Justice Shahrukh J Kathawalla, who hears cases of arbitration and intellectual property rights, at the Bombay High Court has set an example for others to follow. He sat till 3:30 am in the courtroom on Friday to finish hearing pending cases before the summer break.
In a 17-hour work marathon, he continued working till the early hours of Friday as the court goes for a month-long summer break from May 5 onwards. Since morning, Justice Kathawalla heard more than 135 matters out of which 70 cases were urgent, as reported by News18. His courtroom number 20 was packed with litigants and advocates till 3:30 am.
“He finished his entire board. He sat from 10 am to 3:30 am in the courtroom and took just a 20-minute break. He was tirelessly sitting in one place, sharp and attentive till the end. It is commendable. I was appearing in an Infringement of trademark matter in which got an injunction order against the defendant in the wee hours,” Hiren Kamod, an advocate who was in the court till the early hours, said to News18.
Two weeks ago, Justice Kathawalla had heard matters in his chamber till midnight. The Judicial hours in the High Court are from 11 am to 5 pm, with a one-hour lunch break at 2 pm. He often begins court proceedings at 10 am, an hour earlier than the other judges, and hears matters beyond 5 pm, when the court shuts for the day.
“There are judges who have disposed of a large number of matters before 5 pm itself. If the judge decides to sit so late, it puts a lot of pressure on the court staff working with him,” said a retired HC judge on the condition of anonymity to News18.
According to a report in The Times of India, Bombay Bar Association President Milind Sathe and several others had met Justice Kathawalla and requested him not to sit beyond 5 pm and on holidays without the consent of both parties in advance.
“Sitting beyond court hours and certainly through the night causes much inconvenience to a large number of advocates, paralegals and their staff as well the court staff and administration. The library was kept open until 11 pm on Friday. Therefore, despite the great work he is doing, it raises issues of institutional functioning,” said Sathe, reported The Times of India.
Despite working till 3:30 am in the morning, Justice Kathawalla returned to his chamber at 10:30 am on Saturday to finish pending work. Justice Kathawalla has been enrolled in the Maharashtra and Goa Bar since 1985 and was sworn in as an Additional Judge at the HC in 2009. He was confirmed as a permanent judge on July 15, 2011.
According to a report in The Indian Express, there are more than 40 lakh cases pending in 24 high courts of the country. Out of these, more than 6 lakh cases are pending for more than a decade. Justice Kathawala has set a benchmark for others. The Logical Indian salutes him for his dedication towards work.
Also published on Medium.