- I Paid A Bribe
- 5 years ago
- 4551 views
Have been embroiled in several legal suits in Chennai since 2006, after a builder who was to give us 2 flats in exchange for an old property, did so, but then immediately and without our knowledge, changed the locks and resold each flat not once but twice. We have been using a lawyer who is considered respectable and honest to recover possession. Because in recent years the money the lawyer was asking us to pay towards legal expenses increased sharply, and we are increasingly finding it difficult, I asked him why expenses are so high. He responded that even to get the 'gumasthas" (clerks or peons or hamals at the court) to place papers before the judge requires speed money, else absolutely nothing will ever happen. He said gumasthas used to be satisfied with about Rs.150-200, now even Rs. 500 can't get the job done, and it generally takes at least Rs.700-800, plus added charges for fatter files of papers. There is apparently absolutely no disciplinary mechanism, at least not one that any lawyer -- even a seemingly well-known or respectable lawyer -- trusts. Extortion begins at stage zero, long before papers reach a judge.
This is true at Madras High Court, it is true at the Sessions Court (relevant to an area in Chennai called Thiruvanmiyur), some Magistrate Court (relevant to Thiruvanmiyur) and some Tribunal dealing with foreclosure of property. He swore that there is no lawyer on the planet who can get his papers before a judge without paying off a gumastha. So bribery is considered essential even long before papers get to a judge. Surely it would take just a little use of technology to get around this. Just permit lawyers to file papers electronically, get a date and time stamp, and insist on first-come, first-serve (or some other reasonable but transparent priority order).