•  •  Dark Mode

Your Interests & Preferences

I am a...

law firm lawyer
in-house company lawyer
litigation lawyer
law student
aspiring student

Website Look & Feel

 •  •  Dark Mode
Blog Layout

Save preferences

Delhi Barfly: Of 500 rupee judges and what happens when lawyers strike

(Except when there's a strike on)
(Except when there's a strike on)

Tensions run high, and patience wears thin in the city's district courts as its lawyers’ bar strike for the quick-smart implementation of enhanced jurisdiction for lower courts stretches on (now until 6 May).

As lawyers chant and march their way through Delhi, litigants walk around court complexes like hapless children. The few who choose to stand up for themselves do not get the best results — as Shantanu Saikia can tell us. Others chose a safer route. They ask for another date on which to defer their case's hearing so their “lawyer can be present”.

Most judges are obliging, but there are always exceptions. Sometimes, depending on who’s the litigant, it’s highly satisfying to watch a judge tear into a litigant.

Recently, during the hearing of a scam case, you may have heard the special judge curtly inform a VVIP that he could argue his case if his lawyer was on strike.

“But... sir, my lawyer cannot appear because of the strike,” you’d hear the VVIP say. His incredulity so apparent, it makes the judge’s answer even more delicious.

“Your lawyer is on strike, not my court.”

Mostly though, it’s not this inspirational. When a judge holds firm on hearing a powerless litigant's case, it gets tedious fast. Other times, it can be hilarious. Rarely - but it happens - there's verbal banter  that'll have  apex courts furiously fanning themselves with monogrammed hankies.

One particularly infamous trial court exchange involves a judge who was once a Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM), and a lawyer who was.

Janaab was on strike with his peers but had a case underway in the CMM’s court. His client was eager — it was a civil dispute and the poor guy just wanted to get out as fast as he could — and the judge refused to give another date.

At this juncture, Barfly feels it’s good to throw in the possibility that the lawyer was using to strike to wait “for a better bench”.

Not to be trifled with, the judge told the client: “No, strike or not. We will hear this application today. You can argue.”

“But, your honour… I mean milord… I mean… what will I... I don’t know law...”

“You know your case. Who knows it better than you?” the judge asked.

(and courting contempt)
(and courting contempt)

Our litigant asked for a moment, which the judge granted. Outside the courtroom, he consulted with his lawyer. When he walked back in, the man looked confident.

“I know my problem not my case. What my lawyer has made of it, only he knows”  was his spoon-fed reply.

“So, go out and get another lawyer then. You’ll find 30,000 here. You’ll get one for 500 rupees, which is a better deal than the man who won’t even come in to represent you,” came the unexpected reply from the dais.

The litigant’s eyes were locked on a downward trajectory. A bit like the movies tell you to behave when in mating Gorilla territory and stumble into a Gorilla.

“Can I have another moment?” he asked.

Again, he went outside to get legal counsel.

When he returned, the man was scared, but nonetheless he managed to squeak out: “My lawyer says that will be difficult because all the 500 rupees lawyers have become judges.”

Delhi Barfly writes of the comings, goings and other gossip clogging up Delhi’s court system.

More Delhi Barfly here.

Click to show 4 comments
at your own risk
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.