Hon’ble Shri Nitin Jamdar
Acting Chief Justice, High Court of Bombay
May it please your Lordship,
Sub: The need to bring an end to the out of turn hearing of cases of only the rich, powerful and the elite represented by “senior advocates” at the cost and detriment of the less privileged involving enforcement of valuable constitutional and legal rights – reg.
This is the lastest in a long chain of letters which i have addressed to the Chief Justices/Acting CJs, ever since I happened to enter the portals of the Bombay High Court 15 years ago, as a total stranger, after having been in the bar for nearly a quarter of a century.
I was aghast at the sight of lawyers queuing up to mention in the morning, pleading urgency that their cases be listed. I did not then have the experience which I have today of the functioning of other HCs aside from Kerala, my home state. In the Kerala High Court, if a case is filed before 1pm, the case will be listed automatically on the very next day. On Mondays and Fridays or any working day preceded or succeeded by a holiday, there is a practice of “today moving”. All that is required is that the petition should be filed before 12pm. And if there be an emergency, any day, any time, one could mention in the open court. All that was required is to provide the case number, no other formality.
Before I started appearing in the Bombay High Court, I used to appear fairly frequently in the High Courts of Delhi and Madras. While the Registry of the Madras HC was quite troublesome, raising hyper technical objections, the Delhi HC was quite smooth.
Being a stranger, I could have merely witnessed the same and left it. But I always believed that the legal profession is a service. To me, a passion, a life’s mission. Therefore, I requested to the Chief Justice in writing that a system be brought in where cases are automatically listed for hearing the very next day, if not atleast within 2 days. I also pleaded for many other reforms, to do away with the system of litigants being required to appear before the officials of the Registry, notary, etc. The affirmation could be made before the Advocate through whom the case is instituted as is done in Kerala. If he cannot be trusted then, the same is the case with the notary. One might find it difficult to believe that even back in 2011 I had pleaded for e-filing, for petitions to be taken on A4 and printed on both sides.
I sought an audience with the Chief Justices and the senior most judges. Only a few Chief Justices/judges responded to it. Chief Justices Hon’ble Sri Swatantra Kumar, Wagela, Dipankar Dutta, Gangapurwala, Justices Gokhale, Vasifdar, are some of the few who responded. Justice Dipankar Dutta, Wagela and Gokhale were most receptive to the different opinions.
Many simple reforms which could bring an end to many of the discriminatory practices are capable of being brought in overnight.
There are two Bombay High Courts, today. The Original Side which caters to the rich, super rich, the elite and powerful lobby of “senior lawyers” and solicitors. The South Bombay lobby. The other is the High Court of the poor, the hapless. Millions whose cause are represented by common lawyers. All judicial time is consumed by the elite to the deprivation of the legitimate rights of the less privileged.
Let me cite an example, briefly. While the bail applications of the undertrials, the petitions for relief of widows, workmen denied their livelihood, slumdwellers, take years to be heard. The petitions of the elite, such as those accused of money laundering to the tune of thousands of crores, get top priority. The cases against India Bulls, Atul Chordia of Panchshil Builders, Pune, involving cheating and money laundering of thousands of crores, taken cognizance of by the Magistrate in 2020, was taken out of turn and quashed, not because no offence is made out, but because the complainant was supposedly of unworthy character. Shri Mukul Rohatgi and Abhinav Chandrachud appeared for the accused.
Today, on the front page of Times of India, I came across a news captioned “HC quashed case against 2 for flying drone during PM visit”. The case involves the manager of Kalpataru Hills Residency, a prominent builder and Pixeldo Media. Their case is that the the Police was aware of the prohibitory order while granting permission. The case is of 2023, and the accused represented by so called senior lawyers, got almost instant relief. The FIR was quashed. I can cite any number of such examples.
I vividly remember a senior member of the bar, not from the designated lot who would never dare to speak against injustice, they cannot for they are the beneficiaries of an unjust system, telling Justice Gavai that we need another High Court for the poor and the common people.
The current scenario is extremely disquieting, but not incapable of being reformed. People like my humble self who point out its deficiencies are its true well wishers. All that is required is that those in power should be gracious enough to the voice of the less privileged.
I would wish to bring to your Lordship’s notice, so too, that of the senior judges, many a deficiency which could be set right with minimum cost and efforts.
The charter of suggestions and demands, which I submitted representing NLC, an NGO devoted to the cause of the betterment of the judiciary, in all humility, I hope can be taken as the base line.
I look forward to being granted an audience for my humble self and a few lawyers, particularly junior members of the bar.
In the unstinted faith that your Lordship will be gracious enough to give us an audience on a near date, I remain.
With warm regards,
Mathews J Nedumpara.
- September 29, 2023
- September 13, 2022
- September 29, 2023