In ‘Milord’s Flyover’ I had promised that I would narrate an anecdote involving the senior milord on that Bench after two weeks. I am fulfilling that promise by narrating this story.
During that same judicial assignment, the senior milord too started shouting at the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) counsel one fine day.
Milord: “Who decides where to locate bus-stops? Do the planners who do it have any sense? Have you seen where the Mantralaya bus-stop is? Right next to the traffic signal! It causes such a traffic jam, especially when the offices close and there is a rush of employees going home. Even we have been delayed from reaching our home many times due to that traffic jam. Find out who is responsible. You must take immediate steps to shift the bus-stop at least a hundred metres southwards.”
Milord even volunteered to pro-actively assist the planners in selecting a new location for the bus-stop.
Once again, the MCGM top brass felt that discretion was far better than valour, especially in such inconsequential matters. They soon shifted the bus-stop exactly to where the senior milord had indicated.
Coincidentally, it so transpired that the new location happened to be very close to the gate of the building where milord himself resided!
With the two unusual requests (about pots on the flyover and shifting of bus-stop) acceded, the MCGM law-officers had a very pleasant and peaceful assignment in that court for the next eight weeks. Even thereafter, the MCGM’s flagship cases always sailed smoothly through all the rough weather before these two milords.
Long after these events, a senior standing counsel of the MCGM who was also a designated senior advocate, happened to bump into the senior milord at the wedding reception of another milord’s son.
As they had been good friends at the Bar and known to each other for long, the counsel took the liberty of asking the senior milord why he had taken such a keen interest in shifting that Mantralaya bus-stop?
He later shared with us what the senior milord had told him. It was simply amazing, and is worth sharing.
Milord told him: “You know I belong to a family of famous freedom-fighters. My grandfather too was famous like my father. Members of our family have done so much to serve the nation. Our family name is synonymous with justice. I have inculcated the Gandhian principles of ‘simple living and high-thinking’ in my children as well. As a result, I insist that my daughter goes to college by public transport even though a car and driver are easily available.”
Senior milord continued to talk and senior counsel had no choice but to listen: “She is a good girl but somehow she was always getting late for her first lecture as she had to walk all the way to that bus-stop. But you know how I am such a stickler for punctuality. Even though I may reach the courtroom late, I have made it a point to reach my chamber in time! This is the discipline one has to inculcate in the next generation.”
“Now, thanks to the MCGM’s understanding and cooperation, the bus-stop has come right outside our building gate.”
Senior counsel: “So how exactly does that make any difference to anybody?”
Milord smiled: “My daughter can no longer give any excuse for missing the bus! And she now manages to reach college on time everyday.”
The senior counsel smiled and nodded knowingly. He realised that considering the dozens of matters where the MCGM had gotten off the hook before the dangerous Bench headed by this senior milord, shifting a bus-stop was a very small price they had to pay.
We at the Bar don’t know where the buck will stop with the Bench. At least we now know where the bus stops!
As the senior milord grew in seniority (and insufferability) the anything-but-collegial collegium decided to offload him on another high court where his wisdom could be put to better use. But milord felt slighted. He resorted to the time tested Gandhian principle of ‘satyagraha‘ or ‘Insistence on Truth’ and resigned.
When last heard he was trying to start a post-resignation career at the Supreme Court Bar based on Gandhian principles. Needless to say, it was an uphill task… and there were hardly any takers.