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Your honour, I am in your corner

It must be greatly tempting to take out all over collective anger on the advocates of this land. But this is not the time to come down heavily on them, especially knowing that violence is not beyond them in the mood they are.

Actually, we should try and understand what makes the advocates to behave the way they have.

I think I have figured out what their problems are, the chief of which must surely be the attire that they are forced to wear in courts.

It is a dress that has been palpably decided and designed by men who have the dress sense of blind owls. How on earth can people wear those flowing robes and still expect others to treat them seriously!

Back when you about to emerge out of college, you would have had a graduation ceremony. Remember the kind of hopeless laughter that you all fell into while wearing that graduation robe on that all-important day? Despite the solemnity of the occasion you guys just couldn’t control the unabashed sniggers and snorts at the robe that gave you the elegance of a flat-footed donkey. The graduation ceremony robe is a major reason for the falling pass percentage in college education.

To give you a perspective, it is not a dissimilar robe that most advocates have to wear on a daily basis.

The ignominy of having to sport the what are window drapes in different garb, so to say, surely must have forced Mahatma Gandhi to give up lawyer’s practice and go almost half-naked. When you get down to it, you will realise that it was not a bad style decision at all.

Let’s get down to the specifics and try and describe a typical lawyer’s gown. If you are stylistically inclined, it is highly recommended that you skip the next few lines so as to not go into terminal seizures: Just imagine a long and irregular black curtain. Fold in whatever pattern that catches your fancy and hem them together at the top so as to give it feeling that it is all stitched up together as one unit. Make large holes for sleeves and leave it all flowing down to the floor so that it obviates the need for Neel Metal Fanalca men to turn up in your vicinity for the next few days.

Voila, you have designed a purdah minus its convenience and concealment.

These days some lawyers are given to showing up in a simple coat. But still they have to wear that white collar, which is another signature style statement thought up in wherever they have not heard about style. The advocate’s collar is unique in that it is no collar. A whimsically cut white cloth that gives off an illusion of it being a misplaced venetian blind is what it is. It is by what that capital punishment convicts are hung to death.

Lawyers wear this to court daily and while judges have to put a serious look without breaking into even a wry smile. I tell you, it is tough out there in the courts. Actually, after describing their dress in detail, I don’t begrudge the vacations that the courts go into. After all they need to flush out all the residual and pent up laughter of the preceding months.

In the olden days, the judges too had something to sport. It was called a peruke. It was a long flowing wig in a tasteless grey colour not unlike the ones worn by villains on screen whenever they were to be portrayed as extremely wicked. It is for having the mental strength to come out in public in such a hideous wig that the judges, in compensation, were began to be addressed as ‘Your lordship’ or ‘your honour’.

As a combination, the gown and the wig ensured litigation was kept at a minimal level and warded off overzealous litigants.

Perhaps you may wonder why the legal profession sets so much store by such a dress code that is neither dress nor a code. Perhaps such sartorial tendencies are mandated in the IPC. Or possibly, without wearing such outfits one cannot summon the requisite gumption to speak the language that the court is ‘seized of’.

The last two words in inverted comma are a typical example of the lawyer’s lingo, which I present as Exhibit No: 2, for their general uneasiness and irritable behaviour. If your name is, say, Ramesh, and if you have problem with a person named, say, Suresh, and if you choose to go to the court with the problem, for some reason that is still a mystery to humanity, you will be referred to in the affidavit as the ‘party of the first part’ while Suresh will answer to the convenient appellation of ‘party of the second part’.

In the film Guna, and in the song, Kanmani Anbodu…, Kamal will exhort his lover (who is asked to pen an imaginary letter to herself) to intersperse the writing with words of affection. ‘Neduvulla, Mane, Thene Ponmane athellam pottukanum’.

Lawyers’ are mandated to maintain a strict adherence to Kamal’s Guna logic. In that they have to speck their lines with obscure Latin or foreign phrases that dictionaries themselves don’t feature anymore.

‘The party of the first part is constrained to point out that, ipso facto, is something that is not binding, pari passu, and causing willful damages, nolens volens, that are the sine qua non which is a mea culpa as it is a fait accompli’. I accept that the previous clutch of sentences makes no sense whatsoever. But neither does any lawyer’s brief. It is because of these expressions that many chose the science stream and eventually became scientists to develop the cell phone and invent sms-style terminologies that are at the other end of language assassination.

Habeas Corpus. Writ of Mandamus. Amicus Curiae. These are other words that the courts are extremely fond of. Probably they stand for some X-rated in-joke that the courts like to hear reductio ad absurdum.

Little wonder that courts have built a backlog of cases that date back to the time when Gandhi was not even practising in the Bar.

The court also perhaps does not have any great impression of the lawyers, and that is why they are asked to produce seeming impositions of whatever they submit to the court. Every application must be in triplicate or even more and every challan has to be in exponential numbers so that at least 100 square kilometres of Amazon forest is cleared to keep up with the paper needs of the courts.

So, the point is, if I were you I wouldn’t make fun of advocates.

Don’t make a copy in triplicates of this column and forward to your friends, who shall henceforth be called party of the eighth part, as it is quod erat demonstrandum of defamation.


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