The 26/11 trial turned out to be a learning exercise for Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab [ Images ] as well judge M L Tahaliyani, both of whom evinced keen interest in Marathi and Urdu languages respectively.
Kasab picked up Marathi as he listened attentively to witnesses deposing in that language while Tahaliyani showed interest in Urdu by asking Kasab the meaning of certain words, which figured during evidence.
When the court was recording his statement at the fag end of the trial, Kasab replied to the questions of the judge in Marathi, saying "Mala mahit nahin" (I do not know).
Asked when did he learn Marathi, Kasab replied, "Ithech shikale" (I learnt here). With his remarks laced with wit and humour, the judge kept away the boredom of the courtroom and infused a feeling of participation among the media persons, staff and lawyers.
Many a time when prosecutor and defence lawyers had a heated exchange of words during arguments and cross examination of witnesses, the judge stepped in and saw to it that the situation did not go out of control.
The judge also had a dig at potbellied policemen, saying they should be given belts of a standard measurement and if they do not fit in they should be asked to proceed on leave to get back in shape.
Tahaliyani began his career in 1987 when he was appointed a metropolitan magistrate in a Bandra court. He was a judge in the city's civil and sessions court prior to taking up his assignment in the high court as registrar (inspection).
Having the reputation of being strict and fair, Tahaliyani was promoted as a sessions judge in early 2000 and was also posted as a special judge to handle Central Bureau of Investigation cases.
He has conducted trials in a number of high-profile cases, including music baron Gulshan Kumar murder case in which he convicted Abdul Rauf Merchant and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Tahaliyani also presided over the trial in the murder of trade union leader Datta Samant, who was gunned down in 1997 by members of the Chhota Rajan gang.