Justice is blind but legal representation shouldn’t be. In a groundbreaking move, the Supreme Court calls for mandatory training for lawyers mirroring the rigorous preparation undergone by judges. This call comes amidst a bail application hearing highlighting the need to equip legal practitioners with essential skills. The proposal aims to ensure better legal representation and uphold the principles of justice for all.
Souvik Bhattacharya v. Enforcement Directorate Kolkata Zonal Office II
Diary No.- 45620 – 2023
Coram: Justices Bela M. Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal
• The crux of the matter revolves around the court’s action against Souvik concerning allegations under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act connected to the Teachers’ Recruitment Scam in West Bengal.
• Although no summons were issued by the court, Souvik voluntarily surrendered yet bail was denied by the trial court.
• Subsequently, the High Court also turned down the bail plea.
• It is in response to the High Court’s decision that Souvik filed the present Special Leave Petition (Criminal) seeking bail.
Senior Counsel Mr. Siddharth Luthra representing Souvik argued that Souvik should not be remanded to custody without a summoning order in place. He emphasized that while the trial court had taken cognizance of the offense there was no order summoning Souvik. Luthra admitted to the mistake made by the lawyer who filed the bail application on behalf of Souvik before the trial court referring to it as a foolish move.
In response, Justice Bela Trivedi suggested the establishment of a law academy for lawyers similar to those for judges advocating for compulsory training courses to educate lawyers. Luthra agreed with the proposal highlighting that even prosecutors undergo training courses.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S.V. Raju argued that Souvik was in custody because he had voluntarily surrendered. However, Justice Trivedi questioned the absence of a summoning order and emphasized the court’s need to apply its mind before issuing summons or warrants. Despite ASG’s repeated assertions that Souvik had surrendered in response to the summons, Justice Trivedi disagreed pointing out that summons were issued without a court order. While inclined to grant bail to Souvik, the court granted ASG a week to verify the trial court’s order.
During a bail application hearing on February 9, the Supreme Court emphasized the necessity of a compulsory training program for lawyers. This observation stemmed from observed deficiencies in handling a bail application before the trial court. Justices Bela M. Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal suggested that the Bar Council of India should implement mandatory training for lawyers similar to the training provided to judges at the National Judicial Academy.