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Jerome Merchant + Partners

Jerome Merchant + Partners, formerly known as P&C Legal, was started by Vishnu Jerome.
26 April 2010

Disclaimer: The characters mentioned in this post are fictional. Any resemblance to any person or thing living or dead is purely coincidental.

The translated version of the title is, 'Life at law school as seen by a cigarette, A cigarette's take on life at law school.'

I am a SUTTA (Cigarette) and I unify everyone in and around me irrespective of who they are and where they come from. I come in various shapes, forms and brands, Irrespective; I give my consumer highest possible satisfaction with no questions asked and no answers warranted. Last week, I came across three interesting people having a discussion before their exams.

Adrian Joseph is the son of a senior partner at a top tier law firm, and is pretty secure about his future. Keerthikant Chailchabilo Bhai is the son of a farmer and Bhujgan Heendeen Dukhiyare is a man who constantly worries about his future because he is a localite who has defied his family by taking up the law and has to make the name of his khaandan (family) roshan (proud) since he is a first generation lawyer.

It was 3 AM in the morning with the exam scheduled at 10 AM. All of the above three mentioned gentlemen, have reached saturation point with regard to mugging up the Takeover Code and are questioning each other on how exactly, would it benefit each of them, considering that when they do enter the outside world, they will anyway have the Code at their disposal to solve disputable issues.

Since it is so late in the night and all of them are under immense pressure, each of them searches for a Sutta (cigarette) in order to attain Moksha in Law school parlance. As it turns out so often, they’ve run out of their stock of Sutta. But, it turns out that they are in luck, Bhujgan happens to have one sutta, and it happens to be a nani (small) Gold Flake which is the cheapest available brand. Adrian looks at Bhujgan and says, ‘Ah, Sutta, My savior, Bhujgan please pass it on.’, Bhujgan takes a drag and passes it on, Adrian takes a drag and passes it on further to Keerthikant. (Here, there is an unwritten rule to be mentioned that once a sutta is lit, it has to be passed on turn by turn, especially, when exams in which there exists no hope of passing are upcoming.)

Their conversation while deriving pleasure out of my services is as follows:

Adrain, “Abbey, SEBI comes out with so many guidelines, at the end investor protection is what everything is aimed at, it makes life miserable for us only by constantly repeating the same thing in different words.’

Keerthikant affirmatively responds and says, ‘SEBI ko dosh math do, dosh dena hain toh faculty ko do, SEBI roz kuch na kuch karti rehti hain toh hamare baap ka kya jaata hain.’

(Don’t blame the SEBI. If you do want to blame someone, blame the faculty who expects us to mug this entire thing up. SEBI comes out with something all the time, what do our Dad’s have to lose?)

Bhujgan looks at both of them and says, ‘ Bhai, what are we supposed to do, neither job is secure nor LLM is secure.’

Adrain, ‘Ahh, well you see Dad’s got everything set for me, what’s the issue man, come and join my firm.’

Keerthikant, ‘ Abbey, firm virm chhod, sutta pass kar, remember it is Nani Goldflake.’

(Dude, chuck the firm nonsense, pass the sutta, it is a small Goldflake.)

Bhujgan, ‘ Ohh, my life , what I thought and what happened.’

Adrain, ‘Don’t worry, If nothing else, litigation is always there.’

Keethikant, ‘I don’t know all that,  Judiciary exam I’ll give and I’ll get a Laal Batthi (Red Light) car which signifies power.’

Bhujgan, ‘Oho, what will happen to me.’

The sutta is now finished and all of them look at each other with a question mark as to what to do now. Nearly 80 % of the syllabus is left and the time now was 3:20 AM. Then, Keerthikant directly applies the rocket principle (principle which makes you work as if your ass is on fire.)

Keerthikant, ‘Dekho….’


Bhujgan and Adrian listen intently,

Keerthikant, ‘Haan bhai, Now, in each provision which is applicable, keep putting investor protection, For minor, obviously, guardian will have to be appointed for claiming money, if shareholders resent, then automatically, write the theory of hostile takeover and come, half the marks at least you’ll get there.’

Adrian, ‘Haan and if the percentages seem very uneven, then put the takeover principle and both the dissenting and assenting opinions, faculty will get bored reading the big answer and  will give marks.’

Bhujgan, ‘Also, let’s get one thing straight; when you see the term unlisted then automatically say that the Code is not applicable. You will get full marks.’

Adrain, ‘And yes, our usual funda (fundamental), if you don’t remember the name of a case then write the facts of the question, and begin with the word, ‘In a leading case, copy the facts, and pass judgment….’

All three of them look at each other with an underlying approval that all of them will now definitely pass in the exam. Adrian discovers that he has one more Sutta left and makes it appear from an area in which only he and certain privileged people can enter into, and again looks at his comrades. They all decide to chuck the bare provisions, mug up three cases and only use those three cases in all their answers.

I in my capacity of being a Sutta had once again fulfilled my objective of satisfying my consumer and giving them requisite peace of mind.

Always remember,  ‘ Sutta is the eternal savior, it’s man's gift to mankind to ward off unnecessary worries.

(The idea and inspiration for this post was derived from my friend whom I call as the ‘Godfather’. I thank him wholeheartedly for making me do this  even when we have our exams going on.)

25 April 2010

Two things before you read on:

- The events depicted in this blog are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental.

- "The mind of man can imagine nothing which has not really existed." --Edgar Allan Poe


A few weeks ago, the final year students of my college finally got their official farewell. It was a day to remember. The whole batch came together and did something that felt magical. We now knew why every batch looked forward to giving their seniors a farewell. It gave us all a chance to put aside our differences and actually do something together. Everybody wanted to and had a role to play.


During a short break after performing a short skit, I wondered where all these people would be in a few years or decades. Some had told me they would joining the civil service, a few wanted to join litigation and most of the remaining would join firms which specialized in corporate, IPR or tax. Suddenly one of my seniors joked that he dedicated his success to his ability to cheat. Everybody laughed and cheered. It was then that I remembered what a senior, who had graduated a few years ago, told me about cheating.


Anna (as I fondly called him), always stood first throughout his academic life. Being from a family where parents were academicians, his priority was always to do well. So when he came to law school it wasn’t surprising that he was able to maintain a GPA of above 9 throughout his 5 years here. However, he never got the gold medal he was aiming for. Another student beat him by a few marks. I could see him struggle inside when his name was not called out during his graduation ceremony. He smiled but his eyes said something else.


The student who got the gold medal cheated. He was intelligent, hardworking, smart and charming. His charming ways had found him many friends who would help whenever he needed it. Legend had it that even if you put him in a room where the only two souls were the teacher and him, he would still find a way to cheat. He was so used to cheating that even if he worked hard he still needed to cheat. Whenever his memory failed, all he had to go was look at someone else’s paper or his phone. One time he was sitting in a mirrored- room and was able to ask his friend for an answer using his eyes and hands.


My University unfortunately condones cheating. While there is a 100-word policy that cheating will lead to disciplinary action, it is used occasionally. There are no available guidelines for a teacher on how to tackle cheating, his/her powers and finally the penalty for condoning cheating. Sometimes students get caught but the worst punishment has been to award them a ‘0’ and then allow them to re-write the test. The defence is predictable. The low CGPA students promise that it will never happen again and the high CGPA students state that it was a one-time offence and that their CGPA proves that they word hard. And like I mentioned, the ‘punishment’ is also predictable.


It’s fairly easy to cheat when it is institutionalized. In fact, I do not know how I would have a 8+ CGPA without cheating. I’m not as skilful as the legendary G (not his real legendary pet name) but I’m good enough. I’ve mastered copying notes and documents to my slim Samsung.  The only time I did get caught, I used a software that allows one to erase all data on a phone through the internet. When I entered the room of the examination head, all I had to do was show them that there were no notes on my phone. I have friends who will show me their paper if I forget anything. Sometimes we even make sure we have written everything possible off each other. We make sure we sit together and if the course if too big, we just divide it equally.


I honestly don’t feel I deserve to be blamed for this. The teachers keep looking outside the window. Sometimes they walk around just to smile at us. The one who try to be strict miserably fail. When there is a vigilant teacher, all I have to do is sneeze. One of friends on the opposite side will come up with an excuse giving all of us on this side enough time to figure things out. And finally, teachers don’t have the intellectual capability to understand answers which aren’t copied from their notes or the book. The few times I wrote answers on my own, I wasn’t given the marks I expected and promised never to be creative again.


Coming back to the story of Anna. He tried hard to stop the cheating and failed miserably. He talked to teachers and the Vice-Chancellor. Everybody promised him action but nothing changed. By the time he graduated, he was tired of trying. He told me that his parents told him to ignore such things. He had to work harder and the world outside would be even worse. Work hard he did but he was never able to beat legendary G. He even walked out once when a teacher just kept ignoring all the chatter during the test. He became unpopular over the years. Rumour has it that he once went to the Registrar with a list of teachers who allowed students to cheat. The list got out and he was never able to be a part of any committee ever again. The teachers he had complained against were very senior and powerful. Their way of ‘retribution’ was to use their position to punish him in their own little way. Luckily, he was already in his 4th year by then.


