To the bar, a clean slate

I went to the bar in 1991 as a clean slate. The first case was referred to me by the owner of a typing shop in the vicinity of the court. The case was the denial of pension to a decorated ex-serviceman of the Indian army; he happened to be the father of a typist working in that shop. I had been engaged in 1991 for Rs. 2000. It was quite a good sum that time as per the contemporary standards of those times where some advocates of standing used to charge Rs. 5500. There was no fee per appearance in vogue in Jammu at that time; I’m not sure about the practice now.

This case was listed before Justice (Retd.) Sh. K. K. Gupta, a very noble judge who was very encouraging to the youngsters. Though he could have issued notice without any submissions as there was no interim relief involved, he deliberately heard me for sometime and this audience given to me then proved to be a very significant confidence-booster to a junior like me. He appreciated my drafting in open court. It gave me immense confidence and I decided to celebrate with a friend in the evening. During that dinner my friend (a school senior who had passed his MBBS recently) impressed by my confidence discussed a matter with me. He and many others despite being meritorious had not been selected for the posts of Assistant Surgeons in the Health Dept. by the Public Service Commission. During the discussion I noticed that the same could be possible on account of a faulty criterion giving excessive weight-age to interview thereby converting the merit into a demerit.

I was a regular reader of The Indian Express and I had recently read about a decision of P&H High Court on the same point. I immediately grabbed the opportunity and convinced him about the great potential of success in his case. Following this the “unemployed” doctors engaged an “unemployed” advocate. I prepared the case well and filed a petition in High Court which was listed before the vacation bench in January 1992. When the matter was called up by the court master, an old advocate with a long beard stood up for opposing the case. He said he was on caveat.

Frankly telling, I didn’t understand then as to what a caveat was. Out of sheer confidence, I submitted that nothing could curtail the powers of a court to hear the matter and pass appropriate orders. The judge was impressed more than convinced with my confidence and stayed the selection list. The next day it was the headlines of local papers. I had no idea of what I had achieved. In the days to follow, my office was thronged by similarly situated “unemployed” candidates who sought their impleadment in the petition. I earned about Rs. 50,000 in that case. I was on a high! The gist of what I want to say is that I utilized the first opportunity given by the typist, the judge encouraged me due to my drafting, I celebrated with my friend, he discussed his case, I grabbed the opportunity and the success followed! No opportunity is small! A big tree grows out of a small seed!


Advocate Sakal Bhushan practiced law at Jammu and Kashmir High Court at Jammu for a couple of decades before moving to New Delhi where he is an Advocate at the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India. He frequently comments on matters related to law, constitutional and legislative affairs. Mail him at and follow him on Facebook


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