[Reader-list] Notes from the court-2

zamrooda zamrooda at sarai.net
Thu Jun 20 17:29:24 IST 2002

If I close my eye and think of a court the images that will emerge.... fear, 
law, order, crowd, black and white,police, men in bondage, files.
Reality check......tea stalls, vendors, typists, books, people: children all 
over, beggars, XEROX in bold letters, rajma chawal, fruit juice, PEPSI and 
COKE the war is not over.

Meandering through the chaos of the parking lot I try and make some seance of 
this complex. Lessons in school taught me that a big industry attracts many 
smaller and ancillary units around it to supplement it.

Never imagined the example will manifest itself in this scenario.

The main building of Patiala House  stands  majestically in the centre of the 
complex. The royal gates at some point of time would have left the viewer 
awestuck are now lost in the maze of the hoarding. It will not be a surprise 
if one was to mistake this magnificent complex for a car park. Moving away 
from the chaos of the car park one is introduced to the canopy of the banyan 
tree. The tree traces its history back to the building of the court. An  
extension of the building the tree houses fifty to sixty typist. The air 
around is filled with the humming of the type writers.

Applications for marriages under the Special Marriages Act have to be 
supported by personal affidavits. Attempts  to trace the format for the 
affidavits met with the solution....contact the typist in the complex. They 
are well versed with the format and will complete it without a bother. The 
officials were not wrong. The typist with a maximum education of high school 
was well versed with the different formats for different kinds of affidavits. 
The only thing that one needs to be careful about is the grammar.

The lanes of the court run like the veins in the body. With every visit, I 
discover a new one leading me to a new corner.

I begin with B.M.Mehta chowk?  Strategically positioned to the immediate 
right of the  gate of the court. The chowk consists of  lanes crowded with 
chambers of lawyers, advocates and notary. A casual walk through these lanes 
brings one eye to eye with lawyers outdoing one another to attract customers. 
One would not be exaggerating if one were to compare the scenario with that 
of a busy bazaar. The lanes are crowded with just enough space to walk in the 
direction of your nose. The chambers are even smaller. Yet a lawyer in 
possession of this 6 feet by 6 feet of space is revered as a successful 

Accompanying the lawyers chambers in these lanes are the xerox shops. Fixed 
price of 50 paise. Lucky is the soul who is able to attain a legible black 
and white copy to his originals. There cannot be another place to study the 
shades of the colour black and white. Inventor of "recycle " will not be able 
to find a better use of this word.
Another marvel which meets the eye is the speed at which a "man" can work at 
these machines. The machine may tire out but not the operator.
Thrown in between these one may also come across a phone booth or and a 
lamination shop.

B.M.Mehta Chowk spills over to the New Chambers Complex. The name connotes a 
recent addition to the complex. How recent is a good question to explore but 
the name stands firm. 

Leaving behind the chamber we enter into a jungle of book shops. The first 
time I came across this side of the court I was taken by surprise. Nothing 
had ever prepared me for what I witnessed here. In about a lane of ten shops 
there must not be a book on reference which is not available here. You name 
it and it is there. If not available the shopkeepers are more than willing to 
arrange it for you.

There was something extraordinary about this.

In which other profession have I seen books on the relevant topic available 
at the doorstep of the workplace? None that I could think of.

This is the beginning of the end of the court complex. No not really. Once 
out in the back alley of the court one chances upon queue stuck to little 
gaps in the back wall of the complex.

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