•  •  Dark Mode

Your Interests & Preferences

I am a...

law firm lawyer
in-house company lawyer
litigation lawyer
law student
aspiring student

Website Look & Feel

 •  •  Dark Mode
Blog Layout

Save preferences

Court Witness: Giving birth to an SLP

SLP filing for dummies
SLP filing for dummies
“Follow me,” said the man with the purple hair as he walked through the open doors into the corridor awash in gloomy, fluorescent light.

The corridor narrowed as you walked further; the ceiling had been lowered artificially and the floor sloped upwards. It led into a part of the building that I had never been before - the dark belly of the beast – the Supreme Court registry. Doors proclaiming the names of higher officials in the Supreme Court registry lined the corridor, getting smaller as one looked into the distance with perhaps a proportionate decrease in rank.

I took a step in and the bright daylight I was standing in seemed to shrink behind me. The air was heavy and musty with the secrets of decades and sorrows of many good people. I hesitated but the man with the purple hair was already walking ahead in regular but ungainly steps. I took a deep breath and followed, knowing not what awaited further ahead.

In the law textbooks and the news reporting of the day you will never find more than a sentence about filing. A suit was filed. A writ petition has been filed. Nothing more. No one tells you what it is all about. Indeed how it is done is left a mystery until someone sometime comes up to you with a handful of documents, thrusts them into your surprised hands and entrusts their woes and legal case (sometimes the two are one and the same) to you.

It all began innocently enough with me. Well… in my case it was my ex-boss (then boss) who referred a client of his to me. Someone who needed to file an SLP in the Supreme Court, whom I presented the perfect model of an immature, over-eager lawyer fresh out of law school only too willing to do what the client wants. I listened, actively and passively, I took notes, I counselled, I teased out more information, I drew up a plan of action, a rough draft of the SLP, got it approved multiple times and had the papers all set to file except… I did not know how.

A kindly friend and colleague directed me to an Advocate on Record friend of his. All filing has to happen through the AORs, a cartel carefully preserved and protected by law in the guise of efficiency. My friend led me into the narrow cupboard sized chamber of the AOR. The AOR, was all smiles and welcomes, signed the papers I’d brought and collected the fee and was never heard from again. The task of actually filing and critically analysing my drafting skills went to his clerk and hitherto unobtrusive and unnoticed presence – Bakshi-ji. Just Bakshi-ji.

Everyone knew him only as Bakshi-ji. He sat on a three legged stool; a brilliant impression of one of the goblins of Gringotts (only taller) and all the mannerisms to match. You’ve probably seen him too in the Supreme Court. You’ve seen him, but you will not remember him a moment later. Just like the other clerks.

Completely unassuming, he is, as with most clerks, almost entirely part of the woodwork doing all the running around and mundane tasks that lawyer with their superior almost, brahminical air cannot be bothered to do.

Such as carrying their own files.

Clerks though, are invaluable for filing your cases. They know the Supreme Court registry better than you know the back of your hand. The ins and outs of filing, listing, service, notice, summons, affidavits, and just about everything that has to be done short of actually arguing a matter in court. Bakshi-ji is the very best, the AOR assured me, and I had no reason to doubt that. I didn’t even know where the filing counters are located in the Supreme Court (I do now, it is on right wing of the Supreme Court from the Chief’s Court, down the corridor from Court 5 in case you were wondering yourself).

Immediately Bakshi-ji cast his critical eye at my drafting work and documentation and spotted numerous defects that had me in fits of apoplexy at my own stupidity. He grinned in a slow and knowing manner as if he expected no better from a lawyer like me and proceeded to give me the low down how to cure the defects.

I raced back to the office shot out letters, re-worked drafts, made frantic phone calls and acted with the frenzy of someone who’s just been told that the Apocalypse is nigh. I was back the very next day and even Bakshi-ji seemed slightly impressed (or at least he gave me the impression that he was), took the papers and told me to come back in the evening.

Court-work for the day done, I trudged back to the cupboard chambers where Bakshi-ji sat on his stool surrounded by a fresh pile of SLPs bound in green cardboard that I had not seen before. He proudly handed me one of the files and lo and behold – it was my SLP. I might as well have held a newborn in my hands.

The real work, though, was only beginning.

Read Part 2 in the Life of an SLP: It learns to walk.

Photo by Stevew

Court Witness is an advocate of the Supreme Court of India and tweets @courtwitness1.

Court Witness’ previous postcards:

Click to show 13 comments
at your own risk
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.