Sunday, August 26, 2012

Law Attorneys and Law Firm in Delhi

Work is a topic that we talk about frequently because many people are not always content with the kind of work they do for a living. People ask me if I am happy being a lawyer. The truth is, yes, I enjoy what I do and therefore, it makes me happy. Typically people assume that a law attorney's life is colorless and dull. The truth is that it is the most money spinning, fastest and exciting career opportunity if you have the right mindset and values to support you.   

In general, few people see the job profile of law attorneys as something that can be both growth oriented and interesting. The general impression is that law attorneys get more holidays than school kids. Nothing could be farther away from the truth. A law firm in Delhi teaches you what the real grind is all about.  

Learning the Basics from a Law Firm in Delhi 
There are many things that I learned from working in a law firm in Delhi than in law college. Examples:

1. In college, you can bunk your class and take notes later to catch up with what you missed. You can't do that at work simply because your actions send out reactions and impacts the lives of several others. You simply can't bunk 'court' because you have a duty to be true to your client and to safeguard your client's interest as your own. You learn to be client-focused, responsible and ethically accountable.

2. In college, you have fixed timings. A law firm in Delhi works 24X7 including on Sundays.

3. In college, you enjoy the time you debate, discuss and beat about the bush to win a moot court. In real court, it is a real bloodless battle. It's not merely a debate or a discussion. It's a matter of bread and butter. 

4. It's also a matter of perception management - how do the judges perceive the crafting of your representation, how does your client perceive your interactions with the bench and how do your colleagues in the legal fraterning - other law attorneys - how they rate you from am the benches. All of it is so subtle but as real and powerful as a bloodless battle.

5. In college, you can skip classes or lectures that bore you. In court and in office, you can't afford to. So you have to create an eco system around you that keeps you constantly interested in the job and on the job.

6. In college, you don't have to be too respectful of your seniors. But as a law attorney, you can't flip them over. Every year of seniority does count at some level or the other. 

7. In college, you have fun.  But at work, you can combine fun with recognition, career growth and making your dreams come true by helping others who are in need and in helping them to sort out the really messy issues in their lives. You get a real opportunity to serve and be champions of issues that affect the society. Better still, you can choose your own cause and battles. You can decide where to draw the line, where to draw the blood, when to hit below the belt if required. In short, you can choose as well as direct the battle in the quest for justice.

What do you think about your college years and the work environment that you have chosen to be in today? Do share your thoughts and interesting experiences.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Identification Card is mandatory for Non AC Train Travel

Identity proof or carrying an identification card is fast becoming mandatory for just about anything in India. For instance, when you try to travel by the Indian Railways, the menace of tickets being transferred and sold by touts under fictitious names is a serious issue. So, it will become mandatory soon for all train passengers who are traveling in the non-AC reserved class to carry their ID proof or identification card. Till recently, those who traveled by non-AC did not have to furnish their ID proof. But that will change with this proposed law.

Identification Card: Types You Can Carry on Train Journey
Carry one of these valid ID proofs the next time you are on a train journey:

  1. Your voter ID card
  2. Your passport
  3. Your PAN card
  4. Your driving licence
  5. Your photo identity card that is issued either by the central or the state government
  6. Your student identity card
  7. Aadhar card
  8. Nationalized bank passbook with photograph
  9. Any credit cards that are issued by banks with a laminated photograph
Typically, what ID proof do you carry in your wallet or purse in case of an unexpected identity verification is checked or called for? 

Wildlife Conservation Laws & Environmental Legal Requirements to Protect the Wild Buffalo

Wildlife conservation laws and the environmental legal requirements continue to be discussed and widely debated on in many circles. But the fact is this: most development activities that are undertaken in wildlife areas tend to cause interference in the forest and also affects the privacy of wildlife. These are ultimately issues that triggers a negative impact on wildlife. 

Wildlife Conservation Laws: The National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016)

To avoid such a conflict from escalating, the Central government, the state governments and the Union territories are expected to evolve better preservation strategies in consultation with the Wildlife boards.

There are several wildlife conservation laws but here, let's take a look at the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016). This Act aims to provide adequate protection to wildlife even in areas such as:

(i) government forests outside PAs
(ii) pvt forests interspersed with conserved areas like tea, coffee and cardamom gardens
(iii) farmlands
(iv) wastelands
(v) wetlands of birds
(v)catchment forests
(vi)turtle nesting sites
(vii)pastures for livestock

Environmental legal requirement to protect the Wild Buffalo 

The Centrally Sponsored Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats Scheme 2009 highlighted the importance of protecting the habitat of the Wild Buffalo. It also deals with recovery programmes State governments in India have to enforce this environmental legal requirement by taking up initiatives such as legal wildlife program training. They have to come up with implementing proper course of action, management planning, eco-development activities and so on. 

