Sunday, June 24, 2007

The power of orderlies and peons

Justice S.S. Sodhi in The Other Side of Justice [my mini review]:

It was a scene reminiscent of the Raj. A large crowd had gathered to greet us at the Allahabad railway station. [...] We were escorted out of the railway station, through the milling crowd -- in a manner so unique and peculiar to Allahabad -- by the liveried orderlies walking ahead and snapping fingers. It was amazing to see how the crowd at the platform just moved away on hearing the clicks. As I was to note later, snapping of fingers by court orderlies was a well-established practice at the high court too, in order to get persons to move aside when a judge was passing by. [p. 34]

Here's B.G. Deshmukh in From Poona to the Prime Minister's Office: A Cabinet Secretary Looks Back:

I received a copy of the Assistant Collector's Manual [during the IAS training period]. ... One instruction I still remember was never to go without your official peon preceding you because nobody recognizes a young officer, but the peon's face is well known and people will recognize you only as the peon's officer.