Judges with a funny bone are a rare species, but thankfully not yet extinct A court hall must be the last place where a layman can expect any humour but judges who crack jokes, take criticism sportively and keep the judicial proceedings lively are rare but not extinct. Ever since the Madras High Court began hearing cases only through video conference facility, thanks to COVID-19, humour in court has gone to a different level.

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May humour prevail

Mohamed Imranullah S.
28 AUGUST 2020 01:30 IST
UPDATED: 28 AUGUST 2020 01:33 IST
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Judges with a funny bone are a rare species, but thankfully not yet extinct
A court hall must be the last place where a layman can expect any humour but judges who crack jokes, take criticism sportively and keep the judicial proceedings lively are rare but not extinct. Ever since the Madras High Court began hearing cases only through video conference facility, thanks to COVID-19, humour in court has gone to a different level.

Recently, when an Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) asked a judge if she was audible enough, he replied: “Yes, yes. You are very much audible like Ceylon Radio.” The APP, in turn, said: “I am unable to hear Your Lordship properly.” And pat came the reply: “That is because I am sitting in my residence… Howsoever high a person may be, he must maintain silence when his wife is around.”

Also read | Bench, bar in battle of wits

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The judge had another witty repartee just a day earlier. When a lawyer wanted to know if he was visible on screen, the judge said: “Yes, of course. You are visible in Eastman Colour.” Suffering from technical issues, the advocate said: “Your Lordship is not visible to me,” and the judge quipped: “That’s because of my complexion. This is the maximum you can see of me.”

Matrimonial disputes

Humour that extends beyond technical issues is also not uncommon as judges come across peculiar matrimonial disputes. Recently, there was one such dispute between an aged couple. The husband was living on the first floor of their house and the wife on the ground floor. When a judge tried persuading the old man to reside with his wife, he refused saying she irritates him. “What’s wrong in it? Wives and husbands will feel content only if they irritate each other. That’s part of married life,” the judge remarked.

While hearing another marital dispute between a young couple, the judge patiently heard a person who complained that his wife was harassing him by lodging false police complaints and picking up fights. “Shall I show something to Your Lordship? So far, I have not shown this to anyone,” the husband asked.

Also read | All in a lighter vein

The judge was not sure if the litigant should be permitted to show it on video, since it could turn out to be some objectionable material. Even before the judge could say anything, the husband pulled out a suicide note. “Look at this Lordship. I even wanted to commit suicide,” he cried to the judge, who advised him to avoid such thoughts and instead live happily with his wife and child. In an attempt to ease the grim atmosphere, the judge said: “You are already married. You cannot commit suicide twice.”

During the hearing of a bail petition before another judge, the petitioner’s counsel said his clients had been arrested for being in possession of pumpkins. Surprised, the judge asked the APP for the other side of the story. The APP said that the women were actually into distillation of illicit liquor using pumpkins and yeast. “So, you were trying to hide an entire pumpkin?” the judge asked the petitioner’s counsel.

In yet another case seeking parole for a prisoner, his counsel told the court that the petitioner required just one day’s leave to attend his son’s birthday. Considering the request to be prima facie reasonable, the judge asked: “PP, what do you say?”

In reply, the APP informed the court that the petitioner was facing as many as 21 criminal cases booked for serious charges such as attempt to murder and house breaking.

Shocked to hear the antecedents of the petitioner, the judge told his counsel: “Sorry, no parole for birthday parties!”

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