Litigation has gone beyond reach of poor man: SC

New Delhi: Fighting legal battle in courts has become so expensive that it has gone beyond the reach of a poor man, the Supreme Court has said while expressing concern over the legal profession getting commercialised.

Virtually holding a mirror to itself, the apex court said that judicial proceeding is so slow that people in the country are convinced that a case would not finish in their lifetime.

“In the present era, the legal profession, once known as a noble profession, has been converted into a commercial undertaking. Litigation has become so expensive that it has gone beyond the reach and means of a poor man.

“For a long time, the people of the nation have been convinced that a case would not culminate during the life time of the litigant and is beyond the ability of astrologer to anticipate his fate,” a bench of justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde said.

Observing that lawyers are equal partners with judges in the administration of justice, the apex court said, “Advocates cannot behave with doubtful scruples or strive to thrive on litigation.”

It said wilful disregard for litigants’ interest by a lawyer is reprehensible and unbefitting for an advocate.

“Law is no trade, briefs no merchandise. An advocate being an officer of the court has a duty to ensure smooth functioning of the court. He has to revive the person in distress and cannot exploit the helplessness of innocent litigants. A wilful and callous disregard for the interests to the client may in a proper case be characterised as conduct unbefitting an advocate.”