Primary Duty of An Officer of The Court
Pt. Kanhaiya Lal Misra
The judicial wheel is rounded with equality, oiled with honour and functions smoothly with honesty — principally when both members of the Bench and Bar shoulder their responsibilities seriously.
Who is a lawyer and what is the lawyer’s primary duty? This question has been discussed many a time at our residence — especially whenever my father was engaged in cases where in a conflict of interest was imminent or arose between his client, the opposite party and the Constitution of India.
My father was lucidly clear in his thought and would say:
The primary duty of a lawyer is not just to defend his client to the best of his ability but to uphold, above all, the letter and spirit of the constitution to the best of his understanding, to do right and justice according to law without fear or favour to all. A lawyer is first an officer of court and should thus assist the courts, the guardian of the Constitution and law, in imparting justice, and the guiding principle and foundation for this must rest on the Preamble of the Indian Constitution. However all these actions must be complemented with mercy, then only nobility will glow — and this profession rides on nobility.
My father, as the Advocate General, once appeared in a case for the State of Uttar Pradesh against a jailed politician (Sri Ram Manohar Lohia). That person decided to represent himself, without engaging an advocate and argue his case himself. Since the Lucknow Jail, wherein he was residing, had no law library, he did not have easy access to law books. My father decided to help him. He would search for relevant judgements and case laws and carry the same to the Lucknow Jail, along with other law books that Sri Ram Manohar Lohia requested, to enable him to consult and prepare for his arguments in court. Sri Lohia in the open court stated that he would not have been able to present his case as well as he did without the help extended by the Advocate General of Uttar Pradesh.
When people came to know of this they inquired as to why he was assisting his opponent in this manner and he replied:
He is not my opponent.
Every person in India must have equal opportunity when standing for trial and so have his or her day in court. As a law officer it is my duty to assist the courts in finding the truth and interpreting the law accurately, so that the courts may reach a correct decision and uphold the law in all aspects. My aim is to see that the truth is unveiled and the law clearly presented, thereby assisting the honourable court in arriving at the correct decision when pronouncing its judgement.
The judiciary is the guarantor of liberty and rights and is the arbiter of differences. It is responsible, in its wisdom and authority, to achieve this goal, recognising the rule of law and maintaining the balance of justice to all evenly, impartially and independently, without fear, favour or ill-will and with the sense of justice preceding law. Justice must not be denied, delayed or sold but be delivered with efficiency and integrity. It is through this endeavour to do what is right, that this institution becomes the cradle and temple of justice and its grandeur further glows when it showers mercy. Only then the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India is upheld supreme, the law of the land is honoured and the rule of law leads to the nation building.
Law furnishes only the skeleton of any system of judicial administration. The muscle and the sinews, the surging blood that gives to an institution, like the High Court, its strength, its resilience and even its glory are furnished by its traditions. Each judge and lawyer leaves behind him, in the wake of his advancing footprints, an aura, invisible and tangible, that makes up and enriches that tradition. It is only the memory of that tradition, co-opted along the corridor of time that shapes individual and collective action of a newer generation.
As a law officer this overrides even my endeavour to win a case — for in equality, with honour and honesty, the country is best served. The judicial wheel is rounded with equality, oiled with honour and functions smoothly with honesty — principally when both members of the Bench and Bar shoulder their responsibilities seriously.
My duty as a law officer is to uphold the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India as well as see that the law of the land is kept intact. I am assisting in searching for the truth to help the honourable court reach a correct decision — thus the values, letter and spirit of the Constitution of India will be upheld. All law officers of the court should strive, to the best of their ability, to attain this.