Monday, March 20, 2017

5 must read books for young lawyers

Most of young lawyers pick bad habits during the time they are doing internship with senior lawyers. Not all young lawyers are lucky to join a senior lawyer who is honest, hardworking, learned and true professional. Many end up in the chambers run by seniors who lack some or all of these qualities. As a result, young lawyers also pick those unprofessional habits. Monthly law journals occupy most of the shelf space and time of a young lawyer. These journals contain laws and precedents, whereas young lawyer is more in the need of developing and polishing his court room skills i.e. preparing briefs, cross examination and arguments. Bar councils, unfortunately, are busy with other affairs. A young lawyer has no recourse except to first learn bad habits and spend years in unlearning them. I have compiled a list of books that every young lawyer must read during the first few years of his practice. These books, in no particular order, are:

The Making of a Lawyer By Ch Nazeer Ahmed.

The writer was an eminent defence lawyer. The books is about his early life, hardships in profession and his decision to migrate to another city for better prospects. This books is must read for all those lawyers who are inclined towards defending clients in criminals cases. The writer has mentioned extents to which he went to save his clients from gallows. He has also given tips to lawyers on cross examination and arguments. The books also contains high profile criminals cases of the time which the writer defended.

Art of Advocacy by Tripathi
Slightly advance level books. It contains excerpts from all the leading books written on advocacy skills. Reading this books is like reading all the good books ever written on advocacy. It is hard to get these days. I bought mine from a used book shop at Anarkali for Rs 120. The books is divided into various chapters. The chapter on cross examination is a must read.

Art of a Lawyer By Justice DR B. Malik
This books contains articles from leading lawyer and judges of India and the West on demands of the profession. The books contains a lot of personal accounts and experiences of judges and lawyers in court rooms. The book is divided into three parts. One is on advocacy and second is on cross examination and third is courtmanship. There is a write up by Mr. Justice Munir on Law of Evidence. He has summed up the whole law of evidence in a couple of pages. This book is a gem for all lawyers.

Be a competent lawyer by SM Zaffar:
It is an entry level books written by Mr. SM Zaffar. He has given tips on improving research skills, arguments and handling tense situations in the court rooms. The writer’s other books Meray Mashoor Muqadimay (My famous cases) is also recommended for young lawyers. This book traces the writer’s life from an obscure lawyer defending people in petty cases of bicycle theft to a lawyer of imminence defending his country in the international court of justice.

Novels by Perry Mason:
Someone asked Mr. Ahsan Qadir Shah, legendary defence lawyer hailing from Sargodha, that where from did he develop his amazing cross examination skills. His reply was, “From the novels of Perry Mason.” 

Perry Mason was a former lawyer who turned to fiction writing and wrote some amazing thriller novels. All his novels revolved around an allegation of crime and expert cross examination by the lawyer in the court. I managed to get a few of the novels form an old book shop. The novels explain difference between a good and a bad question during cross examination. They also high light the point where every cross examiner must stop. While reading these novels, there are many instances when the lawyer in the plot exercises what-not-to-ask-in-cross-examination restraint. These novels were written in the year 1933 and 1934. They were and still the most sought after novels by young and ambitious lawyers. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Norway: The best managed country in world

I visited Norway in August on the invitation of Pakistan Velferds-Organisasjon Norge (Pakistani Welfare Organisation Norway). The first thing I observed after landing at Oslo’s airport is that it is an under-populated country, which gives a deserted look to a Pakistani going there for the first time. I joked with my cousin that is there a curfew put in place in Norway? I was told that population growth rate is extremely low and population is uniformly spread in urban and rural areas as level of civic facilities is uniform across the board.

The moment the PIA’s plane entered Norwegian aerospace, I started spotting numerous fresh water lakes. Wild life and nature is revered in Norway. The Norwegian government believes that nature is essential for the survival of its citizens. Trees are not just plants for them; they are investment for future generations. Not even a single tree can be axed without the permission of the government. Wildlife and jungles are in abundance. The control on air pollution can surprise any Asian visitor. Cargo vessels that enter Norwegians waters are required to shut off their gasoline engines and generators. The coastal authorities provide electricity to the anchoring vessels. 

