Category: legal

BEING RULED IN A FREE STATE

The ongoing year has been saddening and have arisen this fear of living in a country I always appreciated for the fundamental rights we as a citizens have been given under the Constitution  of this so called great country. I have always been one of the foremost promoter of India knowing that what we have as a citizen of this nation is ahead of any other country in the world. The freedom of speech of all has been the most important right I have always been proud of and relished so far. Its this right that has so far made me express myself and not feel strangled in a free nation. Being an active member of the system as a lawyer I have always believed our laws are made in such a way that doesn’t just makes us free people but also gives us the sense and feel of freedom and not feel feared and scared.

When we chose non violence it was the resilience and freedom of speech that brought us the independence. The fundamental right of freedom of speech is not something they inculcated today in our constitution but it has been from the very first day. Back in the 50’s also it was thought that it is the freedom of speech which will make us a nation of above others and make us strong to accept criticism and evolve from it.

I got a message today from Nabeel (@softykid) saying that he was scared he might be also a victim one day as he is on the more.  This got me to introspect the past year and its shocking to rewind back to incidents when a businessman is arrested for a tweet on a politician’s son or a man being arrested for taking a picture of a minister and young girls being arrested for expressing their views. Where are we heading to??? Is this acceptable?

Most of these recent incidents had been contentious for the reason of an amendment to the IT Act wherein Section 66A was inserted. On a plain reading of Section 66A it sounds strangely drafted. Things have been left for the interpretation of the complainant and weirdly our enforcement agencies are not competent enough to interpret it in consonance with Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution. So if things are taken on the wordings of the Section 66A which says a mail message sent for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience to a person can lead to an imprisonment of upto 3 years with fine, how is the annoyance and inconvenience to be measured? If someone calls me a liar as I am a lawyer, it can be annoying for me, but then does my annoyance means a person be sent behind bars and ripped off his liberty and freedom? The interpretation of a Section has to be in consonance with the Constitution and nowhere violative of the basic rights and freedom provided to us under the Constitution.

I believe if the interpretation of a Section cant be done accurately and in the spirit, it is for our legislature to bring clarity to it. For me Section 66A is beyond the spirit of the Constitution and it will be a fit case for the courts to struck it down. I was reading the letter written by Justice Katju to the CM of Maharashtra and I totally agree with him that we are living in an arbitrary State where the entire system, be it the government or the opponent are hand in hand. I, at the end feel helpless that we are reaching a state of anarchy and justified violence and power. As always I still believe that we are the biggest fools living in this paradise who actually give power to these people who try to rule us in a free country. This way the time isn’t far when I will feel weak to call myself an Indian.

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NATION OF FOOLS !!

OMG!! Heard Swami Agnivesh on one of the news channels saying that if the Council of Ministers are included in the Lokpal how can the Prime Minister not be a part of it when Article 14 of the Constitution of India say every one is equal. Unbelievably the people, most of them young, were clapping on this statement. I have now started feeling I am living in a nation of FOOLS. People who are unknown about what is being said, people who have no idea who is right and who is wrong, yet they are clapping their way to their own destruction. The Prime Minister is on a different position than the council of Ministers and thats why he is not equal to the other Ministers and so I wonder what in the wildest sense did Agnivesh wanted to say. Yes I am not calling Swami now as I dont think he deserves it by misguiding the people.

The other day Prashant Bhushan said that Naxalism is the creation of the government. I mean what on earth does this have to do with corruption. Its like saying because there is corruption my we dont have rains. I am amazed at the way things are turning everyday.

Kiran Bedi saying India is Anna and Anna is India.. For me Anna maybe nothing but an imposter but who is she to say that Anna is India for me? Yes for me as they are speaking on my behalf. I wish all of them could tell me when did I or the millions others gave them the right to speak on their behalf, gave them the right to be my representative. I had voted for my representative and he is doing his job. Maybe not as he should do but me along with millions had elected them. I can be wrong in my decision but a billion people cant go wrong together. As per team Anna we are a Nation of FOOLS. Why cant they say that they are the representatives of the people who are supporting them??

