Mumbai News

Art Street: A gavel installation in South Mumbai serves as a tribute to judiciary – The Indian Express

A recently installed gavel stands perched on a traffic island against the backdrop of lawyers and litigants rushing to the Bombay High Court and the Mumbai City Civil and Sessions Court.

A common scene in Indian cinema depicting courtrooms is a judge loudly saying “Order, order!” while striking a gavel. The small wooden hammer is struck against a hard, usually circular, surface – referred to as a sound block – to bring order to the courtroom or denote that a final decision has been pronounced. Not a regular sight in Indian courtrooms, including the high court and the sessions court, the gavel installed on the street outside the two courts represents the judiciary.

The installation was set up late last year by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to underline the significance of the two courts in the South Mumbai area. An official from the BMC said that a decision was taken to set up an installation based on either the two courts, the Oval Maidan or the Mumbai University building, all of which are located in the same area.

“Initially, the plan was to use the space to set up installations representing each of them. Something related to cricket to represent Oval Maidan, a convocation dress for the university and Lady Justice for the two courts. But we realised that it may not be feasible to set so many things in the limited space. We then decided to stick to an installation related to the courts,” an official of the BMC said.

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Sculptor Tushar Sawant said when he was approached by the civic officials to make an installation of Lady Justice, blindfolded and holding scales, he pointed out that it was an oft-repeated one. “I suggested that we instead use a different symbol and thought of a gavel because I have not seen it installed anywhere in the city,” the 50-year-old said. Civic officials soon gave him the go-ahead and he built the gavel and its accompanying sound block within a month. Made of water-proof materials with minimum metal to prevent theft, the installation has a wooden appearance so it seems similar to the gavels seen in courts.

Though it may not be used in the two courts outside which it stands, the large gavel in the South Mumbai area is a striking reminder of the judicial system at work nearby with judges, police, lawyers and undertrials passing by it daily.