Summer holidays for litigators and judges are sacrosanct. With the courts being off for a good long month, holidays are planned well in advance. With temperatures soaring in most parts of the country, the legal fraternity eagerly waits for this break to get away to cooler places.
On Friday, 4 May, which happened to be the last working day before the summer holidays, the judges of the Bombay High Court wrapped up their cases by 5.00 p.m. and left for the break.
Justice Shahrukh J Kathawalla took a different path, however, one which is both rare and commendable.
The Justice continued working in his courtroom till 3.30 am, hearing arguments and passing orders on petitions before a packed audience.
“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,” a senior counsel, who was present in the court till the judge rose from his seat, said to NDTV.
Having enrolled in the Maharashtra and Goa Bar in 1985, Justice Kathawalla was sworn in as Additional Judge at the High Court in 2009 and was confirmed as a permanent Judge on July 15, 2011.
K.P.P. Nair, Justice Kathawala’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.
“Justice Kathawalla, even at that hour (3.30am), was as fresh as one would be in the morning. My matter was one of the last ones to be heard. Even then the judge heard our arguments patiently and passed orders,” another senior counsel, Praveen Samdani, said in a report to The Telegraph.
This is not the first time that Justice Kathawalla has ensured that he stays back and clears cases. A few weeks ago, he heard matters until after midnight in his chambers. He is also known for starting proceedings in his courtroom an hour earlier than most other judges and goes way beyond the 5.00 p.m. time.
According to the data published by the National Judicial Data Grid, Maharashtra alone has a backlog of more than 33 lakh cases. The data suggests that Maharashtra builds a backlog of 1,00,000 cases every month.
The need of the hour is to have more judges be like Justice Kathawalla, who can truly embody the spirit of delivering justice.
(Edited By Vinayak Hegde)