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When Tahilyani's 23 years' experience came handy

Last updated on: May 06, 2010 15:12 IST

Madan Laxmandas Tahiliyani, the judge who sent Ajmal Kasab to gallows, is versatile in both criminal and civil laws, an experience that came in handy during many a tricky moment during the Mumbai terror attack trial.

In a career spanning 23 years, Tahiliyani, a Sindhi from Gondia district of Maharashtra, has earned a reputation of being both tough and fair.

As the judge in the 26/11 trial, Tahaliyani kept a close watch on the lone surviving gunman in the Mumbai attacks who is known to have had mood swings ever since the trial began in mid-April last year.

The judge used a combination of tact and wit to ensure that the decorum of the court is always maintained, even during tense moments like when Kasab got up to admit his guilt.

His experience in criminal and civil laws came in handy during tricky moments in the trial -- like when a lawyer had to be appointed for Kasab or when the gunman pleaded that he was a minor or when he pleaded guilty in court.

He has presided over other high profile cases too like the murder case of music baron Gulshan Kumar but he shot into limelight since he presided over the Mumbai attacks trial.

Tahaliyani began his career in 1987 when he was appointed a metropolitan magistrate in a Bandra court and was appointed as an additional sessions judge in the Mumbai Sessions Court in 1997.

He was promoted as a judge in the city's civil and sessions court in early 2000 prior to taking up his assignment in the high court as Registrar (inspection). He was appointed as a judge in the 26/11 trial in 2009.

He was also posted as a special judge to handle Central Bureau of Investigation cases.

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.

Dedicated judge he is, Tahiliyani along with his staff worked through the Diwali vacations and didn't take time off even when there were no court hearings. He would come to finish even the administration work related to the case.

People who have seen Justice Tahiliyani closely say that he was very keen on the trial getting completed as soon as possible.

Justice Tahaliyani hails from Gondia district in Maharashtra. He completed his Law degree from Nagpur.

A cleanliness freak, Tahaliyani dabbles in gardening and carpentry, besides prescribing common medicines to his staff whenever they complain of minor ailments.

After he was named as the judge in the 26/11 case, Tahaliyani would visit Arthur Road Jail almost every day to monitor work on the prison barrack that had to be converted into an air-conditioned trial room.

He also gave directions to engineers of the Public Works Department on how he wanted the court to look.

A keen follower of national and international affairs, Tahaliyani makes it a point to read foreign newspapers online at night.       

He is also conversant in many languages and can even speak a bit of Urdu, Kasab's tongue. In fact, he makes it a point to speak to Kasab in Urdu. He also takes great pride in being able to speak fluent Marathi.

Nothing seemed to shake his composure as he meticulously planned his schedule and quickly cleared his tasks. But that has also earned him the ire of some defence lawyers.

Kasab's lawyer Abbas Kazmi has often complained in court that the judge doesn't adjourn proceedings even when he seeks time to study his papers.

Lawyer Saba Qureshi, representing co-accused Fahim Ansari, even went on to say, "Sir, you are being very harsh", when Tahaliyani turned down her request for an adjournment.
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