We live in a system which gives us conflicting perspectives. While we’re told not to cheat, nothing is done when we cheat. I can only imagine how tough it must be for people who don’t. One of my friends commented on a story of lawyer who had tried to bribe a witness. He couldn’t understand why people felt so disturbed by his actions. We all break rules. Society here was being a hypocrite.


Sometimes I try not to cheat when I think of Anna. I know that someone honest loses out every time I cheat. However, this is something they will have to deal with until my University actively discourages cheating. It isn’t our fault. The University wants us to do well and get marks. Without a CGPA of 8, most of us won’t get placed and no one wants to be responsible for that kind of a failure. I don’t feel guilty about what I do but I do get scared wondering if I’ve lost my moral compass. If I can break the rules today, what will stop me from breaking them tomorrow?

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Confessions of a chronic cheater.....

How not to be inspired.

When things go wrong.....

23 April 2010

Earlier it was the thirsty crow, now it is the fox and the grapes.

So we have the old fox of the old tales wondering in the old jungle looking for food. She can’t find any. She is hungry. She moves on and on through bushes and woods and sees a tree. A grape tree obviously.

Wonder why she never found a mango tree! It’s so boring. I mean why always a grape tree! Come on! That has been going on since the last ten generations. Why can’t the story writers add some spice.

Well (change of moods), let it remain grapes. I won’t play too much with the cultural heritage.

So there you are. She has found the grape tree and is jumping hard. But hey! Wait!

THE FOX IS A LAWYER! [Wola! Bihari Babuu brings some spice]. The fox in a lawyer's disguise! Yo Baby!

Now the fox is a lawyer, and so she is more competitive than any of the previous generation's foxes. But still she can’t get grapes. She is about to leave. But then the devil tells her, “Get the grapes! What if someone else does”?

And the fox is a lawyer. And lawyers are also little devils. And little devils ought to hear the real devil. Foxes and devils in the same leash (yes, that is what a group of foxes is called, you dumb-wit with poor vocab) listen to one another. Never mind if you didn’t get that. It requires higher verbal, critical reasoning and perceptual skills than most of you possess.

So she jumps harder. And wola! She gets the grapes. But the GRAPES ARE SOUR. Yes again! I am preserver of the cultural heritage. If you wanna get sweet grapes go to a super market. Don’t crib.

‘Yikes!’ the fox exclaims. She doesn’t like sour grapes. You like kya? Then why did you buy sweet grapes from the super market? Ha!

But the fox still eats the grapes lest someone else has them. After all, the fox is a LAWYER!

The fox eats the sour grapes and is going back to her hole when her stomach gives a troubling sound. She is ill. She goes to the doc and the doc says, “You are ill”.

The docs and the lawyers generally tell us what we know, but because people are fearful, they go to the lawyers and doctors. Otherwise, the value addition is nil. Apologies for the digression.

Now, the fox is ill. The doc says it will take 3 days to heal and 30k rupees. The fox is a lawyer, you remember.

She says to herself, “Am presently framing a contract for a liquor manufacturer company. I’ll tell them that I tasted the grapes to get a practical experience of the wine making. And add the days I spend in the hospital and the money I spend for the illness to their bill”. Hehehehe.

The fox is happy about this. End of the story. Did you like it?


PS- The billable hour is such an anti-client, anti-fairness concept that it will soon be gone. Then you devils will run for cover. Prepare for change. Technology and supermarket lawyering will soon kill the legal profession! Hahahaha.

PS 2- If you think my blog is not about law, read this. How white roads should be provided under article 21 of the Constitution. And FYI, I have cited a case here. Don’t make random allegations.

21 April 2010

I ran into an extremely worried Indian trainee in the corridor the other day. The new QLTT regulations had her in a tizzy. What might make her panic so, I wondered while she rattled and I hmmmed. Or were her dilated pupils and sweaty palms symptoms of excitement?

I didn’t quite understand - surely if one were to list life’s most non-enjoyable activities examinations would outrank enemas. After spending several billable hours in contemplation, I reached the conclusion that I had witnessed the odd combination of terror and exhilaration. Although I am no doctor, it’s easy to diagnose her as suffering from the Great Indian Examination Sickness.

Reasons for this disease vary from the firm belief that parental love will evaporate with low marks to the threat of cable TV/telephonic privileges being withdrawn if the highest rank in class is not maintained. The disease takes an even more virulent form in lawyers (and prospective lawyers) as they are inherently competitive beings. What better way of proving that you are the human race’s big evolutionary hope than a piece of paper with a meaningful number/letter on it? 

The downside, however, is that success in examinations often turns perfectly nice chaps into nerds because success is considered fashionable. I, however, can proudly say that anti-cool has always been my thing. Despite spending more than a decade and a half in this very system, I refused to be tainted by it. I achieved this impossible feat by remaining staunchly average at exams.

Here’s a recap of my experiments with exams.

The Law Entrance Exam

Today, the law entrance exams are big business- the pimply teenager is thrust into the murky world of coaching classes, guide books and general knowledge manuals straight after class X.

In my time, law was still seen as an idler’s career and most law schools were still in the process of being assembled. My preparation for the entrance exam consisted of the occasional half-hearted attempt to study after the board exams but what geek hits the books when his friends are headed to Goa? For most of the actual exam I admired the shapely head of the girl sitting in front of me and tried to determine whether she was cute. Finally, managing to ignore the raging hormones for the few minutes left in the examination, I hastily blackened some squares (or were they circles?). Walking out, I was confident I would be going to study journalism in Mumbai. (Incidentally, the girl was quite pretty. More about her in a later post though.)

Then, one hot midsummer’s day, the postman brought me a letter which conveyed the rather startling news that I had made it into the best law school in country. Surely someone had made a mistake?

Law School Exams

Thus, opposed to the well-informed law students of today, I arrived in law school not knowing what to expect really. What I uncovered was intriguing.

Back in the day, law school was neatly divided into three kinds of students- the geniuses, the muggers, and others who were devoted to the worship of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. Being an amiable and versatile bloke, I hobnobbed with all three sections with some success. However, I soon discovered, however, that I did not have much aptitude for mugging nor did I qualify for MENSA membership. This left me with the option of tripping on Zeppelin and acid while studying criminal law (as sex was in short supply back then), which did not appeal greatly to me either. As a result, quite early on in the game, I set my sights on a distinctly middling law school career.

To this end, I evolved the following simple preparation mantra (which should be followed by all who wish to enjoy a non-remarkable existence in law school):

  1. Declare all the endless, mindless lectures a waste of precious time. Test the strength of friendship by asking acquaintances to answer your attendance. This should be relatively trouble-free since most professors won’t be aware of your existence.
  2. If you venture into lectures by mistake, be environmentally friendly- do not write notes (photocopy instead, its far better for the law school micro-economy).
  3. Beg, borrow or steal projects. When this does not work, plagiarise shamelessly from the internet.
  4. Do not drink coffee, smoke cigarettes instead. You’ll find chicks dig puffers.
  5. Ensure you eat healthy, so stock up on the Top Ramen and Maggi.
  6. Do not waste time studying. You know all the questions are going to be from the pages the photocopy guy missed.
  7. Read the no-hopers bible Five Point Someone the night before the exams and assure yourself that all will be well.

While this mantra ensured I did not reach dizzying heights of success, I was cautious enough to safeguard against the pitfalls of failure. Here's a simple five step plan to this end:

  1. Rest a lot before, during and after exams to stimulate your creative brain.
  2. Use fancy English, long sentences, modifying verbs, complex vocabulary, high abstraction and generally be insensitive to anyone reading your answers.
  3. Use different coloured pens to underline and decorate your paper like a five year old. I even tried colour pencils once.
  4. Manufacture case names with aplomb and tailor fabricated facts to your answers.
  5. Whenever in doubt, quote G. P. Woedhoseu as an eminent jurist repeatedly.

In time, I discovered that even the most erudite professor had little clue about what I put down and since they could not quite fathom whether I was a whiz kid or a complete duffer, they played it safe by awarding me average marks.

My method was an unqualified hit.

Eventually, armed with a five-year law degree and a job at the London firm of Colby, Hewitt and Richards LLP, I truly believed I had finally got the examination monkey off my back. But this was too good to last.


A year and a half after I had celebrated my last exam with shots of tequila chased by shots of tequila, I was informed by Colby, Hewitt and Richard’s training coordinator that I was not quite done- the QLTT had reared its ugly head.

Certain elements would have you believe this is the devil’s own device to keep Indian lawyers out of the UK market. However, the chief lesson the QLTT taught me was that examination instructions are not all superfluous. If you spend several hours preparing detailed cheat-chits the night before, discovering at the venue that the QLTT is an open book exam isn’t ideal. Naturally, you have not carried any of your books either.

Therefore, in passing the QLTT on the basis of such more-or-less illegible chits, I discovered that this examination is designed to ensure even the most dim-witted foreign lawyers pass with flying colours. Also, I surmise from a certain Writ Petition that demonises the exam that some individuals have clearly read way too many John Grisham novels, where lawyers get famous at the tender age of (about) 30.


