On Day II of the ceasework at courts across the state, at least 73 in-person hearings were attempted at Calcutta High Court. Court officials helped the novices and, in some cases, their striking lawyers, too, came in plain clothes to help their clients from outside the courtrooms.
CASE I: “Amar anek boyesh hoyechhey. Ami ashustho. Amar case-ta doya korey aajke shuney nin (I am old and ailing. Please hear my case today).”
Sixty-four-year-old Manindra Kishor Chatterjee is fighting his brothers over a Calcutta property. Thursday was the first day his case came up for hearing, thanks mainly to the efforts of his lawyer, Mitul Chakraborty. But little did he know that Thursday would be the second day of the 10-day ceasework to protest the government’s decision to hike court fees. So Chatterjee himself appeared before a bench, comprising Justice T.K. Chatterjee and Justice J. Biswas.
The judges, however, could not hear him out; none of his brothers or their lawyers had appeared in court. The judges, who will not be together on the same bench for the next six months, released his case. But its implications were lost on Chatterjee. This prompted the judges to ask court officials to explain things to Chatterjee, who was stumped by the day’s developments.
CASE II: Pinaki Ranjan Bharati has been fighting a case against Rabindra Bharati University (RBU) for the past five years. He is claiming that RBU, despite granting affiliation to his college (Rabindra Vidyatirtha Mahavidyalay), has not released the financial assistance necessary to pay teachers their salary. The court had directed RBU to consider Bharati’s claims. The university did not comply with the order, forcing him to lodge a contempt case. Bharati himself appeared in Justice Kalyanjyoti Sengupta’s court on Thursday. He, however, was better versed than Chatterjee in the matters of the court. He managed to convince the court to add another name to the list of respondents.
Justice Sengupta, at the end, was supportive and appreciative of Bharati’s efforts. Prompting him when Bharati, with his written notes, seemed to be ill at ease and smiling when he was more confident, the judge helped him sail through the day’s proceedings.
CASE III: Maya De (name changed) got a court order directing her estranged husband — now abroad — to pay her ‘maintenance’. Her husband, however, did not comply with the directive, forcing De to file a contempt suit.
De, whose case was to come up in Justice Arun Mitra’s court, did not win a hearing as the judge was away, taking charge of the Port Blair circuit bench. So, she went to Justice Chatterjee’s room but was told to wait till Monday when Chief Justice A.K. Mathur would be back.