Bend it like Fifa
Sir — If the Federation of International Football Associations can give a special award to the British-Asian actress, Parminder Nagra, for rendering outstanding service to the game of football, then shouldn’t the International Cricket Council also honour Aamir Khan in some way for his service to the game of cricket (“Fifa fetes Beckham’s Jas”, Dec 19)' In fact, Khan’s credit is greater than Nagra’s who merely played the lead role in Bend It Like Beckham. Khan produced Lagaan, acted in it and had a role to play in the film’s conception itself. The ICC cannot deny that Lagaan has introduced and popularized the game in countries like China and the United States of America, and the cricket body could capitalize on this and expand the reach of the game. After all, compared to the number of football-playing countries, the number of countries playing cricket is negligible. It is time cricket was rescued from its reputation of being the colonizer’s game.
Wasim Ahmed, Calcutta
Law unto themselves
Sir — The law minister of West Bengal, Nitish Adhikari, has been economical with the truth on the question of court fees (“Court fee bill cleared, lawyers adamant”, Dec 13). Both Adhikari and the advocate general of the state, Balai Roy, have made a mess of the whole issue. In a bid to clear up the mess, the law minister claimed that the recent revision in court fees by the Left Front government comes after a gap of 32 years. But Adhikari either has a short memory, or he is deliberately concealing the truth. For, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) government had revised court fees twice in the Eighties.
At that time, I was literally commuting every other day from London to Calcutta and New Delhi to thwart the attempts to divert the normal course of justice in the case of my brother’s murder. Since I was involved in the legal procedure during the Eighties, I can say with conviction that the government raised the court fee once in 1980 and again in 1984. Government records will show that dozens of criminal cases were withdrawn during that time, including the cases of the well-known Mayapur police camp robbery, that of the murder of a policeman in Nadia and the Sain Bari case of Burdwan. I also remember that the Supreme Court criticized the government of West Bengal for appointing public prosecutors for the accused. Sadly, the Congress and other opposition parties acted as mere onlookers to such violations of norms in the state.
Sunil Kumar Pal, London
Sir — As an advocate, I consider it my duty to clarify a few points on the lawyers’ strike in protest against the raising of court fees (“SC: lawyers have no right to strike”, Dec 17). The strike was called according to the decision of the majority of the elected members of the bar council of West Bengal. The financial situation of the state government is not something to write home about, it even had to curtail the Puja bonus of its employees last October. Given this, it is understandable that it would seek to increase its revenue in different ways. But the hike in court fees would affect litigants, many of whom do not have adequate financial resources. We do not have our own axe to grind in opposing the government’s decision. We are merely acting in the interests of the people.
The Supreme Court’s decision is binding on every citizen of the country. With due respect to the order passed by its constitutional bench, I would like to say that the use of the word, “strike”, is inappropriate in our case, since no government or non-governmental organization employs us. Whether we want to work or not ought to be left to our own discretion. We did not try to prevent the working of the court or its officials. Since the government does not pay us, and we do not enjoy benefits like provident fund or gratuity, our action can at most be called “cease-work” and not strike.
I admit that our cease-work has caused inconvenience to a large number of people. But it is also true that several members of our fraternity, who are junior advocates, advocate’s clerks and not so well-established, are having to put up with weeks of zero-income. I am sure the people of the state understand that we are fighting for them, not for ourselves.
Somnath Bhattacharjee, Calcutta
Sir — The Supreme Court’s ruling that lawyers have no right to go on strike is welcome, but the idea of the lawyers providing compensation to their clients for their absence from courts is unlikely to be put into practice. There ought to be some binding norms to save litigants from being victimized by their own lawyers. A mechanism must be developed to prevent lawyers from taking on false cases. It could be a good idea to have a public record of cases won and lost by individual lawyers. They should also be made liable for their clients’ perjury, abolishing the useless formalities of deposing before notary public or oath commissioners. Lawyers generally charge full fees in advance, but often coerce their clients into paying additional sums in between. A lawyer-client agreement mentioning the fees settled upon and the mode of payment should be placed on record.
These checks will surely reduce the number of cases pending before courts. Even lawyers will, in the long run, find these to be in their own interest because the legal profession, choked of the easy money, might attract less people, ultimately reducing competition.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi
Sir — The ban on strikes should be extended to all those who are in-charge of public responsibilities, and yet have no qualms about abstaining from work on some trivial excuse or the other — particularly doctors on duty and politicians. The latter, although entrusted with decision-making powers, boycott parliament sessions for days on end.
Abhijit Mitra, Kharagpur
Sir — The Supreme Court’s ban on striking lawyers should bring more discipline into the system. But the disturbing thing is that the lawyers are out in the streets protesting against the ruling. When an arm goes against the head, it does not augur well for the body.
Indrajit Bose, Cuttack
Sir — As per the Supreme Court order and recently amended regulations, the national flag cannot be used as dress material. This code was brazenly violated in the closing ceremony of the National Games at Hyderabad, where the dancers wore the tri-colour during a dance number. The organizers should apologize for the faux pas.
M. Abdaal Akhtar, Secunderabad