is to record my recollections and impressions. No intention to hurt image of Judiciary or lawyers. Only intention is to show that many advocates from Districts have reached up to Supreme Court by struggling, even if they may not have support of anyone.

1986 – 1990

1) How I Filed First Case in High Court

A district court lawyer friend gave a case to me to file in High Court. I took case, but I had no idea, how matters are prepared, filed and argued in High Court.

I knew no one in High Court who can help me.

I reached in High Court at about 9 AM. In room of typists, only one or two typists had come.

I reached one of them and explained my problem. I asked for his help. He agreed to help me. Till today I remember he was known as Shah.

He started typing my case. When other advocates started coming, he introduced an advocated to me who agreed to dictate my whole matter for Rs.200/-. (Later this advocate became HC Judge)

Typist also introduced me to a clerk (Sunil- who now become advocate) who agreed to file my case, to take care of matter and to inform me whenever matter is listed in court.

Then, I requested clerk to give me samples of various types of matters in High Court. He gave me some samples. Now I was ready to file any type of matter in High Court.

Later, in 1990, when I decided to shift from High Court to Supreme Court, I used the same method.

2) Dealing With Bullying to a new comer.

I sensed, that I was not welcome in new place. I was coming from a small town. The people here in city were educated in famous law collages and were sophisticated. I sensed a sense of rejection and could read dislike in their eyes.

I saw that no one gives support to anyone.

Then some lawyer tried to bully me and said that I should not have shifted to High Court at all. He said I should go back to my town and should practice there.

He said this, as if High Court belonged to city lawyers only, and a raw lawyer from a small town had no business to practice in High Court.

Same day, I dropped a letter to Judge of High Court. It ran like this :-

“It is said in Gita, that ‘all glorious and strong persons are parts of God and our problems will disappear if we will reach to them.’

Hence, I write this letter. I have shifted here from a small town and here I am being bullied. I am also passing through financial struggle”

Two days after I had posted letter. The Judge(Justice D.H.Shukla) called President of High Court Bar to his chamber and showed him letter and asked him to see that I am helped.

From Judge’s chamber, the President came directly in Bar Room where I was sitting. He was full of rage and anger and he fired me like anything. “How dare you write such a letter to a Judge? He shouted.

I was taken aback and stunned. Other lawyers sitting around me looked at me as if I had committed a great sin.

After two hours, the President came back again. Now he was very cool and very polite. He invited me for dinner at his home. ( Perhaps he thought what may happen if I write another letter to Judge. He had second thoughts)

During dinner at his house, he told me that no human being is fit to be worshipped as God.

Next day, a senior advocate close to him offered me job of Junior advocate for Rs.500/- per month. I politely declined.

Now, I began to stay at a jain-hotel which charged Rs.10/- per day. From Monday to Thursday, I stayed at Ahmedabad and practiced in High Court.

Friday to Sunday, I will be in my home town to collect cases for High Court from my District Court friends.

3) Joining Chamber of Vasant J Desai

Since early childhood, I was oriented towards GITA. I used to read it even when, I did not understand a word from it. I believed in Divine Help.

In First Part, during my District Court practice, I experienced a series of miracles. But for some reasons, I have avoided mentioning them.

In High Court I was new. Without any background or influence. One day someone introduced me to Vasant Desai and suggested him to took me as his junior. This was miracle for me because, it was unplanned, effortless fortune. I did not either advocate who introduced me nor I knew Vasant Desai.

He used to talk whole day and worry about nation and how it is ushering into an international Debt-Trap.

He was impressed when I said that I also write letters on public issues in Times of India and Indian Express and they were published.

4) How career changes, the moment you join chamber of a good advocate

The moment I joined his chamber, everyone in Bar begin to respect
me. Even HC judges began to respect me.

It was all due to his reputation as a good, upright, innocent and public spirited advocate.

He put a condition to me before I joined his office.

He said he will not pay me anything. He believed that juniors should be allowed to starve. Then only they begin to flap their wings and begin to fly on their own.

I put one condition. I will not attend his chamber on Friday to Monday, as I may have to go to different districts to collect my own cases. He agreed.

I learned a lot from him during 1986 to 1990. You can see value of associating with him from following incident.

In 2010, After about 23 years, From Supreme Court, one day, I had gone to High Court for some work.

After work was over, I randomly, without any preplan, went and sat in one court to watch proceeding.

Suddenly, within 5 minutes, judge adjourned all cases and went in his chamber. He sent someone to call me in his chamber.

I was surprised. I went in his chamber. He said, ” Do you remember me?”.

I was blank. I could not remember the Judge.

