Bar by itself has the dubious distinction of being misunderstood in common parlance; when one is referring to elections of the bar in a gathering of common citizen it is often prone to be misunderstood with the elections being held in some BAR where people often land up for spirited inputs. My reference as a practicing advocate to the Bar elections is limited to the elections of the bar associations in Delhi. Being a member of the bar I have learnt the democratic value of being one vote like any other election in the greatest democracy of the world. Since the position of the office bearers of the bar association gives a prominent position amongst the legal practioners and puts the office bearers on an interface of the judiciary, it assumes very important role in the activities of the bar. Lawyers harness and utilize the platform of bar not only for eminence but also for better professional gains of course under the garb of the time tested rhetoric of strengthening the bar, welfare of members.
The indications of the forthcoming elections are first seen when you find the aspiring candidates taking very strategic position near the nodal entry points of the court complex during the morning rush hours and passing a very sweet smile on you when you are rushing to the court. An ordinary members like me start wondering why such a smile has been given to me although I do not know the gentleman, the answer if felt after few days when the whisper of the probable candidates in the election fray is discussed in the bar rooms and bar canteens, the gentleman passing sweet smiles to the members emerges as an aspiring candidate for the forthcoming bar elections. One also finds unknown figures shaking hands with you and reminding about the problems being faced by the bar. Lunch hour assembly at some strategic locations also indicate the mood of the bar. Non-issues become issues besides the routine rhymes of †bar and bench problems and the issues of corruption in judiciary, defects in the appointment of judges and other rhetorical issues which are tossed just with the intentions of indulging into discussions.
As the election are round the corner one gets the invitations of parties being hosted by some probable candidates or some surrogate members who promotes the would be candidates during such parties which are very often highly spirited parties. Several alliances are worked out which are not different from the other election formulas of caste, community, regionalism and all possible parameters to woo the members to earn a commitment of sure short vote. One wonders to see all this and note that the basic tactics being adopted to gain the votes are not different from what the political parties adopt to mislead the illiterate voters. With the advent of the election dates such alliances become more and more conspicuous and merits and demerits of the candidates in fray are discussed loudly. The gatherings in the canteen, bar room become more vocal on issues which we are facing since last several years but gain momentum only during the election seasons.
With the advent of IT in legal circles, one receives SMSs related to judgments of High Court and Supreme Court besides the issues of welfare of the bar members and obituaries as well as information related to death of some bar member of his family member. One wonders how the gentleman behind sending of such SMS is concerned about the bereaved family now! The frequency of such SMSs is directly proportionate to the nearing of dates of elections.
The day of election is similar to the elections held in the colleges in Delhi, one finds hoardings, play cards, pamphlets and visiting cards all around and the supporters of the candidates shouting their names with much fanfare and enthusiasm although officially there are strict restrictions on all such activities and the candidates are supposed to be disqualified for such acts but the lawyer community is made to break the rules whether the traffic rules or the election rules although we argue about rule of law in courts day in and day out. One can however observe that there is lot of transparency with orderly arrangement in conducting of the elections and the counting of votes. Its all internally managed show with lot of check and balances operating symbiotically.
Elections results are often declared late evening or even late night and most of the members come to know about the same through newspapers or the election results displayed on the notice board. The hustle bustle of the elections is over immediately after the announcement of the results and all are on work with little bit of post election analysis of the results and the reasons for the success and defeat of the candidates. The reasons as discussed are often based on the same old principles of regionalism, caste, religion and groups which are common features of the Indian democracy. How will the lawyers remain away from the said reasons when the vote politics is based on such factors?
One thing is very clear during the entire process that the voters are treated like lam ducks during and after the elections and the beneficiaries of such elections seldom credit the voters for their victories. They credit their victories to their manipulative moves, alliances and cross votes. Poor voter does not get any credit at any level like the voters in other elections.