Client’s luck and tired Judge

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In 1997, a person from Rajouri contacted me and requested to take up the case of his relative undergoing sentence of imprisonment in District Jail, Jammu. He had been convicted by a Summary General Court Marshal for some serious allegations and sent from quarter guards to civil prison for serving his sentence of imprisonment in his home State as per procedure. I studied his brief and came to the conclusion that it was a very weak case. But agreed to take up at the client’s instance and on his wish that he still wanted to try his luck. He claimed to have blessings from Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah (Shahdra Shrief). Now I drafted a writ petition to be filed in High Court as the remedy of appeal was not available at that time. The Armed Forces Tribunal Act was passed much later in 2007 under which the Tribunal was constituted in 2009 for hearing appeals in such matters. The writ petition was listed before a Hon’ble Judge in daily supplementary list. Due to a function in the court premises the Hon’ble Judge couldn’t take up the supplementary list at 2 pm and instructed his reader that he would take up the said list after the function was over. The function got delayed and ultimately he reached his chambers late at around 6 pm. It was winter and quite dark in Jammu. I too went to his reader and requested him to inquire from the Hon’ble Judge. As the reader went inside the chambers and reminded the Hon’ble Judge, I overheard the Hon’ble Judge telling the reader “I am tired now” and then instructing him to issue notice and pass whatever the interim order had been prayed for in the accompanying application. After changing his dress, the Hon’ble Judge left for his home. I sat in the reader’s room and the steno typed the order as conveyed by the reader. The interim order prayed for was to release on bail, and so the steno on his own typed the interim order accordingly. I knew that there should be some surety amount written in the bail order and asked the steno and reader to mention some routine amount but the loyal officials were not ready to add anything more. The next morning when I went to know about whether the Hon’ble Judge had signed the order, the reader told me that he was insulted by the Hon’ble Judge for not mentioning any bail amount in the order. The reader realized that he had committed a mistake by not agreeing with me the last evening. This way the client undergoing sentence on conviction by a SGCM got bail from High Court treating it as a ‘routine criminal case where a 3-year sentence of imprisonment’ had been passed. This was the result of the Hon’ble Judge’s good mood and the shortage of time due to the function in the court premises which had got delayed. This was the client’s luck! He got released on bail. After about 6 months he met me in my chambers in police uniform. I was surprised. How could a convict be recruited? It defied commonsense. But I came to know that he has been recruited as an SPO in a special recruitment drive in border areas. He was so lucky that despite his conviction, he had got the Discharge Cerificate erroneously mentioning his character ‘Very Good’. This was also his luck! Then after three years his writ petition was dismissed on merits as there is a very little scope in writ jurisdiction unlike the appellate one. But since it was a writ petition, the Hon’ble Judge (a different one) simply omitted to write a routine sentence asking the registry to issue warrants of arrest against him as he was on bail; even the writ section didn’t know of this routine practice followed in criminal matters by trial courts after the dismissal of appeals where the accused were on bail. This was the further luck of the client! This episode compelled me to visit the holy Shahdara Sharief shrine a few years later, and I did feel the strong vibtrations in the sanctum sanctorum!

 

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Sakal Bhushan