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down to prepare a brief out of such materials. Ne sutor ultra crepidam would soon be the burden of your cry
go into Court imperfectly instructed is, to a barrister with proper pride in his profession, a foretaste of purgatory. Questions from the bench, requiring immediate answer; misstatements of the opposite side, needing prompt correction; reference to documents somewhere—but where ?-on the record, all combine to make him pine for a well-prepared brief and a solicitor to prompt reply and hand the right paper, thus leaving counsel free to attend entirely to the vital points of the case undisturbed.
Whether due to imperfect instructions or to a physical incapacity for accuracy the native legal practitioner must be very closely watched from start to finish, his statement of facts being at times positively alarming, and his power of misreading documents prodigious. I am not, let me say at once, , unaware that a few brilliant exceptions exist,
but speaking generally the native legal practitioner is unreliable as a junior, and treacherous as an opponent.
Under the heading “ legal practitioner" must be brought first Barristers; these are English-speaking native gentlemen who have studied in England, and been called to the Indian bar. Till quite lately their ranks were recruited entirely from among the wellborn ; but alas, more than one “ chamar" name now graces the law list.
In the second place we come to the “ High Court Vakil, or Pleader.” The examination these gentlemen have to pass is very severe,
, and though the youngest barrister may claim to lead the most venerable vakil, he will often show good sense and courtesy in allowing his experienced junior to conduct the case, whilst remaining carefully at hand to assume any responsibility which may arise, that being a very weak point in native armour.
Next in rank we find “ Vakils of the Dis. trict Judge's Court,” either young men who
must work in this position for some years before presenting themselves for High Court examination, or elder men whose ambition soared no higher than making a competence close to their home. Many of them are of the greatest assistance when acting more or less as solicitors, whereas others are of the worst type of nonsense talkers, the bane and curse of many an overworked district officer. Below these we come upon the “Mukhtyārs” or "agents," of whom, as a rule, the less said the better.
Spreading a small carpet under some friendly tree, they lie in wait for guileless villagers on their way to Court, and once in such a spider's web, “ farewell, a long farewell” to all ideas of truth and right; forgery and perjury will be supplied upon the lowest possible terms.
It is mainly from this class that the “ dalāls"
come. A word as to these dalāls or brokers; they are the honest barrister's bugbear, and many
are the attempts made to suppress them ; their modus operandi is pretty much the same in all cases; two or three men are shown into your office, their case seems good, they are willing to pay a proper fee, they retire to get the money or to consult; one of them reappears, and with much circumlocution informs you that the disposal of the case is in his hands, and what
he expect from your honour? When informed that “the sahib gives no dusturi," i.e., percentage on the amount of the fee, he smiles an evil smile, and marches the would-be clients off to some less scrupulous market.
The payment of any gratuity to these dalāls is a penal offence, but “ tell it not in Gath," thousands batten and fatten upon this mode of obtaining a livelihood.
The truth is, it was a silly mistake to legislate on the subject. If professional pride and self-respect are not strong enough to keep men from purchasing work in a shameless way, it would have been better to let them cut each others throats in a competition as to who would pay the most dustūri, which in a very short time would have produced such a state of things as to bring in its train a radical cure.
Of course the dalāl rarely boldly asks for dustūri, thereby keeping outside the letter of the law ; hint and innuendo, given with true oriental cleverness, are all you have to work on, and should you try running him in on these you
will gain some experience in hold. ing an eel by its tail, and make deadly enemies galore.
Now, when consider that the commonest transactions of life amongst natives are, as a rule, carried out by brokers, it is evident that even to the best and most honourable amongst them this prohibition of “ dalāli” seems wrong and uncalled for. Each banker pays dalāli, each tradesman, each servant seeking service, each giver of a nautch or other “tamāsha” employs and pays it; your own head servant, be he