I AM 3/10 OF A LAWYER

Well, another semester zoomed pass by me and not just metaphorically. This semester had too many holidays at least way too much for our college. Thanks to our student welfare committee we got ample time on this semester to laze around and basically do nothing except for staring at ceilings and walls. Don’t worry I am not going crazy. But I think, this semester was like one of those where you get an existential crisis and you want to ask yourself, what am I doing with my life. You especially have them during exams when you look at the books and feel like tearing them apart because and as God as my witness, those books were not really helping me with anything in life.

I had three new subjects this semester, Family Law, Economics and Law and Sociology and Law. The two subjects that carried on from the previous semester were Contracts and Criminal Law but with a slight twist.

Contracts, this time, was more focused on Sale of Goods and Partnership Acts. Yes instead of studying one act properly, we read three Acts and let me tell I don’t think I know jack. I gave the exams in which I will hopefully pass, but the question is, do I know anything. *flashbacks of existential crisis*. The running joke of the semester was the term our Contracts teacher used for our Partnership teacher. He couldn;t remember her name so he called her ‘Partnership madam’ and since then that is what is her name for generations to come… “Partnership Madam”. Contracts was very boring, it literally lacked life in any form whatsoever. Not that Contracts 1 was any better, but I knew what was going on. If, in the middle of deep slumber, my teacher would ask me a question in class, I could answer it but this time, I either wanted to strangle myself. The subject was excruciatingly painful. Partnership was a whole other story in itself. I don’t know if there one single partnership class in which I have paid attention. Or my research paper in partnership. It was so damn funny and yet I was lauded for it. See that was it, there was nothing inspiring me to excel and better myself and  my efforts.

Nest was Family Law or as my teacher puts it – FAMILY is Father And Mother I Love You. When she said this, I gave on this subject and my life. At that point, I wanted to run somewhere and laugh my guts out. I mean just how can such things be conceived and then believed by people who have actually done Ph.D in their lives and it is their livelihood. I realised we almost spent 3/4 of the semester on Hindu Law and then 1/4 on Muslim Law and the others were not there in the picture at all but I guess, again the semester was quite short so maybe she couldn’t fit it in. Of course, how can I forget her impeccable pronunciation. I think if I would be speaking something like “This section should be interpreted like…” I would end up saying “This section should be interpretated”. As my spell check goes berserk telling me this is the wrong spell, I wish someone would tell my Fam teacher as well. She says it so many times in a class that it has crept into our subconscious and we end up saying it unconsciously, we need a break to take it out of our brains slowly using housebreaking implements and tools.

Then was Criminal Law. Last time Criminal Law was focussed on the IPC or the Indian Penal Code which is the substantive law and, this time, we learnt the CrPC or the procedural law. We had three, yes three, teachers. And everyone has their own teaching styles. One of our previous teachers continued hence that was a teensy bit of relief. The other two were running their own one-man shows. First the younger one who has this weird walking stance. You can imagine two springs, the ones which you wind using a key, attached to his shoulders. Those springs would release very few minutes and he would jerk his arms which would wind up the springs again and the cycle repeated itself every few minutes. This one believed in giving cases by the score. I was reading cases over Diwali imagine, Diwali! Eventually, I and my friends decided to split it up as it was simply too much. The second older one is an enigma. I think that he thinks that he knows too much and is nothing short of demigod but frankly he is nothing better than Alice in the Wonderland (my apologies if you love that story). He would come, rant about the state and then go, come next day and taunt us on our lack of knowledge of the previous class and then continue with his routine. Now who would tell him that if he would actually teach something worthwhile we would pay attention.

We also had Economics and Law.I don’t really know what the teacher taught because the entire semester either she was on a holiday or she wold assign portions to students who would have to teach it in class. We literally just read the book and went to give our exams.

Sociology! After and a half months of ‘discussing’ sociology I can tell you that I am very grateful to my first year Political science teacher. You ask why? Well had he not taught us so genuinely well last year I would have had a breakdown while trying to learn what our Socio teacher was teaching us and the joke is that the alma mater of both of them is the same. We had to learn the slides and just go and vomit it out. That is about it.