 I ran into the Indian trainee again at lunch today.

 We exchanged pleasantries. Predictably, she steered the conversation to her upcoming test. “But Bob, what if I fail the QLTT?”, she asked sincerely for the umpteenth time.

 Here we go again.


21 April 2010

Offshore rigAmarchand Mangaldas, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Talwar Thakore & Associates and its best friend Linklaters are advising India's second largest power sector company Essar Energy in its plans to raise $2.5bn (Rs 11,000 crores) in a maiden listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

21 April 2010

It happened in the middle of a particularly stressful assignment. There I was, sitting at my laptop, at the desolate hour of 2.20 AM, when I decided.

Enough. Nyet. Nimph. Nope. No More. I’d had it.

And before I knew it …. I was …..

Composing Poetry. 


Yes, you read that right.

I was spewing down line upon line of blank verse in the document where my taxation case comment was being typed out.

And that’s how it started. My inner poet awoke, and has refused to die out since then. While this is all very well, I’ve been compelled to find out more about this strange condition. Was there a nexus between law and poetry I wondered  - and set out on some research.

The results were …. surprising.  Starting with our own courts – 300 plus cite Tagore’s poetry to supplement their judgments – right down to the more adventurous US courts featuring a wealth of judgments with definitive portions composed as poetry.  Sample this verse  by a member of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, about a premarital contract gone awry :


Conrad Busch filed a timely appeal,
Trying to avoid a premarital deal
Which says appellee need not pay him support,
He brings his case, properly, before this Court.
They wanted to marry, their lives to enhance,
Not for the dollars--it was for romance.
When they said "I do," had their wedding day kiss,
It was not about money--only marital bliss.
 But a deal's a deal, if fairly undertaken,
And we find disclosure was fair and unshaken.
Appellant may shun that made once upon a time,
But his appeal must fail, lacking reason (if not rhyme).

The propriety of such acts of verbal gymnastics in the traditionally ”solemn”  realm of court judgments has been the focus of debate. Criticism comes from quarters that find this an exercise which may trivialize the parties and decision itself. The supporting arguments  centre around how  such tactics often tend expand a judgment’s appeal, and audience.  Further, consider how it might stand for the poet-judge himself : the way a poem might break the monotony of legal writing, the manner in which the tight-knit structure of verse would reduce much of the rambling that has became the unfortunate stamp of legal writing.   

The U.S. Courts don’t stop at conventional poetry either : a large field of judgments even has them taking recourse to  song lyrics. Bob Dylan for instance,  manages citations in as many as 26 judicial opinions, while Simon and Garfunkel manage a  tally of 10.

And finally, we have (drumbeats) : the poet-lawyer !   The precision and sense of a good legal argument it seems is not unlike a good poem – quick, irrefutable and pressured by precedent.  As Tim Nolan, a law firm partner moonlighting as a poet notes : “Lawyers cite to state and federal appellate courts. Poets use the precedent of Walt Whitman or Rainer Maria Rilke. The mind -- sorting through history, memory, emotion, personal experience -- ought to inform both poetry and the practice of law. “

Famous poets who were also lawyers ? We have E.E.Cummings, Wallace Stevens, Goethe and Schiller to name a few. And it works the other way round too : many  poets have worked the theme of law into their poetry -  Chaucer, Shakespeare, Pope, Shelley – the list goes on.


It made me think, all of this. About how we often necessarily perceive the law has to be –  of structured-to-perfection briefs, of crisp black robes, of over-drafted statutes, of staid legal writing.

And then we have verse – blank verse, rhyming verse, transcribed-from music verse –  which has its haunting innate power.

I like the thought that the two can intersect. I like the idea  that lawyers can actually be poets, not just an occasional rhyming  couplet here and there. And I like the potential that legal writing has when coupled with the power of verse – the right verse, that is. This of course throws up its own set of questions : poetry itself is so subjective, one man’s Eliot is another man’s Klingon. Context is essential for verse to retain its power : I hark back to those 300 plus Tagore-citing-Indian-Court judgments that tend to arbitrarily throw in a profound-sounding line or two from the man just for a flourish.

At any rate, to end, I’ll leave you with my own composition, from that strange first night of inspiration :


“We need to talk”

No. We don’t.

I don’t need to hear you say

“Sure, but -“

“Yes, however –“

This is fine, really.


“We need to talk”

Not really.

I didn’t, I was happy all along

Really, dapper, fine.

We’re good.


“We need to talk”

Why though !

I’ve said the right things haven’t I ?

Did it by the book

Sealed the deal

So really, a little less conversation ?


“But we do”

Fine, let’s talk.

Can I put in a few good words for myself though ?

Not lavish praise mind you

Just the standard recommendation letter



I help you make me a better person

I want to be ridiculous. With you. Around you. About you.

I want to be relevant to you

Learn a language (to converse with you in more ways than one)

Learn to let go (so I can hold on to you that bit more)

Learn you



See, friend.

If I see you better than you see yourself

That makes your life simpler

I’ll give you the answers before you ask the questions

And when that’s not good enough

I’ll give you the right questions.



And if I see you better than you see yourself

Then I have known you

I have known the joy of unbroken conversation

I have known the joy of conversation broken by a kiss

And a kiss broken by sleep where I dreamt of conversation with you

I have known you




So let’s talk then

And really, say what you’d like to say

And even if you say things that hurt

Its your voice.

And I could listen to it for ever.



That’s it then

“So now then, we can talk.

And since you’ve monologued on a bit

I suppose I’m entitled to my own little piece

Here, then, friend.”


Go ahead …

“I see why you might be a safe bet

I see why you may be right

And I know, I’ve held you

You’ve kept me warm, through the night”


Yes , and –

“And again you’re a safe bet. You’re nice.

You’re what makes sense.

You’re what should be right”


Here it comes …

“And yet. And though.

Safe may be good, and safe may be right

And yes, safe will get me through the night.

“But can’t you see, its got to be a bit wrong

Not becalmed seas

I need a dash – a hint- of a storm

You’re great, I’ll give you that

And yet ! – there … I just said that

You’ll keep me happy, and you’ll keep me well

And yet, you’ll never be enough

Just a decent bet”

20 April 2010

cinema_seats-by_Looking-GlassIntellectual property lawyers have criticised provisions of the Copyright Amendment Bill 2010, which proposes to modernise the Copyright Act 1957 and was introduced in the Upper House by the Union Government yesterday.

19 April 2010

Two things before you read on:

- The events depicted in this blog are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental.

- "The mind of man can imagine nothing which has not really existed." --Edgar Allan Poe

In 2006, when I was able to score 89% in my 12th boards, I was relieved. I could finally choose what I wanted to study and I chose the law. There was no second option for me. By June I had the choice of joining three top Universities in the country. I chose the one furthest away from home.

Being away from home, allowed me to discover the world from a totally different perspective. At home, I was conditioned how to see the world. Here, there was no one to tell me how to interpret what I saw. I could see sin and call it a saintly. I could see it rain and still walk like it was summer. What one can do with freedom is absolutely magical.

When I entered law school, I did not know what I would be doing. There really was no one to tell me. I was the only child and both my parents work in the R&D department of a private company. They had very few friends who could me termed as lawyers. So with the freedom I had suddenly come to earn, came the wrath of ignorance. In my search to know what I wanted to do with my life, I heard just one word: Corporate.

Everybody was doing corporate law. It was paradise and everybody wanted to go there. My older friends confessed they really knew nothing else. It's what they'd been told and they were giving me the same advice. Everyone was talking about it and soon it was written all over the sky. The messiah had spoken to us. We all knew the holy offices. There was Amarchand, AZB and luthra. Some of us knew a few more names and we were considered to be rockstars.

After nearly five internships with different law firms, I knew this wasn't my calling. Coming in at nine in the morning and sitting on a chair till eleven in the night was not why I chose to study the law. It was only after this that I realised that there were so many other avenues that I was yet to explore or even hear about.

It wasn't just my picture that had broken. Even my seniors were having their pictures repainted. One had quit and joined a litigator. He had taken a pay cut of nearly eighty percent. It was for the better, he confided in me. Then there was an associate I knew from my first internship, who has now joined an international think tank. My cousin who had completed her law degree a few years before I joined, quit her corporate job in a company and started an NGO.

There are many successful corporate lawyers. And I know they love their work. However, it isn't for everyone. The problem is that when we enter law school, we don't hear anything other than joining a law firm. Some of us were luckier and got better advice. One of my friends got to know about opportunities for lawyers in international NGOs and interned with many of them from the beginning. Another did a corporate internship and then stuck to interning with lawyers. 

Law Schools need to provide students with career counselors. Someone who can tell us about the wider opportunities that await us. We need to provide students with more exposure. One of the ways to do that would be invite speakers from varied backgrounds. Balanced career advice will help people choose a job profile which suits their interests rather than what is in fashion. The internship office often complains that there are too many applicants for the top law firms. Many settle for lesser and sometimes don't intern because they don't get into a firm.

