Bombay High Court Celebrates 150 Years With An Exhibition

August 22, 2012 11:21 am by

The Bombay High Court as seen 100 years ago. Photo courtesy of Kamlesh Shah Publishers.

If you’ve wondered what the impossibly grand Bombay High Court is like from the inside, now’s your chance to take a look. The court is celebrating its 150th year with an exhibition of legal paraphernalia. The show is housed in the central hall of the court—an imposing room with witness boxes, a jury bench and a huge chandelier, it’s where Bal Gangadhar Tilak was famously tried for sedition. The exhibits include applications by B. R. Ambedkar, M. K. Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Mohammed Ali Jinnah seeking to be admitted as advocates at the court, and objects such as a Mignon typewriter from 1905, a justice’s wig and ceremonial outfits worn by judges. There’s also a large selection of vintage Mumbai postcards, while buffs of legal arcana might be excited by the display of court fee papers belonging to the erstwhile princely states, and stamp duty papers and revenue stamps from the early part of the twentieth century.

To mark the Bombay High Court’s anniversary, we’ve put together our own homage. It’s wrongly assumed that judges only make boringly ponderous pronouncements when in fact they’re full of flair. Some of the things they have said are prime fodder for a ‘Shit Judges Say’ video that would make a worthy addition to the popular series. Here are some of the more colourful remarks judges have made on a variety of topics in recent years.

“A wife should be like goddess Sita who left everything and followed her husband Lord Ram to a forest and stayed there for 14 years.”
Justices P. B. Majmudar and Anoop Mohta while hearing a case involving a Shipping Corporation of India employee who wanted to divorce his wife because she refused to move to Port Blair where he was transferred. May 2012

“If marriages are made in heaven, then they should never break. When people are in love, all is well. After marriage, it appears that love vanishes. Marriage comes in the way.”
Justice P. B. Majmudar approves a divorce petition filed by a couple that had had a love marriage. May 2012

Family disputes
“Mithaiwallas have become talwarwallas.”
Justices B. H. Marlapalle and Anoop Mohta on the dispute between family members over the ownership of Suleiman Usman Mithaiwala, a popular sweet shop on Mohammed Ali Road. June 2010

“Indecent” businesses
“Find some other business, you are 70. There are temples. You can go there.”
Justice P. B. Majmudar upholds the closure of Hotel Sona at which waitresses were found to be behaving indecently. The owner was 70-year-old Appu Shetty. April 2012

On judging itself
“The pen of the judge should be like the knife of a surgeon, which probes into the flesh only inasmuch as it is absolutely necessary for the purpose of the case before it.”
Former Chief Justice Dalaveer Bhandari lays down the rule that courts should refrain from passing judgment on a woman’s character unless absolutely necessary. July 2005