Silence! The court's not in session
On the first day of the week, the sessions court at Kala Ghoda is usually swarming with lawyers, policemen and people waiting for their cases to be heard.
But this Monday was different. The effects of the bandh could be seen in the deserted corridors, vacant courtrooms, and the empty Bar association room and canteen.
"I have never seen the court look like this," said public prosecutor Vijaylakshmi Nadar, who was among the few women staff members present. "Many of the men have made it to work but the women have mostly stayed away."
The judges did not have cases to attend to. The hearing in many cases had to be adjourned because the accused could not be produced in court. The policemen who escort them were out on the streets trying to ensure a non-violent bandh. "No accused was taken [to court] from Arthur Road jail today," said Rajendra Dhamane, superintendent of the jail.
Some judges were seen sitting in empty courtrooms with their staff while others decided not to sit for the second session of the day. Several lawyers also found it tough to reach court. "I had three cases today but when I stepped out of my house I could not find an autorickshaw to reach Bhandup station," said advocate Dinesh Mota. "Now, I’ll get to know about these cases on Tuesday."
Outside the court premises the tea vendor, who does brisk business on weekdays until late evening, shut shop in the afternoon saying the place looked "haunted".
At the Bombay High Court, however, it was work as usual at least for the first half of the day. Here too, many lawyers and their clients could not reach court and some judges could not make it for the afternoon session.