Hey peeps! Here’s another article with Policy Samvad.
My first article with policy samwad. Please read it and tell me how you like it!
Hey peeps! So I have recently started writing for this website called Policy Samwad. Their main focus is to generate discussions on topics that pique the interest of the general public. So this is my second article with them. Do give it a read and post your comments. I will be waiting.
My internship comes to an end tomorrow. I noticed quite a lot of this things not only about courts but also about Delhi. There are many things that you notice in a courthouse, if you have to go there every day after an exhausting journey of 1 and a half hour – yes, I take the metro- no, I do not get down at earlier stations so I don’t have to change at the junctions – yes, even then it is ONE and a HALF HOUR away. So quite a lot of interesting work but not that will interest all of you all… But the point is, many of you might wonder, real courts are very different from the courts we see in movies at least in India especially Patiala House Court. Disclaimer: The following post is just based on the court houses in and around Delhi.
Firstly, space. The last bollywood court room I saw was in Oh My God! starring Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar. The courtroom was so huge… I guess an actual courtroom of that size is something that I have only seen in the court of the Chief Justice of India i.e. in the Supreme Court of India. That one is actually quite big which huge arches, beautiful chandeliers and intricate work on the ceiling and the walls. The actual courtrooms are not any bigger than a matchbox, the witnesses are brought in the court by holding their hands like a kid, sometimes they are tried using ropes, but that is kinda it.
Second, the court rooms are not really that noisy and “Tareekh pe tareekh style”. This is not to say that that does not happen, it does but not always. Mostly lawyers just come in and ask for further dates for their cases. Interestingly, the judges do oblige them every time. Once I remember, when asking for another date the advocate told the judge, this actually happened believe you me, gave the judge a time slot in which he could give time to the matter at hand and thus wanted a date only in that period. If I remember correctly it was late August to early September. Also now that I think he did say that the client was going out of India and would in the country only during that period but still, the common people do not and should not dictate how the court works.
Third, nobody really picks up the Gita, Quran or Bible before giving their evidence in the courtroom. They actually just swear by their religion and state that they will say the truth and frankly nobody actually takes the oath seriously. It is administered by the nearest court official. This time I actually understood the meaning of ‘dasti’. The thing is that there is a Kashmiri word spelled and pronounced in the exact same way which means fast. So I used to guess the meaning as providing some document quickly. But turns out it means service by hand, things like notices, summons etc are not posted by the court to the person rather, the other party states that we will give it to them by hand.
Another very interesting thing I noticed, not related to the court but the DTC bus. Recently, I have started taking a bus from Khan Market to Patiala House which leaves me right outside the court. Takes me 5 bucks and 5 minutes, so kinda convenient. You can actually see this that the men take the seats that are reserved for women very seriously. If a woman is standing and a man is sitting on the reserved seat, they will immediately get up and offer the seat. This is not something that you see in the normal metro coaches because I guess, men have become so used to understanding the fact that women’s coach is the place where women should be.
Another interesting thing was…. God the newer buses run by the Delhi Government are so much cooler. Today I took the older DTC buses. I don’t understand why was it allowed to be a bus. all the lights were hanging out of their sockets. All you could hold to maintain your balance were straight iron circular bars running across the length of the bus. Every time the bus started after stopping at say the red light or the stop, the entire bus shook. You were so high above the ground and given the condition of the bus, I was kinda sure the bus will trip and not be able to maintain its balance.
I will add more to the list as and when I remember, but I hope you like about this much. (the post’s idea came about thanks to The Horseman Hits Again)
My first day at my new month long internship, at the Patiala House Court, was quite enlightening frankly. So the Patiala House Court was the residence of the Maharaja of Patiala and hence the name, eventually sold off to the Delhi Government when Privy purses were abolished in India. The Delhi government used it as their secretariat and eventually converted it to a court which is the Patiala House Court now. This conversion has caused various interesting variations in the designs of the courtrooms.
The first thing you could notice was that the acoustics were very bad, obviously because the rooms were not made to hear orators trying to save people’s lives or lands or families every day. I actually went around thinking that the rooms are very small for a royal house. Then I saw that some of the walls were false which made me realise that the actual rooms must have been split into twos or threes to accommodate so many courtrooms. But what I loved best was some rooms had fireplaces. Every time I saw a fireplace I could only think of lighting that fireplace in winters while matter are being heard. Man that would be cool!
