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Clearing backlog: Indian judge makes ‘history’ to sit until 3:30 in morning

MUMBAI: A judge at the Mumbai High Court made history as he held his court till the early hours of morning everyday for a week to finish pending cases.

Justice S J Kathawalla, 59,  has been staying in court till late for a whole week to avoid pendency and finish hearing matters before the month-long summer break kicks in from May 5.

His courtroom number 20 has been breaking all the record as its active till late night. On Friday the room was packed till 3:30 am with litigants and advocates. He heard more than 135 matters since morning, 70 of which were urgent matters.

Hiren Kamod, an advocate who was in the court till the early hours said:

“His dedication and commitment to work are unmatched. I was among the last three to leave the courtroom at 3:30 am. It was packed with lawyers, litigants and court staff and nobody complained because most matters were moved for urgent hearings.”

He added that most lawyers and litigants had appeared for matters relating to arbitrations, Intellectual property rights and commercial matters, which is part of his current assignment.

“He finished his entire board. He sat from 10am to 3:30 am in the courtroom and took just a 20-minute break. He was tirelessly sitting in one place, sharp and attentive till the end. It’s commendable. I was appearing in an Infringement of trademark matter in which got an injunction order against the defendant in the wee hours,” added Kamod.

KPP Nair, who had worked with Kathawalla for seven years as his secretary, said, “I have worked with 15 judges but nobody can match the energy and vigor of justice Kathawalla. He dictates small orders inside court itself and lengthy orders are taken to a chamber where he dictates and the order is prepared immediately. I have also gone to his home on Sundays for dictation.” He adds serving the people has been Kathawalla first priority.

Nishad Nadkarni, one of the advocates who were at the courtroom till 3 am, was of the view: “It’s historic no doubt and a welcome move. People complain of pendency all the time and what better way to combat the problem than this. We were happy to be appearing for matters till late since most were urgent. We have complete faith in justice Kathawalla. He ensured on Friday that he completed the ad-interim board. In each of the matters, I got an order and relief.”

Justice Kathawalla, despite working in till the early hours of the morning, returned to his chamber at 10:30 am the next day to finish his pending work.

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