AN OPEN LETTER
Dear Justice K.M Joseph,
I address this letter to you as a good old friend, and in the unstinted faith that I will not be mistaken for the freedom I take as a contemporary. I was today at NUALS Cochin since my daughter Maria was one among , to quote your own words “the star for the day, the graduates”. For me it was a great day, for, my daughter was to recieve the certificate of graduation.
In your speech which was circulated well in advance, you said “I was informed that many who pass out from National law schools, do not pursue the profession but instead pursue “super cheques” for seemingly secure positions that are offered at a young age. Few, nay, very few of Maria’s classmates and seniors have joined the legal profession and, in particular, those who have graduated with flying colours. Most of them have joined multinational companies and banks as ‘in-house’ lawyers and a few have joined the Big law firms. Through Maria I have heard of the working conditions in the big law firms which is worst than bonded labour.
Tears fell out of my eyes on joy when Sheena Fatima, a thin small girl from humble backgrounds was awarded medals after medals for her academic excellence. I couldn’t have left the function without meeting her, to congratulate her, which I did. When she told me she doesn’t intend to join the profession, which is the answer which i got from most of little daughter’s little friends, I was deeply pained. My moment of joy and elation turned into a bit of an anger which, probably, would have reflected in the brief conversation we had after the function.
I address you as my old bosom friend whom I love from the core of my heart, a worthy son of a worthy father. I hold late Justice Mathew in the highest of esteem for I have read almost all judgements and articles which he had authored, particularly his philosophy of right to rebellion as a natural right.
Many consider me as a rebel and they hate me for my criticism of many a malaise that has afflicted our Justice delivery system, which hatred shall never deter me from the path of campaigning for reforms in judiciary. If talented young men and women, children of common man do not consider advocacy as a career option at all, for they think that unless their father or uncle or brother or sister is a judge or senior lawyer, Chief Minister or Governor, the dooms day of the Indian judiciary is not far away.
Unless we dismantle the Collegium system of appointment of judges, abolish the pernicious system of classification of lawyers as ‘Senior Advocates’ and others, the underdogs, and designate the kith and kin of judges, as “Senior Advocates” even before they turn 40, which is an insult to lawyers like me who have spent a lifetime in the profession, the talented young men and women who graduate from the national law schools, will continue to be forced to seek employment as ‘in-house’ lawyers of big companies, banks and the like or accepting employment in big law firms, a slavery which would break them mentally and physically forever.
I mean no flattery when I say you are the finest of souls today on the Bench of the Supreme court and there are many like Justice Ravindra Bhat, erudite yet humble who do not behave like “the tiger and the lion”, to quote an expression of your own speech at para 20. Your speech was excellent! More than the reference to many a great men, for you referred to Cardozo, Millerson, Abraham Lincoln et al, what captivated me,nay, the audience was your grace which reflects your innate goodness and conscience, the simple, noble, upright, old KM Joseph. Power is the greatest of the intoxicants. It is heartening to note that like our beloved Justice Kurian Joseph power has not afflicted you the least!
I conclude by requesting you to do whatever is humanly possible to make the legal profession free from the relic of feudalism and dynasty, thereby providing equal opportunity to all. In your speech you spoke about CCTV Cameras. I believe, as a sitting judge of the Supreme court, it is within your power to make video recording of the proceedings of all courts and tribunals a reality, for judges discuss many things among themselves, and there is an undeniable camaraderie amongst the judges. In your speech you have said, “it is not unnatural that judges discuss (sic) lawyers.
Seeking your forgiveness for taking the liberty to address you an open letter, I remain.