The next thing I noticed is that this court house had signage that was even poorer than the Indian roads. I went around looking for courtroom 21 on someone’s advice, because my boss was in another district court and I had to wait till he would come, till then I was going around observing courts, I literally trudged on from room to room carrying my laptop on my back, I could not find that courtroom on my own. Everywhere the corridor split into two and I had to guess where to go. It made me feel like reading those Goosebumps novels where they give you a choice at the end of every page to choose your own ending. But when I did find court room number 21, something happened that sent my brain into overdrive. So I went to that room at about 1:10 ish, so the judge was hearing the last matter before lunch. The attorneys presenting last left and then it was only I who was left in the courtroom in the audience. The judge asked me, which matter was I presenting… I just gave a very ambiguous response… she reiterated her question. I stated that I was an intern. If she could see into my brain, she would not actually see anything, just an all pervasive darkness and a loud howling and screeching and screaming.
You know when I first went to the Supreme Court, standing on those steps, I thought, this is where it all boils down to, the final word of law, where everyone gets justice, there is nothing beyond this. But when you come to a district court you realise wait, “The buck stops here”. These courts are a world in themselves. I remember seeing a courtroom where the lawyers and the clerk were talking among themselves, loudly, and the judge was dictating something to the stenographer. But what I really liked about this court is the fact that it seemed to be aware of an Indian’s inherent nature. They had a A4 sheet that clearly said that don’t enquire from the stenographer, because, an Indian will invariably ask the stenographer who seems the most approachable person around,the rest are either cloaked with judicial or police authorities.
Why I also feel that they are a world apart, is that the lawyers interjected the judge while he was speaking, I feared that the person would go in for Contempt of Court, but the judge just kinda…. you know…, unfazed. In one courtroom, the judge was dictating something to the stenographer and while doing so, he asked the lawyers whether the English was correct or not, in case you are interested, it was not. Though what irritated me the most was the fact that they had written everywhere that the first two rows were reserved for advocates. They reminded this to us around every corner.
Then I went on a tour of the new building, the Family court, it was nice but kinda reminded me of the Metro station in its design. On its second floor was a fast track court, it wasn’t fast at all. what I did not understand is that the lawyers, it appeared to me, were standing inside the witness box like structure. But the cherry the cake today was a centuries old question that a lawyer asked me today. So while sitting in my boss’ chamber, another lawyer came in to consult with him. He noticed me sitting there and asked if I was an intern. I answered in the affirmative. They both actually then started inquiring about my subjects. I told them. So mainly my law subjects were Contracts, Criminal Law restricted to IPC and Torts. The other lawyer asked me which one was my favourite. I told him Criminal.
Then came the question….. What is the difference between Section 299 and Section 300 of the IPC? I broke off into this explanation, pouring in all that could remember… how the awareness of the danger of your act is higher in murder and the emphasis on the act causing the death is more in Section 300 which is murder. And other stuff. But this other lawyer just said but you did not mention ‘intention’ in your explanation.When you have the intention to cause death then it is murder, if not then culpable homicide. Though I did not agree with the explanation, I did not contradict, after all he was a practicing lawyer I just wanted to explode. I talked about awareness… don’t you remember because if I restrict it to intention then what is the difference between 299 (Culpable Homicide) and Section 304 (Negligent death)… Ok wait, all of you all might not get it, sorry got carried away. But the icing was that my boss took my side and stated that my explanation was quite correct, as well… as well.
Though all in all as I said it was quite enlightening and actually fun. :)
Seven Years Ago
Imperial Law College, one of the most coveted law colleges in the country. Every law student wanting to make a comfortable living wanted to get here. People could kill for a seat here. When the results came out, Janaki declared “I will not give the IIT JEE exam”. She couldn’t anyway. She hadn’t taken her admit card. She had a feeling that she would get a seat here and thus she never bothered with the damned engineering exam. The first merit list came out and she saw her name bold and clear, Janaki Desai and she even decided to drop her Delhi University seats. She was so ready to take the college on that she just started looking up the Constitution of India on the internet. The next thing was to make it her Facebook status. It was going to be a piece of cake and five years later she will be working in Amarchand Mangaldas making a killing in a year.
