Walls have Ears
Walls have Ears5 mins 200 5 mins 200
I am one of the four walls of the court room which has witnessed the ups and downs of many a life. I stand as a mute witness. But as they say walls have ears and I hear not only all the court proceedings but also murmurs of people. At times I can also feel the pulse of the people in the room and read their thoughts. I don’t lay claim that my readings are accurate. To be precise I stand in the room no: 16 of the Bangalore District Court near Hudson Circle, in Bengaluru. The building is pretty old and my skin is weathered and crumbling like that of an old man or woman. I have witnessed both criminal and civil cases. I have seen both victory and defeat, justice and injustice. But I stand where I am and this is the first time, I have got a chance to talk about some of these cases and express my emotions to you. I am going to narrate some cases in the last one year that has struck me as curious and perhaps very important to the actors who have taken part in these cases. The room has the capacity to seat about 15 people usually lawyers, the lordship, an assistant and his typist. Rest of the people that you usually see are the litigants with their relatives and friends. If you are an observer of human emotions you can see in the people hope, despair, sadness, smugness, cruelty, nervousness, confidence and so on.
Let me begin with a civil case which was brought forward by a gentleman who was in the middle fifties. He wanted a birth certificate for his adopted daughter. His lawyer was very much aware of all procedural matters and prepared the case with good enough documentation. The Judge looked at the papers and asked the witness for his name which the gentleman promptly said. He asked for details like where was the girl adopted, when she was adopted, how old was she. One could say these were routine questions and the required information was already there. The judge then declared the next round would be taken up after two weeks. I heard the lawyer whispering to the gentleman that he shall keep him informed of the next hearing. I thought to myself that the judge could have disposed the case then and there. But the Indian legal system is such that they would prolong the agony. It took some additional 4 visits for the gentleman to get the order in his favour. Finally, I saw him smile with gratefulness to his lawyer.
Second case I am about to describe was a cheque bouncing case. A purchaser of herbs had issued a cheque and the seller could not encash the cheque as it had bounced. If you are aware of the law the signatory of the cheque was criminally liable. The case went on for six odd months without much progress. Finally, the judge decided against the seller on technical grounds since the purported cheque was issued by the buyer’s wife and the case was against the buyer. A travesty of justice indeed.
The third case I am about to describe was a touchy one. It was about marital rape. The case was handled by a lady judge and the litigant who was a working-women had been represented by a lady lawyer who knew her arguments well enough based- on sound legalities. The lady lawyer argued that Under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, women can go to the court and get a legal separation from her husband in case of marital rape because Explanation – I provided for Section 3 of this Act states that sexual assault shall include any conduct of sexual nature which demean, embarrasses or affects the dignity of woman.
The husbands lawyer argued that husband had the right to have sex with his wife and marital rape is not criminal in the eyes of the law. However, the lady lawyer argued that the forced sex had mentally wrecked the women and she needed psychiatric counselling. She had also brought the psychiatrist in the witness stand. After pros and cons of the case and over a three- month period the judge ruled against the husband bit did not send him to jail. I heard the lawyer tell the husband we can move the case to the higher court. Whether they did or not I do not know.
The last one I am going to describe is what is called the love-jihad and more and more cases are being brought to the court. It was about a muslim youth in love with the hindu girl. Both were adult but the boy was being accused of threatening the hindu girl to marry him. The case was filed by the girl’s parents. The couple’s lawyer had argued that both the girl and the boy were adults and it was in their fundamental rights to choose a spouse of their option.
After going back and fourth over six months much to the discomfort of the couple the judge finally ruled that
“We do not see Priyanka Kharwar and Salamat Ansari as Hindu and Muslim, rather as two grown-up individuals who – out of their own free will and choice – wanting to live together peacefully and happily over a year. The Courts and the Constitutional Courts, in particular, are enjoined to uphold the life and liberty of an individual guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”
I have only described a few cases here. I have witnessed many cases related to property disputes within family: father and son, between brothers and sisters, breach of commercial agreement between parties, divorce cases and custodial rights of children. Some criminal cases include murders successfully investigated by police, supari hits by politicians and rival business man, extra-marital affairs leading to murders. I witness real court room drama. Although the court rooms are not a hospitable place to sit and entertain oneself, by telling this story hope I have got you hooked.