How I Made A Judge Smirk…
A personal story by Zeenia Nagpal (A final year BA.LLB Student)
I remember vividly, it was bitterly cold outside, and I was too lazy to get out of bed that morning. But like every other day of my internship, I had to reach court on time and look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. So, I tackled my laziness and got ready. Then, I had some breakfast and began to head to the court, unaware of what the day would be holding for me.
I had parked my car in the parking lot and started walking towards the chamber of the lawyer I was interning under. As I reached there, I saw Advocate Deep was already inside, probably a little before time. I went in and quietly sat in the chair as there was this discussion going on about a murder that took place in a village only a few miles away. As this intense conversation got over, I looked at Advocate Deep, who gave me a quick single eyebrow flash, and I finally got to speak a “Hello,” at least.
Time passed quickly as it was around 3:00 in the afternoon already. I had just finished reading the facts of the case, which had its arguments the next day. The facts of the case were so bizarre that I was literally scratching my head. Seeing my expressions, as clear as daylight, Junior Advocate Harman gazed at me amusingly and approached me if I wanted some help.
“Of course, I’m desperate for it.” – I mumbled.
I was onto a really lengthy case, which nevertheless became quite engaging. I was so immersed reading it that I had completely forgotten about my surroundings. Consequently, I couldn’t notice that Advocate Deep was standing right behind my chair, who watched me hunching over that file I had in my hands.
Suddenly, he broke the silence and said, “someone’s working hard, shouldn’t you argue for this case tomorrow?”
I panicked a little and looked back at him instantly. While reacting to what had just said, I giggled, not taking his words with a pinch of salt.
But then he instructed, “don’t worry, Harman will be there to help you if you struggle at some point.”
I…I was unable to think clearly as it was big.
“Man, I am getting my first case, is it?” – My troubled mind.
Even in my befuddled state, I said, “Okay, I think I can do it, but I’ll need this case file for tonight.” – Where was this even coming from? Hah, too confident, I sounded like I have been dealing with these kinds of cases forever.
By the time we ended this conversation, it was time to go home. That day, a clerk assisted me and carried all the files to my car. He opened the door and kept the files on the front seat and said, “okay, madam.” And I nodded back.
Damn, that day, I was feeling like a lawyer already. I mean, not that I’m not going to be one; it’s just that I got this opportunity when I least expected it.
As soon as I reached home, I opened the file that had a neat stack of papers. The FIR copy, all the necessary exhibits, bail applications, medico-legal reports, etcetera were all in there waiting for me to study. I stayed up late and scribbled a few significant points on a piece of paper.
Frankly, staying up late can all be fun and productive until the next morning. Needless to say, I struggled yet again to wake up that morning. I didn’t even have breakfast that day. After just a spoon or two of a cereal bowl, I headed to the court with that fluttery feeling in the stomach.
It was cold and frosty weather, and my legs shivered, or perhaps I was just too nervous…
I reached court a little early. And that’s when I was enlightened with the fact that it was the last day of my internship – and with such a happy realization at this minute, I told my brain not to be a dum-dum, at least not today!
As I met Advocate Deep in his chamber, he asked me if I was prepared. He then told me that Junior Advocate Harman was on leave, and he won’t be assisting me with the case.
So with the little change in plans, it was not Harman Sir who would help me if I stumble, but it would be Advocate Deep now. I’m not sure why, but my stress level should have elevated at that particular moment because you know, I was now going with a senior lawyer, but it instead alleviated.
We were now moving towards the Court Room No. 5, where the arguments were supposed to happen. Fun fact, u asked. Let me tell you, the environment here in the Lower Courts is quite different from that of High Courts and the Supreme Courts. Everyone knows everyone. Lawyers and judges are well acquainted with each other. It is a little less formal and yet no compromise on the courtroom ethics.
It was now time for Judge to come; everyone stood up, and so did I. Announcements were made to call the defense lawyers of this case. We waited for a while, and no one from the other side made an entry to the court. There was another call for them, and yet no one appeared. A few minutes after, Advocate Deep was called by the Judge himself. I picked up the case files from the table and accompanied him along.
The Judge looked at me and said: “Ah, new champ!”. He seemed to be very humble.
I swiftly responded, “Soon to be, I’m only an intern, studying 4th year of law.”
“Right. So, what have you learned so far?” the Judge questioned.
Even before I could say anything, Advocate Deep interjected the conversation and said, “Sir, she prepared the argument for the case today, but the other party is yet not here.”
As this was being said, the Judge looked me in the eye and told me, since the defense lawyers were not there, why don’t I give him a quick case brief.
Wh..what did just happen? – Again, my troubled mind.
“Sure,” I replied with a quivering voice. And opened the case file I was carrying along with me. Ironic it was, I sat and prepared this case for all night long, yet I was blank about initiating the brief. I gathered all the courage, braced myself up, and when I looked up at the Judge to speak, a smirk flickered at the corner of his mouth as he watched me struggle.
Despite everything, I started speaking. The courtroom had fallen silent now. I had to speak because I had only a little time for self – doubt or fear. I made direct eye contact with the Judge to sound more confident while speaking. Once I had finished the briefing, the Judge asked me a few case-related questions, and I answered it all except one where Deep Sir was there to help me.
After it was all done, he smiled and said, “well done.”
Only then we were informed that the defense took the further date and the arguments were postponed. Was I happy? Eeh, I had these mixed feelings after listening to this as what I had learned that day can be taught in no law schools but yourself.