Wednesday, 11 November 2015

LIGHT A LIGHT FOR THE UNSEEN


The concerns of the High Court, in directing the gates of the subordinate courts to be closed by 7PM is understandable, in the light of the complaints that few of the Advocates are misusing their chambers by indulging in activities, which are not purely professional. But aren’t our forefathers left us a message, tested by experience that one cannot throw the baby with the bathwater; we have a Tamil equivalent in mocking the one attempting to burn down the house for the fear of bugs.

I have never been within the court complex beyond court timings barring an odd exception, when I had to wait for an urgent order copy; it was decades ago and the Madras High court building was in its innocence best.

I am fortunate. I don’t have to depend upon the chamber facility to carryon my profession. I was able to find Seniors, who had offices of their own having enough room to spread our furniture, books and case bundles. Our clients felt at ease in able to sit before us for briefing. Even when I came out of my Senior’s house, I did not find wanting as I could rent an office of my own.

But I see many advocates, particularly in subordinate courts who are not so fortunate. They don’t have an uncle who could put them in some office of repute as mine did. Not only their parents, even their teachers could not teach or train them enough in English to impress a Senior on their own. Whom they could end up last is a person, who would not be in a position to sustain a Junior’s needs; even the bare minimum.

They have to come out within few years into their own practice as their parents, living in some village or at best a small town nearby would be resting their hopes on them to earn something. The motorbikes, mobile phones and internet are of great help but still they need a place with a chair to sit and a stool at least for their client; a shelf even if it is a shared one to keep the bundles. These are luxuries in the room or the house they have rented to live.
I see many such Advocates, with an urge to come up and make a decent life for themselves; though the odds keeping them chained at the bottom are many. Chambers, constructed by the Government is their only hope to shed some of those chains.

We, the fortunate see chambers as a place to rest in between the cases; they see it as their office. This measure of driving them out of their chambers after 7 is in effect deprives them of their livelihood; their clients’ too.

Secondly I sincerely feel, with all due respects to those who have taken this decision that this measure of squeezing all life from the court campus beyond court hours will not help in curbing the menace as they intend.

As long as the chambers are allowed to function at night hours, they would present a lively place with Advocates, Clerks, Typists and litigants everywhere. If Advocates are encouraged to run their offices with better facilities, particularly by lighting the place bright, they themselves would guard it against getting out of control. On the other hand close it down into dark, there are people still looking for an opportunity to exploit the darkness within the campus; mark my words the day is not far off for an embarrassing scandal to break out.

I studied law in Madurai 25 years ago, when anyone can walk through Madurai city at any hour in the night without having any fear in mind. In places like Simmakkal or Periyar Bus-stand even woman don’t feel alone. Thanks to effective steps taken by the Police in the name of curbing crimes, Madurai is successfully snuffed out of its night life; gone are the days we enjoyed masala tea and butter bun in any roadside tea-shop with Illayaraaja playing for us in the middle of the night and well into early morning.

It was not few years ago, the bar and bench were into a debate as to the establishment of Evening Courts. Gujarat pioneered and few States followed by framing necessary Rules. It is my fervent appeal, this is the best time to bring in any novel idea and by making use of the situation, the High Court may seriously think of establishing Evening Courts in District Headquarters; the experiences in other States may help.

If not otherwise, at least in the name of establishing Evening Courts the High Court can help so many less fortunate Advocates, who could not find or rent an office of their own but only to depend upon the Chambers provided by the Government to build their legal practice.

Light a Light for the Unseen
Bring them back into their livelihood.

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