A personal account
I was a lecturer in a college of the town for the last fourteen years. Our town had earned the status of district headquarters just a few years back. Various government departments were still in the process of coming into existence. Residential quarters of officers had not been built as yet. So, most of the functionaries were residing in private accommodations in mohallas of the town. The post of District judge was not created up till now. The chief judicial magistrate (CJM) was the highest functionary of the local judicial set up.
One morning as I was getting ready for my college, my son, aged fourteen years, asked me whether I knew a judicial magistrate in the mohalla. I did not know about any government functionary residing in our locality. I wanted to know the reason of his query. he told me that a magistrate residing in the neighborhood had abused him. The story seemed to be queer. So I decided to check with the man. As we reached his residence, I saw two persons sitting in the outer room. My son pointed at one of the two persons. We entered the room after duly seeking permission; then I asked whether my son had done something wrong. To my surprise, the man the man lost temper and began speaking in intemperate language. I was at a loss to understand the provocation for his ungentlemanly behavior. He threatened me with arrest. I told him that I was ready to face whatever he would do. Some person walking by had assembled there on hearing commotion. I felt embarrassed and hurriedly left the place along with my son. Subsequently for both of us it was business as usual. I went to my college and my son to his school.
I narrated the incident to my colleagues in the staff-room of our department. In the meanwhile, one of our ex-students hurriedly rushed in and informed us that the judicial magistrate had filed complaint against me and the issuance of an arrest warrant is imminent. He requested me to be careful about my movements. Now we became aware about the gravity of the situation. We had consultations among ourselves. One of my colleagues was a close neighbor of the CJM. They had very cordial relations. So he was requested to talk to the CJM. It was decided that we shall assemble in the evening at his residence; he would have talked to the CJM by then. Thereafter suitable strategy would be chalked out.
After college hours, I returned to my residence where my wife was anxiously waiting for me. Another ex-student had informed her about the imminence of my being arrested. But I was not intimidated.
In the evening we assembled at our colleague’s residence as planned. He informed us that the CJM had called him at his own initiative and had enquired about my credentials. He informed him that all the local judicial officers had joined the said magistrate in lodging complaint against me and pressing him to issue an arrest warrant against me immediately. (Later I learnt that the judicial officer concerned had told his colleagues that I had threatened to get him assaulted by our students.) Under the circumstances he was obliged to take cognizance but he had deferred issuing arrest warrant for the time being. My colleague was told about the contents of the complaint. The complainant was orderly peon. It was mentioned that as he was sitting at the gate of the residence of the said magistrate and the magistrate was busy writing his official papers, I forcibly entered the room and started shouting at the Officer, thus interfered in his discharge of government duties.
It was decided by us to seek an audience with the CJM. The CJM agreed to meet us. We went to him at his residence. He was humble and expressed his desire for an amicable settlement. He attempted to smoothen me by assuring that only a summon may be served on me instead of a warrant of arrest. I told him about our disappointment at the conduct of the officers. I submitted that they were not fair enough in lodging a case based on falsehoods. I was surprised when the CJM defended his officers on the pretext that falsehood is a necessary ingredient of court cases. I expressed my disappointment at the conduct of those claiming to be saviors of the system. I told him categorically that there is no logic in favor of a negotiated settlement. A false case has been registered unilaterally. It should be withdrawn unilaterally. I expressed my reservations about a summon being issued in the case and offered to send my young son to him so that he may get a firsthand unadulterated account of the event and may subject him to all types of uninhibited close examination. He agreed to the proposal. I sent my son the next morning to my colleague, who took him to the CJM. Later my son told me that the CJM had questioned him closely about the incident.
Thereafter neither warrant of arrest nor summon was served on me. But the case was not dropped. It was put up for a date in the next month. I was advised to seek negotiated settlement. But I stuck to my position of the case being withdrawn unilaterally without my involvement. My understanding was that they wanted to harass me and that I had to defeat them by appearing to be unmoved. My strength was in the knowledge that higher judiciary keeps a very strong watch on the conduct of its judicial officers and any complaint against them is pursued in all seriousness. So I had thought that I would approach the District judge at the old district headquarters as a last resort. Months passed by. I did not enter the court premises even once, no summon was issued, but the case lingered on being put off each month for a new date. I learnt a painful lesson and earned a revealing experience. Had I opted to contest the case, no legal assistance would have been available to me even though I had many self-proclaimed well-wishers and friends in the local bar.
Months rolled by. After about seven months I happened to visit a college in the old district headquarters in connection with university exams. I stayed with a Doctor friend there. I thought that the District judge may be available. So I asked my friend whether he knew the judge and whether he can arrange a meeting with him next morning. Incidentally it was Sunday. He agreed and we went to the residence of the district judge.
We were received cordially. I narrated my story. He listened patiently and expressed regret on his behalf. He told us that a similar case had come to his notice earlier also. He assured me that he would visit our place after two days and would set things in order. I asked whether I should see him there. He answered in negative and added that he would call me if the need arose.
After two days while I was inside a class, a peon of the principal came to inform me that the district judge had sent a message for me to see him. The honorable judge had kept his word. I left for the court campus accompanied with a colleague.
It was January afternoon. On reaching the court campus I found the honorable District judge sitting in the sun flanked by the local judicial officers. The District judge welcomed us and requested to take seat on empty chairs by his side. As we sat, he told me that he had enquired and found that it was a very unfortunate incident which should not have occurred . He added that because of legal technicalities, I was required to give in writing that the matter has been settled, so the case may be closed. The suggestion was not acceptable to me. Hence, I submitted humbly,” Judge Saheb, may I say something?” I further added, “I have been wronged”. The judge instantly waved his hand, “I understand, He does not want to appear.” Then turning to the CJM, he instructed him to see that the case id dropped on the next scheduled date of hearing and the compliance be conveyed immediately to him telephonically. When a sub-judge tried to draw his attention, he retorted,” Don’t quote law books. My hands are sufficiently long. I shall take care of any eventuality.”
This was followed by a small lecture on the conduct of responsible and gentle persons.
Thus curtains were drawn.