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Noisy birds pay with lives in courtroom

A pair of myna babies died and their two siblings were injured when their nest in a Calcutta High Court courtroom was destroyed on Tuesday because the chirping birds had been disturbing peace during hearings.

Justice Subhra Kamal Mukherjee and Justice Shib Sadhan Sadhu had ordered removal of the nest in a hole on the wall above a 20ft door while they were hearing a bail plea around 3pm.

Around 4.30pm, after the hearings ended, three court employees arrived and pushed a sack filled with cement into the hole that was open at both ends. The myna parents managed to escape but the fledglings were too young to fly.

As the bag was pushed in from one end, the babies fell on the floor — killing two of them instantly.

Bird chirping is heard in a few other courtrooms too but sources said the loudest tweets came on Tuesday from court number 2 on the first floor.

The birds, oblivious to the serious affairs of the court, were making so much noise that the two judges had to put the proceedings on hold for some time and summon Mir Dara Sheko, the registrar general of the high court.

“Please drive these birds away. Their chirping doesn’t allow us to hear everything clearly,” Justice Mukherjee told the registrar general around 3pm.

The hearing resumed after the order and the chirping continued too.

After the hearing ended, three employees came with a ladder and plugged the hole at the crest of the door but apparently made the fatal mistake of never looking inside for the baby birds.

“Birds build nests only to give birth and raise their young. The employees should have known this… simple common sense,” said a birder. They breed during summer, between March and October.

Birders said it could not be known which type of myna had nested in the courtroom because Calcutta has both common mynas and jungle mynas in large numbers.

“They live on treetops or in ventilators of homes. The birds have assimilated perfectly to urban life as their food habit now ranges from insects to rotis,” one of them said.

A court source said when the fledglings fell on the floor after the bag was pushed into the hole, the employees assigned with the task of removing the nest put them in a cage and walked away.

Intrusion into courtrooms from the animal kingdom is not a new thing and such adventures had turned tragic in the past. A wild cat was accidentally killed after it strayed into courtroom number 11 on the first floor about five years ago. Court employees tried to shoo away the cat with sticks but ended up hitting it so hard that the animal died.

The high court is home to a large population of birds, mainly pigeons and mynas.