A new friend and new values

Father, Brother & Co. had hired a new junior to mid-level advocate, TechnoVakil. I had come across him a short while back in the High Court. He wasn’t too friendly that day but it seemed that there was a large shift in his attitude and demeanour today, towards me in particular. Perhaps he felt that I was more capable of having an intellectual conversation than N-PickerPleader and that it would be good to make friends at a new place. At this stage I should mention that I’m not suggesting that N-PickerPleader wasn’t good enough to be a friend, it’s just that I wouldn’t categorise him as an attractive personality to be acquainted with. N-PickerPleader was your typical mid-level advocate in the firm, who besides almost never producing any real work of substance, couldn’t seem to exhaust his desire of un-shameful public nose picking. The habit was fast becoming annoying. Perhaps that was the reason for my hidden prejudice.

After a 15 minute conversation of introductions and background information, I found TechnoVakil to be a nice fellow with great credentials. He had a 1st Class in his LLB from a UK university and an LLM from King’s College. He seemed quite intelligent from the conversation we had and I thought that I may have found a fellow advocate on the same wavelength as myself. Up until now the Pakistani Bar was making me feel like a fish out of water – or worse, a fish on a BBQ grill. But TechnoVakil had changed that feeling – or so it seemed.

“Oye, Aalo!” said MasterNakamma whilst walking through the door of the library room.

“O, hello sir,” I said. “This is TechnoVakil, he’s….”

“AALO….AA pakro!” said MasterNakamma while waving a file in his hand in an almost violent manner. TechnoVakil immediately reached for the file and pronounced “Yes sir!” as if he knew what MasterNakamma wanted.

“You two go to Kacheri now and give this written statement to No-can-doClerk for filing,” said MasterNakamma. “And tell him that keep this case ‘pressed’. The client will bear the ‘Kharcha’.”

As MasterNakamma walked off, me and TechnoVakil looked at each other – I was slightly confused but I could tell he wasn’t.

“Did he just give express instructions concerning something illegal?” I asked.

“Of course not,” said TechnoVakil.

“Well what sort of activity does bearing ‘expenses’ (Kharcha) for the purpose of preventing a case from being heard amount to, if not illegal?” I asked.

“I’m afraid I didn’t hear the instructions the way you heard them.”

“O, really?” I asked. “Then tell me your understanding of the instructions.”

“I‘m certain we were communicated three distinct sets of instructions,” said TechnoVakil. “One: deliver the written statement to No-can-doClerk for filing in court; two: communicate to him that the case should be prevented from being heard quickly, presumably in the interest of the client who is presumed innocent in accordance with law; and three: communicate to him that the client will bear all expenses involved in the case, the importance of such communication being that some clients don’t agree to pay litigation expenses other than the lump sum of legal fees they pay initially. Now, instruction numbers two and three have nothing in them to suggest that they are referring to any activity which cannot be carried out legally. It is a fact that cases can be delayed in a legal manner through persistent and creative use of adjournment applications – unethical but quite legal. And bearing expenses or kharcha as referred to in the instructions also has nothing to suggest that it cannot be for a legal purpose. Hence, I heard nothing to suggest the performance of anything contrary to the law.”

“But…but what about ethics and morals?” I asked.

“Ethics?! Morals?!” said TechnoVakil. “I can’t possibly sit in judgment over the actions of other fellow members of the Bar whose activities and reasons for such I am not fully familiar with. That would be so arrogant, wouldn’t it?”

“Yes, I guess it would,” I said.

That was it, I had received yet another warm welcome to the Pakistani Bar.

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