It is easy to get lost in the crowd but ten years from now, I know we'll regret the time we wasted not doing what we love. It's time we took a wider look at the world.

See John2010's other blogs:

8 disturbing signs that our elected representatives have forgotten us.

My Facebook Feed

How comrade whistle blower lost his ethical virginity

The PM on legal education: What he said and did not say.

Dear Prudence: ....... Litigation is really interesting but ........?

The 26/11 Judgement fails the maturity test and how we can still salvage justice.

Confessions of a chronic cheater.....

How not to be inspired.

When things go wrong.....

17 April 2010

Two things before you read on:

- The events depicted in this blog are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental.

- "The mind of man can imagine nothing which has not really existed." --Edgar Allan Poe

Do law schools need to employ psychologists? During five years of law school, the students go through a lot. Apart from relationships,  they are affected by their peers, teachers and family.


It was in my third year of law school when I realised that I needed counseling. A string of bad relationships had left me wounded. I was having mood swings and had isolated myself. One day while walking to the library, I sighed and called up my mother and told I wanted to meet a Psychologist. A week passed and no word from my parents on the topic. Finally, after another week of frustration, I spoke to my father. My mother hadn't had the courage to tell him what I had told her.  I later found out that she just couldn't accept that her child would need the help of a doctor. After a week of telling my father, I was on my way to meet a doctor. 


Slowly things started getting better. It's been a year now and I'm still on my medication. Apart from making me better, it gave me the courage to talk about the issue with other people in my University. I started to find out it wasn't just me. There were at least ten other people from my batch who were on medication. Its a secret for most of us because once you tell people you're visiting a psychologist, they think you're being strapped onto a chair with electrical wires connected to your body. Luckily, its a much simpler process and none of the people I know had to visit shutter island.


When I was in first year, we had a psychology teacher who was very passionate.  I got to know her well during the one semester I spent being taught by her. She told me how over four years she had taught here, she had seen students desperate for help. Those fights we ignored, the suicide attempts we never spoke about and pictures on facebook of students smoking up were the signs. When she went to speak to the Vice-Chancellor, he told her that he didn't want the University intruding into the personal space of students. It was the duty of the parents to see that their children were up to better things. When we got a new Vice-Chancellor, she went again. This time she was told that she should stop getting worrying about such issues. There were more pressing issues.


It wasn't the money. It wasn't the lack of psychologists. The administration wasn't willing to walk into new territory. Like my mother, they didn't want to talk about the issue.  My Professor chuckled and told me this was the greatest possible sign that we were now an industry (irrespective of what the Courts thought). This was where they manufactured us; defective at times.


If you're city runs out of alcohol or drugs, visit my hostel. On this floor, you can find smokes, weed and alcohol. I started drinking in my first year and it's been a year since I started smoking. The reason I began drinking was because my hopes of a different life here broke after a few months. It began with beer but by now I've tried every possible combination of alcohol. I've been at parties where everything was mixed just to see what they could do to our bodies. The smoking was because I couldn't keep up in class. The medicines made me sleepy. I had seen how my friends would smoke a lot before their exams.  It helped them tackle the pressure and remember things. And help it did.


I was ashamed of myself in the beginning. I was spending my parent's hard earned money on abusing my body. This reminds of a short analogy from Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. It's the rabbit analogy - All mortals are born at the very tip of the rabbit's fine hairs but as the grow older, they work themselves ever deeper into the fur. My thoughts about my shameful behaviour got lost over the years. I no longer thought twice when I was buying alcohol or Marlboro cigarettes.


We keep talking about how we need to be innovative as a system. Here is a chance. We have the option of creating a quality life for these students. I don't think I can quit drinking or smoking now. Maybe if I had someone to talk to in the beginning, things might have been different. I might not have gone into depression for six whole months. I wouldn't have started losing my grades. I wouldn't have had to make that call to my mother. My father wouldn't spent sleepless nights worrying about what was wrong with his son.


I'm not blaming all my actions on my University. The call for psychologists is not even a new idea. However, it needs serious consideration. Life is getting tougher here and we could all use some help.

See John2010's other blogs:

8 disturbing signs that our elected representatives have forgotten us.

My Facebook Feed

How comrade whistle blower lost his ethical virginity

The PM on legal education: What he said and did not say.

Dear Prudence: ....... Litigation is really interesting but ........?

The 26/11 Judgement fails the maturity test and how we can still salvage justice.

Confessions of a chronic cheater.....

How not to be inspired.

When things go wrong.....

16 April 2010



 The first one dates back to the first date of hearing of the landmark decision of Kesavananda Bharati by the Hon'ble Supreme Court.


The legendary, Mr. Palkhiwala, who then was a young lawyer rose to argue the matter before the largest ever constituted Bench in the Supreme Court. Since thirteen Judges started shooting questions from one end to the other, Mr. Palkhiwala’s train of though was disturbed while he spent most of the first day answering the questions from the Bench and was rather perturbed.

He approached the giant C K Daphtary (fondly called CK), who was also appearing in the matter. CK was already aware of the manner in which the proceedings went on and is believed to have encouraged Palkhiwala to prepare and get ready for arguments the next morning and assured him uninterrupted audience.


The next morning, as the Bench assembled, CK got up and asked for an audience. Since he was a doyen and one of the most senior persons at the Bar, it was easier for him to seek audience.

CK is believed to have said “My Lords, yesterday, a young girl accompanied her father to this Hon’ble Court to witness the proceedings of what My Lords would be a landmark judgment of this Court for years ahead. The Judges were curious and asked him about the relevance of such a visit to the court’s proceedings.

CK continued, “and after the day’s session, the young girl asked her father “who was the young man trying to interrupt the thirteen well dressed gentlemen?”

The Court, it is believed to have given uninterrupted audience to Mr. Palkhiwala to complete his arguments and the rest as well know is reported in AIR 1973 SC 1461.


Legends of CK’s wit is/was famous.

Fali Nariman recalls one as a student of the Government Law College in Bombay, where he saw Chagla , J preside in the constitutional challenge to the Bombay Prohibition Act -- a case which excited great attention. The courtroom was packed to over-flowing on almost every single day of the hearing which lasted two weeks. He remembers seeing there for the first time C.K, the state's advocate-general, who was ably defending the case on behalf of the government. When Chagla asked him in the course of arguments about the nature of the intoxicants which were declared prohibited under the Act. Daphtary described them and, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, added: ``And then, My Lords, there are substances other than liquid refreshments which also intoxicate -- and power is one of them''.

Please see http://www.expressindia.com/news/ie/daily/20001130/ied30029.html for the whole of Fali’s article.

 And then ofocurse the famous remark “A Republic without a PUB is a mere RELIC”

 One of the stories which reached our generation is where CK was waiting in the corridor of the Bombay High Court waiting for his matter to reach the Board. His friends were getting anxious since they had planned to visit the nearby Brabourne Stadium to witness a crucial India England test.(these were the times before TV )

They asked CK how long he would take. CK is believed to have said “I will take two minutes but I don’t know about him”


In another case, CK was arguing some transporters’ case before Justice Hidayatullah. Since the Hon’ble Judge was aware of CK’s penchant for wit, he was rather cautious, but at one point of time during the hearing, the Judge is believed to have remarked “Mr. Daphtary, buses run on permits” and CK was quick to reply “but My Lord, so far as in know , buses run on fuel.”


“When CK and his wife celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary at which friends and admirers were invited. After the evening became convi-vial we all called for a speech. CK, with a chuckle, said, ``You know, Cicily has been my wife for fifty long years. She has been a good wife but in a married life of thislength I must frankly confess that the first forty-nine years have been themost difficult''. Glares from Cicily” Please see http://www.indianexpress.com/ie/daily/20000331/ied31070.html for the whole article.


In another matter, the great SS Ray was arguing his matter before the Court and apparently he was out of sail for a while. His instructing counsel was briefing him while the tall counsel kept on pulling his Senior’s long sleeves. (Believed to be his habit in moments of anxiety).The Court, losing its patience, asked “What are you doing Mr. Ray?”

Quick came the reply, “Trying to make both ends meet My Lords”.


Sudden bursts of laughter spread in the Court room completely changing both the mood of the Court and the Courtroom while Sen resumed control over his arguments.


Another legend, Mr.Ashok Sen. His legacy is equally amazing, if not more. Sen’s rare acclaim, among others, is being part of the Nehru Cabinet and continue till Rajiv Gandhi’s  until he resigned in 1987 after his party's debacle in state elections in West Bengal.

Barrister Sen was believed to be so sought after that there are legends of him being auctioned at the airport. He would fly to the highest bidder’s destination.


There is also a tale of a young Calcutta Advocate who fixed up a conference with him in Delhi at 10 pm. His IA flight was delayed and he could reach Sen’s residence only at 12 midnight. He had to wait for his turn till 4 am. He was astonished to find Sen immaculately dressed at 9.30 am in the Supreme Court as if he had straight 8 hours sleep while the young Advoacte was having a tough time keeping his eyes open.