I am sick of all that is happening. I feel disgusted to see all the people following the wishes of a bunch of people without even knowing what they are following. I feel ashamed that I am living in a country where the media is biased to one side and they are the one forcing the people to join a cause which is not even the real cause. Why cant the media voice the critics too? I feel cheated that the cause against corruption is being equated to the Jan Lokpal Bill and the Parliament is being held on ransom. I feel sad that our opposition is dwindling in the middle without a stand when the entire Parliamentary system under the constitution is under threat. I am as disgusted by the way this movement is going on as I am with corruption.

I dont want these bunch of people so called forming the civil society to rule me. Yes they are in ways ruling me by commanding the government which has been formed by my contribution. I am not supporting the Government or Corruption. I am against the cause of the movement which had started with Corruption and has now become a movement for Jan Lokpal Bill. I am tired of living in a FOOLS PARADISE.

Killing “We the people”

The Indian Constitution preamble
Image via Wikipedia

I had been in total support of Anna Hazare and his campaign against corruption, went to Jantar Mantar to show my support, shouted slogans – Anna tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hain. Yes I was with him till the blindfold was opened. Felt I had been with a few good men in a dark room, a room where you cant see the difference in good and bad, its all good.

Corruption, a cause which is probably the most vulnerable to us, something we have made a part of our life as we were left with no option.

I think Anna Hazare is a great man who took the courage to raise his voice in a nation which gives us the freedom to speak but has also empowered those who can shut our voice. He made us to believe that we can be one when its needed.

We are proud of being the foremost democracy in the world but to fight corruption we decided to kill the democracy we are proud of. We all know that there is a bunch of wrong people sitting on the top and ruling us, but then we are the one who made them sit there. It is these people who by good or bad, wrong or right, has taken us to a distinct position in the world. We stand in a respectable position in the world only because of our democracy. We don’t feel it but the inherent rights we get from our constitution is what makes us live comfortably.

So the agitation was to form a joint committee to draft the Jan Lokpal Bill, the base draft to be taken is the one which has been drafted by some of the agitators. The draft talks of forming a collegium consisting of noble laureates and other award winners who are Indian nationals, ex judges and of one representative of people. We are supporting a system which is non democratic and are agreeing to the judgment and integrity of a few persons who have achieved something in their field of expertise with almost no representation of people. So who are the people? Its us, ‘We the people’ is what the preamble of our constitution starts with. So we the people are those who have supported something which kills the very phrase ‘we the people’.

We agitated for public participation in the drafting of the bill. Public participation to my knowledge means participation of we the people. So it was a bunch of persons who started the agitation, we the people supported them and then was conveniently made to consent for their participation in the joint committee. None of us knew who they were before the agitation started, most of us still don’t know who they are. Yet we agreed to them representing us.

The Joint committee now has 10 people, 5 politicians and 5 representative of the civil society. 5 politicians who were elected by the mandate of more than a million Indians and 5 people who self elected themselves. So who among these 10 represent the civil society? I was thinking out of the 2 groups whom would I support if I had to. I could not think of reasons to support the 5 so called civil society representatives. To think of it, the 5 politicians sitting there are not only more capable of drafting a better bill but they also have support of more people than all of us who agitated put together. Strange they are not a representative of the civil society.

If an important bill is drafted then before being placed before the parliament it is put before the public inviting their comments and objections. These comments and objections are reviewed by the drafting committee and then incorporated. Thereafter the parliament discusses the bill and make changes and pass the final bill. After being passed by both the houses it is assented by the President and then becomes an Act. The public participation is there throughout from the drafting till it is becomes an Act, beauty of Democracy. So I fail to understand what will be benefitted by having the 5 good men in the drafting committee?

I did agitate for corruption because we deserve to live free from it, I agitated to show that we know how to come together for a cause, I agitated for my self conscience. I did not agitate to change the meaning of democracy, I did not agitate to disbelieve the decision made by a billion people, I did not agitate to kill democracy. If I had to make a committee of 5 people out of the 10 in the joint committee I would had chosen the 5 politicians as I feel they hold the consent of more people than the 5 who self elected themselves. I do support the agitation, but I don’t support the outcome of the agitation. I had thought of it to be a revolution but it turned out to be just an agitation. I know, I was fooled to be a part of something that killed ‘We the people’.

