In 1927, Felix Frankfurter wrote:
“In the last analysis, the law is what the lawyers are. And the law and lawyers are what the law schools make them.”
Bhim Rao Ambedkar said:
“We must stand on our own feet and fight as best as we can for our rights. So carry on your agitation and organize your forces. Power and prestige will come to you through struggle”.
As we all know, the Bar Council of India is a statutory body that regulates and represents the Indian Bar. The Bar Council prescribes standards of professional conduct and etiquette and exercises disciplinary jurisdiction. It sets standards for legal education and grants recognition to Universities whose degree in law will serve as a qualification for students to enroll themselves as advocates after graduation. Our society expects the Bar to render professional services in the nature of legal aid, advice and advocacy, in a free and fearless manner, so as to bring about peace, prosperity and development for one and all. The judiciary can discharge its obligations in the administration of justice only with the total commitment and participation of its main component, the Bar. It would be safe to conclude that the efficiency of judicial administration largely depends on the competence of the Bar.
As you are aware, the protracted nature of litigation in the country has an adverse impact on investor sentiments. In order to assuage these concerns and as part of the Government’s continuous efforts to forge investor-friendly environment in the country, the government has initiated a number of steps, including setting up of Commercial Courts and amendments to Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. These initiatives are intrinsically linked to speeding up the dispute resolution processes both within the formal court system as well as under alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
In our freedom movement, the prominent freedom fighters like Dadabhai Naoroji, Surendranath Banerjee, Madan Mohan Malviya and Motilal Nehru, were all lawyers by profession. The eminent lawyers used their legal knowledge to save many nationalists and revolutionaries from the clutches of the British. The father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, our first Prime Minister Pt. Jawharlal Nehru, our first President and the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the First Governor General, Shri C. Rajgopalachary, and the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly Dr. B.R. Ambedkar were also eminent lawyers. Perhaps it is the understanding of law and its relation to society that prompted the founding fathers to devote the energy required to evolve our Constitution of unprecedented magnitude in both scope and length.
An Advocate is an integral part for the administration of justice. From the ancient times, the legal obligation of the Advocates to conduct the case of a poor litigant without reward, when so required by the Court, has been recognized not only in our country but also in other Countries. To ensure justice to poor and marginalized sections of the society, an Advocate is required to provide them legal assistance even when they are not in position either to adequately pay him for his services or pay him at all. Legal profession has to ensure that the rule of law is maintained and preserved.
As per information available with us, the Central Government and the State Governments have together spent on an average a sum of about Rs.2000 crore per annum during the last three years on development of judicial infrastructure. In 2014 the overall court halls available are 16,422 and now in the present scenario they are increased and now total number of court halls are 18,444 as on 31.03.2018. The residential units are also increased in 2018. In 2014, the residential units were 10,143 and now in 2018 the residential units are 15,853.
With a number of projects in hand, we are aiming at more than 20,000 court halls in the near future to match the availability with sanctioned strength in every state.
While notable progress has been made on judicial infrastructure front, the same cannot be said about availability of judicial manpower. Despite, considerable increase in the sanctioned strength of the High Courts and the District Courts in the recent past, the persistence of a large number of vacancies of judges and judicial officers is an area of concern. I would urge the High Courts to adopt a pro-active approach in selection of the suitable candidates for various judicial positions.
We are all aware that young law graduates now have a range of opportunities to choose. They can start their career by joining Bar and start practicing in Courts or join Law firms. With increasing opportunities to study and work in foreign countries, qualified lawyers can also look forward to careers in international institutions and multinational corporations. They can go for further study and become law professors. Joining the judiciary is also a good option. I do understand that many graduates would like to join corporate sector in order to ensure financial security for their families. My request to all these bright young lawyers is that once you have secured the means to live comfortably, you should consider moving towards careers in mainstream litigation i.e. practicing in Court, the judiciary and law-teaching.
So far as continuous legal education is concerned; it is the function of Bar Council of India and the State Bar Councils to impart proper training and learning to the young and working advocates. I find that the Bar Council of India has been undertaking such training programs under its continuous legal education scheme, almost every month. And it has now proposed an amendment in the Act to make such trainings for the young lawyers compulsory.
Even the All India Bar Examination conducted by the Bar Council of India is doing very well. The Government is seriously thinking to amend the Act properly for introducing the concept of the All India Bar Examination for the improvement of standard of legal profession of the country.
Pendency of the cases? Need Data if required.
Bhim Rao Ambedkar said:
“Law and order are the medicine of the body politic and when the body politic gets sick, medicine must be administered.”
One of the possible ways to reduce pendency is to encourage litigants to opt for Alternative Dispute Resolutions methods like settlement through Lok Adalat, arbitration, mediation and conciliation. Even in criminal matters, where the plea bargaining and compounding of offence is permissible under the Criminal Procedure Code, parties may be persuaded to settle through these mechanisms. Young and fresh law graduates may take lead in encouraging people at large for settlement through these methods.
In the 21st century, there is move towards globalization. Now boundaries of nations have become insignificant in the professions, trade and business. You all are aware that with the changes made by our Government in respect of Ease of Doing Business, a large number of foreign investors would be attracted towards India and invest funds in many sectors, may it be Information Technology, insurance, banking infrastructure, and even in retail sectors too. It is all because we have created a better environment and made our laws and policies investment friendly. These trans-boundary economic activities give rise to litigation also.