There is a tale of another solicitor evincing Sen’s Eidetic memory.

According to him, he once visited Sen for an opinion in a matter pending before the High Court. He was not in a position to afford his appearance and thus simply wanted his opinion on the issues involved and the proposed line of argument. Sen opined.


When the matter finally cane up to the Supreme Court around 5 years later, he went to Sen again, this time to brief him for appearance in the matter. Sen read the impugned order and remarked that two points which he had mentioned in so and so paragraphs of his opinion were not argued before the High Court and that according to him was the reason he believed they were before the Supreme Court.


The Solicitor, in all his confidence, believed that he had argued all the points identified by Sen but was dumbstruck when Sen’s trusted Clerk fished out the opinion rendered years ago and the identified paragraphs were the just as Sen had pointed out.


In his last few practicing years, Sen was brief by a Senior Colleague of mine who tells us a story of how they went to him because according to them the issue involved was res integra. Sen surprised them by saying that the issue was not res integra.. nd much to their disbelief, pulled out a commonwealth Court precedent of the Australian Supreme Court passed a few months resolving the exact same issue.He is known to have possessed the largest private law library.



Another colleague told a tale where Sen was at pains to convince the Court regarding the legislative intent behind certain a certain provision. After a lot of deliberation, the Judges asked Sen as to how could he be so confident regarding the interpretation and the legislative intent, when Sen is believed to have said “Cause My Lords, I was the one who drafted it”.



Many may say that this is nothing but nostalgia but sledging , personal attacks and most commonly among others , shouting down the opposition appears to be the order of the day in High Courts and the Supreme Court, is not unaffected by such decibel duels. The kind of gesture mentioned above from a senior member of the Bar to a junior is almost unheard of in today’s times.

 A friend of mine suggested a meter recording the decibel level in court so that Advocates exceeding the same in riotous passion could be promptly brought back to their civilized senses. Another one said that in that case, all we would hear continually is the meter and neither the Judge nor the Advocates.


All the above incidents are stories which have essentially travelled down the corridors and /or lighter moments shared by the legal luminaries with their juniors/client and the author is just passing them on conscious  about the possible inconsistencies and inaccuracies and wishes to be corrected where gone awry and pardoned for his pitfalls.



16 April 2010

A very long time ago in a land very nearby, a conversation between an internship committee coordinator and prospective non-profit organizations willing to take interns went something like this:

Internship Coordinator: Hello, Bachche chahiye, Bachche?
(Hello, do you want/require children at your place?)
Non Profit Organisation Internship Coordinator: Kya aap ananthashram se bol rahe hain?
(Are you speaking from an orphanage?)

Thankfully, the internship coordinator over time got changed.  But at the same time, this conversation reflects the prevailing situation of a shortage of internship opportunities vis a vis the number of people applying.

The situation is something like a herd of cows and buffaloes all being stockpiled together in order to make sure the milch cows get selected and all the rest are sent to the butcher house. Over here, the stockpile is the large number of students in search of internships, the milch cows refer to people with merit or jugaad or a combination of both and the butcher house refers to the world at large which can’t stop pitying the situation of the people who don’t get an internship.

How do you get an internship? And what exactly do you need to get there? These questions have often been elusive but have always been answered ‘seemingly’ convincingly through a variety of articles, posts and news items on building the perfect Curriculum Vitae in order to secure a good internship.

Everything seems to be picture perfect and everyone thinks that internships can be obtained by following tips given to make an overall development of the Curriculum Vitae. If it was that easy, then en masse rejection mails wouldn’t be a common phenomenon most law students would have to face.  Internships primarily happen due to the following reasons:

a)Jugaad- Please refer to my previous post on Jugaad (//www.legallyindia.com/643-jugaad )for an elaborate explanation i.e. Res Ipsa Loquitor.
b)Merit- When I mean merit; I mean for instance, Amarchand and other top tier firms ask only for the top ten CV’s and the matter ends there.
c)Combination of Jugaad and Merit- Jugaad and merit is probably the deadliest combination anybody could utilise in order to get in anywhere they want.
d)Chance encounters- When the heavens bestow their blessings upon you, a chance encounter at a conference, a seminar, and the courts or on any other occasion along with you making an impression on the person at the helm of affairs can make you land up in an internship.
e)Apply early- Again, this is a very subjective, how early to apply and when to apply, are things which depend on the facts and circumstances of that particular internship application.

While prima facie, it may seem that I have made internships appear like an elusive opportunity which can never come by. Let me give a fact situation to clarify my stand on this situation, a law student’s CV is sent to a Tier II firm and is rejected point blank despite it having the ‘complete’ blend of marks, paper presentations, articles, moots et al. Another student’s CV is accepted despite him having lower marks, fewer paper presentations, no articles and no moots.  A question which again arises here as to why the CV of the former got rejected and the latter one’s got accepted. The law student again sends his CV to a Tier I firm, again ending up with a rejection mail. The law student then realizes that Jugaad is the only way out and he uses it accordingly. Are there any answers as to why this student’s CV got rejected in both the Tier I and Tier II firms?

More often then not, no reasons are given, no explanations warranted and no improvements or suggestions are recommended when CV’s for internships are rejected. This makes law students for the most part rely on secondary sources of information and hearsay snippets to build up their CV’s. While it is true, that the firm/organization/lawyer in question is not obligated to state why a particular CV was rejected, but at the same time, where and more importantly, how does the student know where he was lacking or what did he do wrong while presenting his CV. 

I don’t mean to sound like a revolutionary over here, but if law students and prospective internship places/recruiters can interact with each other in a more healthy manner and can have an interface where they can ask queries which makes sure that both parties get exactly what they want, something like Legallyindia, for instance. It would bring a lot of clarity to the system. The divide has to break so that interns who may be potential prospective employees get to know exactly what their prospective employers want at the very beginning itself.

To conclude, when was the last time a law student called up the HRD cell of any firm/organization/lawyer and asked them directly, ‘Boss, where exactly was my CV lacking, can you please tell me?’


15 April 2010

NALSAR, like any other  law school worth its salt, comes with its own bundle of ridiculous neuroses. What would be special about a place where the machinery gears towards making things convenient for you ?

Of course, there's inconvenience, and then there's evil. The college's system of surprise tests, then,  makes a case for the banality of evil.  Life you see,  is short. Way too short for surprise tests.

Life is long enough for :
1) Cigarette shack afternoons and ciggarette shack evenings  
2) Hot Chocolate Fudge with Chocolate Ice cream
3) Lazy Confessions/ Crazy Suggestions
4) The last bell on Friday
5) A few other unmentionables

Point being, there are a couple of things that can exist without making life seem pointless and unmeaningful. Surprise Tests aren't among them. The trouble begins four days before the tests. That's when the sinking feel begins to creep; that's when you realize the one-subject-a-day target ain't happening. Of course, every day after that is mounting panic.
This then escalates on the night before the test. Of course there's some big chunk left, and of course that's the one everyone's predicting will be tested on the next day. Nevermind, there is the morning.

Except there isn't. Stupid, stupid alarm bell.

The harried walk to the mess, people shouting alarmingly large bits of alarmingly meaningless information across the table. Realizing the extent of screwed one is when one is unable to figure out even the concerned subject being discussed, one proceeds to the next step. The trudge to the class, which brings us to possibly the worst thing about surprise tests. The last 5 minutes before. Oh those last 5 minutes. Packed with every sort of human emotion possible, from delirious fear to delirious giggling to plain delirium. All the 5 subjects screamed out in quick succession. Groans, moans, laughs, sneers.

Of course, you'd think once the first few tests get over, its all smooth sailing. Its not. Then comes the surprise test burnout. This comes from the complacent position of having a couple of subjects past the scanner, and not many left to study from. Inertia. Listlessness. Unproductivity.

Finally, finally, the last disastrous one inches past you. And begins the process of making up for the rest of the semester .....

Honestly. Life. Way too short for this.


15 April 2010

Crazy fast writing big booksOnly three more days to bash out prize-winning fiction for the NUJS fiction writing competition, which closes on Sunday midnight (18 April).

The theme for this year: "Choose one of the five famous fiction novels (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde/Robinson Crusoe/Five Point Someone/The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy/A Christmas Carol) and base your story around it, borrowing any identifiable character(s) or theme or concept or event (or even a combination of these), such that it is obvious which story you’ve borrowed from."

The judge in the competition is Kolkata writer and advertising consultant Anjana Basu, who has written two novels and several collections of short stories and poems.

Last year's winners were absolutely brilliant and surprising.

Have a read of the stories, guaranteed to enjoy and inspire.

I know that this post comes slightly late in the day but do not let deadlines stand in the way of literary greatness, if you have not yet completed your (3,000-word) magnum opus.

I'm NOT suggesting you hit the benzedrine like Jack Kerouac and spend days and nights abusing a typewriter (On the Road was like totally overrated anyway), but lawyers thrive under time pressure, nah?

Great training for Indian/US/UK BigLaw all-nighters.

I digress.

Very much looking forward to reading the winning entries. Good luck!