Anna Revolution!

Anna Hazare - Delhi
Image by vm2827 via Flickr

A revolution started by one man called Anna Hazare has spreaded like fire across the nation. People are lending support from all corners and supporting his endeavour of a corruption free India. I was wondering if it was a glimpse of the Jasmin Revolution spreading into India? If this revolution is different from what we have had in recent times?

The Jasmin Revolution as I had written in my earlier post was different as it had no political intent as it were the general people revolting against a tyrant government without any political involvement. The support received by Anna Hazare has been very similar to that of the Jasmin Revolution. General Citizens came out in support of the old man and the politicians were kept out of it. It was remarkable to see how Chautala and Uma Bharti were kicked out of Jantar Mantar and not allowed to meet Anna. This showed the similar nature of this revolt qua the Jasmin Revolution.

Jasmin Revolution made a strong attack also for the reason that it was being mainly supported by the youth. It was spreading more on cyberspace, people were speaking about it and supporting it in every corner of the globe.  Same is the support that Anna has garnered, more of youth support and the widespread talks and support on social media has led to Indians from all over the world standing for the cause.

I do see a striking resemblance in both the revolution and hope that it goes the long way in uprooting the corrupt and corruption.

A lot of people still don’t know what the agitation is for, what are we supporting. It is a fight against corruption, but how? We have all heard of the Jan Lokpal Bill, but what is this bill all about?

The bill drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejrival provides for a Jan Lokpal, a body which will be an Independent Body to investigate corruption cases and will have no influence of the legislature like the judiciary. The investigation will be time barred and shall be completed within one year and the trial should be completed in the next one year. So effectively the accused should be convicted within 2 years from the date of complaint.

The members of the Lokpal will be appointed by the judges, constitutional authorities and citizens. The functioning of the Lokpal will be completely transparent and any complaint against any lokpal officials will have to be investigated and decided within 2 months.

So if any government official seeks money or purposely delays the work of any citizen or if the public work is not being done efficiently and in proper quality, a complaint can be made against such government officials to the lokpal, which will in our words kick all such officers while the complainant will be protected.

Is this the solution for a corruption free India? What if the judges appointing the lokpal are corrupt? Even the citizens are corrupt as they are the one who have been a party to the rise in corruption by electing the corrupt. Who is going to vouch for the appointing authorities when corruption has reached every corner of the society? Be it the legislature, executive or the judiciary, corruption has become an inherent part of the functioning of all pillars of our democracy. I dont totally agree with the Jan Lokpal Bill, but then we need to move ahead and experiment it as there is no other way for now.

A corruption free India is like a sweet lie we all dream to be true. The Jan Lokpal Bill is a positive step towards making this lie a true reality.

I pledge my support to the fight against the corruption and for the enactment of the Jan Lokpal Bill. Do you?

LEGALLY LUXURIOUS

A year had passed being in the profession, was enjoying being a part of the esteemed and noble profession. Though got to know that there was no nobility attached to it anymore when the banks refused to offer me loans and credit cards, when no one was willing to let out a house on rent to me just for the fact that I was a lawyer. It was insane that people had generalised their thoughts towards a profession. Still for me the feeling of nobility existed when an old man told me that I was like god for him as I had saved his land from being taken away by the government on which there was the only school of the village.

One day I was asked by a senior lawyer if I was interested in doing a case in Ranchi, I was then told that I had to appear for a sitting Minister of the Government of Jharkhand and the issue was regarding his disqualification from the Member of Legislative Assembly as he had gone against his party Whip (order). The case was to be heard by the Speaker of the Jharkhand Legislative Assembly. I felt blessed that I was offered to do this case, an opportunity very few lawyers get.

So I was all in for it, had engaged a Senior Counsel from Delhi to lead me in the matter. We reached Ranchi, the matter was listed in a special court room, made for the purpose of this matter in the Legislative Assembly. The court was full of people, mostly journalists and politicians. The matter was taken up and was adjourned as we needed time to file our reply.

