Some Indian judges have a flair for writing, which they (for the good or worse) often bring to their judgments. I remember a professor’s tongue-in-cheek remark on how judgments often provide a ground for some long lost writerly ambitions.
However, recently in State vs. Babu (FIR no. 145/20) Justice Amitabh Rawat of Karkardooma Court in Delhi penned a full poem on the facts before him and his reasoning. He said, “the present application has merits, let me put it in a different way.”
Babu pleading for his bail;
State opposing tooth and nail.
Summers bygone, winters have arrived;
But crime you did, and Rahul cried.
I am not the one, I am not the one;
Too grave the charge, don’t pretend.
Whom did I attack, where is he;
Oh! That we know, in the trial we will see.
You say I have said & I deny from the first blush;
Rahul may be gone yet Satish said.
Didn’t we say; don’t rush;
Let me go, let me go, even Imran is on bail.
Even then, even then;
it wouldn’t be a smooth sail.
Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop;
I have heard, heard a lot.
Mind is clear, with claims tall;
Its my time to take a call.
Babu has a sordid past;
proof is scant, which may not last.
His omnipotence can’t be assumed;
Peril to vanished Rahul, is legally fumed.
Take your freedom from the cage you are in;
Till the trial is over, the state is reigned in.
The State proclaims; to have the cake and eat it too;
The Court comes calling ; before the cake is eaten, bake it too.
If anyone wants to read this order, which is a fairly normal one sans the poem, they can do so here.
A poem which helped Justice Muralidhar
Acts such as the above could lead to a butterfly effect, where you never know who would be impacted by your words.
Justice Dr. S Muralidhar, a widely respected judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, once spoke of a poem written by a young Railway Magistrate which helped humanize some aspects of law for him and others in the judiciary.
Bharat Chugh, a Railway Magistrate, wrote a poem where a young boy was on trial for “illegally” selling tea on a train.
According to Mr. Chugh, the boy’s abject poverty was his only crime. Yet if he followed the letter of law, he would have to punish him. To express his anguish while deciding such a case, he later penned down an evocative poem. It goes something on the lines of:
“…A young boy was produced before me,
his abject poverty and emaciation was for all to see.
In a rich India of poor people, being poor was his crime,
the ‘Welfare State’ naturally decided that he should serve his jail time.
He was accused of selling ‘tea’, without licence in a train,
he was a migrant…you could see his sheer pain;
with that torn shirt, as if modesty was just for the rich,
law or justice, I couldn’t, at first, pick which.”
You can read the full poem here.
We would love to hear if you have come across anything in a judgment (or any writing for that matter) that moved you and helped you see the human aspect of the legal process.
We are trying to work towards making legal education more empathetic. Your ideas would be very helpful.