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India: Madras high court questions Jayalalitha death cause

Court asks why the body of former chief minister J Jayalalitha cannot be exhumed for investigation.

Indian police in Pune hold ‘snake venom smugglers’

Indian police arrest two suspected venom smugglers caught in possession of dozens of snakes.

India conducts fourth test launch of Agni-V missile

India successfully conducts a fourth test launch of its nuclear-capable ballistic missile.

India Congress party Twitter account hacked

The Twitter account of India’s main opposition Congress party is hacked briefly before being restored.

India court bans fireworks in Delhi after Diwali smog

India’s top court stops firecracker sales in the capital Delhi, while “harmful affects” are studied.

India opposition calls for ‘day of rage’ against cash crisis

India opposition parties call for a nationwide protest against the government’s currency ban.

India WhatsApp users fall for ‘UN’ hoax on new rupee note

Some Indians believe Unesco has declared India’s new currency note the “best in the world”, but it’s not true.

India hospital fined after wrong body cremated

A hospital in India is fined after releasing a dead body to the wrong family for cremation.

Jayalalitha hints at recovery in ‘rebirth’ letter

Ailing Indian politician Jayaram Jayalalitha hints at recovery in a letter that describes a ‘rebirth’.

India rupee ban: Garlands of money and other images of a cash crisis

Indians fret as queues outside banks lengthen to swap 500 and 1,000 rupee notes which are no longer valid.

Kashmir students take exams despite four-month school shutdown

More than 100,000 students take exams in Indian-administered Kashmir despite not being able to attend school for nearly four months.

India demonetisation: Banks begin swapping banned notes

People queue outside banks in India to exchange banned high denomination currency notes.

India stuntmen feared dead after reservoir jump goes wrong

Two stuntmen are feared dead after jumping into a reservoir as part of a film shoot in south India.

India jail break prisoners killed

Eight prisoners who escaped from a jail in the central Indian city of Bhopal have been killed, police say.

Bhubaneswar hospital: Owner arrested over deadly fire

Police in India arrest the owner of a hospital in connection with a deadly fire that killed 20 patients.

Transforming lives in India’s manufacturing hubs

India is becoming a major vehicle manufacturing hub, with several foreign firms setting up factories there – and changing people’s lives in the process.

India’s Bihar alcohol ban struck down

A court strikes down a ban on sale and consumption of alcohol in India’s eastern state of Bihar.

India to ratify Paris climate deal in October

India, one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, will ratify the Paris global climate agreement pact next month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said

Kashmir violence: 11 killed as Indian forces battle ‘militants’

One soldier dies as Indian security forces say they have killed 10 suspected militants in battles near an army base that was attacked on Sunday.

Kashmir protests: Boy’s funeral draws thousands

Thousands reportedly defy a curfew in Kashmir to attend the funeral of a schoolboy whose body was found riddled with shotgun pellet wounds.

Four arrested over gang rape of teenagers in Delhi

Four men are arrested in India’s capital, Delhi, for allegedly gang raping two teenage girls in a public park.

Kashmir MP quits India parliament to protest "brutal" policy

An MP from the ruling party in Indian-administered Kashmir resigns in protest at the authorities’ handling of weeks of political unrest.

Fresh clashes kill five people in India’s Kashmir

Five people have been killed during fresh protests in Indian-administered Kashmir, reports say.

Gold medal for Indian man 47 years after exam

An 81-year-old Indian man is finally awarded a prestigious gold medal for coming top in law exams which he sat nearly 50 years ago.

Lightning in Indian states ‘kills 79’

At least 79 people are killed by lightning strikes in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, officials say.

India launches 20 satellites in single mission

India successfully launches 20 satellites in a single mission, the most in the history of the country’s ambitious space programme.

India uproar over Salman Khan ‘raped woman’ comment

Bollywood star Salman Khan is given a week to apologise after he tells reporters his filming schedule was so gruelling he felt like a “raped woman”.

