GOBBLE D. Gook knew that some day this would happen.
And finally it has: in the Gujarat High Court.
A HC judge, Justice Bela M. Trivedi, got so exasperated by the incompetence of a lawyer appearing before her and so shocked by his audacity and brazenness that she felt something must be done to prevent persons with no training in legal ethics and etiquette from being let loose upon courts as “advocates”.
Based on her orders, which recounted her first-hand experience, the Gujarat HC Administration has filed a suo motu PIL against the Bar Council of India inter alia seeking directions to frame rules to impart training to advocates in conducting matters before Hon’ble courts and also regarding observing decorum in court..
And a Division Bench headed by the Acting CJ Anant S. Dave has issued notice to the BCI, returnable on March 30, 2019.
While the entire exercise, though belated, seems very laudable, Gook feels that it is unfair to blame over-enthusiastic junior members of the bar alone for their alleged “incompetence”.
It is not that the Bar Council of India does not have adequate rules. It does.
The problem is that the subject of ‘Professional Ethics’ has never been given the importance it deserves in most universities in India.
Gook remembers that in his time as a student in one of the best law colleges (as it then was) in India, this subject used to be part of the ‘Jurisprudence’ paper and carried only 20 marks out of 100.
Since the questions pertaining to ‘Professional Ethics’ were always optional, everyone gladly opted out of answering the Ethics question and focused on the other questions of what was called “hard core law”! And this pattern gradually gave the harried professors a good excuse for not bothering to teach that which nobody even attempted to answer! It was a vicious circle of neglect.
It was felt that professional ethics could be imbibed in the firms and the Seniors Chambers which these bright students would join later on when they entered the noble profession.
And that is where the problem arose.
What was learnt on the job were more often than not tricks of the trade rather than ethics of the profession.
Success at the Bar can be attributed to many factors and it is anyone’s guess where “ethics” would rank as an attribute of success..and that’s what the juniors imbibed in firms and Chambers.
Gook is happy that belatedly at least this suo motu PIL has focused attention on a much neglected aspect of legal practice.
Gook hopes some good will come of it but also sounds a note of caution in this Law-merick: