Role of Lawyers in Social Transformation

“Lawyers are the foot soldiers of our Constitution.” RENNARD STRICKLAND & FRANK T. READ, The Lawyer Myth

On January 9 , 1915 at Apollo Bandar in Bombay a barrister returned to his motherland ,who would have thought than that he will lead India in one of the biggest war this country has ever seen and emerge victorious , he was no other than Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi . From early times of moderates like Motilal Nehru , Dadabhai Naoroji to extremists C Rajagopalachari , Bal Gangdhar Tilak or “Iron Man” Sardar Patel they all had their differences in opinions, thoughts and way of working but what they all had in common was they were practitioners of ‘law’. If not of the self sacrificing and dedicated efforts of these brave men how we would have won the independence we cherish.This was the first ever dynamic transformation in Indian society with many more to come.

At the dawn of independence, the parliament of independent India was the forge where a document that will guide the young nation was being crafted. It will fall on the keen legal mind of B. R. Ambedkar to formulate a constitution for the newly independent nation. The Indian Bar had a role in the Independence movement that can hardly be overstated – that the tallest leaders of the movement across the political spectrum were lawyers is ample proof. The new nation saw its first leader in Jawaharlal Nehru, and a paternal figure in M. K. Gandhi, both exemplary lawyers. Perhaps it is the consequent understanding of law and its relation to society that prompted the founding fathers to devote the energy required to form a Constitution of unprecedented magnitude in both scope and length.


Lawyer in Ludhiana

Lawyers played a central role in drafting of constitution.The proceeding clearly show the part played by the lawyers in elaborating the basic concept of secularism, democracy and egalitarianism. It was because lawyers understood the than society in reality rather than substantive term.They also introduced well known ambiguities such as the uncertainty about fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy who were primary. Even after the constitution was adopted lawyers continued to play an important role in national politics .They represented 35.3 percent , 31.4 percent, 30 percent and 26.9 percent of the first four Lok Sabha.2

A man clad in black and white attire walking briskly in a corridor enters the courtroom, eyes of the victim turns to him with hope and belief that he will provide him with the justice he deserves, for him he is no less than the angel who saved his life. Lawyers are those small pillars in a building that are required during the construction of the main pillar as to give it support towards the right direction. We did not reach where we are in a days work , laws that governs us the freedom that we have to express , right to say what desire , choose what we want to work , practice the faith that we believe in. All these rights are conferred upon us by ‘law’ of India and lawyers are the officers who work to make sure that citizens of India are not deprived of their rights.

Being lawyer is a noble and honorable profession which requires a manner and conduct to be carefully followed. In Bar Council of India rules a lawyer holds a duty to act with dignity and self-respect , to uphold the interest of client by all fair and honorable means and shall not take advantage of the confidence reposed in him by his client.A lawyer is bound to conduct himself in a manner befitting the high and honorable legal profession and if he departs from the high standard which the profession has set for itself and demands of him in professional matter, he will be liable to disciplinary actions.3

Apart from fighting cases lawyers provide their skills and knowledge to the society by doing pro bono cases and lending legal services to the poor and needy. A huge change has been brought upon by the legal aid services in India.Legal Aid implies giving free legal services to the poor and needy who cannot afford the services of a lawyer for the conduct of a case or a legal proceeding in any court, tribunal or before an authority.

Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides that State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disability. Articles 14 and 22(1) also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before law and a legal system which promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all. Legal aid strives to ensure that constitutional pledge is fulfilled in its letter and spirit and equal justice is made available to the poor, downtrodden and weaker sections of the society. The Constitutional duty to provide legal aid arises from the time the accused is produced before the Magistrate for the first time and continues whenever he is produced for remand.

In 1987 Legal Services Authorities Act was enacted to give a statutory base to legal aid programs throughout the country on a uniform pattern. This Act was finally enforced on 9th of November 1995 after certain amendments were introduced therein by the Amendment Act of 1994.