Using private transport is discouraged. You have to pay a lot of taxes if you take your car to city center. Parking space is scarce. The scarcity of parking and high taxes are compensated by a strong public transport system. The public transport system comprises of electric trains, buses and trams. Trams and buses are the government’s top priority as they have less maintenance cost and can carry people several times beyond their capacity. They have never been considered as a source of income by the government. Trams and trains are as noiseless as can be imagined. 

The government encourages the use of electric cars. The import duty on an electric car is considerably less. There are separate lanes for buses and taxis. These lanes are usually fast as they have less traffic. Electric cars can use the lane reserved for buses. There are no toll taxes for electric cars. 

The long term policy of the government can be witnessed from everywhere. Trees are preferred over shrubs and flowering plants as former provide more oxygen and require little or no maintenance. Being a plant lover, a minutely observed their green belts. You find trees in city centers, along the roads. Green belts, comprising of tall trees, are present where there are dwellings. Tunnels are in abundance. The best ground for making a tunnel is a few minute of a short commute. 

Paper is being abolished. Norway is aiming to eliminate paper money by 2020. The courts are going paperless, which means no file before the judge and no brief in the hand of lawyers. The train tickets are on your mobile phone. 

Norwegians are crazy about health and fitness. If I am asked to write down two most common sights in Oslo, my answer would be gyms and boats. People are super fit. You can see joggers and runners everywhere. Gyms are in abundance. Usually a fully equipped gym and a jogging track are within one kilometer radius of your house. Weekend is usually an outdoor time. One can see boats, bikes, caravans being towed behind the cars on Friday evening. I spotted people doing exercise round the clock and everywhere. It was summer time when I visited. A lot of people were doing skiing training. Having a boat and a hut in jungle are two benchmarks for being rich in Norway. 

Days are very long in the summer and short in the winter. During the twenty days, I spent in Norway, I could not guess the time of the day by looking at the sunlight. What was noon to me, was evening on the clock. Even the few hours of night time were also well lit.

Pakistani community is progressing and well integrated in the society. Khalid Mehmood, a Pakistani by birth, has remained a member of the Oslo city parliament for more than two decades. He has also remained member of the Norwegian Parliament.

Art has a special place in the Norwegian culture. Sculptures can be seen at all the unexpected places. Frogner Park is a large art park in Oslo spanning over 45 hectres. It has bronze and concrete statues of humans in every possible emotion. The most popular among those is a statue of an angry toddler. Due to its small size and popularity among tourists, the statue of angry toddler has been stolen a few times. A high reward on its recovery brings it back every time. Some mischief keeps happening to the little boy. When I visited the park, his one hand was painted in blue colour. 

The country is so well managed that it out-weighs all the management books taught in universities. Those, who think that there are some affairs that are unmanageable, must visit Norway.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Every few years, the library is High Court Bar Association Rawalpindi is shifted to a new building to discourage litigants from disturbing lawyers in library and to encourage reading habit among learned bar members. 

This is the 9.8 million rupees face lifting of the library aimed at improving the culture of research and case preparation among lawyers. Lawyers entertain their guests here, negotiate fees with their clients, eat unday-wala sandwich and have chai-cigarette. And those who want to study, can take the books to their homes or wait for the library to shift in some new building.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pakistani jails: Fast moving time machines

Almost everyone in Pakistan believes that jail authorities count day and night as two calendar days and that is the fact, according to the people, that those jailed for a certain number of years are released after spending half number of years in jail. This belief is false but the fact is not.
There is a system of remission in Pakistan’s criminal judicial system. Remissions are concessions in one’s punishment that are granted by the government on special occasions i.e. Eids, Defence Day (6 September), Independence Day (14 August), Pakistan Day (23 March), New Year (1 January) and whenever a new government comes in power. These remissions are called special remissions. They often range up to 3 months. Two Eids make it 6 months of no jail.  
Then there are general remissions. They are given to a convict on his good conduct, helping jail authorities to maintain law and order, saving a jail official from attack of fellow inmate, donating blood, getting sterilized, learning to read the holy Quran, getting education in jail etc.
The remissions originating from good conduct range up to 5 days in a month. Donating blood and getting sterilized shortens the sentence up to 3 months. Education is very beneficial. Remissions are awarded according to the percentage of marks obtained in courses or exams.
A person convicted to 4 or less months is not entitled to get remissions. The reason behind remissions is reformation of the convict. The system encourages the convicts to shorten their period in jail by their good conduct. It is like a ladder in the ladder-snake game. You do the right thing and you are sent ahead of your time in jail.
Those who are convicted in cases of espionage and terrorism are not granted remissions. A former client was given 25 years under terrorism law. His sentence will not be shortened and he would have to spend a quarter of the century in jail.

