JUDGE SAHEB KA KUTTA: A devastating expose of the legal profession based on a true story

"Judge Saheb ka Kutta" roughly translates as "Love Me, Love My Dog!"

The identity of the author has been withheld for obvious reasons. I am sure the legal fraternity will easily recognize the real life characters described in this article.  Editor

I am not a lawyer, but I am married to a whole family of lawyers.

Ours is a partying family. However, the constitution of the parties we would go to, or the guests who would visit us has changed over the years.

When my father – in – law was alive, he had a very different yardstick. Once any of his friends would be elevated as a judge, he would be struck – off from the list of invitees to my father in law’s bashes. Neither would my father in law visit him as long as he was a judge. Only after the judge’s retirement would he be invited back in the party circuit. These values were carried into the next generation.

However, then came a whole lot of “yuppies” who saw things differently. One such street smart lawyer explained to me over an invite for tea:

“Gone are the days when law practice was about ensuring that a litigant gets justice. It may still be so in the lower district courts. In the High Courts and the Supreme Court, judges know that they are Gods…. Law practice in these higher courts is about an exclusive club whose members are the judges, the senior advocates and aspirant senior advocates. The game played in this club is of ‘upward mobility’ of these members….. getting access to justice for a litigant was just incidental for some stray cases … The aspirant senior lawyers would be sucking up to the seniors and the judges, the seniors would be arranging visibility of closeness to the judges in parties attended by companies of solicitors who would supply lucrative clients with kick-backs from the fees, and finally, the judges were all too conscious of their post-retirement placements and would be snuggling up to the politicians. This is exceptional individuals notwithstanding.”

To emphasize his point, he brought to my attention that there were judges who had hardly ever written a single judgment while in the High Court. Most matters before them were kept as “judgment reserved” for years and were listed for re-hearing after the judge was transferred or elevated to the Supreme Court. In the Supreme Court, the same judges would get away by a two-word inscription, “I agree” or “I concur” while the brother judge would be the real author to a judgment.

To a lawyer aspiring to be a senior, I was explained, warming up to a judge had to be visible and law firms would take note and get you to work. It is in this background that I came to know firsthand, the following unfortunate yet amusing story:

Justice Kindheart (name changed) was known to be a no-nonsense judge. He was the Chief Justice of the High Court. He would not go to any parties or socialize in any manner with any lawyer. This posed a big problem to all the yuppy lawyers who wanted to demonstrate their ‘closeness’ to him. My ‘tea party’ friend Suresh (name changed) would gather with other lawyers and strategize on how to get access to Justice Kindheart. Nothing was working.

One day I saw a gleam in Suresh’s eyes. He needed my help. He had found out that Justice Kindheart was very fond of his dog and Suresh had done a ‘recce’ of all the parks that Kindheart would be taking his dog to. He also knew the exclusive Vet that Justice Kindheart used for his dog. Suresh wanted me to help him acquire a dog. “But you hate dogs !!”, I exclaimed. “It does not matter, just get me a docile bitch who I would take to the same parks and the same Vet as Kindheart takes his dog to.”

An investment in a young golden retriever bitch was made. She was a darling indeed – and justice Kindleart’s dog thought so too – although Suresh had just to put up with her ‘non-sense’ as he never liked dogs. Reminded me of Sharukh Khan feeding the pigeons to impress his lover’s irate father in the film ‘DDLJ’.

Wonder of wonders, I learned that Suresh and Justice Kindheart had clicked. They would be noted conversing for hours by solicitors and Suresh posed as the ‘go-to’ lawyer for any matter in the Chief Justice’s court!!

It was working all well till one fateful day it was learnt that Justice Kindheart’s dog had taken very ill and was dying. Suresh and I (who knew more about dogs than Suresh did) rushed to Justice Kindheart’s residence to express our concern for the dog. Our jaws fell to the ground when we discovered that literally half the bar was there!! In between some half a dozen lawyers, surrounded by another ring of scores of others, we could make out the poor dog in very bad shape. The inner-circle were the lucky ones who were massaging the dog’s chest, feet, head, tail — wherever they could lay their hands on – while the others had an eye for Justice Kindheart as they were expressing concern and pretending that they had better ideas for treatment.

Justice Kindheart, meanwhile, with moist eyes, expressed his desire to be alone with his dog at such a moment. “No sir, No sir. We will take care of him” was the chorus of all the lawyers as they thumped the poor dog’s chest as his tongue fell out and he breathed his last.

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