SCC Online Blog is happy to publish a review of Senior Advocate Sanjoy Ghose’s humourous and insightful legal fiction ‘How Gourango lost his O’ by Rudrajyoti Nath Ray. A copy of the book is available at https://bit.ly/3NFI61R.
Bhai! I want you to come with me ..” he paused, unsure.
“Where to?” Gourango blurted out impatiently.
“To the Nizamuddin Dargah. Today is Thursday. They have qawwali singers who shall sing for the Saint. I am going. I would be so honoured if you would come with me.”
‘How Gourango Lost His O – A Non-Story’, (Eastern Book Company, 2022) is less than 250 pages. The above-mentioned quote appears in page number: 140. Before our Gourango Ghose “could make sense of it, a South Calcutta, club going, missionary school educated, urbane, polished and English accented boy was sharing a rickshaw with a country bumpkin who, under ordinary circumstances, would never have crossed his path and even if he did, would not have crossed his mind.” The ‘country bumpkin’ has a name. Noor Mallik, Head of a Madarsa at Sundarbans. So notably Noor has occupied Gourango’s mind space, because “people like Noor… deserve to have their stories told”, Lawyers and others have been gifted ‘How Gourango Lost His O – A Non-Story’ authored by Senior Advocate, Sanjoy Ghose.
Picture Courtesy: Rudrajyoti Nath Ray
Art of writing on a case concluded in Court has its versions. We describe facts, arguments and understand whether Judges interpreted correctly. Autobiographies go much deeper. It’s not just Courts who had their bells rung, in any matter. Clients, Counsel, Clerks, Judges as also Family Members of each and Court Stenographers, Court Masters, Juniors to Counsel – all have stories to tell, a moment to describe. Consider this: when at High Court of Calcutta, before Hon’ble Judges Bose and Jhunjhunwala, we learn – Court Master, Narendra Biswas, who “promptly got up and replaced Noor’s file…”, had little ‘compassion’ or ‘kindness’. Why? It had its inception when Narendra’s love for Hindi film songs met no indulgence and Naru gave up on his dream of being a playback singer! Consider this too: when Service Law Expert, Samar Banerjee pleaded, “Milord may I have some time to examine your decision so that I can address you…“, Justice Roopa Bose “had been a Lawyer long enough to know that this was the oldest trick… when in a spot, retreat and hope to fight another day.” Justice Roopa Bose’s journey from being a Lawyer to a Judge? Gourango details that as well in his art of writing on a case.
Purpose? Gourango, best rank-holder when studying Law, is addicted to learn as he is even when Noor, attending a ‘conference’ for ‘Noor Mallik v. State of West Bengal &Ors., SLP (C) No. 2343/199, spoke up for the first time to Senior Advocate, Indumati Khilnani: “Mummy, help karna” and repeated, “Mummy you must help me, I have got you homemade honey!”
‘Noor Mallik v. State of West Bengal‘ was listed before Sreedharan C. Pandiyan J (“a tough nut to crack”) and Bipin Bihari Panda J (“completely docile and subdued… at home”) of Supreme Court of India. How different were Hon’ble Judges Pandiyan and Panda from Hon’ble Judges Bose and Jhunjhunwala? “Sorry, dismissed”, said Pandiyan and Panda JJ as final words. Court had sealed Noor’s fate. Gourango still remembers Noor “ecstatically swaying” to Sufi music and “repeatedly praying, “Oh Auliya, let me win…”.” In effect, Senior Advocate, Sanjoy Ghose carries Gourango’s diary before and after Noor. His recollection of – “giant legend” – Senior Advocate, Indumati Khilnani and Gourango’s time beyond Indumati’s Chamber provides fantastic insights. Gourango tested a Client’s faith in Sai Baba once! Later, when before Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Justice Gobordhan Sakia, Gourango accepted, “Sai Baba indeed was at play.” ‘How Gourango Lost His O – A Non-Story’ is “nothing but a collective experience of the many Noors” in Gourango’s life over the years.
I remember the day when I had messaged Senior Advocate, Sanjoy Ghose on Twitter, for the first time, requesting for a funny video he had tweeted. Once received, I promptly sent that video to The National Law School of India University, Bangalore ‘Telegram Group’ of which I am a part. Believe it or not, I had no clue, Sanjoy Sir was a Super-Senior from that very Law School. I realized my mistake and thought I will do better in future. A couple of years have gone by and here I am reflecting on Sanjoy Sir’s Book. Everything has a story. The great take away I have is: a matter, nearly always, goes beyond citations, interpretation and precedents. Do read, if possible, about every human involved, before venturing into a battle inside or outside of Court. Even if we don’t win, we shall still be learned. Undoubtedly.
*The author is an advocate at New Delhi and Kolkata.