Reader : You tell me that when two men quarrel they should not go to a law-court. This is astonishing.
Editor : Whether you call it astonishing or not, it is the truth. And
your question introduces us to the lawyers and the doctors. My firm
opinion is that the lawyers have enslaved India, have accentuated Hindu-
Mahomedan dissensions and have confirmed English authority.
Reader : It is easy enough to bring these charges, but it will be
difficult for you to prove them. But for the lawyers, who would have
shown us the road to independence? Who would have protected the poor?
Who would have secured justice? For instance, the late Manomohan Ghose
defended many a poor man free of charge. The Congress, which you have
praised so much is dependent for its existence and activity upon the
work of the lawyers. To denounce such an estimable class of men is to
spell injustice, and you are abusing the liberty of the press by
Editor : At one time I used to think exactly like you. I have no desire
to convince you that they have never done a single good thing. I honour
Mr. Ghose's memory It is quite true that he helped the poor. That the
Congress owes the lawyers something is believable. Lawyers are also men,
and there is something good in every man. Whenever instances of lawyers
having done good can be brought forward, it will be found that the good
is due to them as men rather than as lawyers. All I am concerned with is
to show you that the profession teaches immorality; it is exposed to
temptation from which few are saved.
The Hindus and the Mahomedans have quarrelled. An ordinary man will ask
them to forget all about it; he will tell them that both must be more or
less at fault, and will advise them no longer to quarrel. But they go to
lawyers. The latter's duty is to side with their clients and to find out
ways and arguments in favour of the clients to which they (the clients)
are often strangers. If they do not do so they will be considered to
have degraded their profession. The lawyers, therefore, will, as a rule,
advance quarrels instead of repressing them. Moreover, men take up that
profession, not in order to help others out of their miseries, but to
enrich themselves. It is one of the avenues of becoming wealthy and
their interest exists in multiplying disputes. It is within my knowledge
that they are glad when men have disputes. Petty pleaders actually
manufacture them. Their touts, like so many leeches, suck the blood of
the poor people. Lawyers are men who have little to do. Lazy people, in
order to indulge in luxuries, take up such professions. This is a true
statement. Any other argument is a mere pretension. It is the lawyers
who have discovered that theirs is an honourable profession. They frame
laws as they frame their own praises. They decide what fees they will
charge and they put on so much side that poor people almost consider
them to be heaven-born.
Why do they want more fees than common labourers? Why are their
requirements greater? In what way are they more profitable to the
country than the labourers? Are those who do good entitled to greater
payment ? And, if they have done anything for the country for the sake
of money, how shall it be counted as good?
Those who know anything of the Hindu- Mahomedan quarrels know that they
have been often due to the intervention of lawyers. Some families have
been ruined through them; they have made brothers enemies.
Principalities, having come under the lawyers' power, have become loaded
with debt. Many have been robbed of their all. Such instances can be
But the greatest injury they have done to the country is that they have
tightened the English grip. Do you think that it would be possible for
the English to carry on their Government without law-courts? It is wrong
to consider that courts are established for the benefit of the people.
Those who want to perpetuate their power do so through the courts. If
people were to settle their own quarrels, a third party would not be
able to exercise any authority over them. Truly, men were less unmanly
when they settled their disputes either by fighting or by asking their
relatives to decide for them. They became more unmanly and cowardly when
they resorted to the courts of law. It was certainly a sign of savagery
when they settled their disputes by fighting. Is it any the less so, if
I ask a third party to decide between you and me? Surely, the decision
of a third party is not always right. The parties alone know who is
right. We, in our simplicity and ignorance, imagine that a stranger, by
taking our money, gives us justice.
The chief thing, however, to be remembered is that without lawyers
courts could not have been established or conducted and without the
latter the English could not rule. Supposing that there were only
English judges, English pleaders and English police, they could only
rule over the English. The English could not do without Indian judges
and Indian pleaders. How the pleaders were made in the first instance
and how they were favoured you should understand well. Then you will
have the same abhorrence for the profession that I have. If pleaders
were to abandon their profession, and consider it just as degrading as
prostitution, English rule would break up in a day. They have been
instrumental in having the charge laid against us that we love quarrels
and courts as fish love water. What I have said with reference to the
pleaders necessarily applies to the judges; they are first cousins; and
the one gives strength to the other.