Nepotism in Legal Profession


There is a lot of favouritism and then there is also nepotism in the sense that people who are already seniors, after them their children also become senior.” - Indira JaiSingh

INTRODUCTION “Is nepotism restricted only within the realms of Bollywood?” Just like Bollywood and politics, nepotism can often be seen in society or at any workplace, whether it is corporate office or sports, or legal profession. Nepotism is giving undue advantage to relatives or personal friends owing to their relationship instead of their abilities. In University of California, on September 2017, Congress VP Rahul Gandhi asks his audience to not criticize his party as the whole of India runs on dynasties and his party was no exception. It is normal in this legal profession that the children of successful or powerful advocates would be accepted to inherit the practice of the firm. Nepotism seems to be something that you simply cannot escape. In the legal profession it is the outwork of the privileged and the powerful families. Whatever the case is whether the advocate or judges, there is a trend going on that the children or any relative of senior advocates and judges they continue to climb while the fresh lawyers of first generation find the entry barriers extremely high and the chances of success tilted against them. The origin of the word ‘nepotism’ are often traced back to the Catholic bishops who accustomed cede their wealth, property, and etc to their nephews, who were their non-legal descendants. This way the clergy could manage to retain power and property within their families. Daniel Alarcon, defined nepotism as “the lowest and least imaginative form of corruption.” We can also see nepotism as a disease that cannot be transmitted but rather inherited. Nepotism festers rather easily within the legal profession. And also the reason is obvious. For a profession having your own network and trusting people is important. Who knows you, matter as much as and sometimes more than how much law you recognize. Especially within the beginning of your career, your network and peer support could be a key factor. In this profession it is normal that children of a successful advocate or a law firm owner would be expected to inherit the practice or the firm. The British writer Patrick French in his Book ’India: A Portrait’ in his book he talked about the elected members who are under the age of thirty in the lower house of parliament, having family background and he called them ‘hereditary M.P’s’. Nepotism can be seen from the earlier times as well, as in the Allahabad High Court it is a saying to every new young lawyer who joins that, “Chinta mat karna beta, practise chal gayi toh MotiLal, nahi chali toh Jawahar Lal”. As Even Jawahar Lal Nehru, who followed in the legal profession after his father Moti Lal Nehru who was arguably the highest-paid lawyer of those times. Jawahar Lal Nehru was actually a product of failure of nepotism, as he couldn’t succeed in the legal profession. Rather than doing that he joined politics and become India’s first Prime Minister. The upper class elite people have many advantages in the legal profession like in money and access being the most important in that. It is so normal and so undifferent that it is hard to recognize a lot of things as nepotism, because we have come to accept them. While we need to acknowledge and question the nepotism in the profession, it would be unfair and inappropriate to ascribe every success of a second or third generation lawyer to nepotism.

