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Trusts need lawyers in court

New Delhi, Nov. 3: If lawyers are feeling a bit more secure about their jobs, they have to thank the Supreme Court.

The country’s top court today said unlike individuals, legal entities such as trusts could not argue their cases in courts without hiring a lawyer and refused to allow a trust chairman from pleading his case.

“Under the rules of this court, no one else other than a petitioner in person can argue his own case…. A trust is a legal entity, you have to engage a lawyer,” Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan told Suraj India Trust chairman Rajiv Daiya.

“Only lawyers are permitted to argue cases in this court unless the court specifically permits you to appear. If everybody starts arguing their own cases, then all lawyers will be out of jobs.”

Daiya later told reporters the court could not, under existing rules, force him to engage a lawyer. “This is against the rules which permit the representative of an organisation to plead its case,” he said.

The chief justice’s comment came on an appeal against tighter security curbs on those who choose to argue their own case and not engage lawyers.

Daiya, head of the Jodhpur-based civil society group, had filed a petition against an executive order of the apex court bureaucracy restricting access of individuals into the court’s precincts on security reasons.

The registrar (security) had passed the order after a woman official of a controversial Mumbai-based music school threw a chappal at a judge at a hearing.

The May 5 order permits individuals who don’t hire lawyers to enter the court complex only on days their cases have been listed for hearing.

Even on those days, they are escorted by security personnel into the specific court and not allowed access to other areas of the court.

“This hampers their movement. One cannot go to the filing section or the judgment section,” Daiya said.

This is discriminatory and violates the Constitution, his petition said.

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