India food watchdog bans ‘toxic’ bread chemical

India’s food watchdog bans the use of a cancer-causing chemical in bakery products, a senior official says.

Delhi eatery ‘discriminated’ against street children

A restaurant in Delhi is guilty of “discriminatory behaviour” for refusing to serve a woman and street children who wanted to eat there, an Indian state government panel says.

India kidney racket ‘leader’ arrested

Indian police say they have arrested the suspected leader of an illegal human kidney trading gang in one of the country’s leading private hospitals.

Police case against Bihar exam toppers

A police complaint is filed against four toppers of school leaving exams in India’s Bihar state after an inquiry found that they cheated.

Five convicted for Delhi tourist’s rape

A court in the Indian capital, Delhi, finds five men guilty for the 2014 gang rape of a Danish woman.

Star students face retest after video

Fourteen exam-topping Indian students will be retested after a video of one of them saying political science is about cooking goes viral.

India transfusions infect many with HIV

At least 2,234 people in India contract the deadly HIV virus while getting blood transfusions in hospitals in the past 17 months.

Soldiers die in Indian army depot fire

Seventeen soldiers die in a fire at a military ammunition depot in western Maharashtra state, Indian army officials say.

Students die as live wire falls on bus

Two students are electrocuted and at least 30 others injured when a live wire falls on their school bus in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state.

Phiroza Anklesaria is right: The plight of junior advocates in India is terrible; and it affects you too

In a recent interview of Phiroza Anklesaria, she narrates how she narrowly missed out on becoming a High Court Judge. At the height of her career, Anklesaria wrote a scathing article criticising the terrible plight of junior advocates in the profession that sank her prospects. What surprised me was how little had changed in the years since then.

Supreme Court of India. Image from PTISupreme Court of India. Image from PTI

Supreme Court of India. Image from PTI

There are roughly four categories of juniors at the bar: Connected and Meritorious; Connected and Unmeritorious; Unconnected and Meritorious, and lastly, Unconnected and Unmeritorious. Others fall between these categories. (I must bashfully admit that I am somewhere in between the first two, but precariously in danger of teetering more towards the second.) The gestation period in the profession is a long one and law has a steep learning curve, taking about five to seven years to get a basic grip on, and a lifetime to learn. It helps to have the guidance of a senior: To paraphrase Sith teachings, a Master and Apprentice: One to embody the power of the law; the other to crave it.

Those who belong to Category No 1 and 2 (fortuitously, sometimes No 3) usually end up joining the chambers of a senior advocate to learn the ropes. Even so, this senior is seldom required to pay his apprentice anything. No law, or even unwritten professional courtesy or duty, even requires him to do so (quite unusual, for a profession so steeped in tradition).

The junior, meanwhile, is supposed to feel obliged towards his senior for having been given the honour and opportunity to carry his briefs or his umbrella with him, and of course, in passing, the opportunity to learn. Meanwhile, the excesses, temper tantrums, tirades, and in some cases, even sexual harassment of the senior are to be quietly tolerated. Having no connections, it is usually No 3 who bears the brunt of this trauma.

For all of his or her deference, years of toil, and free research, the junior may be ‘rewarded’ with a princely first salary of Rs. 10,000 a month, or later, a small brief. For someone to have spent three to five years in a law college, expecting to be well-equipped enough to earn a livelihood, this is a sorry state of affairs.

Category No 1 has the best of everything. The raw talent and legal acumen required to build a successful practice, along with the right connections (the relative of a senior advocate or better still, a judge) to keep up a steady inflow of work. Category No 2 is the more interesting proposition, because he lacks the aforesaid merit to truly become great. Nevertheless, thanks to the connections, there will be no shortage of work for him, and he can always engage a counsel (with various fee scales ranging from modest to astronomical) on behalf of his client who is more competent than he.

