Eminent Jurist and former Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, came in for rich praise from Hon’ble Chief Justice of India T. S. Thakur.
“Look at Mr Chidambaram. Has he stood up and tried to argue by raising his voice? No. Do you think he knows less than those lawyers who are always shouting?” the learned Chief Justice exclaimed in exasperation while hearing a batch of petitions challenging the demonetisation of currency.
No decorum in the Court room
The context for comparing the dignified behaviour of Mr. Chidambaram came because several other lawyers sought to outdo each other by shouting at the top of their voices so as to get the attention of the learned Chief Justice.
Several lawyers appeared to be oblivious of the necessity to maintain decorum in the Court room. They were arguing loudly and countering every statement made by eminent lawyers like Kapil Sibal, P. Chidambaram, etc.
“You people think you know better than Chidambaram. You are not allowing him to speak. Despite this, he is awaiting his turn patiently. Learn something from him,” the Chief Justice fumed.
This is a Court, not a “fish market”!
The CJI was visibly irked at the unruly behaviour of the lawyers.
“I have been a judge for the last 23 years. I have never seen such conduct of lawyers during arguments. It sounds like a fish market,” he added.
Bitter memories on the eve of retirement
The learned Chief Justice lamented that he would have to retire with bitter memories of the unruly conduct of the lawyers.
“I am having just one more week to sit on the bench before retirement. I don’t want to go out with such memories. This is the court of the Chief Justice of India, yet there is no decorum despite the issue being very sensitive,” he said with noticeable regret in his voice.
Disappearance of “Chamber” system has led to a fall in standards
On an earlier occasion, when the learned Chief Justice was presiding over a function in the Bombay Bar Association, he remarked that in the earlier days, lawyers had to necessarily join the Chamber of a senior advocate to learn the ropes of practicing in Courts.
This created a healthy “Gurukul” system where the seniors would discipline the juniors and inculcate good practices in them. The juniors would also watch their seniors function in Court and learn the nuances of how to behave in the Court room.
Unfortunately, the advent of several new-age “boutique” law firms has meant that the “Chamber” system has fallen out of favour amongst young lawyers.
The learned Chief Justice narrated an unpleasant incident where a young lawyer elbowed Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi in order to mention a matter for urgent circulation even as the latter was patiently waiting for his turn to mention.
This behaviour caused acute embarrassment to all concerned though the young lawyer was oblivious of the fact that his conduct was improper.
“Such behaviour was never witnessed in the old days when the Chamber practice was in vogue,” the learned Chief Justice remarked even as the other dignitaries nodded in agreement.