When Police asked SC Judge to furnish proof of his marriage

Supreme Court Justice (Retired) S Ratnavel Pandian

“As flies to wanton boys are we to gods, they kill us for their sport”.
William Shakespeare in King Lear.

Just as every cloud has a silver lining, so does elegance of high living has its own pros and cons, deliberate deeply and you will understand.

All ace politicians, bureaucrats, judges, military commanders, business tycoons etc. who mastered the art of pulling right strings at right times, managed dream abodes in Lutyens Delhi, the epic center of Indian power. Living in VIP zone has a mixed bag of advantageous plusses and disadvantageous minuses.

Justice S Ratnavel Pandian a prominent legal luminary was one such personality who often faced embarrassing moments at hands of Delhi police.

It was during early part of year 1994, got acquainted with this prolific personality while working as security chief of Supreme Court of India.

Judge being of an extremely shy reserved nature, by choice choose to remain outside the perimeter of media glare.

A committed fitness freak, daily relished long morning walks under the freshness of green canopy of tamarind trees on Akbar road, Safdarjung road, Teenmurti Marg etc.. These roads were quite often frequented by crisscrossing zooming movement of VVIP motorcades.

Security personnel part of a multilayered protection system merely bothered for keeping VIP’s safe, remaining insensitive to sensibilities of common citizens. Timings of VIP moment remained wrapped in veil of secrecy for ensuring an element of surprise. Even early morning VIP walkers found themselves caught in the juggernaut of formidable police dragnet. The overenthusiastic duty bound policemen unhesitatingly indulged in frequent use of foul language, physical jostling, pushing, sometimes even going to extent of manhandling.

Having served in Supreme Court of India, before taking up assignment of managing VIP routes, recognized judges and other eminent dignitaries. Often coming to their timely rescue, plus hearing them utter unpalatable obnoxious words against callous policemen.

Though Justice Pandian was accompanied by PSO of Delhi police, most policemen lining route were members of other police organizations, they invariably remained insensitive to citizens concerns. This ‘outside force’ was requisitioned for supplementing the highly inadequate strength of Delhi police. These policemen on account of their different orientations ended up creating many a embarrassing situations for local police.

Being a small statured Tamilian, Justice Pandian several times was evicted from VIP routes, at a time branded by unknowing uncouth policemen as a insulting LTTE suspect.

Functioning since May 1994, by the end of 1996, Fifth pay commission chaired by Justice Pandian, was in process of submitting its draft report. Millions of central government employees guarding vulnerable frontiers or engaged in internal administrative management eagerly awaiting a substantial pay raise.

Justice Pandian around same time applied for renewal of his and better half’s passports, through proper channel. Proper channel in India generally worked at its own slow snail’s pace, surmounting several barricades and obstacles on way to its terminal destination. One fine morning a special branch non gazetted officer , hailing from Haryana, barged into residence of Justice Pandian for verifying antecedents of honorable Judge and his respectable wife.

Myself, being from Haryana would like to give you a brief introduction about majority of its residents. The state of Haryana, clearly manifests itself in state of Mind in majority of its inhabitants, in form of roughness and toughness.These typical characteristics brimming to hilt in mannerism, bearings, thoughts, gestures, language and an overall headstrong personalities.

Haryanvi is a crude form of sweet pleasant sounding Hindi language. Even when two refined persons are conversing in vernacular, the clattering and babbling appears as though they are stoning each other.

Justice Pandian on account of his Tamil lineage was no so well versed in Hindi, found this desi bombastic dialect completely alien.

The highly inquisitive police officer presumed this demerit as a deliberate ploy for concealing crucial facts. The final blow came when the humble Judge was asked to furnish proof of his marriage. The enquiry appeared to be heading towards a grinding halt as ex-Justice failed to provide any documentary evidence showing consummation of his nuptials. Meanwhile determined special branch sleuth questing for unearthing truth failed to budge.

Unperturbed, he kept himself occupied in keeping balance of mind, with a liberal helping of tea and cookies offered by magnanimous hospitality of entrapped Judge. Luck suddenly took a positive turn, while rummaging through old documents finally the Judge chanced upon a photograph of marriage, enough to prove credibility of his marriage.

After respite from a prolonged encounter with the long arm of law, Justice Pandian finally telephoned Commissioner of Police (COP), M B Kaushal seeking his advice. Police Commissioner brilliant brain working in overdrive mode, analyzing the far reaching consequential ramifications, decided to make suitable amends. He commissioned Dr. Aditya Arya, a senior officer as his special disaster management emissary for consoling the agitated somatic nerves of Justice Pandian.

This unprecedented incident could jeopardise the interests of police forces spread across the nation expecting a substantial pay raise.

Dr. Arya a sweet gentlemanly officer literally sought pardon from infuriated Judge for a highly condemnable demeanour of Delhi police official. Further promised to ensure delivery of valuable passports without any further delay. The Judge appeared to satisfied with an unconditional apology offered on behalf of Police Commissioner.

Learned J S Varma, Chief Justice, Supreme court of India, graciously acknowledged, that judges are basically human beings, having all common follies and foibles. All extraneous mental influences doubtlessly reflect in pronouncements of their judgements.

The enraged Justice extremely perturbed by this mind boggling episode, got his marriage photograph enlarged, hanging these pictures at prominently visible places of his habitat.


( Note : Author of the article, Sh HPS Virk is retired Deputy Commissioner of Delhi Police)


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