Friday, February 9, 2024

City of Lights & (Il)legal vibes (10)



The most striking feature in my quest for justice is that stumbling blocks have come from the very institutions designed to protect citizens like me. These institutions failed miserably to perform their duty. It took HC intervention for justice to be delivered. Along the way, there were immense mental harassment and unspeakable public humiliation.


This incident is remarkable for various reasons. First and the most obvious is that justice was restored only after HC intervention whereas it's loss was egregious in the lower court. Secondly, if I being a government official have to wage such a battle to get the justice that is my right, what happens to ordinary citizens seeking justice can easily be comprehended. Thirdly, this is a blatant instance of connivance between the lower judiciary and the lawyers, which underscores the fact that lawyers are above the law of the land. This unholy nexus is truly alarming.


The rule of law prevailed at the end, but it should not be denied in the first place.


This story is very close to my heart because it’s based on my real-life experience. Maya Angelou wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” As I bare my heart in this story, I become free of that agony.

Some thank yous are in order:

Fellow officers of Hooghly district, Moumita, Manasree, Sreanwita, Jayanti di, Hooghly District Registration Employees Association and all my well-wishers in the department for their unwavering support during trying times. I owe a lot to all of you.

Lawyers of Diamond Harbour Sub-Divisional Court for always standing by me through thick and thin.

Moumita, Manasree, Sreanwita and Dipayan for reading the manuscript of this story and giving thoughtful feedback.


·  “Investigation to Trial: The Book for a Common Man: Criminal Law” by Abhilash Malhotra

·       West Bengal Legal Services Authority (


·       Shivam Goel: LinkedIn

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Wednesday, February 7, 2024

City of Lights & (Il)legal vibes (9)


Chapter 7

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

-         Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

No matter how hard you try, some wounds never heal. And some humiliations never pass into oblivion. They remain with you. In time, they become a part of you. At times, they try to embitter you. At other times, they try to make you vengeful. You wonder whether in your quest to exact revenge, you are becoming more like the person you always hated. This thought humbles you, once again.


But what about the professional ethics? Isn’t it applicable to the so-called noble profession of practising law? Or has the profession lost it’s dignity because of some unworthy practitioners? You wonder.


(Note: Section 35(1) of the Advocates Act, 1961, says, “Where on receipt of a complaint or otherwise a State Bar Council has reason to believe that any advocate on its roll has been guilty of professional or other misconduct, it shall refer the case for disposal to its disciplinary committee.)

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Tuesday, February 6, 2024

City of Lights & (Il)legal vibes (8)


Chapter 6

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

-         Elie Wiesel

March, 2023

Aloknagri Civil Bar Library

A meeting was in progress, chaired by the Learned Additional District Judge. He was an erudite man, well-versed in law and could recall in vivid detail the recent developments and orders passed by the Supreme Court of India. He was explaining how a public servant should not use his/her official position to exact personal revenge against those he spites. He added for good measure that the learned lawyers of his court might face troubles in my office because of the hostility that had arisen. At this point, I couldn’t help but wonder aloud whether withholding certified copies of a case was also of the same kind: using one’s official position to harass another. He was visibly embarrassed and said that he would ensure that the certified copies of all the case orders were delivered to me. But it was too late. I didn’t need any of those documents any more, I informed him. He hastily concluded the meeting, urging all the stake-holders to participate in the work with open heart and without any reservations.


25th April, 2023

High Court, Calcutta

In the second hearing, The Hon’ble High Court of Calcutta directed the learned Judicial Magistrate, 2nd Court at Aloknagri to prepone the date for the hearing of the joint Compromise petition sometimes in the first week of May, 2023. And mentioned in it’s order that “if no such settlement is effected, the instant revision shall continue.”


4th May, 2023

2nd Court, Aloknagri

It was a hot, humid day. The court-room was bursting at the seams as many legal luminaries of the Aloknagri Bar Association was present inside the court-room. They didn’t want to miss the chance to witness the hearing of the historic case that was going on inside the court-room. May be, they were chuckling silently thinking how they were able to harass a government official. Nishapati, the famed Vice-President of Aloknagri Bar Association was arguing in favour of Debjyoti. He was saying how the insolent officer was “harassing and humiliating” the poor Debjyoti and how he would not spare even the Prime Minister of India if he dared to harass his poor brethren of Aloknagri Court. Accordingly, the judge fixed another date for another hearing.


Meanwhile, after the hearing was over, few legal luminaries accosted the lawyer appointed by me and demanded an apology (at least verbal, if not written) from the officer, as a pre-condition for withdrawing the case.


Needless to they, all of them were disappointed.


15th May, 2023

2nd Court, Aloknagri

The case was finally withdrawn as the summer vacation was about to start and after re-opening of the court, as per the directive of the Hon’ble High Court of Calcutta, the case was supposed to continue in the High Court itself. And Debjyoti was willing to further visit the High Court as unlike Aloknagri Court, it was not his familiar turf.


My six-months-long ordeal finally came to an end.

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Monday, February 5, 2024

City of Lights & (Il)legal vibes (7)


Chapter 5

“The beauty of standing up for your rights is others will see you standing and stand up as well.”

-         Cassandra Duffy

March, 2023

Finally, a quash petition was filed in the High Court of Calcutta in spite of all efforts by the opposite party to persuade my lawyer not to take up the case. But just the day before the hearing, the case number was found missing from the next day’s Cause List. By this time, I had lost all hope.


Still, the next day, I dragged myself to the High Court, praying fervently to all the gods for their blessings. The lawyer mentioned before His Lordship how, all of a sudden, the case went missing from the Cause List. Luckily, the next day was fixed as the date of hearing. Surprisingly, when I came out of the court, the opposite party’s lawyer accosted me for an out-of-the-court settlement. How I tried for the settlement of the dispute for all these months and how it failed! Now, outside the High Court, a different drama was unfolding.