But the highlight of this semester was Virudhka 2015, the sports fest organised by NLIU Bhopal. Oh have I told you that I play volleyball. I had represented my school at various levels but this time was my college. That place has such a huge camps that my college would just fit in one corner of its grounds. But they did not give us food. very annoyed :/ We were dehydrated to our very cores. But that place was quite fun to play mainly because they had proper facilities, not like us where we have to play 9 on 9 volleyball matches on a badminton court. Oh and yes, we won a gold in volleyball and the best contingent overall. Three cheers for NLU Delhi!!!

I can’t really remember anything else that happened which was exciting and fun because well I was generally at home because of the holidays. So yeah marks will be out in a few weeks and I would become 3/10 of a lawyer.

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PATIALA HOUSE DAIRIES – PART II

My internship comes to an end tomorrow. I noticed quite a lot of this things not only about courts but also about Delhi. There are many things that you notice in a courthouse, if you have to go there every day after an exhausting journey of 1 and a half hour – yes, I take the metro- no, I do not get down at earlier stations so I don’t have to change at the junctions – yes, even then it is ONE and a HALF HOUR away. So quite a lot of interesting work but not that will interest all of you all… But the point is, many of you might wonder, real courts are very different from the courts we see in movies at least in India especially Patiala House Court. Disclaimer: The following post is just based on the court houses in and around Delhi.

Firstly, space. The last bollywood court room I saw was in Oh My God! starring Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar. The courtroom was so huge… I guess an actual courtroom of that size is something that I have only seen in the court of the Chief Justice of India i.e. in the Supreme Court of India. That one is actually quite big which huge arches, beautiful chandeliers and intricate work on the ceiling and the walls. The actual courtrooms are not any bigger than a matchbox, the witnesses are brought in the court by holding their hands like a kid, sometimes they are tried using ropes, but that is kinda it.

Second, the court rooms are not really that noisy and “Tareekh pe tareekh style”. This is not to say that that does not happen, it does but not always. Mostly lawyers just come in and ask for further dates for their cases. Interestingly, the judges do oblige them every time. Once I remember, when asking for another date the advocate told the judge, this actually happened believe you me, gave the judge a time slot in which he could give time to the matter at hand and thus wanted a date only in that period. If I remember correctly it was late August to early September. Also now that I think he did say that the client was going out of India and would in the country only during that period but still, the common people do not and should not dictate how the court works.

Third, nobody really picks up the Gita, Quran or Bible before giving their evidence in the courtroom. They actually just swear by their religion and state that they will say the truth and frankly nobody actually takes the oath seriously. It is administered by the nearest court official. This time I actually understood the meaning of ‘dasti’. The thing is that there is a Kashmiri word spelled and pronounced in the exact same way which means fast. So I used to guess the meaning as providing some document quickly. But turns out it means service by hand, things like notices, summons etc are not posted by the court to the person rather, the other party states that we will give it to them by hand.

Another very interesting thing I noticed, not related to the court but the DTC bus. Recently, I have started taking a bus from Khan Market to Patiala House which leaves me right outside the court. Takes me 5 bucks and 5 minutes, so kinda convenient. You can actually see this that the men take the seats that are reserved for women very seriously. If a woman is standing and a man is sitting on the reserved seat, they will immediately get up and offer the seat. This is not something that you see in the normal metro coaches because I guess, men have become so used to understanding the fact that women’s coach is the place where women should be.

Another interesting thing was…. God the newer buses run by the Delhi Government are so much cooler. Today I took the older DTC buses. I don’t understand why was it allowed to be a bus. all the lights were hanging out of their sockets. All you could hold to maintain your balance were straight iron circular bars running across the length of the bus. Every time the bus started after stopping at say the red light or the stop, the entire bus shook. You were so high above the ground and given the condition of the bus, I was kinda sure the bus will trip and not be able to maintain its balance.

 I will add more to the list as and when I remember, but I hope you like about this much. (the post’s idea came about thanks to The Horseman Hits Again)

PATIALA HOUSE DAIRIES – PART I

My first day at my new month long internship, at the Patiala House Court, was quite enlightening frankly. So the Patiala House Court was the residence of the Maharaja of Patiala and hence the name, eventually sold off to the Delhi Government when Privy purses were abolished in India. The Delhi government used it as their secretariat and eventually converted it to a court which is the Patiala House Court now. This conversion has caused various interesting variations in the designs of the courtrooms.

