Lawyers and law students are considered a very important part of the polity and social fabric of a country as they act as guardians of the constitution and civil liberties. We have seen this happening even during the time of independence struggle, right from 1885 itself when lawyers were part of the independence struggle. Moderates in the Indian National Congress such as Dadabhai Naoroji, Sundernath Bannerjee, Madan Mohan Malviya and Motilal Nehru, to name a few, were lawyers by profession. The moderates believed in the system of constitutionalism and therefore always tried to fight the system by staying inside the system. Extremist lawyers such as C. Rajagopalachari, Lala Lajpat and Bal Gangadhar Tilak put forward new ideas and methods of opposing British rule. After that, the role of lawyers and law students in mass movements led by Gandhiji, especially the Quit India movement, the round table conferences and others, are etched in the history of the law profession in India.
But for the last few years, the law profession in India has just become a way to make more money. The influence of lawyers on society and law-making processes is decreasing at an alarming rate to that extent where current Chief Justice of India N V Ramana reminded lawyers about their duties towards the nation and society. CJI requested lawyers to not only confine themselves to their profession and just earn money but also to actively participate in public life and try to bring changes in society.
Law Colleges / Universities, which are supposed to be filled with power-packed debates and discussions about law, politics and almost everything related to this nation, have become silent. Eminent law institutes which are ranked high in the ranking lists have become incubators to produce lawyers who are focussed mainly on the first time salary package they are going to get after 5 years. Constitutional Law, which is one of the most important and relevant areas in the legal field, is today being avoided by the majority of law students stating lesser salary and vastness of the subject. Things that are happening in our society and nation, or the shortcomings of the Indian Legal Framework are not even debating topics in law schools these days. I do not have the opinion that every student who’s enrolling into law institutes is just aiming for a higher salary or every practising lawyer is acting profit-orientated, but what we are witnessing today is unprecedented. The silence of lawyers and law students regarding issues that affect the constitution and civil liberties are just worrying.
We can blame the “system” for forcing us to live in pursuit of money and not the wellbeing of society, but for how long are we going to do it? For how long will we be able to continue blaming this system as acting like the three monkeys. For how long, will we keep our eyes shut towards injustices happening in society? When will we open our mouths to save the Constitution of India, which has safeguarded us till now since1947?