NEPOTISM AND DISCRIMINATION Law has always been a profession with nepotism. There is a large no. of Supreme Court judges who have Supreme Court judges before them, and the children and relatives of judges are so exceptionally brighter and suitable to form it to the Supreme Court. The Legal Process is not to be learned in one day. One has to commit for certain positive outcome. There does no doubt in believe that, established lawyers give much of help to the relatives and their children who are part of profession, whereas others need to learn it by their own, by observing. No one is going to show you in person you have to learn how to do everything by yourself. But if you are hardworking and persistent then nobody can hold you from being successful. While on the subject of nepotism in higher judiciary, we will start with a list concerning the Supreme Court itself cited in a cover article in Outlook weekly magazine in the year 2016 titled ‘Cradle of Justice’ wherein it declared that ‘About one-third of Indian higher judiciary are relatives of former judges.’ Adv. Chirag Kumar a Legal Associate, from Clutch Group, Bangalore has believed that “Nepotism certainly exists within the legal profession. The graduates who have their parents with the same legal background find it more convenient and more flexible as compared to the non legal background. Whether they’re planning to learn the nuances of litigation or with the assistance of their parents score a job in a tier-1 law firm. ” In 2009, Kanan Dhru, a young lawyer in Ahmedabad she discovered the Research Foundation for Governance in India, a think-tank that aims to promote and implement reforms to enhance the legal and political process in the country. In a survey of 250 junior lawyers, senior lawyers, law students and judges. The results showed that 92% of respondents believed that family connections were necessary to determine oneself as an arguing lawyer. In the year 2009 Law Commission in its report, slammed what it called “Uncle Judges” and recommended that “judges, whose kith and kin are practising in a high court, should not be placed in the same court as that of their relative or something as it will promote nepotism among the people and they will refrain themselves from applying for judiciary. In 2013, the chief justice A.K Sikri and Justice Jasbir Singh and S.K Mittal in a collegium between the Punjab and Haryana Court made recommendations of 8 advocates for the promotion to the high court. The lawyers recommended for elevation were Manisha Gandhi who is a daughter of Former judge of India A.S Anand, Gurminder Singh and Raj Karan Singh Brar former juniors of Justice Jasbir Singh, Arun Palli who is the Son of former Justice P.K Palli, Girish Agnihotri the Son of former Justice M.R Agnihotri, and HS Sidhu who is additional Advocate-General in Punjab, Vinod Ghai and B.S Rana who is former juniors of Justice S.K Mittal. In 2014, a PIL was filed against the Karnataka high court in which there was the appointment of fifteen lawyers as Senior Advocate. Five of them were the sons of retired judge and other three were associated with sitting judges. In 2016 the supreme court of India dismissed a plea by a lawyers’ group, National Lawyers Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms, for fixing a “public transparent body” which will either not be controlled by the judiciary and government for the appointment of judges for the Supreme Court and High Courts. In 2017, the new Punjab government updated the list of advocates who would fight cases for the State within the SC and courts outside Chandigarh. In that there was also a mention of the son of former CJI, J.S. Kehar, and sons of two other Supreme Court judges. In 2018, also the Centre has acknowledged that a minimum of 11 of the 33 names recommended for elevations by the Allahabad high court collegium in February were advocates with links to sitting and retired judges. In 2019, Justice Rang Nath Pandey of the Allahabad high court in his letter written to Prime Minister Modi he wrote that subsequent judge’s selection depends on their relationship with former judges. He further allege that the choice of judges to both the high court’s and therefore the Supreme Court is in close chambers and over cups of tea” by on lobbying and favoritism. The names of future judges are public only once the whole process complete.

DISCRIMINATION REGARDING WOMEN WITHIN THE PROFESSION Justice DY Chandrachud of the Supreme Court said at the New Delhi book launch of the Indian legal profession in the Age of Globalization, he acknowledged how law firms does not consider beyond the top 10 colleges, preventing worthy students with talented legal minds from the opportunities. And therefore the representation of women in 'position of power' in the corporate legal sector as managing or equity partners remains low. Adv. Indira Jaising said, ‘Judiciary takes women less seriously’. Religion plays a vital role in determining the participation of women within the profession. Some courts even have informal lawyer lobbies that are constituted on the premise of region, language, religion, caste, etc. Senior advocates don’t give enough opportunities to female lawyers to present. Kiruba Munuswami is a Supreme Court practitioner and she has narrated many incidences in her practice of litigation. As a woman herself, she tells that the clients sometimes hesitate to offer their case to a woman because they think they might not fight the male lawyers in the court of law. The scales of justice are indeed tilted heavily against women within the profession.

CONCLUSION There is an independent judiciary and it’s always been a pillar of democracy for a very time. Though there are some loopholes it is the best one can get served upon in a democracy where even the leader’s actions are questioned and his actions are often challenged without any fear of one’s life and his future inside bars. The legal profession is seen by most as a noble profession, to assist secure justice to those in need. The entire profession needs reform. Nepotism is merely a little a part of the matter. So, in a nutshell, nepotism in the profession exists and is here to remain. A client therefore should not look for a lawyer because he/she is the son/daughter of some honorary legal personality. He should be choosen because he is a good lawyer, and as Senior, choose a junior not because he was recommended and because of his surname, but because his CV speaks for himself. References 1Litigators face nepotism, poor remuneration and competition from law firms Vantage Asia, https://law.asia/india-litigators/

2. Nepotism: Only in Bollywood? Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news, https://www.barandbench.com/columns/nepotism-only-in-bollywood Supreme Court yet to acknowledge nepotism in judicial appointments, even as Centre seems intent on curbing it - India News , Firstpost, https://www.firstpost.com/india/supreme-court-yet-to-acknowledge-nepotism-in-judicial-appointments-even-as-centre-seems-intent-on-curbing-it-4871401.html

3.The Nauseating Nepotism and Caste-based Discrimination that exists in Indian Judiciary ThePrint, https://theprint.in/author/kiruba-munusamy/ Nepotism in Law


4.Thebluntweb.wordpress.com, https://thebluntweb.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/nepotism-in-law/

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