The first thing you could notice was that the acoustics were very bad, obviously because the rooms were not made to hear orators trying to save people’s lives or lands or families every day. I actually went around thinking that the rooms are very small for a royal house. Then I saw that some of the walls were false which made me realise that the actual rooms must have been split into twos or threes to accommodate so many courtrooms. But what I loved best was some rooms had fireplaces. Every time I saw a fireplace I could only think of lighting that fireplace in winters while matter are being heard. Man that would be cool!

The next thing I noticed is that this court house had signage that was even poorer than the Indian roads. I went around looking for courtroom 21 on someone’s advice, because my boss was in another district court and I had to wait till he would come, till then I was going around observing courts, I literally trudged on from room to room carrying my laptop on my back, I could not find that courtroom on my own. Everywhere the corridor split into two and I had to guess where to go. It made me feel like reading those Goosebumps novels where they give you a choice at the end of every page to choose your own ending. But when  I did find court room number 21, something happened that sent my brain into overdrive. So I went to that room at about 1:10 ish, so the judge was hearing the last matter before lunch. The attorneys presenting last left and then it was only I who was left in the courtroom in the audience. The judge asked me, which matter was I presenting… I just gave a very ambiguous response… she reiterated her question. I stated that I was an intern. If she could see into my brain, she would not actually see anything, just an all pervasive darkness and a loud howling and screeching and screaming.

You know when I first went to the Supreme Court, standing on those steps, I thought, this is where it all boils down to, the final word of law, where everyone gets justice, there is nothing beyond this. But when you come to a district court you realise wait, “The buck stops here”. These courts are a world in themselves. I remember seeing a courtroom where the lawyers and the clerk were talking among themselves, loudly, and the judge was dictating something to the stenographer. But what I really liked about this court is the fact that it seemed to be aware of an Indian’s inherent nature. They had a A4 sheet that clearly said that don’t enquire from the stenographer, because, an Indian will invariably ask the stenographer who seems the most approachable person around,the rest are either cloaked with judicial or police authorities.

Why I also feel that they are a world apart, is that the lawyers interjected the judge while he was speaking, I feared that the person would go in for Contempt of Court, but the judge just kinda…. you know…, unfazed. In one courtroom, the judge was dictating something to the stenographer and while doing so, he asked the lawyers whether the English was correct or not, in case you are interested, it was not. Though what irritated me the most was the fact that they had written everywhere that the first two rows were reserved for advocates. They reminded this to us around every corner.

Then I went on a tour of the new building, the Family court, it was nice but kinda reminded me of the Metro station in its design. On its second floor was a fast track court, it wasn’t fast at all. what I did not understand is that the lawyers, it appeared to me, were standing inside the witness box like structure. But the cherry the cake today was a centuries old question that a lawyer asked me today. So while sitting in my boss’ chamber, another lawyer came in to consult with him. He noticed me sitting there and asked if I was an intern. I answered in the affirmative. They both actually then started inquiring about my subjects. I told them. So mainly my law subjects were Contracts, Criminal Law restricted to IPC and Torts. The other lawyer asked me which one was my favourite. I told him Criminal.

Then came the question….. What is the difference between Section 299 and Section 300 of the IPC? I broke off into this explanation, pouring in all that could remember… how the awareness of the danger of your act is higher in murder and the emphasis on the act causing the death is more in Section 300 which is murder. And other stuff. But this other lawyer just said but you did not mention ‘intention’ in your explanation.When you have the intention to cause death then it is murder, if not then culpable homicide. Though I did not agree with the explanation, I did not contradict, after all he was a practicing lawyer I just wanted to explode. I talked about awareness… don’t you remember because if I restrict it to intention then what is the difference between 299 (Culpable Homicide) and Section 304 (Negligent death)… Ok wait, all of you all might not get it, sorry got carried away. But the icing was that my boss took my side and stated that my explanation was quite correct, as well… as well.

 Though all in all as I said it was quite enlightening and actually fun. 🙂