Ghaziabad, March 9: India is unconcerned about delayed judgements despite a case pending for over 178 years in a Kolkata court, a Supreme Court judge said here Saturday.
Justice B.S. Chauhan said that a national debate had begun in the US after a judgement was delivered after 27 years and asked: “When will we wake up?”
Speaking at the inauguration of a new CBI court complex here, Justice Chauhan, 63, cited a divorce case in which justice was delivered when the wife was 85 years old and her husband was 87.
He, however, did not elaborate on the Kolkata case.
He recollected a case he was hearing in the Supreme Court against a high court decision that was against Privy Council judgement delivered in 1923. The case is still pending in a civil court in Agra, he said.
He added that although the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) Act had been abolished, the apex was still hearing appeals of people convicted under it for the last 22 to 23 years.
Giving another example, Justice Chauhan said that the Supreme Court was still hearing an appeal in a case in which seven people were convicted 35 years ago. Out of seven convicted people, five have died while one was acquitted by a lower court. The supreme Court was hearing the appeal of the lone survivor in the case, who is now 98 years old.
“Where should we send him,” Justice Chauhan asked the gathering of the chief justice of the Allahabad High Court, district judge Ghaziabad and 100 judicial officers at the event.
Justice Chauhan said that a case for declaring the legal heir of a royal family of Bengal was still pending. The case was filed in 1946 after a prince was poisoned by his stepmother so that her own son could wear the crown.
However, the prince – who was unconscious and not dead – woke up when his body was immersed into a river, as was the custom in those days. He was taken out of the river by snake charmers.
When he returned to Calcutta, as Kolkata was then called, a dispute arose and a case was filed in 1946. After India’s partition, the princely state was annexed by Pakistan into its eastern region, which is now Bangladesh, Justice Chauhan said.
The judge said that in another case, which he was hearing in the Supreme Court, the second wife of a landlord claimed the rights for her children in 1956. He said that after going through the case files and records, he found that the woman’s first son was born before his mother, her second son was born when the mother was three years old, her third son was born when she was five years old and her fourth son was born when she was eight years old.
“No judge noticed such a lapse in the case at the district court and the high court. Who is responsible for such a grave lapse,” Justice Chauhan asked.
He added that Madan Mohan Malviya was an eminent lawyer but he did not practice as a profession. He contested just one case: the 1930 Chauri Chaura case in 1930 in which 220 people were convicted to death.
Malviya appeared in the case on the special request of social activists. Through his arguments, 170 of the accused were acquitted. In his judgement, then chief justice Giri Moth had said: “This country has not produced a lawyer like Madan Mohan Malviya.”
About the current generation of lawyers, Justice Chauhan said: “Paida hua vakil to shaitaan ne kahaa ki aaj hum bhi sahibe aulaad ho gaye (Whenever a lawyer is born, the devil says that now I have also become a head of a family.”