Close to 9 years ago, a 76 year old retired corporate executive and father of my school mate at Don Bosco, trooped into my law chambers with a brief. Physically frail but with the determination of a soldier, I could sense the grit in his eyes. Mr.A.Selvaraj’s deceased wife Rajam was a victim of forgery that had been allegedly committed several years ago but had come to light recently, thanks to a relentless struggle by her husband and legal heir.
A crime never dies.Through the Right To Information Act, this senior citizen had ferreted out crucial evidence from a public sector undertaking to bolster his complaint that he wanted to register with the police. What amazed me was just how organised, punctual and clued in he was. The meticulous documentation with spiral bound volumes and his legal knowledge would be any lawyer’s delight. Not to speak of his offer to promptly pay fees on the spot even before an invoice could be sent!
‘Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt’ is a legal maxim which means the vigilant and not the lethargic are assisted by the law. And just as well, relevant provisions like Sections 472 and 473 of the Criminal Procedure Code came to his rescue while registering the F.I.R. I vividly remember how he was so concerned that I had not had lunch when we were coming out of the Commissioner’s office one afternoon. “What about you?” I asked him in return. “I will have later. I am worried about you.” This was from a man then in his late seventies anxious about his lawyer who was his son’s age!
There was stiff opposition from the accused side but represented by a counsel who was a thorough gentleman and who made fair arguments and later withdrew a Quash Petition on the verge of its dismissal. When there was a delay in filing the Chargesheet, Mr.Selvaraj kept following up with admirable patience and persistence, right up to filing a Direction Petition in the High Court.
A defamation case claiming a hefty sum as damages, did not deter him in his fight. Fortunately, I was able to have that plaint rejected in court. That order was pronounced a few months ago.
The magnanimous streak was not restricted to those who worked for him. A few years ago, Mr.Selvaraj started a Trust to help Cancer patients, in memory of his beloved wife Rajam whom he lost to the disease. I helped him to rope in the Health Secretary Dr.J.Radhakrishnan, IAS, as the Chief Guest. The goodness trickled down to both his sons Timo, based in the US and Robert in the UK, whose company ‘Searchblox’ has been providing ‘work from home’ opportunities to deserving folks much before the pandemic.
Mr.Selvaraj was my oldest client. Legal procedures did not wither him, nor judicial delays stale his warmth and concern. He ran his race. He kept the faith. And passes on the baton to his sons. The fight for justice will go on under his watchful gaze from above.
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, a Columnist, Author & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24X7)