LexTalk World interviews Mr. Subham Dutta. Subham is a well-groomed and professionally seasoned, second-year practicing lawyer, graduated from Symbiosis International (Deemed) University having expertise in the field of Intellectual Property laws and Corporate laws. During his initial years into the law school, he had a keen interest in legal research skills and ultimately worked towards a great deal on various research papers, presenting them in various reputed colleges and a lot of his works has been published in various famous journals. During his journey into the law school, he has ceased various opportunities, gaining hands on experience working with various corporate teams across various Tier – 1 law firms and getting acknowledged for his unique working style and skills. He strives the spirit of everlasting learning, hard work and believes that knowledge and practice makes a person perfect and constantly tries with the best of his abilities to perform and satisfy his professional needs and superiors. He envisions to start up his own law practice in his field of expertise and has started working towards it by establishing D&D, Advocates and Solicitors which strives to provide a complete guide satisfying all the legal requirement of his clientele.
Host: Tell us about a complex legal issue you worked on. Describe the complexity and tell us how you approached it?
Subham: Recently I have handled a case in relation to Intellectual Property Law most specifically in the area of Copyrights Act, 1957. The case was in relation to a Bengali classic movie named as “Nayak” which is still one of the famous movies in Bengal, starring one of the Bengali legends Mr. Uttam Kumar and directed by noble laureate Mr. Satyajit Ray.
Naturally you can see the makers of the movie were themselves legends, hence this movie had created a huge name for itself in the Bengali Cinema Market. In the year 2018, a company, book publishing company came forward to write a novelized version of the movie so that , it can be reached to a larger population rather than only being it restricted to West Bengal, hence they in the process of doing so, took permission and respective licenses from the son of Late Mr. Satyajit Ray, Mr. Sandeep Ray.
Sandeep Ray according sold the rights and gave license and respective permission to the aforesaid book publishing company to go ahead with the novelized version of the aforesaid movie. In the year 2019, after it was completed, the book publishing company came forth to take permission from the Production house , RDB Productions to use few clips of the original movie during their launch event.
This came as a shock to the producer, as the book publishing company never took respective license from the production house and they immediately wanted the company to stop launching the so-called book. This went into a huge long process of legal dispute, which ultimately ended into a infringement suit under copyrights act.
Host: The pandemic saw some courts begin moving towards more remote proceedings and availability. Is this sustainable and a possible way to increase access to justice, in your opinion?
Subham: The spread of Coronavirus and the nationwide lockdown has prompted the Supreme Court and various High Courts to conduct judicial proceedings online. In that process large IT infrastructure is being installed to aid the proceedings that will take place in the virtual presence of the clients and their legal representatives.
However the question of sustainability will vary and change with different views and perspective. While it is apparently true, that the online forum has given a chance for the lawyers across the country more access to justice, arguing at the court while being present at the same time anywhere across the world. Presumably, many would argue that online proceedings or virtual courts would grant wider access to justice as enshrined under Article 39A of the Constitution, because of the reach of internet in general. This would only be true if each and every person involved, ie the litigants, their advocates, judges, court staff, media and other persons from the public are given the means to engage and understand the proceedings.
However, statistics suggest that till 2017, nearly 72% of the population does not have any access to internet. Similarly, the internet connections that India does have are pretty unevenly distributed. While TRAI’s data recognizes that urban India has a high rate of subscriptions, rural India that stands only at 27.57 of subscriptions per 100 people in 2019. There’s also a yawning gap in connectivity between states depending on their network infrastructure and relative affluence. While Delhi and Mumbai assert about 2.20 crore and 1.5 crore Internet connections respectively, the complete North-East region has only about 4.3 lakh connections.
All in all, this data clearly highlights that while metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Delhi, which have continuous access to internet, might have persons who would be able to avail of virtual court services, there is vast majority of citizens who would continue to suffer due to lack of basic infrastructure. It is pertinent to mention that there are still High Courts across the country that face shortage of IT infrastructure. Inclusive growth demands that all social groups have equal access to the services provided by the State.
Additionally, we cannot lose sight of the fact that to make such drastic technological advancements, there has to be exhaustive digital literacy and training of all judicial officers, advocates, and other court staff including those in charge of filing and presenting files before the appropriate court
Moreover, there is a significant difference between audio-video and in-court testimony, as the latter offers greater opportunity for the court to evaluate the witness by way of his testimony along with their demeanor. Physical presence can serve important expressive functions, particularly during cross-examination, which ultimately leads to the discovery of truth. Evidence recorded by means of video conferencing may distort non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, postures, and gestures. For instance, delayed streaming may come in the way of detecting facial reactions. Even in a live stream that is working perfectly, merely the face of a person may overemphasize facial expression while leaving gestures partially obscured or out of view entirely.