What matters is the inflow of work – and the cut that can be taken.

Those from Categories 3 and 4 usually wind up in law firms, which follow a similarly tragic pattern, with the only difference being that what is described above now comes with an infusion of characteristically exploitative corporate culture fed down the hierarchy from partner to junior associate. Reports suggested that a stipend for juniors was in the pipeline, but that seems to have fallen through.

By now you might be thinking this is an internal problem – the province of the Bar Council alone to handle – but unfortunately, as is often the case, it is you, the ordinary citizen and litigant, who suffers. It is your access – and just as importantly, your Government’s access – to a better class of lawyer, and by extension, a better class of judge, and ultimately justice, which is thwarted.

Meanwhile, bright men and women are kept out of bounds by impervious glass ceilings, while the mediocre move ahead.

Samarth Moray practices in Bombay High Court

Food watchdog for ‘toxic bread’ ban

India’s food watchdog recommends a ban on the use of a chemical in bakery products after a study says it can cause cancer.

India BJP leader takes over in Assam

Assam becomes the first BJP-ruled state in north-eastern India as Sarbananda Sonowal takes oath as the chief minister.

India inquiry over ‘toxic bread’ report

India’s health ministry orders an inquiry after a study finds cancer-causing chemicals in many bread and other bakery products.

India lions caged after fatal attacks

Officials in the Indian state of Gujarat cage a pride of 13 lions after they kill and eat a teenager, the latest of three such deaths.

Hottest day recorded in India

A city in India’s Rajasthan state breaks the country’s temperature records after registering 51C, the highest since records began, the weather office says.

Five die seeking water in parched India

Five villagers die after inhaling poisonous gases while trying to restore a disused drinking well in a drought-hit part of northern India.

Four India cities among most polluted

India has four of the 10 cities in the world with the worst air pollution, the World Health Organisation says.

Lawmaker’s son held for road rage death

Police in India’s Bihar state say they have arrested the 20-year-old son of a lawmaker suspected of killing a student in a road rage incident.

India’s unique bovine beauty pageant

Hundreds of cows and bulls walked the ramp over the weekend in the northern Indian city of Rohtak in a unique beauty pageant.

Army officer arrested for looting gold

Police in north-eastern Mizoram state arrest an Indian army officer for looting smuggled gold.

Rainfall douses India forest fires

Rain in the Indian state of Uttarakhand puts out forest fires which killed at least six people and destroyed a large area of woodland, officials say.

Life for Mumbai molestation murderers

An India court gives life sentences to four men convicted of killing two men trying to protect their female friends from being molested

India tycoon Mallya quits parliament

Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya, who is facing an investigation into money laundering, resigns as a lawmaker.

Indian boy dies after gun ‘selfie’

A schoolboy who accidently shot himself while taking a selfie with a handgun dies in northern Punjab state.

India planning sex offenders list

India’s government is drawing up plans for a published register of convicted sex offenders, a minister says.

India ‘sedition’ students suspended

Two Indian students accused of sedition for helping organise a protest at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University are suspended from campus.

‘Tearful’ plea for more India judges

India’s chief justice appears close to tears as he says more judges should be recruited to handle an “avalanche” of backlogged cases.

‘Attacked’ India police horse dies

An Indian police horse that had a leg amputated after allegedly being assaulted by a politician has died.

India cricket to move amid drought

Thirteen IPL cricket matches due to be played in the western Indian state of Maharashtra in May must be relocated because of a drought, a court rules.

Kashmir curfew after protesters die

A curfew is imposed in parts of Indian-administered Kashmir, a day after three protesters die in firing by security forces.

Seven more detained over India blast

Seven more people are detained for questioning in connection with an explosion and fire at a Hindu temple in Kerala that killed more than 100 people.

‘Water train’ brings drought relief

A train carrying half a million litres of water is dispatched to the worst-affected areas of India’s drought-ridden western Maharashtra state.

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