Ram Jethmalani, the nonagenarian Jurist, has so far been a role model for junior advocates owing to his qualities of hard work and never-say-die spirit. However, his recent conduct whilst defending Arvind Kejriwal has baffled his numerous fans and followers because it appears to be in serious breach of ethics and the code of conduct
Practice of law, a noble profession
“There are three ideas involved in a profession: organisation, learning, and a spirit of public service. These are essential. The remaining idea, that of gaining a livelihood, is incidental.” – Roscoe Pound
The immortal quote by Roscoe Pound, the eminent legal scholar, that law is a ‘noble profession of service to mankind’ and that earning a livelihood is “incidental” has inspired several generations of advocates over the years.
One expects eminent senior advocates to set an example of this virtue by conducting themselves in an appropriate manner so that junior lawyers can emulate them and walk in their illustrious footsteps.
Harish Salve sets example in Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case
Harish Salve, the CA turned lawyer, has provided a stellar example of this by defending Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been falsely sentenced to death by the rogue Government of Pakistan.
While Harish Salve could have demanded his regular fee, he chose to charge a token fee of only Rs. 1.
This has imparted the strong message to all young lawyers that they should never be opportunistic and seek to take advantage of the desperation of the client. Instead, they should place the interests of the client above their own personal interests.
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) May 15, 2017
Harish Salve Charged Rs 1 To Fight #KulbhushanJadhav's Case Against Pakistan In UN's International Court Of Justice
India Salutes You Sir ? pic.twitter.com/ovu21RRcdF
— Sir Ravindra Jadeja (@SirJadeja) May 16, 2017
— मिथिलेश पांडे?? (@mithileshpandey) May 15, 2017
— Sudhanshu S. Singh (@sssingh21) May 15, 2017
— Lt Gen K J Singh (@kayjay34350) May 16, 2017
Ram Jethmalani goes the other extreme by charging Rs. 4 cr fee to poverty stricken public
In contrast, Ram Jethmalani demanded a whopping fee of Rs. 4 crore for defending Arvind Kejriwal, who has been accused in a personal capacity of defamation by Arun Jaitley, the Union Finance Minister.
Worse, Ram Jethmalani expected the fee to be footed by the poverty stricken populace of the State of Delhi.
When questioned as to why the public should foot the bill while Arvind Kejriwal goes around hurling wild and baseless allegations against all and sundry, the AAP party spokesman offered the justification that Kejriwal is “pennyless” and cannot afford to pay fees from his own resources.
— Ashish Khetan (@AashishKhetan) April 4, 2017
— Acharya Gaurav (@acharyagaurav9) April 4, 2017
— Shagnick Misra ? (@shagnick_misra) April 4, 2017
Anyway, the press raised a hue and cry that the said amount of Rs. 4 crore could be put to better use for providing medical and education facilities to citizens etc.
Pursuant to the outrage amongst the citizens, Ram Jethmalani said he would waive his fee and work for free.
(Image credit: Faking News)
Arun Jaitley outwits Ram Jethmalani & Arvind Kejriwal
Arun Jaitley, also an accomplished lawyer, cleverly outwitted the duo of Kejriwal and Jethmalani and turned the tables on them.
During cross-examination, Jethmalani used an objectionable word to describe Arun Jaitley.
Jaitley asked Jethmalani whether he used this word on instructions from Kejriwal, to which the reply was in the affirmative.
Jethmalani added that Kejriwal had used “worse abuses” to describe Jaitley.
Thereupon, Jaitley promptly filed a second defamation suit against Kejriwal seeking fresh damages of Rs. 10 crore.
This forced Kejriwal to do a somersault and disown the statements of Jethmalani.
“That with due respect, it is submitted that neither the answering defendant nor the counsel briefing the senior counsel gave instructions to the learned senior counsel to use the objectionable words… The answering defendant vide letter July 19, 2017 has conveyed to the senior counsel directly that no instructions to use objectionable words were ever given by him at any point of time to the learned senior counsel,” Kejriwal said in his reply to the application filed by Jaitley.