Most social evils are an outcome or creation of poverty and the misery that comes with being poor in a country like India, at the same time it also needs to be borne in mind that the judiciary no matter however committed it may be towards uplifting the cause of the poor is ultimately bound by procedural formalities which do not take into account the misery or problems of the masses. Therefore the sufferings being so may it is not possible for the legal system to remove even few of such problems. In keeping with the same view Justice Krishan Iyer asserted that poverty is a creation of unjust institutions and unjust society. Therefore in a country like India if you are poor you are ineffective socially as well as economically the only way that you can then be empowered is through radical revamping of the socio-economic structure. Such a radical change according to him could only be brought about in the form of a revolution that the legal service program only is capable of gearing. Thus the legal aid program aimed at revamping the socio-economic structure by way of removing the socially unjust institutions and creating a new order based upon the ethos of human liberty, equality and dignity of mankind.Justice Blackmun in Jackson v. Bishop says that; “The concept of seeking justice cannot be equated with the value of dollars. Money plays no role in seeking justice.”4

Various branch of studies deals with the specific study of which they are specialized for. Eg. A medical practitioner can deal only in the line of medicine, an engineer only in his limited scope of engineering but a lawyer deals with all the fields of society including science,social values,human rights, banking , Intellectual property etc. As famously said “A lawyer should know something about everything and everything about something”. Julius Stone defined ‘The lawyer’s extraversion, It is the lawyer examination of the precepts, ideas and techniques of the law in the light derived from present knowledge in discipline other than the law’. Apart from their role in legal services lawyers have equal participation in imparting of knowledge i,e, Law Schools providing legal education from the old 3 years law courses to dynamic 5 years integrated courses. Not just Bar Council of India is supreme body that regulate the course it keeps in check the quality and methods of imparting legal education. For eg. 66% of the attendance is compulsory and there is no distance learning in law because law requires practical approach, students need direct confrontation with reality as they will be the future which will decide the direction in which the legal system will take place. With practical subjects like moot court and drafting there is scope for students to develop their personal skills. Lawyers are not extra-territorial creatures they are human beings who live in the society and are affected by its whereabouts but the difference is that they have the ability , power, resources and knowledge to change it. Question arises does common man working 9 to 5 around the clock does not have the power to change the law or the conditions of the society. Yes, he has and there are examples in the history but than taking a practical approach how many have actually tried the percentage is very low. How will I change it? To whom should I complain? Why should I take all the pain? These are the questions that stops a common man but our legal system has provided a way to by which we can bring change and help those who are affected but are unable to help themselves , answer is Public Interest Litigation(PIL).

businessman signing a contract

Attorney in Ludhiana

Public-Interest Litigation is litigation for the protection of the public interest. In Indian law, Article 32 of the Indian constitution contains a tool which directly joins the public with judiciary. A PIL may be introduced in a court of law by the court itself (suo motu), rather than the aggrieved party or another third party. For the exercise of the court’s jurisdiction, it is not necessary for the victim of the violation of his or her rights to personally approach the court. In a PIL, the right to file suit is given to a member of the public by the courts through judicial activism. The member of the public may be a non-governmental organization (NGO), an institution or an individual. 5

In the case of SP Gupta vs Union of India that the Supreme Court of India defined the term Public Interest Litigation in the Indian Context.The concept of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is in consonance with the principles enshrined in Article 39A of the Constitution of India to protect and deliver prompt social justice with the help of law. Justice Bhagwati and Justice V.R, Krishna Iyer were the first to accept the PIL.The Court entertained a letter from two professors at the University of Delhi seeking enforcement of the constitutional right of inmates at a protective home in Agra who were living in inhuman and degrading conditions.

But a coin has two sides with the ability to file PIL there was a increased number of frivolous PIL. The 38th Chief Justice of India, S. H. Kapadia, has stated that substantial fines would be imposed on litigants filing frivolous PILs. His statement was widely welcomed, because the instance of frivolous PILs for pecuniary interest has increased.So necessary steps has been taken to stop its misuse.