East India Company was the world’s first finger print bureau.

William Herschel was a British official. He was working for the East India Company in India. In the year 1858, he ensured to obtain palm and finger prints of the traders with whom he conducted business. William thought that the practice might compel people into keeping agreements. Pleased with the results, he wrote a letter to the inspector general of Bengal Prisons, asking the inspector general to introduce the system in the jails. However, the reply from the top jail official was not encouraging.
After some years, Edward Henry, the inspector general of Nepal police, introduced the system in jails and police stations. The Nepalese police would obtain finger prints of the accused for identification.
Who found about the uniqueness of finger prints of an individual, is unclear. William and Henry were the first ones who had an intuition that the lines on one’s palm didn’t only tell about the future but they could also link someone with his past crimes.

Why mujay must mahool mai jeenay day would ensure less drug abuse

America imposed prohibition (ban on sale of alcoholic drinks) with a national zeal in year         .The law makers thought that it would purge the society of ills of drunkenness but they were surprised to find mafias mushrooming in the country. Law and order worsened to the extent that dozens would be killed in liquor related ‘crimes’. What had been an ordinary business turned into lucrative smuggling. America tried its best to enforce prohibition, but kept on failing before powerful cartels and mafia families.
The law makers had realized that it was their mistake banning alcohol in the country. What had had remained a food commodity for centuries, they had made a drug out of it and created mafias and criminal gangs in the country. In the year 1933, the US had had enough of the prohibition, the law makers brought in the 18th constitutional amendment which ended the ban on alcohol. The prices of liquor fell overnight. All the liquor-related smuggling issues vanished, giving rise to another interesting phenomenon.  
When the former bootleggers and criminals had no way to make money, they turned to bank robberies and kidnappings. America witnessed a surge in these crimes.
Recently, many countries in the world are removing marijuana from the list of banned intoxicants. The results have been encouraging. Their trade is regularized, which gives the government a fair idea of number of drug users and the amount consumed by them. Statistics have been analyzing the data to formulate future government policies to reduce its consumption.

Why can’t Punjab Police beat London Police

The London police aka the Scotland Yard came into being 186 years ago. It started its work under The London Metropolitan Police Act, 1829. There were no computers, forensics, modern equipment and criminologist at that time, but London police remained committed to effective policing from its inception.
The Metropolitan Police headquarters is located in a compound which once housed Scottish royalty. Hence, the name Scotland Yard.
The British wanted the London police to be the best. Before raising the force, they listed principles which would govern the police. They envisioned that the police must be stable, efficient and organized along military lines. It must be under the government control. No indicator can determine the efficiency of police except the absence of crime. Distribution of crime news among police force was made essential.
Control on one’s temper was declared to be an indispensible quality for the police officers. The lawmakers believed that a quiet determined manner had more effect than a violent action.
The uniform was designed keeping in mind that good appearance commands respect. For the safety and security of the public, every police officer must be given a number prominently displayed on his uniform. The police headquarters must be easily accessible to the people.
To ensure quality policing, it was decided to hire the staff on probation.
Checks on the police were so strict that there were 5,000 dismissals and 6,000 forced resignations from the force during the first three years of its operation.
The Punjab Police Rules 1934, govern the police in Punjab. These rules lack everything what the Metropolitan Police possesses. Since 1934, there were a handful of dismissals and a few forced resignation. The police is still used as a personal force. Hundreds of its staff still guard the houses of wives of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Half of the force is on VIP duty at any time.
The policing services are available for anyone with the money. You want the police to patrol your area, you have to pay them. You want the police not to patrol your area, you have to pay them.
 There is no discipline in the force. Members are often found harbouring criminals and facilitating mafias. The investigation is corrupt to its core. Investigator demands bribe from the complainant of the case to strengthen his case; and obtains favours from the accused to leave loop holes in the case for him. Things are so organized that bribe is divided among various ranks with professional zeal. Police officers are posted to various police stations with an undertaking that they would provide a specific sum of money every month to higher authority.

KPK police is undergoing a change. Ever since the PTI came into being, there has been 5,000 dismissals from the police force. Nothing disciplines a force better than dismissals.