Ernakulam

Objective of lawyers’ black jacket and gown!

I originally detested it! The black jacket and gown, a lawyer has to wear to courts! It’s alien, foreign and not conducive to Indian environment, especially Kerala’s tropical climate. That was my opinion when I started practicing at Munsiff Court, Perumbavoor, in the year 2008. The mofussil court halls there hardly had any ceiling fans and the air conditioners were reserved to the High Court and cash-rich tribunals like DRT. Being a junior, I was running around everywhere on a bike, and the black attire used to tire me and drench my inner world.

Ten years down the line, I understand why the elders prescribed this uncomfortable outfit.

To break it down, one has to get an idea about the routine work of a moderately good lawyer. He is not spending much of his time in court halls arguing cases. His juniors do that – running through courts. The senior lawyer is confined to a seat, doing hours and hours of drafting, researching, meeting clients and reading illegible depositions. Court appearances are there, but office work predominates the life of a good lawyer. The most difficult task of a lawyer is to draft a petition, correctly. Any junior can represent a case in court, but drafting requires extensive experience. So, by age, a lawyer matures from his bike to a car, and from several court halls to a select few, and is mainly confined to a seat in his office.

The perks of sitting in an office for more than 18 hours a day are increased waist line and protruding belly. Yes, one can guesstimate the success of a lawyer by gauging his belly.

Anyway, so to tame these unwanted physical protrusions, the elders prescribed lawyers to wear black coat and the gown, to courts. To make all lawyers look decent and healthy, more like a human, and less like a frog! Yes, the black coat is to tuck the unyielding tummy, and the over gown is to hide the other physical projections. That is the true objective behind the senseless attire – to make lawyers look physically sensible.

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Acquittal in Rape Trial

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I am a civil lawyer, and criminal trials are done only for the money involved in it.  Yet, when a civil lawyer conducts a criminal trial, the whole thing becomes super fun. This was a trial under S.376 IPC – Rape. Rape trial is considered to be the most difficult among various criminal trials. The word of the victim ‘that accused ravished her’, is enough to convict the accused. Even murder trials are far easier, as the dead will never come to court to give evidence against the accused. But, in a rape trial, the victim will come to court, and her statement decides it all.

In most occasions, rape trial ends in conviction, unless the parties compromise to an acquittal. In this case, there was no compromise, and the acquittal was hard earned. The trial got twisted on failure of the prosecution to produce a prior statement of the victim  before the court. A rather minor technicality, but exploited with several civil citations, to free the accused.

However, once the order of acquittal was pronounced, my client was nowhere to be seen. I received only a portion of the agreed fees and rest had to be accounted to unrecoverable loss. A big lesson learned – collect whole fees beforehand in criminal cases, unlike in civil cases.

Candlelight Justice

This was the state of affairs in Wakf Tribunal, Ernakulam, today morning (on 26.5.2017). No electricity, no ventilation light. The judge was given a candle, to see minimum. The lawyers were given their colonial gown. Everyone had super fun, courtesy the unforgiving summer.

Vacation Court’s inherent infirmity – “What is the urgency?”

Today I moved a civil revision petition against order of a trial court holding that a suit for compensation is maintainable and the parties should suffer trial. The revision petition was moved before the vacation bench of the Kerala High Court. In my initial evaluation of the case, it should have received the interim order staying further proceedings in court below, without much ado. However, the vacation judge decided to ask the most difficult and tricky question – “What is the urgency? Why cant it be heard on the reopening date?”

Well, I wasn’t prepared for such a question, to be honest. I was hoping for questions on merits of the case, why the suit should not go to trial or what is wrong with the impugned order of the court below.

I fumbled on this query of the learned vacation judge. I said that since the suit is listed for trial, it is in the best interest of parties that it is stayed beforehand rather than keeping the parties guessing till the 11th hour. Either way, considering my sad face and loss for answers, the compassionate judge granted me the interim order as prayed for.

On retrospection, I believe, I didnt say the truth about the urgency in moving the vacation bench. Its purely my financial urgency. The urgency is not for the client or for the case, but for me and my purse alone.

It is an accepted fact that summer vacations are drought season for all lawyers. It is to tide over the said financial crisis that I moved the vacation bench. The learned lordships with so vast experience should know it better than any of us. Still they ask this tricky question, “What is the urgency”, as if they don’t know the real answer. Time for judicial reforms of (at least) vacation courts, I guess.

A video made long long time ago, before leaving law college.. !

Cosmopolitan city of Perumbavoor

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I’m obsessed with the greatness of my home town – Perumbavoor. Its a beautiful place, with vibrant people. The industrial capital of Ernakulam. The city of migrant labours and the land of opportunities. Now, the first place to have Oriya and Hindi Church Mass, making Perumbavoor, the true cosmopolitan city of Kerala.

ഹൈകോടതിയിൽ പുഴയും വെള്ളച്ചാട്ടവും

This happened on April 7th, 2014, when the summer rains lashed the unexpected Kerala High Court.