Photo by alancleaver

14 April 2010

Nowadays I have seen my cows tease the buffaloes. The reason is simple. Cows are lighter in colour and can bear the brunt of this heat. Buffaloes are dark and have to suffer. But my buffaloes spend their time lazing around in ponds and have a good time.

Now, when I was taking this road to some place I saw a poor man, with no chappal/ slipper/ footwear walking on the road. It was so hot that his feet might have been roasted. I felt sad. I felt bad. I thought something must be done.

The expression 'life' assured in Article 21 of the Constitution does not connote mere animal existence or continued drudgery through life. It has a much wider meaning which includes right to livelihood, better standard of living...The right to life with human dignity encompasses within its fold, some of the finer facets of human civilisation which makes life worth living. (See Consumer education and research center v. Union of India, AIR1995SC922 para 24). This is for all those who say that my blog doesn't deal with law. Ha!

Now, being without a footwear on a hot Indian road denotes animal existence. Should our engineer brothers come with some material which makes road 'WHITE'. This will reduce some of the pains of the poor in India who cannot afford a footwear. Or maybe there should be an all India footwear program to provide footwear at subsidised rates to the poor.

Please post in your suggestions.

PS- Whiter roads will also be good for the rich. In summers the air pressure in tyres gets uneven and disturbed. This might sometimes lead to road accidents. White roads will also solve this problem. What say?


14 April 2010

I’m writing this in a hurry, so apologies in advance if its a bit abrupt. You see, I’m working on a “deal”.

For the (mercifully) uninitiated, a “deal” is a mythical creature with no readily identifiable form or substance. It ebbs and flows- it can lie on the backburner for years enjoying its benign existence and suddenly morph into your worst nightmare. The only thing that is constant about is a deal is the people involved- lawyers, accountants and the odd unculled banker.


For those of you who have been wondering how things work at Colby, Hewitt and Richards LLP, this is an attempt to present the rational and unemotional junior lawyer’s perspective.


The firm (like all soul-sucking institutions) is built upon the following hierarchy of power.

In descending order of importance-

1. Partners

Names: William Colby, Chris Hewitt, Jack Richards.
Personality type: Alpha male.

Description: The pit bosses. The rainmakers. The breadwinners.
Call them what you want, they are the ones bringing in the moolah. They also take home most of it. They make sure everyone knows exactly who the boss is and their Bentleys are kept shiny. They solve ego clashes within the partnership by arranging their names alphabetically  on the front door. They have the luxury of coming in late and going home early.


2. Senior Associates 
Names: Katherine Moody, Johannes Sutcliffe, Charles Ramsay, Joy Rogers and Matthew Thomson.

Personality type: Connector.

Description: The rock. The thinker. The ox.

They work the hardest and bill the most. Their job is to make sure each associate pulls their weight and team members don’t rip each others’ throats out. With work, mortgage payments, wives and PTA meetings, Senior Associates seldom realise that youth has passed them by and that the Pet Shop Boys are no longer in vogue.  This usually results in them grossly overestimating their capacity for alcohol and being carried home on a regular basis. At least this way, once in a while they get to see what their kids look like. The upshot is that most Senior Associates hang somewhere between merely disliking their jobs and committing suicide. Fortunately, the hope of colossal riches at the end of the partnership rainbow helps keep them going through their second and third nervous breakdowns.


3. Associates 
Names: David Doyle, Jane Jameson, James Doherty, Alex Gerhard,  Rebecca Knightley, Kirsten Adams, Yusuf Siddiqui, Robert Dylan, Eric van Kook, Nandii Reywal.

Personality type: Maverick

Description: The rebel. The follower. The life of the office party.

When he qualifies, the sole aim of the amicable, content associate is to somehow be done with work around approximately 5.29 p.m. on a daily basis. Deals that kick off at 5.30 p.m. are therefore abhorred by the associate at a deeper, philosophical level. Over time, he discovers that deals develop the annoying habit of being spread across six time-zones, which leave his body clock bewildered. Living in a time warp slowly destroys his love-life too- most women find it hard to compete for a man’s attention with a relentlessly beeping Blackberry. The associate realises it is a bit trying having to constantly pretend to know what’s going on, lest he be mistaken for the lowly trainee (discussed below). Billable hours then rear their ugly heads and the associate works diligently to achieve and exceed these targets for the right to brag about his (skimpy) bonus. At about this time, the great divide occurs and one of two things happens. Either:
1) he starts blogging about his job, is found out and fired. In time, the rebel goes on to win a Pulitzer for this literary masterpiece; or
2) his spirit breaks and he accepts his miserable fate.  The conformist goes through the motions and compensates for not having a life by drinking large quantities of alcohol with his immediate superiors. Before long, he becomes the Senior Associate’s drinking buddy and after-party drop home (see above), thereby earning his confidence. In due time, he is promoted to the next level of wretchedness.


4. Trainees

Names: Can’t be bothered. They’re probably not going to be around tomorrow anyway. 
Personality type: Used car salesman.

Description: Overpaid. Underworked. Minion.

Trainees live the good life. A random sample of their work would include, without fail, the intellectually challenging tasks of proofreading documents, carrying heavy boxes, circulating checklists, collecting signed documents and sending couriers. As these bottom-feeders are not expected to know a thing, the secret to being a successful trainee is threefold (in order of importance):
1) resisting the urge to make one of the Partners his/her BFF after a few drinks;
2) mastering the art of looking incredibly busy and bustling around the office, doing absolutely nothing of consequence; and
3) convincing one and all of his/her undying love for work.

When qualification time comes around, such talent is duly recognized and the best are rewarded with jobs at Colby, Hewitt and Richards LLP, replacing the rebellious bloggers. The rest are send packing with recommendations for jobs as baggage handlers at Heathrow.


(11:53 p.m.: Desk phone rings- “Charles Ramsay” flashes on screen. He is not too happy with the drafting of Clause 6.3(a) of the document. I change the word “notice” to “notification” and email it to him again. I then proceed to stare out of my window. This is going to be a long night.)


*************End of post************** 





13 April 2010

The human right to food has its contemporary origin within the U.N. Universal Human Rights framework. The main reference point is located within the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights (UDHR) (U.N. 1948), Article 25, which states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food.” It provided a reference point for human rights legislation that followed but is not itself a binding international legal instrument

According to the Special Report- Right To Food Is A Basic Human Right

This is a special Hunger Notes report on the right to food. Why shouldn't people have enough food, earned in the usual case by working,  to keep themselves alive and alert?  A very reasonable goal, but one which is far from being met, though there has been significant progress in the past 10 years.  This report examines both the progress and the frustrations. 

Under-nutrition,haunts the lives of millions of Indian .The magnitude and severity of the nutritional crisis facing the country.Over a million deaths can be attributed to under-nutrition and hunger.Most of the times, child deaths and suffering because of poor nutrition go unnoticed.India reports among the highest levels of child under-nutrition has been rightly termed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a “national shame”.According to a recent United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimate, India accounts for 31 per cent of the developing world’s children who are stunted and 42 per cent of those who are underweight.There are various reasons why India should do something about food security specially child under-nutrition. Being well-nourished is the right of every child, and the state has the obligation to ensure proper nutrition for all children. Undernourished children have significantly lower chances of survival than children who are well-nourished. They are much more prone to serious infections and to die from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea, measles, malaria, pneumonia, and HIV and AIDS. The risk of dying increases with the severity of the under-nutrition. If recent indicators are anything to go by – the failure to keep food prices down, the proposed national food security Act, the failure to ensure even minimum wages to construction workers at projects for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, to recount a few – it seems the country has given up even the pretence of caring about its children or their crippling, unbudging state of malnutrition.

The state of women’s health and food security is similarly symbolised by an equally recalcitrant and even more widespread nutritional anaemia. This is a failure in itself as far as women’s rights are concerned, but it is also the root cause of low birthweight, subsequent malnutrition and poor child survival. 

How serious is the United Progressive Alliance government about enacting food security legislation that gives every citizen in the country the right to adequate food? On the face of it, the government appears to be extremely serious. After all, ensuring the right to food was a major election promise of the Congress party that leads the UPA; it has been frequently mentioned in various official pronouncements of this government; and it was mentioned prominently in the latest Budget speech of the Finance Minister.

Most recently, a draft Food Security Bill that has purportedly been prepared for consideration by the Empowered Group of Ministers has been doing the rounds unofficially. While the authenticity of this document is not clear, it is nevertheless worth examining, just in case it provides any pointers to the current thinking of the government on this crucial matter.Thus, the “Preamble” declares that this is an Act “to provide statutory framework for assured food security to all citizens of India to promote their active and healthy life thereby enabling them to contribute productively to nation building”. This sweeping statement is clearly not legally tenable, since none of the important terms and concepts are defined, such as “assured food security”, nor is it clarified how it will be determined that citizens “contribute productively to nation building”!

The proposed Food Security Bill adopts Three pronged strategy that constitutes -

(i)  a universal public distribution system for all,

(ii) low cost food grains to the needy

(iii) convergence in the delivery of nutrition safety net programmes. 

