Mumbai: Justice Shahrukh J Kathawalla, who conducted hearings till midnight, retires

Notably, the judge despite being a senior often presided over vacation courts.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Wednesday, March 23, 2022, 10:51 PM IST
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Mumbai: Justice Shahrukh J Kathawalla, who conducted hearings till midnight, retires | File Photo

One of the strictest but favourite judges of the Bombay High Court, Justice Shahrukh J Kathawalla, retired on Wednesday after serving nearly 14 years as a judge.

Justice Kathawalla was known for conducting hearings till midnight, and even till 3.30 am the next morning on one occasion.

At this farewell event organised by the Advocate Association of Western India (AAWI), Justice Kathawalla spoke of how his "pilgrimage" was ending.

He said, “To me, Judgeship was never a savvy career move or a professional highpoint. But in fact, it has been a pilgrimage that is coming to an end.”

Be it regular hearings or the ones conducted during the court vacations, Justice Kathawalla often continued hearing matters beyond the court functioning hours.

During the Diwali vacation of 2018, Justice Kathawalla sat till 3.30 am to hear several bail applications and other urgent matters. It was regular for him to sit till midnight hearing cases.

In April 2021, he conducted hearings till 1 am.

Notably, the judge despite being a senior often presided over vacation courts.

Recently, he issued notice to state minister Nawab Malik asking him as to why contempt action should not be initiated against him for willfully breaching court orders. However, after Malik was arrested in a money laundering case pending a hearing in contempt plea, justice Kathawalla had remarked, “He (Malik) is anyways behind bars. If we punish him today (for contempt of court) and sentence him then would it make any sense?”

During the pandemic, the bench led by Justice Kathawalla pulled up the state authorities for not opening up shrines despite allowing malls and spas to function normally. The judge even took strong objection to the "online" mode of exams for classes 10 and 12 and even went to the extent of saying that the "state cannot destroy careers of young students" by cancelling offline exams.

In 2019, the judge had slapped a heavy fine of Rs 10 lakhs on a city developer represented by advocate Mathew Nedumpara, who claimed that Justice Kathawalla was forcing them to file an undertaking in the court and had also moved a plea urging the judge to refrain from hearing the developer's cases. The judge had penned down a detailed judgment making scathing observations against the illegal practices of advocates and reminded them that they are "officers of the court" first.

Justice Kathawalla had also authored a judgment in 2021 laying down guidelines for the state and central authorities for calculating the compensation to people whose occupations are affected due to any development project.

After graduating from Wilson Law College, he completed his LL.B. from Government Law College, Bombay. He then enrolled with the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa in September 1985.

He was sworn in as an Additional Judge of the High Court on July 18 2008 and confirmed as a permanent judge of the High Court on July 15, 2011.

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