A lawyer is not a magician

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Sharing my experiences with my younger colleagues after completion of my 28 years in legal practice this month, today I’ll narrate an interesting incident emphasizing the role of the luck of a client. I vividly remember that in 1994 a client namely Nathu Ram from Billawar (Dist. Kathua) contacted me for filing a civil second appeal before High Court. After studying his case I found there were concurrent findings of fact against him and moreover no substantial question of law as required under Section 100 CPC was involved. I told him ‘No’. But he insisted upon me to draft his appeal. He was infact ‘khana damad’ of the priest-family of Sukrala Mata temple, Billawar. He was a very clever and smart person in his late sixties that time. He was also known as Nathu ‘Goda’ as he had contested an assembly election from Billawar as an independent candidate on election symbol ‘horse’. A very talkative and persuasive person. He even allured me by saying that whosoever had accepted his briefs in the past was elevated to High Court. He gave me examples of late Justice R. P. Sethi and Justice T. S. Thakur (ex-CJI). I told him that I was having just 2/3 years of practice and not eligible for elevation. Feeling that he could not allure me by his sweet talks, he offered me a very handsome fees as compared with those times. He even told me that Mata Sukrala had Herself revealed to him to engage me in that matter and that his appeal would surely be entertained by the High Court and he would 100% get a stay order. I pocketed the fees and took up his matter. In two/three days I drafted the appeal and it was listed before a judge who was comparatively inexperienced in civil matters. He was also known for his arrogance towards the junior lawyers. I felt disheartened knowing that the case got listed before him. Anyway I had no choice but to appear before him only. My case was listed in supplementary list at No.18, I very clearly remember. After my case another civil second appeal was listed at No.19. Late Sh. T. C. Kotwal, advocate (a retd. District Judge) was appearing in that case. Sh. Kotwal was short of hearing and was on a hearing-aid machine. He was very anxious about the reaching of his case. When my case at No. 18 was called, Sh. Kotwal sitting on the first row stood up before I could reach the dais from my second row. The judge looked at him very respectfully and asked him “Mr. Kotwal, what’s the matter?” Sh. Kowal uttered slowly “My Lord, it is a civil second appeal against the judgement and decree of District Judge.” And the judge dictated “Admit. Issue notice. Meanwhile the impugned judgement and decree are stayed. Call for records. List on its own turn.” Sh. Kotwal uttered “Obliged” and left the dais. Now his actual case at No. 19 was called. But Sh. Kotwal had reached near the door of the court room thinking that his case was over. The judge asked the reader to call him seeing his name in that file. The court peon reached Sh. Kotwal at the door and asked him to attend to his case. Sh. Kotwal came forward and the judge again asked him “Mr. Kotwal, what’s this matter?” Sh. Kotwal thought that the judge had not understood earlier and so he was again asking him the same question. He again said the same thing “My Lord, it is a civil second appeal against the judgement and decree of District Judge.” And the judge repeated the same order. The judge thought Sh. Kotwal had two similar cases and commented “Mr. Kotwal, you are doing very hard labour even at this old age. Good.” Sh. Kotwal acknowledged the compliments by giving a very gracious smile; but the real smile was mine. I too left the court room hurriedly following Sh. Kotwal. Mata Sukrala had actually intervened in getting this stay order from a judge who was totally unsupportive of the junior advocates; and Mata Sukrala sent Sh. Kotwal to my rescue! In my next post I will give another interesting instance focussing on the role of the luck of a client.

 

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Sakal Bhushan