I do not believe in astrology, and regard it as pure superstition and humbug. So I was somewhat reluctant to write this story as I feared some people may think I am contradicting myself by promoting astrology. However, I finally decided to write it, thinking that some people may find it interesting. The story relates to my grandfather, Dr. K.N. Katju, who was a leading lawyer in Allahabad High Court, before later occupying high posts in public life.. I am quoting from his autobiography 'Experiments in Advocacy', (Published by Universal Law Publishing Co.,New Delhi).
" In December 1939, I was briefed by the respondent in an appeal before the Judicial Commissioner, Ajmer. A Jain widow ( the appellant) in a very wealthy family of Ajmer had adopted a son, who later, when he had grown up, fell out with his adoptive mother and filed a suit for partition. i was briefed to appear for the adopted son. His adoptive mother resisted the claim, and applied for appointment of a receiver of all the family properties, alleging that the adopted son was not even giving her a modest allowance for her maintenance. This application for a receiver had been rejected by the trial court, and against that order she filed an appeal before the Judicial Commissioner's Court.
The appeal was to be heard in late February 1940, but in January I was engaged in another important case in Lucknow, and by the middle of February it became apparent that i would not be able to go to Ajmer. So I wrote to my client offering to return the brief. A postponement of any case in the Ajmer Judicial Commissioner's Court was a very difficult matter as it was a circuit Court, and no adjournments are granted.
Immediately thereafter my client, accompanied with his Ajmer pleader met me in Lucknow, and when I told him that I would not be free to attend to his case he almost burst into tears. He pressed me again and again to reconsider my decision, but that was wholly impossible. I said that I would write to some senior counsel in Bombay and elsewhere ( I named several) to accept the brief, but he would have none of it, and kept repeating his request that I should somehow go to Ajmer. Thus we parted, he with his eyes full of tears, and I completely bewildered by his agitated frame of mind.
Later, to my surprise, I received a telegram that the Judicial Commissioner had postponed the hearing of the case by twenty days, and would I now come ? I readily agreed. I was subsequently told that the adjournment had been obtained with great difficulty by a senior counsel specially briefed for the purpose, and that the Judicial Commissioner had shifted the hearing from the beginning to the end of the circuit.
On the day of the hearing the Court met at 11 oclock. Rai Bahadur Ram Kishore, the leader of the Delhi Bar, came to argue for the appellant. He opened with a well reasoned forceful argument, lasting about 80 minutes, in the course of which he complained that the son ( my client) was starving his mother.I intervened, and said that this was not correct. We had offered to pay the mother ( the appellant) Rs. 200 per month ( which was a big sum in those days), but she refused. She was living in the family residence, and all her expenses were being met. I said this and sat down, having taken in all 2 minutes. When counsel for the appellant concluded his argument, the Judge, after appearing lost in thought for some time, said " I am afraid it will not be possible for me to disturb the order of the lower court". We all came out, and everybody congratulated my beaming client.
I had arranged to motor over to Pushkar ( which has the only temple of Brahma in the country) in the afternoon with a young colleague of the Ajmer Bar. While we were driving he asked me whether I was aware why the client had been so insistent that I should appear for him in the case. I said i was not. He then said that there was a story behind it. And this is what he told me :
" Our client belongs to the wealthiest family of Ajmer. There is a Pandit here, a very learned astrologer, who attends the family regularly. He was consulted in this matter, for our client was very worried lest he lose the appeal. The appointment of a Receiver would have led to a complete disclosure of all the family's wealth, and would have very adversely affected their credit in the market. There were many names of senior counsels in Bombay, Allahabad, and elsewhere before our client, and he was perplexed whom to engage. The Pandit was therefore consulted in the matter. The Pandit looked up his books and recorded his opinion in writing, which I saw. He said that you should be engaged, and if that were done success was certain. He said that you may not even be called to argue, and even if you were, it would not be for more than a few minutes. This is precisely what happened. The Pandit was present in Court. When you rose and said a few words in response to the Court's question, and then sat down, the Pandit told me---he does not know English---that the case was finished.I replied " How can that be ? The Doctor Saheb has not even begun. He has yet to make his arguments.". but the Pandit persisted in saying " No, no, the Doctor Saheb will not have to say anything more. He was only to talk for a few minutes, and that he has already done. So the case is finished."
None of us expected that the Judicial Commissioner would dismiss the appeal without calling upon the respondent's counsel to reply. This Judge never does so. Yet he did it in this case.
Our client has unbounded faith in this Pandit, and that is why he was so disappointed and crestfallen when you told him at Lucknow that you would not be able to appear for him.'
When my friends at the Allahabad Bar heard this remarkable story they twitted me with having pre-arranged this astrological incident. They may be right. I wish all astrologers of India would boost me like this. It would make one's path to professional eminence so easy ! "