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Nepotism and discrimination in legal practice

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When you mention a famous racehorse, they always ask you, ‘from which stable?’ The stable is important. It establishes the ancestry and the breed. When you name a lawyer who has done well, people ask you, ‘from which chamber?’ The chamber is important. It establishes the hierarchy and cultural tradition in which the lawyer has been reared.

– Before Memory Fades, Fali S. Nariman.

The stable or the chamber distinguishes the future and the career of a young jurist, as Fali Nariman stated. The legal profession is one of the noble practices all around the world, many scholars said that the legal studies and practice changed a man into an Englishmen as it happens mostly in the commonwealth nations where the law structures and sections have mostly been compiled by the then officers of the imperialistic powers. 

Just like Bollywood and politics, where nepotism plays a huge role; in the field of legal practice too. The profession is almost a bastion of the privileged and the powerful families. There is a practice where the grand-children and the children of notable jurists or judges have an upper hand in almost all the matters. The entry-level- or the first generation ones have to struggle from filing to pleading in the room. 

Imagine, you just completed your studies and the day after you got enrolled in the BAR you have a table in your Ancestral Chambers and you are preparing for your first case and the Judge which happens to receive the case is at one time your Grandfather’s junior and your Father’s childhood friend. Though the Indian judicial system still stands on the ideas of equality and unbias nature, still there is somewhere a sort of soft corner for someone who we know in front of us from a long period of time and now is pleading before, there have been many instances where the judges granting stays and positive orders even on occasions when they request adjournments. 

The financial background also is a problem for the newbies, as each states that the law profession is an earning one, but one has to invest his early years without any returns in the chambers of their seniors learning the original teachings which no law school taught ever. The seniors have a reputation of paying their juniors soo less, or sometimes not at all. Many students have to be their bread earners of their family as there is no one beside them sometimes, in that case they have to choose things like-inhouse counsel or settling in some unknown lawyer’s office as he is paying enough but there is no future scope in it.

The unwritten rules of Bombay high court have been always a famous one, but a more disturbing one for the newcomers. Like the Informal seating, some tables are booked for senior counsels. One side is for Tulzapurkar brother, another for Changla and some other side for some other notable member. One of the norms also includes that the junior would not sit when a senior arrives and forget to sit on another counsel’s table. The Ordering system in the Library is also different from most of the libraries, one has to snap the fingers and yell the name of the book you want. It sounds like the British system of ordering the fellow Indians. 

Kiruba Munuswami, an advocate practicing in the Supreme court has narrated many incidences in her practice of litigation. As a woman herself she tells that the clients sometimes hesitate to give their case to a woman because they think they could not fight the male lawyers in the court of law. The scales of justice are indeed tilted heavily against women in the profession.  Some also argue that women need to be taking care of the Family and then the professional lives, but as the profession demands one cannot take care of both. This has also made the Gender ratio of judges in the Respective courts unequal, though in recent times it is equalizing but now totally. Until Justice R. Banumathi was elevated from high court to supreme court there were very few females into it. Though she was just the 6th female judge since the chair has been assumed. 

If it is only the perspectives of the mainstream privileged majority that are considered, the interpretation of statutes and the legal position will obviously be discriminatory in nature — a sign that the justice system is broken.

Kiruba munuswami, the print.

Though India witnessed many notable jurists from Nani Palkhivala, who was one of the most fearless lawyers and without him many of our fundamental rights would have been gone. The famous case Keshavananda vs the State of Kerela has been still studied by many, almost all of the students and young bloods. It also made the judiciary stronger and rued that the Parliament cannot amend the basic structure and has to answer the judiciary and its citizens. 

Fali Nariman, another notable lawyer was a refugee while he arrived in India with his family from Burma. Then he studied law, and then was known for his practical and courage of straight talk. Just like him, another refugee of partition Ram Jethmalani also had come from Karachi and in his tender age of 17 he started his practice, during that time the minimum age was 21 but he fought and won his case and got enrolled into the practice.

The Independent Judiciary has always been a pillar of democracy along with the others, though there are some loopholes it is the best one can get served upon in a democracy where even the leader’s actions are questioned and his actions can be condemned without the fear of one’s life and his future inside bars. Many people fought for the judiciary we enjoy today, and the fight shall sustain even today if there are any discrimination and injustice. History also has been known as the Progressive and liberal Justices which understood and ruled equally in all the aspects and some also still fight for the cause of dissent, which still oppresses the one who practices it.

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