Arvind Kejriwal “lied” that he has not given instructions
While Ram Jethmalani could have withdrawn from the case in a dignified manner, he chose to make a spectacle of himself by accusing his client of “lying”.
“The reason behind this is that he has spoken a lie. He has gone and said that he has not given me any instructions. He had given me instructions, I had recorded it… I have told him that I am no longer appearing. He doesn’t want a lawyer now, probably will settle with Arun Jaitley,” Jethmalani told the press.
Demand for fee of Rs. 2 crore
To compound matters, Ram Jethmalani has not only abused his client in public but also demanded that a fee of Rs. 2 crore be paid for his services.
“Nahi dega, toh nahi dega (If he doesn’t pay, he doesn’t pay), I work for thousands of people for free,” he said in a contemptuous tone.
He also hinted that Kejriwal is a “crook”.
“I am not disappointed about one crook who is going to jail, one who is going outside. Pura duniya bhara hua hai with crooks. (The entire world is full of crooks).”
“Letter Bomb” to client with copy to opponent
In a shocking move, Ram Jethmalani has addressed a letter to Arvind Kejrwal in which he claimed that the latter had used “worse abuses than crook for Arun Jaitley”.
“When Arun Jaitley filed the first suit and criminal case, you naturally sought my services. Ask your conscience how many times you used worse abuses than a mere ‘crook’. You have hundred times asked me to teach this crook a lesson.”
The letter has been made public and is published on Jethmalani’s blog.
Discount on fees
In the letter, Jethmalani also offered a compromise on the fees stating that Kejriwal should “pay the settled fees for the first matter and nothing for the second”.
Citizens outraged at lack of propriety by law legend
Naturally, the move by Ram Jethmalani has met with disbelief and disgust from citizens.
What happened to attorney client privilege? Why is this guy leaking every information they discussed when he was Kejri's Lawyer? ?
— P. Rathod (@_Rathod) July 29, 2017
And being his lawyer he didn't advise Kejri against it but carried out his instructions. This man is a lawyer?
— RAJKUMAR SINGH (@rksinghcalin) July 29, 2017
Isn't there something called client attorney privilege? This man is ridiculous.
— १८०० गुरू (@1800guru) July 29, 2017
Jethmalani turns witness against Kejriwal in the Jaitley defamation case. Kejriwal is right "Button koi bhi dabao, vote BJP ko hi jaayega'
— Ra_Bies (@Ra_Bies) July 29, 2017
Both Kejriwal & Jethmalani exposed. Shame that such a senior lawyer can do anything for money. Good, Ram Jethmalani did not become a Judge.
— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) July 29, 2017
Lol!! I think Ram Jethmalani should now sue Kejriwal. That will keep the entertainment going on.. https://t.co/U7rLsgs3aH
— Sunanda Vashisht (@sunandavashisht) July 29, 2017
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) July 29, 2017
Arvind Kejriwal to tender unconditional apology to Arun Jaitley?
Kapil Mishra, the estranged AAP leader, has made the sensational claim that Arvind Kejriwal has “pleaded with folded hands” that he should be forgiven for making the defamatory statements against Arun Jaitley.
News is – @ArvindKejriwal met a senior BJP leader who is a Union Min & pleaded with folded hands – I hv no ill will against Modi Ji
— Kapil Mishra (@KapilMishraAAP) July 28, 2017
AK also promised to this BJP leader that he will be giving written apologies to Arun Jetly on defamation case.
— Kapil Mishra (@KapilMishraAAP) July 28, 2017
Better sense will prevail?
The entire episode has left a bitter taste in the mouth as to the manner in which highly respected and accomplished professionals are behaving. Hopefully, better sense will prevail amongst the law legends before it is too late for redemption!
CA Vellalapatti Swaminathan Iyer, Hyderabad