Review in Commonwealth Lawyer:

The Indian legal system has, despite descending rapidly into decrepitude over the past few decades, not receivedas much global scrutiny as some of its similarly broken counterparts elsewhere in the developing world. That state of affairs has, among other things, allowed lawyers and judges in India to wallow in a sense of self-denial for far too long, with ruinous consequences for those wanting to seek justice in a country where injustice is rife.

The appearance of this book makes a pleasant change, not only because if shines a powerful torch on the utter dysfunctionality of India’s once-prized  legal  system  —  and does so with consummate skill and wit — but also because the exposure is the work of an insider who refuses to share the complacency of his colleagues.

The author cites three reasons for writing the book: first, to educate the general public about the  “justice machine” and how it works (or doesn’t, as in the case of India); second, to allow potential users of the legal system to manage their expectations; and third, to disabuse people of the “esoteric gobbledegook and sanctimonious claptrap [that is] broadcasted by elements of the justice machine.”  At a personal level, he also believes that the reader would  “benefit vicariously from my tryst with legal destiny, or perhaps from the story of my experiments with legal truths!” echoing the words of the country’s two most famous hounding fathers, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohandas Gandhi, both of whom were also lawyers albeit in a much more innocent era.

Despite being couched in a language that some readers may find a bit too racy, Dubey’s narration packs in a huge amount of detail about the corruption, the chicanery, the collapsing standards of both competence and ethics, the pomposity, the cant, and the all-round plummeting values among the million or so hacks (some with highly dubious qualifications) who make up the largely unregulated Indian left profession of today (for good measure — probably at the prodding of his publishers — the author has also thrown  in substantial dollops of sex and adultery  into  his  story). A commendable aspect of the work is that the detail does not hide the serious lessons lurking behind the incidents and experiences described.

Books such as these deserve to be warmly welcomed. Even if they do not stir the consciences of Dubey’s Indian colleagues — more likely, he will earn their scorn for his pains — they have the potential to open the eyes of the outside world to a situation that is at one level farcical and at another level highly alarming. Viewed from that perspective, Legal Confidential represents hope in what is otherwise a bleak and depressing landscape.