He said, when I was junior with Vasant Desai, he was a judge in Civil Court. He had given a case to Vasant Desai.

He said, as a junior of Vasant Desai I worked overnight, and cracked his case and he won. He was thankful.

I had no recollection of this case. But it proves that if you do good work, someone may say thank you even after 23 years. Nothing goes in vain.

5) Marriage and Child.

She is also an advocate. At present, I think, I should write only few things about her.

Since early childhood she wanted to become advocate. At that time there were no TV. There was no advocate in her family. Even she does not recollect how this ambition to become an advocate came to her.

After she became advocate, one day she went in local court. Every one gave her respect and welcome.

But from next day she decided not join practice. She felt that atmosphere in Bar Room was not right for an unmarried young lady.

She postponed all her desire for becoming an advocate till her marriage.

She was religious. She placed her Enrollment Certificate in her Puja before Krishna and prayed that she may get a lawyer husband and she may get a poor husband so that she can get as per her destiny.

She did not look forward to marry by looking at wealth or income of in- laws.

Our marriage were family arranged marriage. We both studied in same law college. But none of us had seen each other.

After marriage, she started practicing with me in HIgh Court.

6) Nature and Extent of struggle and a miracle

From my house, two buses used to go to High Court. One Charged 50 paise. Another charged 75 paise. If bus charging 75 paise will come first, I will let it pass. I will wait for bus charging 50 paise.

Reason for low income: I never quoted fees. I allowed clients to pay whatever they can pay without feeling agony. This is my weakness which still troubles me.

Miracle: We lived in a house rented for Rs. 700/- per month. One day, in an unplanned way, some one approached us and offered us a larger house for Rs.1500/- with a suggestion that if we cannot pay this much, he will be satisfied with Rs.700/-.

We moved to his house. Later we realized that it was miracle.

New house was near to Bus Terminal where buses from all over Gujarat used to come.

Clients begin to pour in every morning. I no longer needed to go to districts to collect briefs.

The same landlord offered another flat for making my office. Here also he agreed that I need not pay any rent if my income does not grow.

Soon I have about four juniors working under me. Everyday, my about 8 cases were listed in various court rooms. Other advocates regarded us with jealousy.

But income was minimum. I could earn enough to meet my overhead expanses.

7) Some memorable cases.

There are many cases which I remember. Some are most prominent in my memory.

A babaji came from a village. He lived under a hut structure under a tree for 20 years. Now collector wanted to remove him. Collector has found that it was Govt land and he had no right to live there.

He had nothing to pay to lawyer and no money for lunch. We gave him lunch. Filed his case. Next day his case was heard.

Judge asked, what right your client has to live there. I said, Art.21. Every beggar has right to some shelter, some space to live. Give him some space to live and then remove him.

Judge rejected my argument and dismissed case.

Situation is same even today.

Some poor were living in big gutter pipes, lying unused somewhere in Mumbai. The Corporation wanted to remove them.

A young lawyer, moved by their plight, filed PIL for granting them some space before removing them.

Mumbai High Court rejected his PIL.

He filed appeal in Supreme Court.

The judges warned him that there is no merit in his case but if he insisted on arguing and wasting time of court, the court may impose fine on him.

He insisted on arguing and for 20 to 30 min took time of court. The court dismissed his case and imposed fine of Rs.1 Lakh on him.

The poor lawyer broke down and started weeping in court. Security staff removed him from court.

The law is clear. The Right to shelter for beggars are still not declared by Supreme Court. Till then, no right no relief is the law.

Wasting time of Apex Court in spite of previous warning, is very costly

Another case I remember is, someone told me that I am called in Chief Justice Court. A case was listed but I did not know and I had no papers.

Doesn’t matter,one judge said and gave his papers to me to argue. Without looking at papers, from only my memory, I argued case and won it.

Then I remember, a criminal appeal which I argued for three days. I thought I was clever. But no. It was actually, the Judge who was giving me training for arguing a criminal appeal.

Then I remember about arguing a PIL which resulted in release of 300 bonded laborers.

Later, someone told me that when case was going on, the court of chief justice become so crowded that it was impossible to come or to enter in court room.

Then, I remember filing a petition to search for a missing sailor from famous Navvy Army Ship Vikrant.

I had a great satisfying career at High Court.

8) Moving to Supreme Court

Child was now about one and half year. Then someone suggested that if I wanted to move to Supreme Court, this was the right time. Because, once child starts going to school, it is difficult to change city.

We decided to move on.

Continued.-

I’ll keep revising this and earlier part 1 as I get time and new recollection to mind. My aim is to show path which I took to shift to Supreme Court from a small district town court.

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