“Order Order Order!” Judge Ramona’s voice rose over the din as she banged her gavel repeatedly against the wood.
She let her gaze roam the length and breadth of the stuffy court room. A good number of members of the press were present today in the gallery; no doubt following every movement, every whisper, every expression of the two men sitting upfront and no doubt being the sole source of all disturbances that morning. After all it wasn’t very often that a high profile businessman was embroiled in a public lawsuit.
However, in all her 23 years of handling such high profile cases, this one had amused her beyond belief. The defendant on the right side and the plaintiff on the left; the former an impeccably dressed handsome young man seemingly in his late twenties and the latter a black eyed giant of a man complete with an intimidating sneer and gruffly demeanour about him. Judging by his biceps, it looked like the plaintiff could just pick up the defendant from his collar and hang him up on the hook jutting out of wall. Yes, an amusing twist of contradiction it was.
“Counsel for the plaintiff, you may please proceed.” She summoned the lawyer on her left.
“Thank you Judge. I’d like to call to the stands the defendant please.” Judge motioned with her head indicating her assent. She watched as the young man got up from the chair in a fluid motion, buttoning the jacket of his three piece suit and walk towards the bench with a smart purposeful gait. She maintained a deadpan expression on her face, but she could actually feel her heart racing at watching Adonis himself grace her courtroom.
The judge shook her head trying to clear her mind. It’s just another day at work darling.
“So, Mr. Arnav Singh Raizada,” the prosecutor immediately jumped in, the moment the bailiff completed the court formalities. “You know my client, Mr. Ray?” he muttered pointing to the giant sneering from the counsel table.
“I’ve met him only once, I’m afraid.” his voice sounded so… wow! The judge was finding it really difficult not to get swayed by his honeyed dulcet tone.
“And what was the purpose of that meeting, if I may ask?” the prosecutor continued smoothly. Arnav seemed to be pondering his words.
“There was no pre-emptive purpose. We just happened to bump into each other,” Although Arnav’s eyes seemed expressionless; his voice was loaded with hilarity. The judge too almost smiled at his choice of words. The prosecutor however, was not amused.
“You happened to bump into him?” he repeated disdainfully, his eyes narrowing. “Is that how you explain this?” he pointed towards his client, who chose that particular moment to fold his arms as if to show his injuries smugly, however ending up looking strangely sinister. The prosecutor was no doubt talking about the black eye and the bruises on the giant’s face.
“That would be an interesting way to put it across,” Arnav’s voice was flirting with mirth.
“Mr. Raizada, you deliberately attacked my client in a public place; you punched the living daylights out of him and left without rendering any medical support. What do you have to say about that?” The prosecutor continued relentlessly. The reporters who had been scribbling furiously until now paused. Every set of eyes was on the defendant, waiting to hear what he had to say.
“Your client is an asshole.” The court room erupted into laughter. Arnav’s attorney however held his head in his hand resignedly.
The judge started banging the gavel again. “Order! Order I said!”
“Mr. Raizada, you’ll not use such language in my courtroom! ” She warned him. He looked appropriately apologetic. “Scribe please strike that out from the official record,” she ordered to the court clerk sitting across her.
“How exactly do you mean that?” The prosecutor pushed for details.
“He called me a mother fu*ker,” Arnav politely answered. Judge Ramona stared at the young man sitting barely inches from him. He still looked cool, calm and composed. Yet his words had been… well, his voice had suddenly become angry.
“So Mr. Raizada, according to that logic, the 5 men you have beat up before were all, excuse my language your honor, assholes?” The prosecutor continued in a leveled tone. The media persons seemed to have taken in a collective gasp. This was unexpected!
“I object, your honor!” The counsel for defendant had finally spoken up. Judge narrowed her eyes.
“Overruled. Mr. Raizada, please answer the question.” She said. Arnav glanced once at his lawyer and a look of understanding passed between them.
“I was provoked into it, your honor,” Arnav replied. The judge’s eyebrows rose in surprise.
“You mean to say this has happened before?” she asked him in a surprised tone. “Why weren’t there any charges?”