Next day, on the 15th of March, the opposite party’s lawyer appealed for an amicable settlement of the dispute during the hearing. The warrant of arrest was recalled and a timeframe of 15 days was set for the amicable settlement of the dispute.


(Note: The legal system generally uses the term “quash” to question the legitimacy of a specific legal action, order, or document.

One can quash a criminal complaint if it is found to be filed with an ulterior motive.

The High Court has wide powers to quash criminal processes in specific cases. This will prevent abuse of the legal process and ensure justice.)

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Wednesday, January 31, 2024

City of Lights & (Il)legal vibes (6)


Chapter 4

“The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.”

-         Aristotle

February, 2023

It was a period of fear, of uncertainty. On the one hand, it had become clear that it was impossible to get justice from the lower court. On the other, there was some apparent difficulty in the way of appealing to the High Court of Calcutta. Finding no other way out, I wrote two letters to the Chairman of the Sub-Divisional Legal Services Committee of Aloknagri. The Additional District Judge is the ex-officio Chairman of the SDLSC. In the first letter, I requested for an advocate to plead for me in the case against me. The second letter was for an amicable settlement of the dispute. The Chairman, consequently, appointed a lawyer, but the said lawyer didn’t receive the appointment letter. In the second case, also, the proposal for the amicable settlement of the dispute was rejected by both the Civil and Criminal Bars.


(Note: The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 has been framed to provide free and competent legal services to the weaker sections of the society to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.)

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City of Lights & (Il)legal vibes (5)


Chapter 3

“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.”

-         Montesquieu

January, 2023



One fine morning, the summon from the Aloknagri Court reached me. I was shellshocked to find that while the server of the Aloknagri Court showed 24th February, 2023 as the next date of hearing, someone had very carefully applied whitener on the date and had written the date of 17th January, 2023 as the next date of hearing. Both Girindranath and Nishapati were representing Debjyoti.


The judiciary of our country is often accused of procrastination. We have all come across reports of how the backlog of cases is one of the most severe issues with the Indian judicial system. According to a recent report, the pendency across courts in India rose to a whopping five crores after Covid (published in “The Probe”, an independent news media platform on April 30, 2023).


Quite naturally, my surprise knew no bounds as in my case, the hearing date was preponed by around a month, “considering the nature and urgency of this case.” To my horror, I couldn’t find a lawyer to defend my case as there were threats of physical assault from the opponent.


The case was heard on an urgent basis on 17th January, 2023 in my absence and arrest warrant was issued against me by the Judicial Magistrate of 2nd Court, Aloknagri Court. Both Girindranath and Nishapati were representing Debjyoti.


But more surprise was waiting for me. As the improbability of getting justice from the Aloknagri Court dawned on me, I tried to obtain the certified copies of the court orders so that I could appeal to the High Court of Calcutta. But to my utter surprise, all attempts to obtain certified copies proved futile. And Debjyoti’s lawyers were trying their best not only to bring him justice by hook or by crook, they were also not leaving no stone unturned to ensure that no certified copies of this particular case were issued, so that there would be no possibility of the case being heard at the High court of Calcutta. Ensuring that all the doors to get justice was closed for the opposite party, the so-called legal luminaries of the Aloknagri Criminal Bar Association demanded a written apology from the officer. They didn’t want to linger the case, they royally proclaimed. “Let her submit a written apology to us and we’ll withdraw the case. What’s the point of dragging the matter?” With this, they gleefully thought, they have sealed the fate of the case.


(Note: Every judgment passed by a court of law has to be on merits, irrespective of the fact, whether or not, the defendant appears before the court of law and defends himself. In the matter of Maya Devi v/s Lalta Prasad (2015) 5 SCC 588 it was held that the absence of defendant to contest the suit does not invite a punishment in the form of an automatic decree.)

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City of Lights & (Il)legal vibes (4)


Chapter 2

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”

-         Laurell K. Hamilton

Panic and I are old acquaintances. I first met Panic in the corridors of the Engineering College where I studied. In that first year of college, when ragging was rampant in the name of “introduction” of the newcomers, I first knew what Panic was. This churning in the stomach, this loss of sleep – all these were the bodily manifestations of panic-induced stress. Much water has flown under the bridge since that first year in college, and every stressful episode in my life was accompanied by Panic. In that December afternoon, amidst the sea of black-and-white clad humanity who were deriving sadistic pleasure by harassing me, I again met Panic. I had a panic attack.


My days went in a blur. My nights were sleepless. The doctor in the OPD of the nearby government hospital prescribed sleeping medications and referred me to a psychiatrist. But the medication-induced-sleep brought with it lurid nightmares. For the first time in life, insomnia seemed preferable to sleep.


Meanwhile, I came to know that Debjyoti had filed a complaint against me in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Aloknagri. Girindranath, the Secretary of Aloknagri Criminal Bar Association, was pleading the case for him. Most surprisingly, cognizance was taken without any sanction from the State Government. Was the ACJM not aware that in such cases, previous sanction of the government was necessary before taking cognizance? Or were there any other compulsions? Nobody had the answer.


(Note: Under Section 200 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, “A Magistrate taking cognizance of an offence on complaint shall examine upon oath the complainant and the witnesses present, if any, and the substance of such examination shall be reduced to writing and shall be signed by the complainant and the witnesses, and also by the Magistrate.


Again, under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, when any person who is or was a public servant not removable from his office save by or with the sanction of the Government is accused of any offence alleged to have been committed by him while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty, no Court shall take cognizance of such offence except with the previous sanction of the Central Government, or the State Government, as the case may be.)

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