Delhi rains sink lawyer chambers in NCR

It is hoped that the sheer magnitude of the wreckage and havoc caused by rains and losses to lawyers makes the Bar Council take note.
Law Chamber Computers damaged in Delhi Rains
Law Chamber Computers damaged in Delhi Rains

During a usually quiet and sultry June, when legal chambers shut their doors and chamber desks gather dust as the patrons leave for their annual summer break, one can hardly imagine opening one’s doors after courts reopen to nothing but losses, despair and anguish.

Some of our colleagues at the bar were rudely awakened to the distraught news of their chambers having been flooded. Legal books, referencers, laptops, computers and other electronic hardware, along with the entire paraphernalia of office chairs, sofas and desks, are sadly seen to be rotting away, submerged under dirty water that has seeped into the basements of NCR offices used by professionals.

One such advocate, who chooses not to be named for personal reasons, shares how he and 3 others who share a large 300 sq. yd. basement office space in posh Defence Colony were frantically called up by their office staff on the morning of June 28, to be told of the miseries their offices suffered due to the rains. He states how their staff were not able to enter the office as water had filled even on the staircase leading to the entrance. After hours spent in draining the water out - which required both the assistance of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) assistance and of private pumps that were frantically purchased - they were shocked to walk into an entirely ruined office. All the furniture and reference books were floating across the lobby, bookshelves rain-sacked, computer screens and laptops broken, and files completely destroyed. The extent of the damage was such that false ceilings and lights embedded on them had come down in their entirety. Everything was destroyed, with nothing capable of being salvaged. 

Much to their shock and chagrin, days before courts reopen, they now have to find a new work space which can not only accommodate them, but also their respective teams.

Law Chamber damaged in Delhi Rains
Law Chamber damaged in Delhi Rains

The repercussions of the damage are far-reaching. With files damaged and computers not working, the entire chamber is crippled and these lawyers are likely to be forced to take adjournments and face the ire of demanding clients who may not listen to reason. The judges are far more accommodating, but what of urgent matters which the lawyers themselves wouldn’t want to get adjourned? A bail listed for final disposal, a criminal appeal that could seal the fate of the appellant, an injunction hearing for a demolition of property. Our unfortunate colleagues affected by the deluge must battle these issues before they can pause to reflect the financial and psychological impact this will have on them.

More than the financial loss to lawyers, the emotional trauma and stress caused to our friends affected by this is a sordid tale. With a Bar Council as robust as ours, surely a contingency fund ought to be carved out for such natural disasters. COVID-19 is a precedent for it, and it is hoped that the sheer magnitude of the wreckage and havoc caused by rains and losses to lawyers makes the Bar Council take note.

Water Logging
Water LoggingImage for representative purposes

By way of this report, however, it may serve as a cautionary tale that the Bar Council provide the option of an insurance to lawyers for their offices at competitive rates so that such disasters are well-protected against and lawyers can have the choice to secure their chambers. To those who suffer in this moment, seek help from friends and colleagues who will readily help out wherever they can to get you back up.

Hang tight, friends in black and white, this too shall pass.

Zeeshan Diwan is is an advocate practicing in Delhi.

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