With the support of a walking stick, 94-year-old Sumitra Devi makes her daily pilgrimage to the Supreme Court from her temporary residence at Dilli Bazar. This has been her routine for the past few months in an attempt to get a date fixed for her case at the apex court. Sumitra has already spent more than a decade fighting this property case in her home district of Bara. Last year, after losing in lower courts, she was left with no recourse but to go to the Supreme Court, and so began her commute for justice.
The Civil Code has provisioned that people above 75 years must be given priority in the courts. After a good 10-month period, the court has fixed 3 February 2004 as the date for her hearing. Having cleared that bit, no one knows how long the hearings will continue and if Sumitra Devi will see justice carried out in her lifetime. Sumitra's travails began when a distant relative claimed land registered in her name. Although she won that first battle in court, an appellate court in Hetauda later reversed the district court's decision. The incident left Sumitra no choice but to take her legal battle to the top.
"Safalta Devi, an 82-year-old woman from Kabhre, fought a really long battle for her property. Even though she won the case, she could not get it due to the legal hassles," says a legal practitioner for seniors. "God knows how much longer Sumitra Devi will have to fight."