Host: How would you rate the current legal system ‘s drive towards encouraging to justice? Is there tangible movement in closing the justice gap?
Subham: In the recent years, government has introduced a slew of measures to improve access to justice and justice delivery like setting up e-Courts under a Mission Mode Project for computerization of courts and delivery of e-services to stakeholders (Rs 935 crore), funding of infrastructure in subordinate courts under the State Governments and funding of Family Courts (approx. Rs 4870 crore). To reduce pendency and accelerate the disposal of cases, Department of Justice has asked High Courts to undertake a drive for this purpose. Justice Innovation Fund. This was one of the important components of the Project, created for implementing innovative activities on legal empowerment of marginalized people and for developing capacities of intermediaries who assist them. Under this, 15 projects in the 7 Project States reached out to approximately 20 lakh people. Over 7000 paralegals and 300 lawyers were trained and sensitized through series of capacity development events. Quality knowledge products on legal empowerment were created; innovative Information Education and Communication (IEC) materials and community radio spots were developed and disseminated to raise legal awareness among marginalized communities. Young Lawyers for Justice Fellowship Programme.
A programme for training and sensitisation of young lawyers was launched in 3 States - Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha with a view to encourage them to assist marginalized people in accessing justice. 60 young lawyers were selected, 20 each in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha through a competitive selection process. Series of training programmes were successfully conducted by 3 partner organisations (CLAP, ELDF and Manthan). Fellow lawyers were trained and sensitised on rights and laws related to marginalised sections, they were also provided inputs on developing their professional skills such as drafting, legal counselling, mediation and conciliation. The programme received active support from Legal Services Authorities, and with the help of mentors, young lawyers were supported in taking up community level activities such as conducting legal awareness camps, providing legal advice, counselling and conducting action research on specific topics etc.
Legal Literacy Training of Sabla Girls: A need for providing legal literacy to Sabla (adolescent girls covered under the Sabla scheme of WCD) came up as a result of convergence between the two central ministries - Ministry of Law and Justice, and Ministry of Women and Child Development. It was decided to train Sabla girls of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. A Rajasthan based organisation CECOEDECON was selected and they successfully conducted 4 trainings in 2 States – Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, where 200 Sabla girls were provided legal literacy trainings and exposure of justice sector institutions. Creation of Legal Literacy Materials for Sakshar Bharat Scheme: IEC materials (12 booklets, 10 motivational songs, 1 short film on legal aid and facilitators guide) on rights and entitlements of the marginalized people were prepared as part of the convergence with MoHRD’s Sakshar Bharat programme. Adult legal literacy will now become a part of the continued adult literacy programme. A handbook comprising the 12 booklets was jointly released by the former Hon'ble Minister for Law and Justice and the Hon’ble Minister for HRD on 18th November 2011 at New Delhi.
Judges Training Module on Anti-Human Trafficking With the active support of the Maharashtra State Judicial Academy (MJA), the Project developed a module for training of judges on anti-human trafficking. Former Chief Justice of India, Hon’ble Shri. Justice Altamas Kabir, released the training module during the valedictory session of the International Conference on Equitable Access to Justice: Legal Aid and Legal Empowerment in November, 2012 Delhi. This module was circulated to Judicial Academies across the country. Hence, with all these measures being taken at a fast rate, the government is slowly and steadily ensuring that the current legal system ‘s shall drive towards encouraging to justice.
Host: In the Era of legal technology, what are the most commonly used tools for you?
Subham: LinkedIn, Manupatra, SCC, lexisnexis, to keep yourself update legal news app, Live law etc.
Host: Time is money in any profession and in legal its most of all. How do you ensure to make the best of you time as a lawyer?
Subham: Well as the say, Law is a jealous mistress, a career in law is a very enriching one, that will most definitely give you a keen perspective and knowledge in every areas of law. A Career in law no matter how glorious and fancy it may sound with people earning fancy amount of money, however, it requires constant dedication, motivation, hardship and diligence to make it a successful career in it.
Discipline is the key to success. You should regularly be keen on learning new things, the moment you become complacent with yourself that moment you'll lose the race. This career path is highly competitive and sacrifices are bound to fall in you pathway to success, but one you reach their, you will realize, it was worth it.
I usually keep myself updated with the new legal regulation and provisions, various new precedential judgments that come up. This is a very important part in your career, one that you cannot forsake. People will only get attracted to you through your knowledge and wisdom and this is the only way to attain it.
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