Being in a law firm or being associated with the courts is a lucrative business. Bribes are given at every level, from court orderlies to judges. But this holds true mostly for lower courts. Corruption gets less when it comes to high courts and there is almost no trace of it at the Supreme Court.
Thousands of cases come in every month. So, even if the judge takes about 100-120 cases per day, there will still be pending cases. A lawyer has to give bribes—to clerks and peons—to get court dates. They charge a fixed amount to do this. But to get to these clerks, one has to bribe court orderlies. The amount these people earn in a day is almost equal to their monthly salaries.
Then, after the judge has heard your case, one has to bribe the stenographer writing out the court orders. Usually, they type about 100 orders a day and need some incentive to type your orders sooner. So, they also end up making a hefty amount at the end of the day.
In lower courts, the judges directly ask for money. Judgments go in favour of the party that is ready to pay a higher amount.
Sometimes, clerks are paid to postpone court dates. A judge holds one court for three months. If he’s the strict kind, lawyers don’t want their cases to be heard by him. Common excuses they offer are that they are sick or in some other court.
The legal field is dominated by men. Clients do not want to hire women lawyers. So, the latter start dressing like men and their mannerisms also get crass. But there are female judges in high courts who are really good.
Lawyers are not supposed to get their clients to a high court. But sometimes, if it’s a high profile case and the client is a celebrity, they do. There are always about 10-15 cameramen standing outside the court at any given time—to capture at least one famous face.
As told to Jahnavi Sanghvi