In TN Godavarman Thirumulpad vs Union of India, the State of Chattisgarh took the stand that they do not have sufficient funds to undertake various programs to protect the wild Asiatic buffalo. The Asiatic buffalo is reported as one of the world's most impressive and magnificent animal. 

The Supreme Court held that the steps taken by the state to conserve the wild buffalo is far from satisfactory. It was observed that areas outside the protected areas within the forest have the maximum number of man-animal conflict as the animals fall prey to poachers easily in these places. 

The Supreme Court directed the State to take steps to initiate wildlife training programmes for the offocials of the State Forest Department. With this judgment, the Supreme Court clearly laid down that wildlife protection is the government's constitutional duty.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Indian Law: Why Copywriters are not and cannot be Government Servants

Most lawyers and bloggers like to discuss popular topics. The not-so-popularlydiscussed legal cases are the ones that catch my real attention and interest. One such case is what I am going to discuss here. It is based on the Supreme Court’s judgment in State of West Bengal vs W.B. Registration Copywriters Association (2009) 14 SCC.
Are copywriters actually document writers?

When we talk about copywriters, the reference is not to those who are in the advertising industry. In the context of Indian law, we refer to them as document writers. For decades, these document writers are considered as the extended arms of lawyers. They are highly trusted and essential to for the Sub-Registrars/Revenue authorities. While there is no clear process that can pinpoint how these legal ‘experts in document writing' emerged, the fact is that courts and lawyers depend on their expertise particularly in cases pertaining to transfer of property, ownership of property, title deeds and so on.  Take a look at any age old document of any property. You will be able to refer to a detailed narration of the devolution of ownership. Even the minute details will be recorded by these document writers. 

West Bengal Registration of Copywriters Rules of 1999
The West Bengal Registration of Copywriters Rules of 1982 were replaced by the West Bengal Registration of Copywriters Rules of 1999. Following this, the copywriters made a grievance before the Administrative Tribunal that they should be absorbed as Lower Division Clerks based on two grounds: 

Firstly, the State Government had absorbed extra muharrirs as LDCs and therefore these copywriters should be given the same treatment. Secondly, they were already doing the same work as was done by LDCs.

Core issue boils down to one serious question of law: Is there any master-servant relationship between copy writers and the State Government under which the State Government is obliged to absorb copy writers as LDCs?

Indian Law: Existence of Master-Servant Relationship between Copywriters and State Government
The Administrative Tribunal dismissed the copywriters’ applications; the High Court had a contrary view and held that there is a master-servant relationship. The High Court also directed that the State Government should create a separate cadre for copywriters and absorb them by framing separate rules for them.

Supreme Court on Copywriters as per West Bengal Registration of Copywriters Rules of 1982

Following this, the Supreme Court reversed the High Court judgment.

1.      Copywriters are mere licensees.
2.      Copywriters do not do any government duty. They are merely required to copy deeds which are to be presented for registration. Making that copy does not amount to doing government duty.
3.       Copywriters are not controlled in their matters of attendance, working hours, leave, pension and output of work by the Government.
4.      Copywriters are not paid from government coffers. They are paid by private parties who require those copies for the registration of their deeds.
5.      There is no fiduciary relationship between the Government and the copywriters.
6.      Grant of licence for copywriting does not amount to creating a service. Therefore, there is no master-servant relationship between copywriters and government.
There’s an interesting case is from GB Pant University of Agriculture & Technology vs State of Uttar Pradesh (2000) 7 SCC 109. Here, the question was whether the employees of a cafeteria run in the University can be recognized as regular employees of the said University. It was held that they are employees of the University.
However,  a legal comparison of this case with that of the copywriters was not encouraged by the Supreme Court.
Master-Servant Relationship as per Indian Law
In this case, a ruling pertaining to UPSC vs Girish Jayanti Lal Vaghela (2006) 2 SCC 482: 2006 SCC (L&S) 339 was widely discussed as it had laid down the following four factors pertaining to the contract of service were laid down: (see SCC page 487, para 6)

“a) the master’s power of selection of his servant
b) the master’s responsibility if paymentof wages or other remuneration
c) the master’s right of suspension or dismisaal
d) the master’s right to control the method of doing work
A study of the decision in UPSC vs Girish Jayanti Lal Vaghela suggests that the rules for appointment were given considerable importance. The Rules merely provided the manner in which the licensees were to be created and controlled but there are no rules for appointment of any service. There is a distinction here that is of legal importance here. That is one of the key points that the Supreme Court took into consideration while deciding this matter pertaining to the copywriters.