On the first day of college, the things the college threw at her, she was doubting her piece of cake theory. 5 project reports, one in each subject, citation systems for the projects and that is separate from the normal studies. The normal studies was also filled with readings that for some reason were always prescribed from outside the book. She always thought, why do they even give us this book, when they don’t teach from it. But these weren’t the biggest problems of her life. The most difficult thing in college was the library. They had access only to two floors and those two were so difficult to handle, the thought of having to deal with three more floors later was well dreadful. There was a lot of work to be done here.
But she liked her roommates. Every room had three, in her case it was Andrea and Sasha. Andrea was a Kerala Christian and Sasha like Janaki herself was born and brought up in Delhi. They got along well. They did not have a lot of petty roommate fights in the beginning. It was still the first year, things were simple, uncomplicated and innocent. They slowly learnt the ways of life in a law college. Moots, Alternate Dispute Resolution Competitions or better known as ADRs, how to deal with projects which meant getting good scores on your projects with minimum effort. Handling subjects that were tough, sharing notes and most importantly internships. Lots of things came along the way, being freshers and hence getting ragged, the college fest, freshers parties that were thrown for her batch and the ones her batch threw for their juniors. Slowly, if law school and Janaki did not become friends but they decided to have a passive agreement on letting the other live.
There could have been a breach of this agreement in the third year when life did get hell. All law subjects and that all of tough. She wanted to literally hang herself from her own hostel’s room’s ceiling fan. It was crazy. What she considered to be unholy grounds, the library, she found herself sitting there everyday and not for the air conditioning but actually for studying. It was a downhill road and it was getting steeper by the day. She could never understand why they couldn’t shift the subjects around a bit so that it becomes a bit easier on students. Then she realised wait, I was in ILC. She always remembered this one line the VC had said when they had gone to ask him for holidays in between the exams “This is the standard of ILC, our students are such that they can write 5 exams in 5 days and even then be ready to win an international moot the next day”, yes why not? She had thought.
It was another gruelling day, when she heard of the play that was being made in the college. It was a yearly thing, one play was made by the students of the entire college and the writer with other esteemed guests was invited to the college to see the theatrical presentation of the book or play that had been chosen by the students. She loved theatre but never as a performer but always as an appreciator. She preferred being in the audience and never showed a lot of interest in the auditions that were always a big deal. But this time, how could she refuse, they were picking up one of her favourite books, The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan, the beautiful retelling of the lovestory of Jehangir and Mehrunnisa. She deliberated on it over a long time. She was in the third year… times were tough… did she have time to spare… that too for a play,.. could she balance both… would it affect her studies… All of this plus she wanted to try mooting this year. But it was her favourite book- and the most wonderfully written characters were calling her to themselves.
She got up, with a start, in full vie of everyone sitting in the library and decided, she had never treated herself to something like that. She should at least give it a shot, not that she was the best of the actors, that she will say a dialogue and they will be waiting for her with open arms to be their Mehrunnisa. Then Andrea pulled her top, Janaki looked at her, she realised, she was in the library and sat down and told Andrea the epiphany she had just had. She read the invitation mail carefully, noted the time and place for the audition.
It was after two days. She finished all her work by 5 that evening and by 5:15, she stood outside the door of the audition room. She knocked and was surprised to see that she was the first one. She waited, slowly, people started coming, it was already 5:45 and still no sign of the organisers, which were the fourth years. Then she saw Sasha come in, Janaki motioned towards the seat next to her and she sat down and finally at 5:50 the fourth years came in. They were least bothered about the fact that they were late. Ahh.. the fourth years, they think that now that they are done with the third year, they are the kings of the world, no respect for others’ time. Never mind, she thought, its for the book. They began explaining the story and laid out the roles for which auditions would be conducted. They started taking down names for each role. Janaki raised her hand for Meherunnisa.
