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SCBA elections: Who will you vote for? The issues and what each presidential candidate said at yesterday’s hustings

Yesterday's husting festivities
Yesterday's husting festivities

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) held the debate for the candidates for the post of President and the Hony. Secretary between 4.30 and 6.30 p.m. today at the Supreme Court Lawns.  The three election officials, Chairman Election Committee, Jaideep Gupta and the two Members, V Giri and Harin P Raval moderated the debate. 

Infrastructural issues concerning the advocates practising in the Supreme Court dominated the debate.  Issues such as better canteen facilities, extra room for women advocates, increasing the facilities in the libraries, creation of more chambers etc were touched upon by almost all the candidates.  Some candidates raised the issues of reservation for women, more in-take of women advocates as juniors by the seniors, and a campaign to elevate senior members of the Bar as Judges. 

Other issues raised were difficulties in re-filing of defect matters, allotment of chambers on merits-cum-seniority, transparency in designation of senior advocates, fixing of more time for hearing miscellaneous and fresh matters, along with regular matters, upgradation of Libraries in the Supreme Court premises, chambers for members in Appu Ghar premises, other amenities such as medical dispensary, improvement of canteens in the adjoining blocks of the Court premises, transparency in allotment of chambers and lockers for junior members of the Bar, and better wifi facilities.

While the outgoing President, Dushyant Dave, and others in the outgoing  executive who are seeking reelection for another term banked on their performance during the past one year, those opposed to them mainly sought to mobilise the discontent prevailing among some members who feel neglected and deprived of any role in the association.

After the six candidates for the one President’s post and the 10 candidates for the one post of Hony Secretary unveiled their promises to the voters, within the time allotted (8 mts each), the Election Committee asked the remaining candidates for the posts of Vice-President, Joint Secretary, Treasurer, Joint Treasurer, Senior Executive Members and Executive Members to present themselves before the voters without a speech.  A booklet, “Know Your Candidates” carrying introductory notes (in 100 words) of contesting candidates for the posts other than the President and the Hony Secretary, was distributed to the voters at the venue and has also been uploaded on the SCBA’s website.

After this, the Committee Chairman, Jaideep Gupta announced that campaign would end today, and appealed to the candidates to ask their supporters not to campaign.

The election is scheduled to be held 11 December between 9.30 AM to 4 PM in the Supreme Court premises. Results will be known for the posts of office bearers on the same day, and for the posts of Executive Members on 12 December. 

The number of voters in the election is 2327.

Presidential candidates: What they said

The candidates were given seven minutes each to convince the voters of their agenda. 

For the first time the election committee introduced the concept of 'introductory notes' wherein the candidates presented a 100-word short note about themselves. Hard copies of the note were provided to the voters.

The elections are to be held tomorrow at 10:30 am and the results are likely to be declared on the same day.

Here's our report on the debate held yesterday, in order of appearance:

Candidate no 1: Ahuja Anand Prakash

Ahuja talked mostly about his "noble mission" to help lawyers "directly or indirectly."

He wanted to enhance the dignity of lawyers so that they can win Nobel prizes.

Ahuja, like most candidates, promised getting land allocated at Pragati Maidan in order to provide chambers to "every practicing lawyer" and was particularly fixated on getting started an "International Centre for Research on Role of Lawyers for World Peace".

Candidate no 2: Alam MD Izhar

Alam talked about fulfilling "legal ethics" (if we take necessary steps) and about liking everybody.

He talked about a lack of development even in the high court and promised accommodation of the members at the 'appu ghar' area, as well as parking.

He asked the members to vote without economical, social, political and cultural considerations.

Candidate no. 3: The incumbent Dushyant Dave

Dave banked on his term as the SCBA president last year.

He seemed composed and focused on the "unparalleled" role of the SCBA in "ensuring that democracy of the country is not threatened".

He claimed that "there has never been any negativity in the bar in last one year".

Dave said that he was banking on the members and that "you are my political party and you are my leaders. I have no backing of any political party and certainly don't have the backing of the so called leaders of the bar".

He took responsibility for any faults made by his committee in the past year and appreciated the "extraordinary support of the bar" in unusual situations where they stood up for their dignity last year.

Lastly, he addressed the issue of his promise to contribute Rs 50 lakh for the welfare of the bar.

He reiterated his promise along with committing to raising Rs 10 crore in all for the purpose.

Candidate no. 4: Shivaji Munjajhirao Jhadav (current president of the SC Advocates-on-Record Association)

Jhadhav is considered to be one of the main competitors to outgoing SCBA president Dave and banked on his position as president of AOR association.

He talked about his humble beginnings when he used to run his office from his car. He spoke about Supreme Court Advocate on Record beneficiary trust, which was launched by them and other welfare schemes working irrespective of whether lawyers were AORs or not.

Jhadhav took potshots at Dave and asked him to donate his Rs 50 lakhs to the AOR trust which has been able to collect Rs 3 Crores already. 

He took credit of convincing Chief Justice of India (CJI) TS Thakur that competent advocates of the Supreme Court should be elevated as judges of the high courts.

He also promised group medical insurance for members and clerks as well as other insurance benefits and talked about some of practical problems relating to court procedures faced by lawyers which have been resolved by them and also promised improvement in the relationship between the bar and the bench.

Candidate no. 5: Brahmdev Jha

Jha stood out due to his unusual register delivery.

He started with "On a contracted deliberation and deep reflection of our longstanding ills and ailments, unfortunately suffered and undergone for a longer generation of man of allah during the ancient annals of our most respected bar association of honourable Supreme Court of India, I was for a longer time recluse in sense of estrangement from the political and social activity of the bar association."

He claimed that he was guided, goaded, inspired by some "solicitous spirit" to participate in the elections which gave him a mission "provoking me with an ardent command in order to undertake the following." He also said," the SCBA is a joint family and elections is a family matter."

He promised to be there for every member and providing chambers, a common promise from all participants. He also talked about railway reservations, providing facility to ladies of the bar and "provisions for their special health requirements" and avoiding wasteful expenditure apart from some promises similar to others.

His promise of giving pensions to old lawyers got maximum applause.

Candidate no. 6: SP Singh (former Judge of the Allahabad high court)

SP Singh seemed to have the eloquence of a seasoned politician.

He started and ended his debate with a Hindi verse.

According to him, the issue of paramount importance for which he has agitated multiple times is that there should not be interference in the judiciary by the government.

His promises included, other than providing chambers, a strong bar for the protection of the judiciary wherein he condemned intolerant attitude of judges as well, to protect the honour of advocates from attitude of administration and judges.

He also claimed that judges are giving more time to high profile cases like income tax cases but are not focused on cases related to humble petitioners from the grass root level of society,  which he wants to look into. He ended with a message for judges:

Humne daur zamana dekha hai, hum waqt pe nazrei rakhte hain, kuch majbooran kuch maslatan kaatil ko maseeha kehte hain.

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