uttam kumar mazumdar, executive chairman, Bar Council of West Bengal, met readers of The Telegraph at Calcutta High Court. The participants included Tanmoy Ghosh, Amal Kumar Mukherjee, Sk.Anwar Ali, Asish Ray, Tapas Adhikari, Tarun Kumar Ghosh, Sibabrata Chatterjee and Deeptimoy Ghosh
Tanmoy Ghosh: Tribunals were formed to provide relief to government employees. But later it was found that they were running without any specific directions so they could not be successful.
Tribunals were formed to speed up cases. But it is true that they failed in some states and were closed. Originally it was said that if a case reached a tribunal it must be settled within six months. But it was seen that it took six months to even get the first date.
Amal Kumar Mukherjee: Ignorance of law cannot be an excuse. But in our country a vast number of people are not aware of the law. How can they be educated' Is there any plan to reach legal assistance to those who cannot afford to approach the court'
If a person kills a man and says that he did not know that it was a crime, he will not be let off. The West Bengal government has taken steps to reach legal benefits to everyone. But I won’t say that these have become successful. However, the Bar Council is discussing ways to help poverty-stricken people.
Sk.Anwar Ali: The West Bengal Premises Tenancy act of 1956 was amended in 1997, to give relief to both tenants and landlords by speedily disposing of cases. It was said that the cases would go to the rent controller’s office, and if the parties were not satisfied with the arrangement, they could approach the tribunals. But is it true that the Bar Council was not satisfied with the decision'
Actually, we were not dissatisfied. All we wanted was that instead of an executive officer, a judicial officer be appointed.
Asish Ray: Frustrated with inordinate delays in disposal of cases at the court, people are often being forced to influence the police or take the help of local goons. This is due to various reasons. Vacant posts of judges are not being filled up. The number of officials is also not adequate. Infrastructure has not improved. The files are not maintained methodically. In addition, there are allegations of a section of court employees taking bribes to speed up cases. How can the system become transparent'
You have rightly pointed out that cases are delayed as the number of judges is not adequate. The same can be said about the number of officials. We have pointed out time and again that the court lacks infrastructure. Lastly, we appeal to all not to give ‘speed money’ to anybody.
Tarun Kumar Ghosh: Can the Bar Council do anything if the judiciary does not discharge its duties faithfully'
If there is any deviation on the part of the judiciary, the Bar Council can report that to the law ministry and even to the chief minister.
Sibabrata Chatterjee: The Green Bench was formed in 1996 In Calcutta High Court. Initially, it was functioning quite actively. But at present, some laxity has crept in. Are the guidelines set by the Supreme Court being followed'
I should not comment on this issue as both the Supreme Court and the high court are involved in the matter. But I feel that the high court should pay more attention to public interest litigations and cases involving the environment.
Sibabrata Chatterjee: How can a layman know which lawyer to appoint for a particular case'
We intend to help litigants in this matter. We are preparing a computerised list of our members and will give the public access to the list.
Deeptimoy Ghosh: Some advocates charge high fees from litigants but fail to deliver the goods. What measures can be taken against such advocates who are tarnishing the image of the judiciary'
There is a provision in the advocates’ act that gives the respective Bar Council authority to take penal action against lawyers who harass their clients. Litigants should lodge complaints against lawyers who indulge in corrupt practices. We have taken action against some lawyers who were found to be corrupt.