They distributed the lines. She read her lines again and again to herself. Sasha told her to shush. That is when he walked in, “Sorry guys. Hi I am Raghunath Diwan. I will be directing the play and well have written the script. I hope you guys like it. I got caught up in something. Thanks for taking out your time for us. We really really appreciate this and I think they have told you about the book and the adaptation we are doing, it is a great book, I advice you all to read, irrespective of whether you play a role in the play or not. I have a copy, you guys can borrow i whenever you want to” and gave a beaming smile. She wanted to shout “I have read the book, even I have a copy”.
He was so polite and nice. She couldn’t place him, but actually she never really knew most of her seniors, but she guessed he was another fourth year. But he was so handsome, he couldn’t be one of them. He wore a U S Polo T shirt and khaki pants, but he wore them with an almost royal elan. His face exuded warmth and confidence. It was as if, she was destined to be his Mehrunissa and he her Jehangir.
Huh! Another semester got over and 20% of my law school education is over. Two semesters done or my entire first year is over, I am not a fresher anymore :(. But I will have juniors now hehehehehahaha…… No I vow to be the best senior ever, one to which juniors can look up to and ask whatever questions they have without having any fear. But that is all in the future, let’s talk about the semester that just went by. My results aren’t out yet but I think I will pass. You never know in our college, you can sweat your ass off but it all depends on how the teacher feels when they look at your paper, believe me I have seen that through my mid semesters. So I had had 5 subjects Contracts-I, English-II, Political Science-II, Criminal Law-I and Law of Torts-II.
Contracts was about the Indian Contract Act, 1872 and 2 sections of Specific Relief Act, 1963; Section 10 and Section 14 to be precise. English-II, I never really understood the point of it, business communication….. I know I am studying in the college to be a lawyer and communication plays an important role but I really don’t understand how understanding differences in communication due to culture is going to help me plead my case better unless I am trying someone under Section 499 of the IPC which is about defamation but I guess I can work around that. Criminal Law was the one class that I really enjoyed, it wasn’t spectacular but it wasn’t drop dead boring either. Torts……. TORTS, I think I lost a part of my soul because of this subject, I will explain that as we go. Political Science, we all love our Pol Sci teacher, I think we will actually miss his classes, but this year the syllabus was too much that I think I had a breakdown while learning the whole of it for my end sems.
Now lets dissect each one of them. Contracts, I can swear on all my gods that I never paid attention in his class, barring may be a few days when say I forgot my phone in my room or battery was running low or maybe I had had a divine intervention and I thought, no, I should pay attention in Contracts. I am sorry, but it is physically impossible to do that and emotionally painful. I am not kidding. We had two teachers. The male teacher has this odd habit of saying wakey-wakey when he enters the class. Are we in freaking II grade that we need to be told that. The other one was all the more fantastic, she came in and just started, as if, if she doesn’t do that she will not remember what she has to teach. And she can talk without a break. I don’t know how she does that. This was a deadly combo because basically I have given my exams on my understanding if my textbooks. Because even if you pay attention, I don’t really know what they talk about probably because it is connected to the previous class or whatever, but I really don’t think I can help anyone with their contracts problems.
English is supposed to be my bitch but this semester, I literally cried for half an hour before I actually started learning because I just didn’t know why I was doing whatever I was doing. Business communication lessons is something that are taken up as , you know, by speakers to help motivate kids. You can’t mark people on their knowledge of that. I mean we were supposed to learn stuff like what are the ways to resolve conflict and what are the steps for same for an English exam. Why Why ???? But I had fun with the plays this time, if you remember what I wrote about directing Pygmalion this semester, the only time when I felt I was doing something related to English, you know, the whole concept of expressing yourself. I really did not like this semester’s syllabus for English, last time was fun. This time the syllabus was just plain simple weird.
Criminal, again, I did no have a lot of qualms about. Nice teachers cleared my concepts and the classes were fun to attend. The Criminal law class was one of those you wanted to attend. But there is one thing that happened in the Criminal Law class that I think we all will remember for eternity. So you know how attendances are to be taken everyday. It was another day when our attendance was to be taken. We had two teachers this semester. One was a Masters and the other was a PhD. Our main teacher, lets call him TA was obviously the one with the PhD and the Masters one was the ancillary teacher, lets call him TB. Now TB was going to take the attendance that day and he thought that he will be ingenious and started going to every seat and asked the students for their roll numbers and marked them on his sheet. Our main teacher, TA came running, snatched, I repeat, snatched the sheet from his hand, went to the mike in the class and started taking the attendance roll number wise, but before he did remark that TB was wasting the class of the time. We all looked at each other dumb founded…..
