Then Mark, Denmark

Something is rotten in the State of Denmark“, sensed Marcellus, said Shakespeare in Hamlet, and it can similarly be said that something is rotten in the Allahabad High Court, said Hon’ble Judges Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra in Raja Khan vs. U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board, (2011) 1 SCC (LS) 359. The rot was, of course, first cited by Hon’ble Justice Krishna Iyer in Bharat Motor Worker Co-operative Society Ltd. v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (1974) 2 SCC 702 under the Chief Justiceship of Hon’ble Justice A.N. Ray.

Hon’ble Judges Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra were ‘sorry’ to state that some Judges have their kith and kin practicing in the same Court and within a few years of starting practice the sons or relations become multi-millionaires with ‘huge bank balances, luxurious cars, huge houses’. The fact remains true. I am sorry too. We regularly witness Senior Advocate Fali S. Nariman practice in the same Court as his son Hon’ble Justice Rohinton F. Nariman. While it is never the same Court-Room and while, certainly, luxuries are affordable by Senior Advocate Fali S. Nariman irrespective of his kith and kin being an Hon’ble Judge, endgame of practice is as important as the opening move. If this is the example we are to be rewarded, something is rotten in Supreme Court of India. We cannot instantly “take up arms against a sea of troubles”.

In writing Hamlet, Shakespeare was preoccupied with the corruption of mortal flesh. Shakespeare not only emphasized the theme of bodily corruption but also the “revolting odors that accompany the process”. The play indeed may justly be said to be enveloped in an atmosphere of stench. The stink that rises from dead flesh emblematizes the sheer loathsomeness of the sort of evil, cunning and lecherous, with which Claudius corrupted the whole kingdom.

Shakespeare never visited Denmark. Copenhagen to Kronborg Castle is 46 Kilometers. Kronborg is now widely marketed as ‘Hamlet’s Castle’ and the town of Elsinore has acquired the suffix ‘Home of Hamlet’. There is no ‘Kronborg Castle’ mentioned in Hamlet, but since the play specifies battlements and a royal residence in Elsinore, the fact that there is a town called Elsinore in Denmark – with a castle in it – has established a Shakespearean location where fiction and reality continue to (con)fuse visitors.

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