Advocates: Midwives of changing social order
Addressing an invited audience, Justice SV Bhatt recently pointed out that it was crucial for advocates to understand the value of profession and the need to protect and take it forward.
Addressing an invited audience, Justice SV Bhatt recently pointed out that it was crucial for advocates to understand the value of profession and the need to protect and take it forward. Justice Bhatt was delivering his maiden public lecture on the Role of Advocates in nation building. Equipped with a critical ear, he joined the issue with other speakers when they spoke of the contributions of lawyers to social dynamics in the past tense. He however did find enough reason to notice the general lack of spirit among certain sections of the legal fraternity and cautioned that any further indifference would be disastrous.
“Do lawyers have a crucial role in nation building?” he asked and answered in the course of his lecture in the affirmative.
There can be no gainsaying of the fact that lawyers are midwives in the birth of a new social order and carry out paramedical functions at the surgical theatre of a democratic system. While we run to Gandhi, Nehru, Ambedkar and the like for examples of lawyers of repute who gave the freedom struggle the law sheen, today we notice near lumpen elements being part of social movements. But then, the nation has come to a pass. We need to take stock of the fact that political bigwigs can get physical at a wedding. A chief minister could symbolically step out of office and let a defacto nominee be the chief minister or worse still, a chief minister can keep defying the central government to arrest her if the government had the gall. Lawyers too are made of the same social material.
Faulting the trend of lawyers being ‘high level professionals’, Justice Bhatt pointed out how advocates have become ‘pure professionals’. The need for conscious citizens was emphasised and the need to navigate social responsibility even by professionals was stressed. I would have been very happy if the judge was right even in the limited premise that lawyers are all now true professionals. Sometimes one gets the distinct feeling that having obtained the knowhow of the functional legal system, the beneficiaries have become a law unto themselves. The legal education system does not deal at length with sociology or with the traumas of a dynamic social order. The lawyer is trained to be a translator of the mindboggling language of the law books and often even tempted with the carrot of making as much as he can as soon as he will. There is a dearth of persons who ingrain any social nuances into the daily activity of a budding lawyer and time only help burry any accidental or congenital claims to social sensitivity. From the way we park our cars, to the manner in which we run our associations, we seem to have lost our moorings. At the cost of being isolated for stating the obvious it must be said that a good of social correction must begin at home. While Justice Bhatt gave a clarion call for innovation and imagination as important tools for the morrow, I believe that correction and introspection are far more urgent requirements at the fraternity.
A rumour was making the rounds the other day that a person was in the run for a government posting with the new government. He was told that since he was not one of those who carried the banner during the movement for a separate State, he could not ‘be accommodated’. Hopefully the rumour is just that or the figment of wild imagination. For, if it is true than the premise could be dangerous. We are not looking for slogan mongers and stone pelters, ( they have their own utility!) we are looking for trained and articulate persons who are informed not just about the word of the law but its spirit and are willing to strain their information repository to borrow from the Mahatma: wipe every tear.”
There lies the challenge, their lies the role.
By: L Ravichander