Judges' : DOs + DONTs : Defined
I deem it a matter of
pride, privilege and pleasure for having been called upon to deliver the First
M.C. Setalvad Memorial Lecture. I
do not have the good fortune of having ever met or even seen the legendary
figure Motilal Setalvad, but, I can claim to know him well for I have learnt
about him not from anyone else, but from he himself.
My close encounter with Setalvad (as I would put it)
was in the year 1971. I had put in
a few years of legal practice. I
had passed through that phase wherein a junior lawyer often acquires the
reputation of being a champion of lost cases. I was desperately keen on learning
what goes into the making of a good lawyer.
My late father, who was also my guru in the profession and also my
role model, advised me to read autobiographies and biographies of great lawyers.
In a law book shop at Indore (where I had taken my instructions in law),
I came across – “My Life, Law and Other Things”.
What tempted me at that time to purchase the book was not so much the
fact that the book was authored by Setalvad; rather, I felt more fascinated by
the fact that the book was published in October, 1970 and within three months a
reprint edition had to be brought out in January, 1971.
This fact bore testimony to the demand for the book.
I thought there must be something worthwhile in it.
For the book running into 636 pages well bound in cloth, I paid Rs. 30/-
(the printed price) which was out of the hard earned money of a young district
court lawyer. Thirty three years
hence, a few pages have started leaving the binding.
Recently I saw the second edition of the book.
On comparison, I found that the only difference between the two editions
is a heart-touching but inspiring introduction to the book by Shri Fali S.
Nariman, Senior Advocate. I got the
introduction photocopied and added to my old possession as I did not want my
tested source of inspiration for 33 years to be replaced by anything new.
The book is a must for every lawyer, every
judge and every student of law, for the message which it carries for everyone
associated with law or legal profession. The
book speaks less of Setalvad and more about the contemporaneous events which
centred around Setalvad. It is less
of a biography and more of a historical document.
Setalvad himself said – “I have always disliked talking about
myself” and yet he said – “I am naturally proud of what I have been able
to achieve in the profession and all the services I have tried to render to the
public and the country in different fields.
I have attempted in this book to set down an account of my life first of
all for my own satisfaction and because it might be an encouragement to
others.” Setalvad is
right, I can swear and say that.