•  •  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
An estimated 9-minute read

Justice and Poetic Justice

 Email  Facebook  Tweet  Linked-in

Redstone Pharmaceuticals was one of India's biggest drug companies.  Unknown to the public, Redstone's main drug, Kilosal, actually used the public as genie pigs.  Kilosal was introduced into the market without being fully tested, and the first few batches were sold in establishments throughout the country, resulting in several women giving birth to children with severe brain damage, including cerebral palsy.  Redstone recalled the drug and tried to hush up the matter.   A young scientist, Subhash Iyer, who discovered that the abnormal births were a result of using Kilosal was planning to publish his findings in an international medical journal.   His paper was almost complete, and he was awaiting certain clarifications sought from Redstone.  Mysteriously, he was found dead a week later. The post mortem report stated that Subhash Iyer had died of cardiac arrest.  Incidentally, the hospital that prepared the post mortem report was Redstone's sister concern.


That was three years ago. Subhash Iyer's death was long forgotten.


Redstone was now defending perhaps the strongest law suit filed against it.  The plaintiff has questioned the manufacturer of Redstone's main drugs, and had incontrovertible evidence in his favor.   Redstone was manufacturing drugs far beyond its authorized capacity, and in a bid to please its shareholders, had blurted out this information in its Annual Report.   Also, the license to manufacturer some of its drugs had expired, and Redstone continued manufacturing and selling them illegally.


Redstone's arch rival, Super Pharma, engaged Advocate Shakeel, the city's most feared trial court lawyer, to launch civil proceedings against Redstone.   Shakeel, a master tactician, advised Super Pharma to stay out of the picture.  Instead, he set up his close friend to purchase a few of Redstone's drugs, gain locus standi, and file a hard hitting suit against Redstone before the City Civil Court, seeking far reaching reliefs including converting the suit into a class action. Needless to say, the plaintiff was just a front for Super Pharma, which was now fighting a proxy battle against Redstone. The plaintiff also sought an interim injunction seeking closure of Redstone, till the disposal of the suit. The interim application was supported with hundreds of documents, statistics, and expert opinions as to why Redstone should be shut immediately in public interest.


Notice was issued to Redstone, and corporate India's largest battle in the pharmaceutical sector was about to unfold before a district judge.


Redstone's management was shaken on reading the contents of the plaint. The company was given 10 days to file a reply. Redstone's Managing Director, Yashraj, immediately contacted Vishal, the city's most renowned corporate lawyer, to defend Redstone. Yashraj was a worried man, because he knew that everything alleged in the plaint was true. Even a day's closure would result in a financial loss of crores of rupees to Redstone. The damage that closure would cause to Redstone's reputation would be immense too.


Super Pharma, through the plaintiff, had already issued a press release. The suit against Redstone hit the headlines in almost all newspapers in the country.


Unknown to Super Pharma's management, they had a traitor working in their administrative department. Their senior accountant was actually Redstone's mole, who regularly leaked Super Pharma's confidential information to Yashraj. Of course he was handsomely rewarded each time. This was how Yashraj learned that the plaintiff was actually a front for Super Pharma. There was nothing on record to show that though.


Vishal used all his ingenuity in preparing objections to the interim application. He conjured up all arguments he could think of, including factual, legal and constitutional arguments. The objections filed made good reading. However, Vishal knew that Shakeel, a brilliant lawyer, would stoop to any level to get an interim order of Redstone's closure. Vishal cautioned Yashraj against taking any chances.


The hearing of the interim application commenced on Monday, post lunch. The Press was keenly following every word that was argued. Shakeel took two days to complete his arguments. Every point he made sounded like a winning argument.  Listening to him, it was hard to imagine how Redstone could escape.


Vishal commenced his arguments on Wednesday, and continued till the court rose for the day.   He commenced with technical arguments, challenging the Plaintiff's locus standi, and how the court fees paid was insufficient in the light of the reliefs sought. The next day, he was to argue on merits.


On Wednesday evening, just after the hearing, Super Pharma's accountant passed on information to Yashraj, which Yashraj had dreaded.  Just last evening, Super Pharma had bought the judge by paying Rs. One Crore to pass orders closing Redstone.


Yashraj spent the whole evening discussing strategies with Vishal. "I don't want my company closed at any cost!" thundered Yashraj.   "I have 85% stake in the company and its share value is over Rs. 1000 in the market. Even a drop of Rs. 100 will erode my net worth by hundreds of crores!"


Vishal was worried too. He had no evidence of Super Pharma "buying" the judge.   He could file an application to recuse the judge, but without evidence, any such move could prove fatal. Challenging any adverse order before the High Court too would prove expensive. Moreover, the judge had a pretty good track record, and his rulings were seldom disturbed by the High Court.


Vishal and Yashraj came up with a plan. If Super Pharma could buy the judge with Rs. one crore, perhaps they could do the same with double the amount!! They had to move fast. Vishal had to complete his arguments the next day.