We live in a world full of technology and gadgets, when we lose our cell phone or internet connection is hampered we feel like we have been handicapped.One know more about his distant friend what has he/she taken in breakfast but barely know the name of the person sitting next to him/her. A world were virtuality has become an integral part of reality and were there are people there are certain misadventures and to prevent those misadventures there is ‘cyber law’. It is the age where we the government is talking about digital India. With the increase in digital activities there is a hike in online frauds and scams. A recent study shows there is 50% increase in complaints of cyber crime than in 2013 to 2014. The problem does not end here along with these scams there is harassment, cyberbullying and degrading regards of human values as no one is there to keep a check.

Let us take a few examples Monika Lewinsky was the first victim of cyber world or as she herself called as ‘patient zero’, the infamous Delhi MMS scandal, Lottery fraud cases, Charity fraud and recent increase in Nigerian fraud were they make friends via facebook or through emails and then demand a brief amount of money to give you a substantial sum. Many have fallen ill to this , recent a Mumbai based education institute owner.

Engineers can provide you with better softwares so it may not happen again , Doctors will give you medicine so you may come out of your depression but who will provide you justice,who stand up for you and bring the culprit down.It is Lawyers. They will take the stand and bring notice the society what has happened and now what should be done so that the victim will recover from the injury suffered.

The Information Technology Act , 2000 is the statute that provide guidelines regarding the rules and regulations of laws prevailing in India for Cyber Crimes. Lawyers with the help of these laws help the victim as it is not possible for a common man to know all the laws and act accordingly.

When people hear the word lawyer being spoken, they usually think of an individual who goes to court everyday and stands before a judge defending the freedom of another individual. This is true in some cases; however, there are many different types of lawyers with a variety of job responsibilities and duties. No matter what type of lawyer one maybe they ultimately have an extremely important role in the lives of others. So, the lawyers have a wide range of responsibilities and duties when it comes to their profession. Their role in society is even more important as they are acting as a voice for others and a social engineer having intellectual challenges.

Lives of people are not only affected by standing in court and proving if one is innocent and guilty. They are affected even when a company takes over another, there is change in the banking rules or even there is increase in gas prices. One might not know but lawyers are not just confined to courtrooms but extended to the high profile business meetings of these Multinational Companies to the merchant selling his business to another.As their transactions are governed by law and a corporate lawyer is the one who helps them in solving out the legal paradoxes and allow them to do their business freely.
Public opinion of lawyers is that , one who will take up your time bind you into the legal system and instead of providing you with the remedy will take up all the remaining resources you have.But let me ask them this question, You can give your opinion freely and say what one wishes to say why because our constitution allows it. That constitution which was drafted by majority of lawyers headed by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. When the Bhopal Gas tragedy took place who provided legal support to the public and provided them with remedy. Justice Bhagwati developed the concept of ‘Absolute Liability’ so the accused would be held liable for those innocent deaths. In ‘Nirbhya’ case it was the lawyers who demanded for speedy justice and asked the court if not ‘Justice Delayed is Justice Denied’ to that innocent girl who was battling for life and death.
Yes, there are corrupt lawyers some who work for their personal gains and benefits but dirty work of few who lack on morality and ethics should not hide the great achievements and role of a lawyer in building a nation and developing a society which is fearless and advance. Lawyers keep in check that there is no one force which dictates the shape of nation.A recent example ‘Beef Ban’ during Jain festival Paryushan which now is being challenged in court if it is against the Right to religion. These questions help us to evolve with the changing times and helps to repeal the old law with the modern one.

The role as a lawyer is challenging and demanding. The role of lawyer is not simply to appear in court and argue passionately on the behalf of the client, but there is a multitude of background work as well as responsibilities related to this profession especially in favor of the country and not personally. A lawyers contribution is not seen in terms of calculative methods but its impact can be felt by generations to come.

A lawyer must be very careful about his attributes and behavior.As Mahatma Gandhi said –
Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive, because your words become your behavior.
Keep your behavior positive, because your behavior become your habits.
Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.
Open Your Mind, Open Your Life: A Book of Eastern Wisdom