On May 5, the judges of the Bombay High Court were seen wrapping up the pending cases and urgent hearings, as it was the last working day before the summer break. By 5 pm, the cases were wrapped up and the courtrooms were emptied, as everyone left for the vacation.
However, courtroom number 20 witnessed something unusual. Packed with senior counsels, lawyers, and litigants, justice was served till 3.30 in the morning. All thanks to one judge.
Justice Shahrukh SJ Kathawalla, a 58-year-old judge, was hearing arguments and passing on petitions till early morning hours. A judge for cases of arbitration and intellectual property rights, he left the court only after clearing backlogs during his 17-hour work marathon.
“The courtroom was packed with senior counsels, lawyers and litigants, whose matters were being heard. There were over 100 civil petitions that had sought urgent interim reliefs,” according to a senior counsel, who was in the court for all the hearings, said.
Justice Kathawalla heard over 135 cases out of which 70 were urgent. Litigants and advocates buzzed around his courtroom number 20 till the dusk hours when he finally ended his course.
“He finished his entire board. He sat from 10 am to 3.30 am in the courtroom and took just a 20-minute break. He was tirelessly sitting in one place, sharp and attentive till the end. It is commendable. I was appearing in an Infringement of trademark matter in which got an injunction order against the defendant in the wee hours,” Hiren Kamod, an advocate who was in the court till the early hours, said to News18.
Justice Kathawalla was enrolled in the Maharashtra and Goa Bar in 1985. In 2009, he was sworn as the additional judge at the High Court and became permanent on July 15, 2011. This is not the first incident where he stayed back to hear pending cases. He is known for attending matters in his chambers after midnight and starting proceedings early in courtrooms.
KPP Nair, Justice Kathawalla’s former secretary, who has worked with him for seven years, said, “He comes in at 9.30 am and sits till his entire board is heard. He puts up a list of 100 matters, sometimes even more,” as reported by The Hindu.
There are about 30 million cases pending in courts all across the country as the Indian Judiciary is struggling with the backlog. In 2010, Justice VV Rao said it would take more than 320 years for the Indian judiciary to clear out the millions of pending cases. Most of the cases are of poor, middle-class people who barely could afford for the law engagement fees and struggling with the issues. It’s a very big clog that becomes a barrier to the growth of the nation.
Judges like Justice Kathawalla are the heroes in the justice system who embodies the true spirits of dedication and passion. They are the people who are much needed in our society, to fight the negligence and act selflessly to provide real justice.
If you are inspired by this story, share it. Tell us your views by writing in the comment box below. We read each one of them.