Book Review of 'Anita Gets Bail- What are our Courts doing and What should we do about them' by Arun Shourie

Book Review of 'Anita Gets Bail- What are our Courts doing and What should we do about them' by Arun Shourie

As a person with a bit of legal background, I used to analyse why are laws put up in the first place? What triggered the enactment of law? How come the same legal provision could defend the victim as well as the accused? And if laws are meant to be followed by people at large, why are they drafted with sophisticated words, making it incomprehensible for the reader? These are just few among the many that I have always pondered over whenever I think about our Judiciary system. When I read this book, I was glad that I was not alone, after all.

At the outset, let me be clear that this book doesn’t project a rosy picture about our Judiciary rather lays it bare before the readers as to the fault lines that are running deeper and poses imminent threat to our society at large. In fact, it was the author’s personal and bitter experience with the Indian Courts that prompted him to delve deeper into the process through which they operate. Anita, his wife, was served an arrest warrant for not responding to the notices, which the author says were never served on her. The issue of notice in itself is baseless, according to him. He painfully narrates how his wife, a Parkinson’s patient, had to wait at the court for her turn and how recklessly the cases were adjourned for unreasonable reasons. Eventually, six years after the proceeding began, justice was delivered in favour of his wife. 

Arun then analyses different judgements proclaimed by eminent Judges, whom he fearlessly names. Honestly, it was quite appalling for me to read those cases. For instance, he cites a case where the High Court Judge delivered a judgement based on fudged evidence which was apparent on its face and how these incorrect and unethical trials give the much-awaited opportunity for the criminals to twist and turn the trials and prolong the cases forever.

He, also, cites B V Acharya, who frustratingly wrote in his book All From Memory-

“My appearance in the above case has taught me such variety of novel grounds on which adjournments could be successfully sought that I could write a book on the subject ‘Law of Adjournments’. However, I desist from doing so, as I do not want any accused intending to prolong trials to take advantage of it.”

This is very relatable given the journey of some of the crucial cases which takes several years to complete, during when the lawyers and judges would be changed and the incoming person has to go through reams of earlier judgements and in the meantime, the accused will feign a disease and get hospitalized and the vicious cycle goes on and on. The author suggests that just like how UK officially publishes a ‘List of vexatious litigants, banned from starting court cases without permission’ and updates it from time to time, we should have a similar mechanism to track the adjournment applications and instill in the minds of applicant that baseless adjournments would involve significant costs and escalates the punishment, as it wastes precious time of the Courts and other stakeholders. This in fact is a recommendation by the Law Commission but the same has been poorly implemented and needs the immediate attention and review by the concerned authority. The author, as a counter measure, prescribes publishing a monthly calendar of when the case was registered, number of times it has been adjourned etc., as this would help understand how effectively and efficiently our courts are functioning.

He also highlights how the Courts are shying away from their responsibility from enforcing the law which has been enacted and how political class are exploiting this lack of law monitoring and enforcing mechanism. Arun suggests that ‘the Courts must, from time to time, and suo motu as the expression goes, do a sort of random check whether its directions are being obeyed or not.’  This is very critical because any act of non-compliance or partial compliance, which goes unpunished sets a bad precedence and emboldens the wrong-doers and more importantly, taints the sanctity of the Court.

the Courts must, from time to time, and suo motu as the expression goes, do a sort of random check whether its directions are being obeyed or not.

In the last few chapters, Arun’s satirical instinct pops-out as he takes a jab at the unnecessary and superfluous words that judgements contain, resulting in them running into several pages but with little value addition. He also pinpoints how the obsession to cite various provisions of the Act in a loop, different quotes uttered by eminent philosophers, poets and one’s own earlier judgements, digresses the Judge from focusing on the issue at hand. Arun also stresses that, at times, Judges lose sight of the consequences of their judgements and it is critical that they must visualize the manifold circumstances and the impact their decisions would have on the public at large and our Constitution. While the Court certainly has to improve and strengthen its functioning, he also urges general public and the media (which should also make on-site visits and capture the scenario live) to come forward and capitalize on the availability of mass communication platforms such as Internet to analyse and scrutinize the cases delivered by the Judges and publicise our criticism and findings.

This book, therefore, gives a good insight as to how the most revered institution, our Courts, fairs in real-time. As a takeaway from the book and also as a responsible citizen, we could take small steps in understanding the Laws, for Laws serves as the basis for any judgement.  “But there are plethora of them, with amendments after amendments made to do we read and where do we start?”- I hear you!. A good place to start would be to familiarize yourself with legal terms and then slowly start reading the Bare Acts (the Acts passed by the Parliament). You can then go through key cases (such as the Sabarimala case, National Citizen Register, Rohingiya refugees etc) you come across in the newspapers from the repository of judgements delivered by the Supreme Court of India. As we read, understand and start raising questions as to the way in which the judgement has been delivered and the manner it has been narrated, we could bring about a change in the functioning of judiciary and contribute for its betterment. More importantly, we can save ourselves from being fooled by the biased journalism, which is now widespread!!

Interested in getting a heads-up about our Indian Judiciary? Grab your copy here:


About Sammy's MindChirps

Hello! Welcome to Sammy's MindChirps. I'm glad you are here. To me, the word LIFE is an acronym of Laboratory with Infinite Freedom to Experiment. It's more like a kaleidoscope offering amazing learning opportunities as we grow and explore various facets of life. So this blog is a platform where I share anything that I find interesting (with my two cents, of course :D). I assure that you will have some new learning when you exit the blog. And do share your feeback on the blog or anything you want me to write about in this blog by dropping an email to