Mumbai: In possibly a first, a judge of the Bombay High Court sat till the early hours of Friday to finish pending matters.
Justice S J Kathawalla has been burning the midnight oil since the last one week to reduce pendency and finish hearing matters before the month-long summer break kicks in from May 5.
While his court room number 20 has been functioning till midnight over the last one week, on Friday, breaking all the records, the room was packed till 3:30am with litigants and advocates. He heard more than 135 matters since morning, 70 of which were urgent matters.
Hiren Kamod, an advocate who was in the court till the early hours said: "His dedication and commitment to work is unmatched. I was among the last three to leave the court room at 3:30am. It was packed with lawyers, litigants and court staff and nobody complained because most matters were moved for urgent hearings."
He added that most lawyers and litigants had appeared for matters relating to arbitrations, Intellectual property rights and commercial matters, which is part of his current assignment.
"He finished his entire board. He sat from 10am to 3:30am in the court room and took just a 20-minute break. He was tirelessly sitting in one place, sharp and attentive till the end. It's commendable. I was appearing in an Infringement of trademark matter in which got an injunction order against the defendant in the wee hours," added Kamod.
Justice Kathawalla, 59, was sworn in as an additional judge at the HC in 2009 and became permanent judge in July 2011. His commitment for work has been lauded by many and disapproved by some.
A retired HC judge on condition of anonymity said, "There are judges who have disposed of a large number of matters before 5pm itself. If the judge decides to sit so late, it puts a lot of pressure on the court staff working with him."
However, KPP Nair, who had worked with Kathawalla for seven years as his secretary, said, "I have worked with 15 judges but nobody can match the energy and vigour of justice Kathawalla. He dictates small orders inside court itself and lengthy orders are taken to chamber where he dictates and the order is prepared immediately. I have also gone to his home on Sundays for dictation." He adds that what makes Kathawalla stand out is his justice-oriented mind and that serving the people has been his priority.
Nishad Nadkarni, one of the advocates who was at the court room till 3am, said, "It's historic no doubt and a welcome move. People complain of pendency all the time and what better way to combat the problem than this. We were happy to be appearing for matters till late since most were urgent. We have complete faith in justice Kathawalla. He ensured on Friday that he completed the ad-interim board. In each of the matters, I got an order and relief."
Justice Kathawalla, despite working in till the early hours of the morning, returned to his chamber at 10:30am on Saturday to finish his pending work.