That Wednesday night was the most tense in Vishal's career. He made some discreet inquiries, established contact with the judge and succeeded in striking a deal. Rs. Two Crores!! Redstone, after all, would not be shut down.


Vishal had to complete his arguments the next day though. As usual, reporters from various media filled up half the court hall. Camera crews were strategically positioned outside the court premises for sound bytes after the hearing. To make a show that the battle was still being bitterly fought, Vishal went through the motions of arguing on merits the whole afternoon. Shakeel, who was sitting opposite, listened to the arguments with disdain. "Say what you want, kid," Shakeel said to himself. "We've looked after this judge really well. Nothing that you say will convince him. The judge's ears are shut to whatever you say. Redstone too will soon be shut."


Vishal concluded his arguments that evening and the matter was reserved for orders on the interim application the next day at 2.30 pm.


On Friday, during the lunch hour, expectations were running high. TV channels were debating about the probable outcome of the hearing. The court hall was packed even though lunch hour had just begun and and pronouncement of the orders was almost an hour away.


Shakeel and Vishal were in the court hall too, seated opposite each other. In order to portray himself as a true intellectual, Shakeel had strategically placed legal commentaries on the table and pretended to be engrossed in reading volume 3 of Seervai's Constitution of India, 4th Edition. A curious reporter even asked him why he had so many books before him when the matter was only for pronouncement of orders. "I need to be prepared for any eventuality." Shakeel boasted. "Perhaps the judge may seek clarifications." As he spoke, there was a nod of approval from others who had gathered there.


Shakeel was only playing to the galleries. He was confident of Redstone's closure being ordered. "One crore should go a long way" he said to himself.


Across the table, Vishal sat smugly, with a half sneer and half snicker on his face. "Show off!" he said to himself, referring to Shakeel. "I just can't wait to see your face when your application is dismissed. Your one crore has gone down the drain, dude. If the judge has any ethics, perhaps he'll return the money to you. Actually, I hope he does not."


On the bench meant for the visitors, Yashraj too sat there pretending to look apprehensive. After all, there were reporters surrounding him and badgering him with questions. Deep within, Yashraj too was feeling smug, knowing that the two crores he had paid would ensure that the judge does not order Redstone's closure.


It was 2.30 pm. Lunch hour was over. "Ooppeeen Cooourt," cried the Bench Clerk, as the judge walked into the court room to take his seat. There was muffled silence in the court room as every one stood up, and remained standing till the judge did his customary "Namaste" and took his chair. Everyone's heart began to beat a bit faster.


A whole minute passed by. The judge was shuffling through the case file, trying to seem oblivious to all the attention focused on him. He closed the file and then spoke.


"Counsels," the judge said, looking first at Shakeel and then turning to Vishal. "We have a problem here. Only yesterday, I learned that my wife has 5000 shares in Redstone. Because of this apparent conflict, I'm afraid I have to recuse myself from the case."


There was deafening silence in the court hall.  Neither Shakeel nor Vishal knew what to say. Yashraj's jaw had dropped. "You scroundrel," he thought. "How can you do this after taking two crores from me? Damn you, you've taken one crore from the other side too."


Shakeel and Vishal too were fuming within. Till now, both had been supremely confident of their success, and had even prepared press statements.


"Do any of you have anything to say?" the judge enquired.


Too stunned to speak, there was silence for a few seconds. Shakeel was the first to stand up and speak. "Err . . . aaah . . . no, your Lordship!! Err . . . we appri . . . err . . . we . . . we . . . appreciate your Lordship's integrity! The matter may be placed before any other judge."


Yashraj, who was watching was even more furious. "Integrity? . . . My left foot," he muttered to himself. "You were supposed to throw out that application, you creep. . . . And these servile idiots call you 'Lordship.' What crap! You are the incarnation of Satan. They should call you 'your Devilship.' Just look at that face of yours! After all, you are only a district court judge!! What audacity! I'm sure you will take the local bus this evening and get off at the Mercedes Benz showroom."


"So be it," said the judge. "I will order that the file be placed before the Chief Judge for further orders. Thank you, gentlemen. Call the next case please. . . ."


As the crowd dispersed from the court hall, both the sides knew they were done in. Both the lawyers had a lot of explaining to do to their clients.




That evening, at 6 pm, about twenty kilometers from the court premises, the Director of the Spastics Society of India was getting ready to call it a day. Just then, his receptionist called him on the inter-com and informed that he had a visitor.  "Send him in," said the Director.


A middle aged man walked into the Director's office. "Hello, my name is Ashok Iyer," he said. "If you remember, my brother, Subhash Iyer - a scientist, passed away three years ago. That made quite a lot of news those days."


'Oh yes, Mr. Iyer" said the Director. "I do remember.  I'm sorry for your brother. What brings you here? Are you a scientist too?"


"No," said Ashok. "Actually, I am a judge at the civil court. I struck a lottery yesterday.  I've come to donate Rs. 3 crores to the Spastics Society in memory of my brother."











Click to show 5 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.