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CJI Chandrachud asks senior lawyers not to treat their juniors as slaves

The structure of legal profession is patriarchal, caste-based…it has to change, says CJI

CJI Chandrachud asks senior lawyers not to treat their juniors as slaves

Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud. PTI file



Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, November 20

Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud has urged senior advocates not to treat their juniors as slaves and pay them decent salaries, saying this kind of practice must change.

“For far too long, we have regarded the youngsters in our profession as slave workers. Because that is how we grew up…This is the old ragging principle in Delhi University that those who were ragged, would always go on to rag people who were below them. It was like passing on the blessings of being ragged,” said Justice Chandrachud who took over as the 50th CJI on November 9.

Speaking at a function organised by the Bar Council of India (BCI) to felicitate him last evening, Justice Chandrachud said, “Some young lawyers do not even have chambers where they are paid money... If you are staying in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, or Kolkata, how much does it cost for a young lawyer to survive? They have rent to pay, transportation, food…This must change, and the burden of doing that is on us, as senior members of the profession.”

He even narrated a personal anecdote when a classmate had asked him during his Campus Law Centre days asked him as to what he would do after LL.B. and how he survive in the legal profession.

“While you have top-notch lawyers in the Supreme Court who would have seven or eight video-conferencing screens open so they could move from court to court with a flick of the mouse, yet you have lawyers, who had to virtually live from hand to mouth during the pandemic, when the courts were shut and the Registrar’s court was not functioning,” the CJI said.

Reflecting on the malaise afflicting the legal profession, Justice Chandrachud said, “This structure of the legal profession, which is patriarchal and sometimes caste-based… it has to change so that we, as lawyers, discharge our duties to our society to make the legal profession open up to people from different communities and marginalized groups in our society.”

He said the Supreme Court and high courts were getting flooded with bail pleas because judges at the district level were reluctant to grant bail due to a sense of fear that somebody will target them on the ground that they granted bail in a heinous case.

“This sense of fear nobody talks about but which we must confront because unless we do that we are going to render our district courts toothless and our higher courts dysfunctional,” the CJI said.

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