By Devil’s Advocate
There is nothing new about the rise in cost of litigation in our country. When this being the case, here is a story of a man who not only did his law to fight his own case, but even won it in the end.
M S Devraj, a resident of Bangalore had lost everything when his saree manufacturing at Doddaballapur, Karnataka unit was seized by the Karnataka State Financing Corporation (KSFC). He was running this unit since 1978 and he claims that the seizure was a case of mistaken identity.
Devraj’s case was that the unit being run next to his was financed by the KSFC and since his neighbour was a defaulter, recovery proceedings had been initiated. On January 2 1988, the KSFC officials seized the unit and along with the unit belonging to Devraj.
Devraj ran from pillar to post trying to explain that by mistake his unit too had been seized by the officials. The officials were however in no mood to listen and senior official even told Devraj that his men could do no wrong.
Through his advocate, he filed a case before the civil court in Bangalore. The civil court rejected his application, following which he took the matter in appeal before the High Court. After three years of legal battle, Devraj realised that he could not afford an advocate anymore.
That is when he enrolled himself in the Sri Jagadguru Renukacharya College of Law in Bangalore. The case in the High Court was adjourned several times and for three years there was no progress. In 1994, he completed law and then decided that he would take up the case himself.
He returned to the High Court and the battle began. In the year 1997, the High Court delivered its verdict while holding that the seizure was a barbarous act. The High Court also directed the civil court to conduct an inquiry into the entire episode.
On July 15 1997, the civil court directed the KSFC to return possession of the unit within 15 days. However the KSFC decided to take the matter in appeal but their attempt was unsuccessful and the High Court rejected their appeal.
Devraj then decided that he would file a suit seeking compensation for the agony and mental trauma he had undergone. He also claimed damages for the loss of income. The Civil Judge, Senior Division while allowing Devraj’s case directed the KSFC to pay compensation of Rs 43,63,000.
Devraj now 58 years old says that the legal battle which commenced in 1988 had finally ended. He said that he was unable to afford the advocate fees and hence decided to do his law. During the years of legal battle, all the time was spent in reading citations and drafting petitions. He also says that it was his family which supported him at the time of crisis and even his food and clothing was provided by his sister, who works as a lecturer in a college in Bangalore. Devraj says that nothing is impossible as long as one is committed. He says that he intends setting up a bigger law firm and says that he would dedicate the rest of life in imparting legal education to the needy.