The matter was listed again after a month. A day before I got to know that the Senior was not in a position to go, so the show was all mine. I was sitting in the front of the court room which was hustling and bustling with the reporters and camera men. I submitter that the Senior appearing in the matter has been elevated as a Judge of the Delhi High Court so he could not be present today. I sought time to engage another Senior Counsel and said that it was my privilege to appear before the Speaker and I might be the next one in the queue for judgeship. The court room burst in laughter and people were clapping. I could not even see the Judge as I was blinded by the flash lights of the cameramen. The noise of shutter was louder than mine. The Speaker told me that he would adjourn the matter but since everyone has assembled today I should atleast place my case before the court. After about 2 hours of arguments the matter was adjourned. We got out of the courtroom and I was caught by a mob journalists, questioning me on camera. Next day I was in the headlines of all the local newspapers and channels. Was a proud moment.

The case was listed for the final hearing after a political crisis in the State. The fate of my case would had decided the formation of a new government as the numbers for the majority depended on the fate of my client. We were sure that the case would be decided against us as the Speaker who was hearing the matter belonged to the rival political party. The matter was taken up and was adjourned for 2 days. The Senior Counsel leading me had to leave for Allahabad for an urgent case. Since there was no flight from Allahabad to Ranchi and it was impossible to reach Ranchi by train on time a flight was chartered for him. The matter was vehemently argued by the Senior. The Judgment was reserved and we were on way to the airport. In the airport the Senior told me that I should join him in his flight rather than going alone. It was the icing on the cake. We were escorted on the tarmac by the pilot and the tiny 6 seater Jet was waiting for us to board. We entered the flight and was welcomed by the hostess, one for the two of us 😉 The seats were electronically controlled recliners, It was sheer luxury, though I was a bit scared on the thought of the tiny thing being safe up in the air. The cockpit was open which actually added to the fear. The flight took off and I was called by the pilot to show how they flew the plane, luckily he didnt offer me the controls. After about 2 hours of flight we reached Delhi and a Limousine was waiting to take us to the terminal. Finally reached home and to the end of luxury. The judgment was delivered after almost 6 months, though against us we had still succeed as we had managed to keep it in abeyance at the political crisis. This was one of the unforgettable experience of my professional life.

THE BLACK AND WHITE OF MY LIFE !!

I was always asked what made me become a lawyer, once when asking back why was I asked this question by everyone I was told because I am a first generation lawyer and had entered a profession dominated by the families and was passed on in inheritance. I had thought about the answer initially and didn’t really get an answer to it. So I always replied I became a lawyer because I liked wearing the black and white. Though the fact was that I did miserably bad in my class 12th boards and sat for the entrance test of a famous Law School and somehow got through it. Now after 5 years of being in the profession I realised how much I hate black and white. All the while I was in the law school I didn’t really want to be a lawyer, had always thought of using my new found legal acumen in the family tradition of business. Was always told and believed that being a Marwadi, business ran in the blood and that’s why a course in Business Management was not required. All my beliefs were defeated, I did an internship in the wee end of my Legal Education, only when I realised that I never actually got any education, that’s when I actually wanted to be a lawyer. Yes yes that’s me the confused mind, trying to discover something new all the time, and living in my false beliefs. Finally passed the law School and the world was colourful for a moment when I sent a sms to dad signing it as Advocate Kaushik Poddar. Was a proud feeling and felt like the king of the world, the feeling of being above the law, yes above the law cause they said I was now legally allowed to interpret the insane Indian Laws as I wanted. Insane cause we were told that if a man was raped then he had no legal remedy under the laws. Yes I was expecting that to happen with me and was further expecting that I would be looking for a legal remedy. So that was me after retiring from the law school.