“He must have bought them off as usual, your honour,” The prosecutor replied before Arnav got a chance to say anything. Scandalous whispers broke out again as reporters were no doubt trying to figure out how best to headline this ball game of hurling accusations at each other.
“I object, your honor! The Prosecutor is falsely implicating my client!” Arnav’s attorney shouted indignantly. The judge’s eyes narrowed. This was becoming a circus!
“Sustained. Mr. Prosecutor, you’ll refrain from making such comments.” She sighed and turned back to face Arnav. “Mr. Raizada, this is a serious allegation. You’ve been into brawls before because you were provoked to react?”
Arnav became silent as did the whole courtroom in anticipation for his answer. “Yes, your honor!” he finally agreed. The judge looked at him disappointedly. Oh I don’t want to punish him! He’s such a fine young man! She looked towards the prosecutor who looked gleeful.
“No more questions, your honor!” he said and almost ran to his seat.
“Does the Counsel for Defendant have any questions?” she said looking to her right.
“No questions your honor. However, I’d like to request for a short recess please,” Arnav’s lawyer requested almost beseechingly. Although, this was pretty much an open and shut lawsuit in her opinion, Judge Ramona had a migraine pressing into her temple with all the drama ensuing since morning. She could use a breather too.
“Recess granted. The court will reconvene in 30 minutes.” She declared before walking towards the Judge’s chamber.
“Did you have to lose it again, Mr. Raizada?” Arnav’s lawyer hissed as soon as he was within earshot. “We could have won the thing by careful manipulation but now you have handed your ass on a platter to the prosecutor.” He muttered disapprovingly.
Arnav ignored his lawyer’s words. His eyes narrowed as he glanced at the giant. Anger was bubbling inside him again and he so wanted to just walk over to the other table and punch his smug face again. Instead, he whispered something in his lawyer’s ears who looked at Arnav with a surprised look.
“Are you sure?” he asked to confirm once. Arnav nodded.
“I’m sure as hell not going to prison, Suri. Let’s nail this sucker now itself. His ego may be bruised, but it’s nothing that a thick wad of cash can’t soothe. Do it.” He snapped and walked out of the courtroom.
Judge Ramona could feel something had drastically changed in the last 30 minutes. The giant, Mr. Ray, she mentally corrected herself, Mr. Ray looked… happy? And Mr. Raizada looked relaxed; not that he wasn’t relaxed before.
“Your honor, the Counsels would like to approach the bench please.” the prosecutor requested.
“Granted,” She frowned. What’s going on?
“Your honor, my client has decided to drop all criminal charges from the defendant. We do not wish to contest further.” He reeled off in a monotone.
The press members took a collective gasp of shock, followed immediately by loud deliberations, no longer mindful to keep their voices down. The Judge’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. Wasn’t the prosecutor all hard pressed to run Mr. Raizada down? What happened then… Oh! Realisation seeped into her senses as she looked at the composed young man lounging casually on his chair and then to the giant. So, a deal had been struck.The judge pursed her lips. She just hated when such things happened in her court.
“Very well. If that is what the plaintiff desires,” Judge Ramona said. The lawyers nodded once and started walking towards their respective tables when she resumed determinedly, “however, in my capacity as Judge who needs to look into preventive actions, I need to look towards your repeated incidents of physical assault.”
Arnav’s eyes widened in surprise. His lawyer did a double take too. What the hell now?Judge Ramona looked at Arnav, her dazzled eyes now replaced with a steely determination. “I’m assigning you to 8 weeks of anger management. The court will be in touch with your counsel to assign you a counsellor. There will be a weekly assessment report. You may or may not be present for those discussions.”
Arnav’s mouth had flown open in shock. There were subdued chuckles in the gallery too as they remembered that Judge Ramona didn’t let the accused walk away scott free. She looked directly at Arnav with a stern look. “You may be free of criminal charges Mr. Raizada, but make no mistake if you do not attend these sessions, it will be considered as contempt to the court and you’ll be back here.” She said promisingly. Then, she banged the gavel one last time as her voice boomed, “Court dismissed!”