Based on article,21 of the Constitution, the  Supreme Court has regarded the right to food as a fundamental  and basic human requirements for the right of life.In the spirit of the numerous measures and programmes, the number of persons who are undernourished has increased from 210 million in 1990- 92 to 252 million in 2004-05. The Food Security Bill, when enacted, will become the most important step taken after 1947.

In other words, the population as a whole is supposed to be given food security as a legal entitlement (although how this is to be done is not clear) but public provision of foodgrains is only for a targeted section defined as poor. The rest of the document makes it clear that the purpose is really to abandon a comprehensive and universal system of public food distribution and then replace it with a targeted system. In that system, only those defined as poor by State governments on the basis of total numbers to be determined by the Centre, will have access to publicly distributed food grains, presumably at a subsidised rate.  

The entire focus of the operational part of the proposed Act is on the targeted public distribution system [TPDS], which will provide foodgrains to households identified as living below the poverty line (BPL). The total number of such households is to be determined by the Central Ministry of Food and Public Distribution on the basis of the latest available poverty estimates notified by the Planning Commission, with such estimates remaining valid for a period of five years.


The most significant direct intervention designed by India to tackle under-nutrition is the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme. Most reviews and assessments have established that the more than 30-year-old programme has not succeeded in delivering the desired result of preventing and eliminating under-nutrition. This is what prompted the Prime Minister in his Independence Day address in 2008 to remark: “The problem of malnutrition is a curse that we must remove.

I would like to edit this once more to add some thing new, but what I can say right now is that the question on food security and the failure of the pragammes and measures lies in the same question only.    

13 April 2010


The following is a hilarious story of a legal proceeding initiated against one of the greatest ruling super heroes of our times on a question as ancient as the one which arose in the second century with Clement of Alexandria ( whether Apostle Peter and Cephas of Antioch were the same person?)

The Exposition

There is this Lady, who is a resident of Hipparga (Kopdeo), tq. Ahmedpur, dist. Latur. and a mother of five daughters by name Taherabi, Wahedbi, Laila, Madina and Hussainbi and two sons by name Dulekhan and Alasab. All daughters of the lady and eldest son Dulekhan are married.

However, the protagonist of the present story is her youngest son Alasab, who was born to her on 12-6-1965 at Hipparga (Kopdeo). Alasab was admitted in school at Hipparga (Kopdeo), but Alasab was not really keen on studies. He dropped out of school in the year 1983. Alasab was in the third standard when he left school.

Since the Lady had no source of income she moved to Bombay alongwith her children in search of livelihood and managed to get work at a construction site at Vashi. Since Asalab had no school to attend, he used to wander here and there and frequented the front stalls to watch movies. One fine day in the year 1984, Alasab disappeared without informing her mother and ostensibly went alongwith a Circus which had performed at Bandra at that time. Despite searching, Alasab could not be traced. Ultimately, the Lady returned to Hipparga (Kopdeo).

The Rising Action

Mohammed, son of Wadhebi (one of the married daughters of the Lady mentioned above) watched the movie "Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman" at a theatre in Ahmedpur and immediately identified Alasab. He rushed to his mother Wahedbi and informed her that he has recognized his maternal uncle Alasab. Wahedbi also went to watch the movie "Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman" to ascertain the truth behind her son’s claims and she too immediately identified Alasab. Wahedbi and her son Mohammed then went to Hipparga (Kopdeo) and informed the Lady that Alasab has been traced.They told the Lady that Alasab has changed his name to Shah Rukh Khan and has become a film star. Thereafter all of them arrived at King Khan’s the then residence in Bombay and requested SRK to acknowledge the Lady and maintain her. They had also contacted well known film stars like Dilip Kumar, Big B and Rekha and tried to collect information from them with regard to antecedents of SRK(then ‘Raju’ who according to the Lady, was pretending to be  the ‘Gentleman’ ).

The Climax

The Lady startled SRK by initiating action for maintenance, under section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr. P.C) in the Court of Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Ahmedpur, dist. Latur. The Lady proclaimed herself as mother of SRK and alleged in her application for maintenance that even though SRK recognized her and acknowledged her as his mother, he refused to maintain her. She claimed monthly allowance at the rate of Rs. 500/- (Rupees five hundred only) for her maintenance.

Following Cr. P.C. by the book, the Magistrate issued summons to SRK and called him to appear in the Court. SRK must have received a serious jolt when he received the summons, but however, he sought legal advice and quickly filed a petition under section 482 of the Cr.P.C. for quashing the proceedings initiated by the Lady.

SRK presented his case, proof of his parentage, death certificates of his parents,  certificates of schooling, awards won and letters and certificates establishing his schooling and college and more importantly, several proofs of his birth, passport and other such legally accepted documents to basically establish the fact that he was Shah Rukh Khan, a permanent resident of Delhi(at that relevant point of time) and son of Late Mir Taj Mohammed Late Fatima Latif. SRK went on to state that after completion of his post graduation in Arts, he shifted to Bombay to try his luck in Bollywood and later struck gold. He obviously denied that the Lady is his mother and that the application filed by her was a false, frivolous and vexatious proceeding for maintenance against him to extract money and accordingly sought quashing of the proceedings as against him.

The classic evidence

The Lady produced the Birth Certificate and school leaving certificate of Alasab. The certificate, issued by She Deputy Sarpanch of village Hipparga (Kopdeo) and copy of the photograph of Alasab, with his brother, an important piece of evidence. Besides these documentary evidence, she filed her own affidavit and produced affidavits of her daughter, her son-in-law and affidavits of other witnesses.

Most importantly, the classic piece of evidence.

She submitted a certificate issued by the Deputy Sarpanch of village Hipparga (Kopdeo) certifying that film star Shah Rukh Khan was a permanent resident of village Hipparga (Kopdeo). The Deputy Sarpanch further certified that SRK had left village about few years back and was residing with her mother in Bombay and thereafter, disappeared and later acquired tremendous publicity and fame as film star, and then conveniently declined to identify his mother, sisters and brother. The certificate also stated that whatever information was given therein was correct.

The Falling Action

This Court directed to hold the enquiry as to how and on what basis the Deputy Sarpanch of village Hipparga (Kopdeo) has issued such kind of certificate. The enquiry papers were made available for the Dy. Sarpanch’s perusal. The Deputy Sarpanch, in one breath denied to have issued such kind of certificate and in the next breath, he stated that someone had already brought the certificate and he had simply attested his signature. The High Court proposed to issue a Notice to the Deputy Sarpanch, as to why criminal prosecution should not be launched against him. The findings which led to the quashing of the proceedings:

·        The Lady was a self-proclaimed mother.

·        The mother contemplated under section 125(1)(d) of the Cr.P.C. does not include self-proclaimed mother.

·        The Lady was ill advised.

·        She had fallen prey to the busy brains of her relatives.

·        An application under section 125 of Cr.P.C. is not a complaint.

·        SRK could not have been equated with an accused.(significantly an “accused” is not defined in the Cr.P.C )

·        Ultimately, the order that would be passed in a 125 Cr.P.C. proceeding is not an order of conviction.

·        The Lady is a stranger to SRK.

The Dénouement

Interestingly, the Court also observed that “there is no specific provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure to combat such kind of unforseen circumstance. Nothing is provided in the Code of Criminal Procedure to meet or tackle such kind of false, frivolous and vexatious litigation. It cannot be, therefore, said that the present petitioner is required to prove the correctness of his claim in the trial Court, on the basis of the evidence and seek justice in that regard. In order to combat such false and frivolous litigation, it is required to truncate the very proceeding at the threshold to serve the ends of justice. The ends of justice are in jeopardy. The Court cannot shut the eyes, fold the hands and remain silent onlooker. Inherent powers, no doubt are required to be used sparingly, carefully and cautiously, but if there is an instance of abuse of process of law, with an intention to harass a citizen, it is legitimate on the part of this Court to snip the very proceeding at its commencement to serve the ends of justice.”

On the insinuation that the Court was tilting towards the filmstar, the Court observed  that “sympathy  was not being not shown to a film star…inherent powers were being invoked to scrap the false, frivolous and vexatious proceeding not because the petitioner is a film star but he is a star victim of false, frivolous and vexatious proceeding.



11 April 2010

Compulsory Voting

 On the 16th of December 2009. Gujarat government announced that it will pass an Act on the Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009.The amendment will voting compulsory for all citizens of Gujarat to vote to elections to a self governing body. This will make the right to vote, a duty. It will apply to all qualified voters Municipal Corporations, Municipalities, district, talukas and village panchayats. When it is done. Gujarat will be the first state in India to do such a thing. It will be implemented for the first time in October 2010 during the Municipal elections in Ahmedabad.

 I am not taking sides here. I just want to point out the pros and cons of the action.