Reached Delhi, was told it was from where the power flows. If Bombay was the financial capital, Delhi was where the power was. Power because this was where the laws were made by the Legislature and interpreted by the Judiciary. We witness it often how our so called rulers make the laws, I feel if it was left all on the parliament then most of us so called general class citizens would have not even been able to get quality education in this country. So this is where the Judiciary alias The Supreme Court of our country comes to our saving, playing a big role in efficient ruling of our country. In the time of Judicial activism practising in the Supreme Court was like being in the middle of the power play.

First day in the Supreme Court, wearing the black and white, felt good in the black suit, neck-band and the robe. Was always a fan of harry Potter and the robe did give the feeling of being in the fantasy land. The feeling stayed only till someone told me that the neck band depicted a snake’s fang. It was the symbol of a lawyer not being anyone’s friend and can bite you which could be fatal. Damnnn, it somehow shattered all the proud feeling. Back to the Supreme Court, it felt like being in Antarctica in the middle of herds of Penguins, sans the chill. I was requested by a senior if I can go to the Employees Provident Fund Appellate Tribunal to seek an adjournment on his behalf. He told me that I can mention before the court that the counsel appearing in the matter was on his legs in the Supreme Court (on his legs meant that he was standing and arguing before the court), so he could not be present before the Tribunal, as such the case maybe adjourned. Tarikh pe tarikh is what came in my mind, Sunny Deol was all I could think of, till I realised that I didn’t have a dhai kilo ka haath to break the table. So I reached the Tribunal and mine was the 2nd case in the list. The lawyer who was appearing in the case before me made exactly the same prayer what I was told to make, though his case was adjourned I could see the Judge was not too happy about it. My matter was called and I was speechless before the court. I was repeatedly asked to start my case, and after a moment of silence I spoke, “My lords, the counsel who has been appearing in the matter is suffering from viral fever, so he could not be present before the Hon’ble Court, therefore it is requested that the matter maybe adjourned for a short date”. It was only after I had said that I realised I did something wrong. The Judge spoke, “Viral fever?? Even I am suffering from Viral Fever and I am attending the court, if I can be here why can’t your lawyer be?” I honestly had no answer to it, was standing dumb, first appearance in a court and I was being royally screwed. The Judge then asked me to start the case as he would not adjourn it. All I could say quietly was ‘What the Fuck’. But after a lot of pleading the Judge told me that he would adjourn the matter but only if tell him what the case was about. So the bit of reading of the file that I had done helped me, told the court about the case in a cracking voice and the matter was finally adjourned.  Was also given a nasiyat by the Judge that I should always be prepared for the case even if I was seeking an adjournment (follow this even today). Felt as if I had conquered something, but realised I was actually raped and I had no remedy. Told the lawyer proudly that even after all the ruckus I had managed an adjournment. He gave me 500 rupees, my first income from the profession. I wrote the date and his name on it and thought I would keep this forever, still have it with me.

From that day till now, after numerous cases the cracking voice has gone, the eyes now meets the eyes of the Judge, though the feeling of conquering still remains, the black and white had started feeling hot and heavy. After being a part of the profession day and night, I met the good and ugly side of it (I can say its more ugly than the good). Had clients who touched feet and thought me to be god and had clients who said that they had killed by mistake and would pay anything to escape punishment. They say it has become a money-making business and didn’t have the nobility attached to it. Tarikh pe tarikh does exist but there is no Sunny Deol screaming and breaking the furniture in the court room (I just realised I am getting obsessed with Sunny Deol by mentioning him in all my posts). It is way more professional and refined than those in the movies, and hindi doesn’t exist in the court. Thats another irony, we being primarily a hindi speaking nation, been ruled by the English, its English which is the official language for the working of the Apex Court. What I do is interesting and has a special respect and aura attached to it, but at the end it does gets monotonous and sick. Yes sick cause I know deep in my heart that what I do is always not good. Does feel like running away from it sometimes or to do something else, but the madness of this profession pulls me back. It is like impossible to get out of it. But the restless me would find a way out if needed, but right now the exits are closed. Had heard this joke in the college, ‘arguing with a lawyer is like mud wrestling with a pig, in the end you realise the pig actually enjoys it’. So now it has also got difficult to argue with myself, never get a conclusion yet I enjoy it. Woof Woof !! 🙂