Court Witness

A shot across the bow in choppy waters: Court Witness’ Mumbai Mirror postcard on Gopal Subramanium

As good as it gets? Court Witness’ CJI report card on Sathasivam the Safe, a remarkable Chief Justice

SathasivamSathasivamCourt Witness does former Chief Justice of India (CJI) P Sathasivam and asks, was he great? Or merely safe?

Court Witness in Mumbai Mirror on Sahara Subrata: "The smell of dragonfire hangs deep in Delhi."

Legally India Supreme Court postcard writer and tweeting advocate Court Witness' column on Subrata Roy: "The Supreme Court dragon has woken and it is annoyed." [Mumbai Mirror]

Court Witness: I hate, hate, hate courtroom eight

Eight hateEight hateSupreme Court postcard writer and anonymous legal Twitter celebrity Court Witness returns, this time, full of hate (hate, hate. Hate).

Court Witness: Professional ethics are bollocks; We need leaders at the bar

Grey skiesGrey skiesHave you heard about the senior advocate who “borrowed” paintings from a five-star suite and then got his client to pay for them?

Benefit of hindsight: Court Witness on SH Kapadia’s baton

SH KapadiaSH KapadiaAt precisely 10.30am on 28 September 2012, a packed courtroom rose in the Supreme Court of India’s Chief Justice’s Court, as chief-justice-designate Altamas Kabir and former chief justice of India (CJI) Sarosh Homi Kapadia – a little behind him - walked in to preside together in this court for the first and the last time.

Court Witness: The beginner’s guide to winning at the Adjournment Game

The Adjournment GameThe Adjournment Game The Olympics are here once again. It is that time of the year when people around you start talking about sports no one has ever heard of and will never mention again for another four years.

For two whole weeks people will pore keenly over the progression of world records in discus throwing, the fitness of horses in the equestrian events and how the Koreans are essentially unbeatable in women’s archery. Then we can all go back to obsessing over cricket.

But in the spirit of things, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce to the public a little known but fairly widely played sport called “The Adjournment Game”.

The King of Miscellaneous Days, Storyteller Supreme: Mukul Rohatgi, Court Witnessed

Mukul-RohatgiMukul-RohatgiCourt Witness: To experience firsthand what exactly happens when all hell breaks loose, visit the Supreme Court of India on a miscellaneous day. 

India, meet your future boss: CJI-to-be Altamas Kabir vs SH Kapadia (profiled by Court Witness)

Altamas KabirAltamas KabirIt’s four in the evening and shadows lengthen along the main corridor of the Supreme Court of India. It is Friday, a miscellaneous day, and all courts have completed their work in time to enjoy what passes for a busy lawyer’s weekend - Friday evening.

All except one court.

The murky & merciful practice area that law school never teaches: service law

Service law and the art of divinationService law and the art of divination Court Witness explains the obscure practice of “service law”, which few outside the courts have ever heard of yet is plied by many advocates and clogs many a court room or miscellaneous day of the Supreme Court – 30 million such cases have been filed, estimated one judge recently.

SLP graduates, turns SEP and joins the undead in terrifying conclusion of Court Witness’ SLP Quadrilogy

imageimage Late last month a young Court Witness’ first special leave petition (SLP) was educated by The Eminent Senior Counsel and disciplined by a slightly less eminent senior counsel, leaving CW in a sweating mess. So, he waited, for the next day that his SLP would finally be heard. Little did he know what lay in store… 

The hearing was over in a matter of seconds. The Court issued notice, stayed the High Court’s judgment and even granted us ‘dasti’.

Court Witness’ SLP Quadrilogy (Part 3): First day of school, SLP gets educated by Eminent Senior Counsel, disciplined by Junior

SLP's first day at school: no cakewalkSLP's first day at school: no cakewalk Earlier this week, Court Witness thought he impressed his client by predicting the bench who would hear his treasured special leave petition (SLP), which learned to walk last week after having been nurtured since birth by CW.

CW and client then conspired to put together a winning team of eminent senior counsel and junior senior counsel (from the same state as the judge) to make sure the SLP had a good start to its life. Now the SLP is ready to go to school… Hopefully a good one.

Court Witness’ Life of an SLP, Part 2: It learns to walk

The Miracle of SLP LifeThe Miracle of SLP Life In last month’s column, Court Witness described the labour pains of giving birth to a special leave petition (SLP). But after filing successfully with the goblin-like clerk Bakshi-ji the real work of raising an SLP was apparently only just beginning – now it needs to start taking its first steps...

Court Witness: Giving birth to an SLP

imageimage “Follow me,” said the man with the purple hair as he walked through the open doors into the corridor awash in gloomy, fluorescent light.

The circus has left town: Any given Katju day, Court Witnessed

imageimage When an uncharacteristically subdued Katju rose from the Bench in the Chief’s Court for the last time on Monday, one half of the bar and the media sighed wistfully and the other half sighed with relief. One lot would miss the mayhem, humour, and quotability of the average Katju day in the Supreme Court. The other lot would be grateful for never having to go through the mayhem, humour, and quotability of the average Katju day in the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court postcard: Judging new judges, the bar’s insane expectations and those larger than life

imageimage Swearing in ceremonies, such as Tuesday’s induction of three newcomers, are those rare occasions when every single judge of the Supreme Court can be found in one place. It is also when you realise for the first time that the metaphorically larger than life Justice Markandeya Katju is, in fact, actually larger than life. He stands a full head taller than almost every other judge and dominates proceedings without having to say a word.

I hate you (like I love you) or the torrid love between journalists and the 30-headed Supreme Court hydra

image Court Witness: In Facebook terms the relationship status of the nation’s higher judiciary and the press would say “It’s complicated”.

SC Postcard: How advocates are countries, and the lost souls of litigation

Delhi-Supreme-Court We bump into each other in the long corridor adjacent to Court 5. It’s cruel, I know I shouldn’t be asking but then I do anyway. “Got any briefs yet?” I see the furrows on his forehead. Anxiety. I know what it feels like. Only two minutes earlier, after some small talk he had confided in me: “I’m independent these days.”

SH Kapadia mid-term appraisal: Crying Room Hercules cleans SC stables after dirty decades, only half-done

SH Kapadia Supreme Court Postcard: Chief Justice SH Kapadia does not preside over the Chief Justice’s Court so much as dominate its vaulting, almost cavernous interiors with his presence. In part his impact is a product of his voice - a booming thunder somewhere between tenor and baritone - which is what you’d expect to hear from the Grand Inquisitor as you are confronted with heresies you have allegedly committed.

But if Kapadia is to have a place of pride in Indian judicial history – and everything so far signifies that he might - it will be for his administrative role as the Chief Justice of India even more than for his purely judicial output. Like Hercules before him Kapadia is in the midst of cleaning the Augean Stables that the Supreme Court of India has become under his predecessors but only part of the task is done.

Supreme Court Postcard: Justice ‘Goldilocks’ Reddy should be sorely missed, not misrepresented

image On 7 July, his final day in court, Justice B Sudershan Reddy sat on the Bench with Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia in the Chief’s Court, as is custom for a departing judge. The custom was never more apt. Reddy and Kapadia shared a great rapport while on the Bench and although their outlook in matters judicial and otherwise were quite similar, they could not have been more different in demeanour and action.

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