NEW DELHI: Former Chief Justice of India T S Thakur once agreed to fast-track the hearing of a case, after he overheard the lawyer in question alluding to one of Ghalib’s couplets during the court proceedings.
“I was hearing a case in the Delhi High court and the lawyer was praying for a short date. I said that my calendar did not permit that and adjourned the matter for six months.
“While leaving the court room, I overheard the lawyer mumbling Ghalib’s ‘aah ko chaahiye ik umr asar hone tak/ kaun jiitaa hai tirii zulf ke sar hone tak’ (A lifetime passes before a sigh shows its effects/ Who would wait so long to see you fixing the tangles in your hair). I asked if he could recite the whole poem. He did. And I ordered the matter to be listed for next week,” Thakur said, expressing his love for Urdu at the ongoing ‘Jashn-e-Rekhta’ festival.
Talking about the power of expression of Urdu as a language, the jurist said if a picture was worth a thousand words, a couplet in the language was worth “two thousand words”, and that many such couplets could be used by lawyers to communicate better in the courtroom.
“In courts they say that a lawyer should know his judge. This does not mean that you have to bribe your judge. Instead you should know his intellectual tastes.
“Knowing Ghalib and other Urdu poets is of great help on such occasions. But you can’t recite an illogical couplet either. The lines should be able to formulate your point,” he said.
Although well versed in the language, Thakur who unlike his fellow jurists has never had an opportunity to use an Urdu couplet during his 23-year-long legal career, rued that “a good couplet complementing his judgement has eluded him everytime”.
Having served both as a judge and a lawyer in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court that uses Urdu as its official language, Thakur said the initiative to promote the language should begin early at the school level.
“During my growing up years in Jammu, I was the only student in my class who knew Urdu. My parents were adamant that I learn the language. And I am glad that I did,” he said.
The session was also attended by politician Salman Khurshid, Justice Aftab Alam and eminent legal scholar Tahir Mahmood.