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June 20, 2004 

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Your Advocate

This week your advocate is M. Moazzam Husain of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. His professional interests include civil law, criminal law and constitutional law.

Q:I have gone through the reply you have given about different aspect of the legal profession which was published in the last Sunday issue of the Daily Star. I am enlightened by your answer. Like the lay questioner to whom you have replied last week I have also many different questions to be asked to a lawyer may be because I have in my mind legal profession as one to be taken up after completion of my education. My maternal grandfather was a lawyer. This family linkage might have played some role in creating interest in my mind. I would be grateful if you kindly reply to the following questions:-

1. People are found to say that lawyers cannot but resort to falsehood for winning their cases. Is it true?
2. We find that lawyers get the criminals released from jail. Is it part of their duty?
3. Is a lawyer duty bound to do all cases that come his way?

Sardar Lutful Kabir Swapon.
Court para, Kushtia.

Your Advocate:I had, like many others planning a career at the Bar, different disturbing questions in my mind about the legal profession which continued till I entered upon the profession. The questions mainly revolved round moral and ethical aspect of things. Many satires and negative words about the legal profession prevailing in our society sought to saddle my mind as they do in many cases still today. Negative attitude of the relatives, in particular, goes a long way in disquieting an otherwise balanced mind. In my case it was my father who prevailed and disabused me of the prejudices and imbued in me interest in law and legal profession by saying good things about it. I joined the Bar finally without trying for any job and soon found myself proud of my profession. As the days went on my respect to the profession heightened but, sorry to say, high idea about many individual lawyers dwindled. That is a different thing. You must learn to differentiate between individual lawyers and legal profession. If you apply your mind deeply into and can take a comprehensive view of it things should come as much clear as to be enough to repel vogue words and prejudices.

Now let me revert to your questions. As to the first question my reply is profession of law is possibly the single profession where lying is most difficult. Precisely because, there are always two opposing sides of a case. Moreover there is the Judge to scan the matter. whatever is written or submitted by a lawyer is open to challenge by the opponent. Success of the case depends on credible presentation of it. Whole endeavour centres round credibility and credible presentation. If falsehood is detected the case fails. Therefore, you try to realise whether a lawyer can afford to tell a lie at the cost of his case for that matter his professional reputation. The profession of law is a part and parcel of the justice delivery system where whole business is to ascertain the truth or falsehood of things. Therefore, the professional lawyers must sail close to the truth to avoid defeat.

Your second question is natural and very likely to spring in the mind of the lay people. If I reply to the question in one word the answer would be a simple 'No'. But this will not address your scepticism in full. Few words need be spent for effective treatment. First thing that you will have to understand is- it is no part of the duty of a lawyer to defend a criminal if you call him a 'criminal'. Law does not recognise a person as a criminal unless found guilty by a competent court. Therefore, question of defence comes in. Any person's right to be defended by a lawyer of his choice is guaranteed by the Constitution. In the circumstances when a lawyer appears to defend a person he or she as a lawyer does not look at things as if he or she is defending a criminal. The main concern of a lawyer is to assist the court in finding out the truth by interpretation of law and analysis of facts. This is an objective endeavour free from personal bias or prejudices. So lawyers do a kind of soldiering in defending the rights of their clients. Moreover, lawyers may not be satisfied with the verdict of the court, say, finding someone guilty and can fight through as long as the forums are exhausted. You have possibly got the answer.

The third and the last question is intricate. I think he is not. It is a profession as distinguished from a trade. Ethical aspect of the profession must prevail. There are circumstances where lawyer may not, in fact, do not take cases. If the lawyer somehow become personally biased or interested in any side he should refuse to accept brief of the other side. If he is convinced that his client is the person who is responsible for the heinous crime and develop hatred he should refuse brief because he may not be able to provide him an effective defence available in law. After all a lawyer is human and therefore has human limitations. He should not take each and every case that comes up. Say for instance a lawyer should not take a brief from his father's alleged killer simply because he cannot do justice to the client.

Corresponding Law Desk
Please send your mails, queries, and opinions to: Law Desk, The Daily Star 19 Karwan Bazar, Dhaka-1215; telephone 8124944, 8124955, 8124966; fax 8125155, 8126154; email <dslawdesk@yahoo.co.uk>

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