First it was a celebrity actor, dear to millions, a big personality with a wide acceptability and every mean was available to him to used the best of the legal minds.
Then it was a national level politician, a de facto chief minister of a state, dear to her voters who count in millions and she, too, had access to every legal mind she wanted available to.
From Friday, May 8 to Monday, May 11, it is just three days and we are raising questions, like never before, once again.
In both cases, higher courts seem to reject the decision of lower courts. We have an assumption in case of lower courts, that in spite of the big names, lower courts usually deliver a tough verdict in serious and highlighted cases.
There are various reasons behind it including an adverse entry by a senior judge in case there is shoddy delivery of judgment.
The reason behind that assumption suffered a serious setback with these two cases.
In Salman Khan’s hit and run case, the court proceedings dragged on for 13 years. He was delivered a sentence of five years for killing a person a injuring four others when he lost control of his car in a drunk state of mind. Within few hours, the high court granted him interim bail and within two days, suspended the sentence of the lower court and granted him bail raising questions on the judgement itself.
I remember reading an IANS report before his sentencing by the lower court which said, quoting film industry experts, that film industry was not worried about Salman’s sentencing as it would take years for the final verdict in the apex court, even 10 to 15 years, and Salman would be 60+ by then.
In Jayalalithaa’s disproportionate assets (notoriously/famously known as the DA case), the lower court, after many twists and turns, reached on a guilty verdict, after 18 years. Special Court’s judge John Michael D’Cunha was scathing in his verdict on September 27, 2014. According to a report in India Today, D’Cunha was known as a no-nonsense judge. The report said about him – “Special Judge John Michael D’Cunha, who convicted Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate assets case on Saturday, has a reputation of being a no-nonsense judge who gave an indication of his stern approach while dealing with the politically volatile case.”
But on 21st day of it, Jayalalithaa, who had left the chief minister’s chair for her trusted aide O. Paneerselvam, as the verdict needed her (her four year prison term disqualified her from holding any office and contesting polls), got bail from the Supreme Court, if not the High Court which denied her so.
And within 8 months, a judge from that Karnataka High Court totally overturns the decision of the lower court. Today, the Karnataka High Court acquitted her of all charges in the case and rejected the decision of the lower court.
Glimpses of a known irony!
13 years to the same day and then within 2 days – beginning of the trial court in the lower court to sentencing – interim bail on the same day – suspension of sentence and bail by the High Court on the second day
18 years to 21 days to 8 months – beginning of the trial in the lower court to sentencing – bail from the Supreme Court – acquittal from the High Court
It’s not about Justice John Michael D’Cunha Vs Justice C. R. Kumaraswamy.
It’s not about Justice D. W. Deshpande Vs Justice Abhay Thipsay.
It’s about ‘trust’ and its ‘value’. It’s about treatment of the law and its approach towards the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.
In both cases, higher courts found many ‘loopholes’ in the judgments of lower courts. From May 8 to May 11, one judgment (in Salman’s case) was suspended (with serious questions on judgment) and other was overturned (in Jayalalithaa’s DA case) – but not without questions among the general public.
Two important cases for Indian democracy and the lower courts understood (what this article thinks) their importance when they delivered the verdicts – only to be questioned and rejected by the higher courts.
Yes, the higher courts have all the rights to differ from the verdicts of the lower courts and we have a judicial process right to the level of the Supreme Court to address grievances and differences and it comes as a lease of life in many cases.
But, in these two cases, we are asking so many questions.
And that is the problem area. Their release should not raise so many questions but there are questions.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/