 Voting in India is not compulsory. We usually have 50-60% turnout. We also see some candidates winning and being elected even though they have just received only 10-20% votes of the total registered voters. I mean how can someone be chosen to rule over the constituency even when he/she has received only 1/5 of the total votes. Most people don’t vote because of two main reasons. First, they think that their votes don’t count for much. A single vote won’t make a difference. Second, they think that none of the contestants are good enough. I read it in a book named Freakonomics that a very very low number of elections are won by a margin of one vote. Does that mean that your vote doesn’t matter ? No if everyone thinks like that then it will be very tough to choose good candidates. Why should people be forced. They know that voting for a good candidate is in turn going to benefit them only. They have to understand that. If we consider them as adults and give them the right to vote then we should treat them like adults and let them make the decision on whether to vote or not. To make my point more clear I would like to quote a analogy.

The Lifeboat Analogy.

 You are one of twenty two people who are stranded on a life boat after the pleasure cruiser sinks.

 Yes there is enough room and supplies for all of you for the immediate future so no decision has to be made as to who has to be thrown overboard. However there is one problem: the navigator has gone down with the ship and no one actually knows which direction to row to ultimately reach the shipping lanes. Even though no one knows for sure, eleven members of those on board have formulated ideas. Some think they can operate the sextant which has been saved, some believe they can tell which way to go by the currents, some by the sun, and some by the prevailing winds. The problem is that there is not general consensus from all there theories, and existing provisions will only allow for one attempt. It is ultimately decided that a vote has to be taken to decide whose theory will be accepted to decide the course to follow. Because the decision may well result in the life or death of everyone on board it is decided that everyone will have the right to vote. Even though you yourself have come to no theory, you decide to vote with one person who, to you, gives the general impression of being slightly more astute and knowledgeable that the other amateurs navigators. This leaves the remaining ten occupants. Not only do they have no idea which is the best direction for rescue, they also share equal faith in all of those who have suggested theories. Therefore because they fear their vote may lead to the wrong decision, they have decided to abstain from voting.

 Will you allow the ten to abstain from voting or will you insist that, because lives are at risk, they must partake in the vote?

 On the other hand, let us consider the scenario where voting is compulsory.

 So its election day and you HAVE to vote. Sounds weird. We are so used to voting being a right that we cannot grasp the thought of it being a duty. The first question that comes to your mind is,” Why would someone want to do that ?” . The reasons given are :

 “It is a central conservative insight that democracy confers both rights and responsibilities. Attending a polling booth on election day is the mildest possible responsibility”

“Voting is a civic duty”

“Obligations may be imposed on individual for the benefit of the society generally”

Many countries like Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Egypt to name a few have compulsory voting.

 Government of Gujarat is thus not the first to come up with the concept. On April 17, 2009 the Supreme Court of India had dismissed a plea to make voting compulsory. The plea was filed by Atul Sarode from Savda district in Maharashtra. He wanted to make voting compulsory for all elections. His plea also mooted the idea of not allowing any one to represent a constituency unless he/she fails to get a minimum of 51% of votes. If that doesn’t happen then there should be re-elections. We cannot choose the best from the worst. After all it’s a matter of running our constituency. We do not want some random person to govern us. We want responsible people. Why can we not have re-elections ? Some say that it is too expensive. I say if he/she is going to govern us then we definitely should take all precautionary measures available to see to it that we choose only the best. The plea also mooted the idea of e-voting.

 A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam dismissed the plea and observed that a greater voter turnout could be ensured only by increasing people’s awareness. They also observed that voter turnout of 60% was satisfactory. (?!?!?!)

Well, this is the state of our India.

 We also have a No vote provision in our constitution. Article 49-O of The Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 gives the right to its citizens to not vote for any of the candidates even after going to the pooling booth. This provision has been very nicely hidden by our politicians. I have never seen a News Channel run a report on this provision. Even when it comes to the papers, it just a small article stating the basic things. Even poll booth volunteers don’t know what steps are to be taken when someone wants to exercise this right.

 The Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009. allows negative voting. The manner of negative voting and its impact on other candidates will be worked out by the state government through special rules framed later. It is also under consideration that all candidates will be disqualified if negative voting is the highest.

In countries that have compulsory voting, there are certain sanctions imposed if people fail to vote. Some of them are :

  • He has to give a legitimate explanation for not voting. ( I think this can be easily abused)
  • A fine is imposed on him/her. The amount of fine depends from country to country.
  • It can also lead to imprisonment. No cases have been filed under this but sometimes when a person does not pay fine even after repeated warnings then he is sentenced to imprisonment. Although the reason for imprisonment is given as failure to pay fine and not failure to vote.
  • Other sanctions are like in Belgium, it is difficult to get a job in public sector if you have not voted. There are also social sanctions, in Mexico it is difficult to get a day care place for your child if you are a non-voter. Salary of government employees is sometimes stopped if they don’t vote.

 Gujarat government is also thinking of something like that. An official has said that people who do not vote will be deprived on Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards, government service and subsidized loan. Defaulters will be served a one month notice and in that time they have to give a reason to the election commissioner for not voting. The exempted categories will include people who are physically incapable due to illness, or absent on the date of election from the country or the state of Gujarat.

 India is a land where Bills and their corresponding Acts can sometimes be so different that it’s difficult to find something common between them. We can just hope that this time they come up with a logical Act.

Long live Democracy.



10 April 2010

The large part of law consist of various behavioral perspectives in the form of 'Duty' that is, mode of conduct to which people must confirm and by which their actual behavior is judged. Thus, the very concept of 'is' law is composed of 'ought'. it is the ought that acquires the character of law, which has filtered through certain criteria of validity.  Natural lawyers would assert that a proposition is law not because it has pass through few formalities but for being a moral consideration and by virtue of  an additional moral content .

Now the point is what is moral is a debatable topic and that is why there is a provision of amendment in our constitution it self. The content of the morals keeps on changing. It changes with the time and changing needs of the society. Thus, the growth and development of the society is essential. Law emanates from the society and it differs from one to another. The needs of the society would fill the content of the 'morals' which later transforms into law.

Take the example of 'Right to Education' , the need of the hour is to educate people of India at large. But the question is how? Now the framers of the law have been looking into the matter since long and they have formulated many measures which will encourage the growth of literacy rate. Even  there were steps taken to improve the surroundings which in a way helps in the way of promoting education. There were many affirmative actions taken by the government. The right to education is a fundamental right under Article 21A was incorporated in 2002 and in the year of 2010 the Right to education Act has passed.

I am not taking the aspect of why being so late because that is different aspect alltogether. I am concerned with the point that the importance of sociological approach in the making of positive law.Thus, to sum up this point I must say that law is nothing but a compilation of every seeds of social, cultural and moral values which is presented to the people in a bunch of papers with a sanction attached to it.

09 April 2010

In the case of S.K. Alagh Vs. State of U.P. and Ors. reported in (2008) 5 SCC 662 the Hon’ble Supreme Court, at paragraph 20 thereof, observed  as under:


“…  We may, in this regard, notice that the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act, Negotiable Instruments Act, Employees' Provident Fund (Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 1952 etc. have created such vicarious liability. It is interesting to note that Section 14A of the 1952 Act specifically creates an offence of criminal breach of trust in respect of the amount deducted from the employees by the company.”


For easy reference, the said Section 14A of the Employees' Provident Fund (Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 1952 Act is extracted herein as under:


 14A. Offences by companies

(1) If the person committing an offence under this Act [,the Scheme or[the[Pension] Scheme or the Insurance Scheme]] is a company, every person, who at the time the offence was committed was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly:

Provided that nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such person liable to any punishment, if he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offence.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where an offence under the Act[, the Scheme or[the[Pension] Scheme or the Insurance Scheme]] has been committed by a company and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to, any neglect on the part of, any director or manager, secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer shall be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

Explanation.--For the purposes of this section,--

(a) "company" means any body corporate and includes a firm and other association of individuals; and

(b) "director", in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm.]

And since Section 405 of the Indian Penal Code defines 'criminal breach of trust' , the said provision is as under:

Section 405-Criminal breach of trust-

Whoever, being in any manner entrusted with property, or with any dominion over property, dishonestly misappropriates or converts to his own use that property, or dishonestly uses or disposes of that property in violation of any direction of law prescribing the mode in which such trust is to be discharged, or of any legal contract, express or implied, which he has made touching the discharge of such trust, or wilfully suffers any other person so to do, commits "criminal breach of trust".


From the bare reading of section 14A of the Employees' Provident Fund (Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 1952 and Section 405 of the IPC,it is interesting to note that there is no semblance of any kind whatsoever between the two aforesaid provisions leading us to the humble conclusion , with due respect to the Hon'ble Supreme Court that its observation   that “It is interesting to note that Section 14A of the 1952 Act specifically creates an offence of criminal breach of trust in respect of the amount deducted from the employees by the company” appears to be incorrect.

Section 14A of the 1952 Act  is a vicarious liability provision akin to provision similar to Section 141 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 ('NI Act') or Section  140 of the Customs Act, 1962 or Section 85 of the IT Act and does not create any independent offence. It simply extends the liability of such an offence committed by a company under the 1952 Act to every person, who at the time the offence was committed by the company, was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company.

In view of art. 141 of the COI such observations have the potential of being  misused by mischievous lawyers and it also adversely affects the general undertstanding of the provision involved.