Undermining Justice by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (MAY 30, 2013)

Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam on the growing lawlessness among lawyers.

Lawyers provide an important service alongside judges. The former try to bring some clarity to the issues through argument, exhibit of relevant items and presenting witnesses in an organised manner which makes it easier for judges to deliver a verdict. Thanks to lawyers, both sides get to be heard with some clarity and precision.

Lawyers represent the due process of law and owe their livelihood to it. The due process involves, among other things, the basic principle of justice that every accused must be given the chance to explain his / her side of the story and defend himself / herself. Lawyers’ livelihood largely depends on the principle of due process.

Of late we have been witnessing a rising trend of lawlessness among lawyers who seek to undermine and destroy the due process which, in the final analysis, is like destroying their own source of livelihood. There have been reports, latest from Faizabad district court, of lawyers attacking fellow practitioners of law who seek to defend Muslims accused of involvement in blasts. This phenomenon is not visible in the case of Hindus accused of terrorism. Thus it has a communal dimension also.

They not only assaulted their Muslim colleagues at Faizabad, but expelled them illegally from the Bar Council without any show-cause notice, without allowing them the due process of explaining themselves.

That those assaulted and expelled are in the right is evident from the following: Mahatma Gandhi’s killers got some of the best lawyers, so did Indira Gandhi’s and Rajiv Gandhi’s. Those accused of killing Jessica Lal and Anup Kataria, too, got the best of lawyers, as do the Hindus accused of blasts. Article 22(1) gives every accused the right to hire a lawyer. Those who fail to get one are given a lawyer by the state.

A particular point to remember here is that courts draw their authority from the august Constitution, which demands allegiance to secularism as an absolute value. Thus nobody – lawyer, judge, or court official – is free to indulge in communal behaviour.

The judiciary has regularly been taking suo motto notice of subversion of justice. The Faizabad case is known to everyone. One wonders why is the judiciary ignoring such peril to itself and why are those involved in violence and illegal expulsion of colleagues not barred from practising law and entering court premises, at least for a few years.


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