Political Science was damning this time. We studied International relations this semester. Man realism, Neo-Realism, Liberalism, Neo-Liberalism , Feminism, Marxist Approach and what not. these are the major schools that I am talking about, there were many minor ones that came along the way. The syllabus was too much. I think I cried a bit while trying to learn all of it. It was physically impossible to learn all of it. Oh wait I don’t think I have told you but we sit for all our exams at one go, as in, one in a day. So basically for one exam we have 21 hrs to learn everything. We obviously start learning a few weeks in advance but you still have to revise whole of it in one go. And the best thing (sarcasm) our exam department did this time was change our exam slot from 9 to 12 to 2 to 5 in the afternoon, for crying out loud, it is scientifically proven to be the least productive time of the day. We tried our level best to get it changed. But it was the exam department and that to of a government college, we knew it was a lost battle when we started out but it felt good that we did not let go without a fight.
Talking about the exam department reminded of another beautiful blunder they committed. So we have to sit for a 50 marker for our end semesters, we get our question papers and they are for drumroll please…………….. 70 marks yes 70 and we were going to get the same time for it that is 3 hours because our precious teachers could not stay after their payday got over at 5. Our invigilators told us to read our papers after we pointed this error out and thus for 15 minutes we were just reading the papers waiting for further directive from the concerned teacher or department. The teacher came, he saw and he said “There will be no changes”… We just laughed for a few minutes actually waiting for him to tell us the truth. But when he did not budge, we inquired about extra time and he said that no extra time will be given and when we said that we have been waiting for the past 15 minutes, he plain and simple said that we shouldn’t have done that. Height of indifference.
Last and definitely the least TORTS, I never thought I could hate a person that much, my Torts teacher. I have contemplated killing her…… literally, going to her office in the tea-break with an over sweet cup of coffee mixed with rat poison and watch her drink it and the slowly choke. I know morbid but please just sit in her class and then decide. She is a pigeon, you know how you always consider them to be dumb and they have the annoying habit of shaking their neck front and back and they make that sound ‘hoo’. Just imagine the human form of a pigeon, that is our torts teacher. It was maddeningly irritating to ask her a question. She had standard responses- “I have taught this already”, “You were not paying attention, I have taught this already”, “I have taught this, now the class will give the answer” and after saying any one of these, she would shake her neck like a pigeon and make the sound “hmm” again and again and again and again and again and then when we thought she was done, she would yet again make the sound. Now if she would have genuinely taught it what was the big deal, no she didn’t teach…… she had this notion that she has taught and imagined us to understand everything. The thing is she will mention a word somewhere in a sentence and will expect us to know what it meant and the whole of history, geography and demographics. She has some serious communication issues. She forms a certain impression of where she wants the conversation to go and then when you try to talk to her, she will just hear the words that will take her idea of the conversation forward, even if what you are trying to say is exactly the opposite. She did not give us the freaking syllabus for the exam because she did not want us take her classes lightly. We asked her for the syllabus on the second last day… when were her classes going to held after that and not this tactic will make us pay attention. Not that we were totally irreverent of her or anything but I don’t know what enmity does she have with us. The worst part, she made us study Consumer Protection for the entire semester and then suddenly started stuffing in other torts topics like nervous shock, false imprisonment etc etc. We did all of these topics in 3 weeks where she gave us pages and pages of readings. As I said I think I did lose a part of my soul.
These were my subjects, there were a lot of things as well like our college fest, we had Abish Matthew and Advaita. And then sports fest which was inter batch. I played volleyball after such a long time, it was so much fun . But when the seniors saw me serve the ball, one of them literally went, “you know we are not letting you take up any other thing nest year, don’t you?”, I felt elated. That feeling that you still have it in yourself. Because it has been close to 3 years since I played a proper game but still when I get to the ground that adrenaline rush is still the same and the single point focus on the ball… wish I could do that in contracts haha.