Kafka's Trial pales into insignificance before an audacious order of a judge of the Punjab and Haryana high court in northern India, committing a lawyer to mental asylum for alleged matrimonial cruelty and criminal intimidation.
It took a division bench comprising two other judges, sitting around 10.30 pm Monday to stay the bizarre order.
Only three days earlier lawyer Tahar Singh had led a campaign to call for an emergency meeting of the Bar Association in Chandigarh to discuss the conduct of High Court judges.
But then his wife filed a complaint with the police charging him with matrimonial cruelty and criminal intimidation. And a First Information Report was registered.
That was enough for Justice Uma Nath Singh to take suo motu cognizance of the complaint Monday and declare, "In view of serious nature of allegations regarding beatings and torture of the complainant and her children by the accused in a barbaric manner which only an insane person would do and further that on enquiry, the Court is prima facie of the opinion, that accused is a worst case of mental disorder."
So what course was left open for the judge but to commit him to a mental asylum?
He notes solemnly, "It is also learnt from the Bar that the accused creates nuisance and commotion wherever he goes with the help of some anti-social elements on the strength of some vested interests who finance him in doing so. In this background, to ensure the safety of life of the complainant and her children, I deem it expedient to direct the Superintendent of Police, Central Bureau of Investigation, Chandigarh to immediately take the accused in custody, and take him away from Chandigarh to admit him in the Mental Hospital, Agra, for proper treatment."
The judge further directed the doctor in charge of the hospital discharge the accused only on being fully satisfied that he would not react violently in the future.
Directing the CBI to take charge of the investigation, Justice Singh said: "The CBI shall use modern devices during investigation to find out the connections of Tahar with anti social elements and the vested interests who are misusing him during this spell of insanity. As far as possible, the interrogations of the accused as directed should be done only at Delhi or at Agra."
The judge held that "though it appears that Tahar's wife is well placed in life but during the treatment of the accused, which may take some time, in case of financial problem with the children of the accused, they may apply to this Court for help and the Registrar (General) shall, after considering their application, give a reasonable amount from the amount being collected by imposition of costs by this Court."
The police acted with alacrity and the lawyer was taken away to Agra. But Chandigarh lawyers protested furiously and a division bench of two judges was constituted under instructions from the Chief Justice of the High Court.
And the bench stayed the implementation of Justice Singh's order and directed that lawyer Tahar Singh be released if he was not required by the CBI tonight for investigation. Notices were issued to the Home Secretary, UT Administration, and the Senior Superintendent of Police, Chandigarh has been directed to be present in the court along with senior CBI officials before the division bench Tuesday.
The CBI team escorting the advocate was said to be on its way back to Chandigarh.
When contacted, Tahar Singh's wife, Sujata Sharma said: "I just made a complaint, but I am shocked to learn that he has been arrested by the CBI. I never wrote any letter to any court. He is not at all insane."