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Inside the Court Room in Delhi with Thanks! Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by roshni, India Feb 18, 2007
Human Rights   Short Stories


I struggled. I used my sides to cleave though the milling crowd, inside the small low ceiling, packed courtroom, meeting with thuds and clicks and angry glares of protestations. The blue padded low seats on either side were fully occupied. Petitioners, their family and friends, lawyers their juniors and associates, policemen, clerks and officials competed to have a foot hold between the rows of seats and little space left in front. Policemen inspectors and officials who had some business to be there jostled on the left side of so called podium, which is in fact a counter on a platform few inches above floor.

Apart form the milling crowd I was sickened by the cacophony of odd mixture of noises – constant squeaking of chairs, shuffling of papers, endless chattering of visitors, policemen seeking info from court staff, court staff seeking information from police court staff, who were seeking information from police officials and to add insult to injury the most distasteful – shuffling of shoes and sandals-come summer, the problem would be compounded by the heat and swishing and clattering of fans.

The sound and action taking place, at few feet ahead at the counter where judge sat along with his staff- a small and cluttered place-appeared to be distant and muffled. After every disposal the shrill voice of the caller, calling the next name twice and thrice shot through and over-rode all.

The judge seemed oblivious of the atrocity of the environment. I can't say whether he was thoughtful, thoughtless or had simply resigned. I had seen the list hung outside. There were sixty bail applications and forty regular cases to be dealt with. After hearing each argument, nay speech, he would put a sheaf of paper in the file and keep it aside: “2pm”, “ 2.30pm”, “3pm”.

Gradually a deep silence started creeping deeper towards demise. It is probably nature’s way of comforting and insulating its creatures from things going beyond the point of extremities. Suddenly I was shocked out of my un-induced dream. I asked the lawyers around me, to no one in particular in fact. “Is it Jack?” “Is it Jack?” “Jack!” The caller jabbered again.

I did not know that my voice had become thin and croaky and tongue lazy in the meanwhile. The cracking aches in my knees, which came from stress of long standing, nudged at my be-fogged mind like a haughty child. My breath would no longer sing in rhythm. The judge shook his head silently quite now and then in affirmation some time in slightly advance, probably in a gesture of encouragement. Probably something in me was in rebellion. I completed my speech and begged leave. I felt like screaming at myself, “ No more name calling. No more blaming. There are others too.”

I went back to the court at 12.30 pm and finding the court deserted I enquired with one of the staff if whether the hearings were postponed. He told me that all the applications had been disposed of. At around 1pm I was informed that my application had been dismissed with the words, “ No ground made out: recovery to be effected.”

As I came out of the courtroom an old question assailed my mind: justice done or justice denied?



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