It was the much-eagerly awaited judgment from the court of Chief Justice of India before he retires on May 12. And a sneak view into the courtroom presided by the CJI said it all.
Court number 1 of the Supreme Court has never witnessed such a crowd as it did on Friday. No sooner did the guards unlock the doors at 10 am, than lawyers flocked inside the court to grab the best seats. Those who couldn’t, had to be content with standing space, getting jostled around by the people who entered after 10:30 am, when the court began its day.
Media persons, law students and curious litigants who had come to attend their own cases were jostling for space in the visitors’ gallery that is often empty during regular hearings.
Heads turned as the younger Ambani brother walked into the overcrowded courtroom minutes before the constitution bench took its seat to pronounce the two judgements of the day.
Anil Ambani, sporting a tilak, smiled his way through the crowd as his lawyer, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi made space for him to sit. Flanked by his other lawyers Anil chatted with Ram Jethmalani, his main counsel, before taking his seat.
“I want to know the verdict as I have invested in the shares of both companies,” said one of the counsels attending the hearing. While some advocates were there to know the future of stock-market, while others simply wanted to hear the verdict and get on with their cases.
However, all had to wait patiently for the Reliance judgement to be pronounced as the constitution bench took its time to deliver the two verdicts. The courtroom started buzzing once again as the five judges left and three of them returned to the court.
All ears went out as one of the bench members, Justice P. Sathasivam started to read out the majority view of the judgment. “Hush!” said an advocate to another. “Please keep quite,” said one more to his colleague.
The silence in the courtroom broke as the pronouncement ended at 11:20 am. Senior advocates of the respective parties came out, only to be hounded by the media persons eagerly waiting for their byte.
“Its finally ended,” said one lawyer while dialing his cellphone to go live on air with a relieved look.
Anil Ambani exited as quickly as he had entered.