This HC  and is taking up matters in Court till Midnight!

Justice S J Kathawalla is literally burning the midnight oil to do his bit to reduce judicial delays. Working beyond the 5pm court closure time is nothing new for the 58-year-old judge.

Judicial Backlog
Judicial Backlog

Justice Kathawalla would routinely sit for a couple more hours, and lawyers who have offices nearby would rush back when their matters were nearing, leaving their other clients in disbelief that the court works “so late’’.

But since Monday, Justice Kathawalla has started taking up matters in court and in chambers till midnight.

Advocate Naushad Engineer stated with awe that “the last time any lawyers were in court at midnight was in 1947 during Independence Day”.

Others like Advocate Sujay Kantawalla, who had a matter “called out” at 11.50pm on Wednesday night, stated that he had “never seen court this late”. “It was an awesome experience ” he added.

Litigants aren’t complaining either; they get their points across and interim relief outweighs any inconvenience. Justice Kathawalla’s court stays crowded till after 10pm

Judge’s staff too assists him without demur. Among his stenographers, peons, and court clerks, those who live far away, like Karjat, do not have to stay back. The others fill in.

Present at court on Wednesday night was arrested builder Dipesh Bhagnani, whose presence the court had called for at 3pm, as well as the city police’s economic offences wing (EOW) officer. His matter was finally taken up around 10pm, when he promised to comply with an earlier order. EOW explained the probe so far and was directed to give a report.

His diligence in seeking to help home-buyers who are cheated by builders or feel cheated and don’t get to see their dream homes for years on end despite paying up is appreciated by lawyers and litigants alike. “His diligence and desire to do justice is excellent,” said a senior counsel. Justice Kathawalla’s court room no 20 is usually packed till 10pm.

Justice Kathawalla himself likes to keep a low profile, when not in court, and is learnt to be doing it because of the huge pendency and workload. His late hours seem to be paying off. On Wednesday, he finished his entire board of ad interim matters (fresh matters). The litigants would have slept well, but the judge has to come back to court early as he also sits at 9 am sometimes.