SALMAN KHAN LOOKS COOL THIS TIME!

That we call it this time – confidence or something else – that was certainly not there in May this year – when the trial court had found him guilty in the 2002 hit and run case – and had sentenced him for five years. After the trial court sentenced him, he got bail on the same day from the Bombay High Court.

And it is expected that the Bombay High Court will deliver its verdict today on the Salman Khan’s appeal against the trial court order. Reports say the judge has dictated the order and will read it out today once Salman Khan reaches the court.

And Salman Khamn looks cool because there are indications that what may come out in the verdict will be great relief for the actor. During the course of dictating his order, the judge said, (as reports say) – “prosecution has failed to prove charges against Khan on all counts”.

Let’s see what happens next, later in the day.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FINDING JUSTICE: A HERCULEAN TASK, EVEN A MIRAGE FOR SOME

Salman and Jayalalithaa may walk free in finality but we will keep asking questions.

Well, legal recourse is a costly thing in this country and how it serves the purpose of the high and mighty is clear, first from Salman Khan’s hit and run case, and then in J. Jayalalithaa’s disproportionate assets case.

In both cases, the trial in lower courts dragged on for years. 13 years in Salman’s case and 18 years in Jayalalithaa’s case.

Salman got interim bail on the same day of conviction and got his sentence suspended and full-time bail on the very second day of his conviction.

Jayalalithaa got bail on 21st day of her conviction by the lower court (bail from the Supreme Court) and in 8 months, got it overturned in the Karnataka High Court, the High Court that had denied her bail when she had approached it on 10th of her conviction.

Bombay High Court will now hear Salman’s case with claimed testimonies that were not taken into account by the prosecution at the lower court. Salman is a big star, probably the biggest mass star today. He is a changed man now and he also runs a charity that works well.

And irrespective of what the law says, what his past and present say and what the courts say, the changed perception about him, with all his resources, will a play major role here.

With Jayalalithaa, the Supreme Court will hear her acquittal next (if challenged). O Paneerselvam, Jayalalithaa’s trusted aid and the current chief minister of Tamil Nadu, who took over from Jayalalithaa after she was sentenced by the lower court, has offered his resignation, as the sources say and the best battery of lawyers including a legal luminary will represent the next Tamil Nadu chief minister (in natural circumstances) in the Supreme Court.

Though Jayalalithaa is yet to make a public appearance, she is sure to take over from her trusted aide of all seasons. She sees herself as the ‘gold refined by fire’ even if her opponents find mathematical discrepancies in the High Court judgment in ‘calculating’ her income.

The legal luminaries involved in these cases would cost crores that someone with deep pockets like a Salman Khan or J. Jayalalithaa can well afford.

Serious cases have their range in thousands (of Rs) in lower courts. The very cases in High Courts turn to cost you in lakhs. And in case of Supreme Court, even a single hearing involving these legal luminaries may run into lakhs or tens of lakhs. Even an unheard lawyer of the Supreme Court would cost around a lakh for Special Leave Petition for a single appearance in the apex court of India.

Filing a case of serious nature and fighting it seriously in Indian courts, with multilayered corruption and shoddy professional integrity, would cost you dearly. A good battery of lawyers including legal luminaries of this country can complicate any case to the extent that it takes years before the case reaches to any conclusion.

Those who can afford fighting a case though its different layers, demands and years, stay in the league to get the decision while those who cannot, i.e., the majority of this country, bow out in the process.

Collage-May13,2015

Featured image courtesy: Images sources from websites of Being Human, AIADMK and e-Court project, Government of India

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

A STAR, A BIG POLITICIAN AND GLIMPSES OF KNOWN IRONY

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/

SALMAN KHAN: SOMETIMES, BEING A CELEBRITY IS A BANE AS WELL

No doubt Salman Khan of the day is a good man and what we are seeing of him today, especially in context of the court cases, is basically about his survival instinct.

He has changed over the years, especially in last decade. What he did in the ‘hit and run’ case today and what he is doing in other cases he is embroiled in can be seen from the perspective of a worldly man.

He has every right to defend himself and it is responsibility of the judicial system to find him guilty or innocent, in a larger system that is so prone to manipulation. He will keep on saying he is innocent even if the courts think otherwise. And most of the people do so.

He has done what most people do. While writing this, we go with the fact that exceptions are found in every walk of life.

Yes, his celebrity status that makes him dear to millions, an icon of them, an icon whose popularity goes beyond India, is also a hindrance when it comes to such cases, especially in lower courts.

Justice walks a tightrope in such cases and judges deliver the verdict to meet the rulebooks and avoid harsh comments of authorities and senior judges from higher courts.

So, everyone is playing according to the tune here. And by doing so, everyone is being pragmatic – trying to survive in the system. The man on the street whom people like Abhijit call ‘dogs’ in a mad vein or people like Abhijit themselves or celebrities like Salman Khan – all are parts of the system.

System tests them all the time and celebrities like Salman Khan or people like Abhijit possess best of the survival skills while people like the common men (including the street dwellers) are at its bottom. They always try but seldom succeed.

But at the moment, this celebrity status is proving a bane for Salman Khan.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

SALMAN KHAN FOUND GUILTY: IS EVERYONE IS EQUAL BEFORE THE LAW?

In a 2002 hit and run case, Salman Khan was today sentenced to 5 years in jail. The court, based on evidences before it, found he was driving the car, and was drunk and was not carrying his licence.

The survivors of the case do not want him to be punished, and so are millions others, including those from the film industry. Yes, the workers want more money to live on. They want more compensation, beyond the odd 19 lakh that Salman deposited with the Bandra court in 2002. But the court has ruled out so, even if Salman is willing to pay them more for a lesser sentence.

We can easily say this a triumph of justice in the lower courts – given the fact that Puru Raajkumar was let off with fine of Rs. 1 Lakh only, even if he killed 3 and injured 2 in his drunken state – way back in 1993.

Sanjeev Nanda, in the notorious 1999 BMW hit and run case of Delhi, killed 6, but he was imprisoned 2 years only. The Supreme Court added 2 more years of community service in 2012. 2 years of imprisonment were after public outage. He was acquitted and released in 1999 but was forced for a re-trial in 2008.

Another hit and run case that made headlines took place in Mumbai in 2006. Alistair Pereira, coming a family of realtors, killed 7 and injured 8 when his drunken stupor lost every sense and his Toyota Corolla rammed into a group of people. He was sentenced for 3 years only. Supreme Court, while upholding the order, said as the state government had not sought a tougher punishment more than three years, it was unable to do so.

From that measure, Salman has got a harsh punishment of five years – for killing 1, injuring 3 and crippling 1. And he is ready to give more compensation.

Though the Bombay High Court has granted him interim bail for 2 days, as the complete order copy is yet to be given, the trial court had not any option.

In fact, the verdict given today is a balanced one after he was slapped again with the culpable homicide charge that attracted a punishment of up to 10 years. A trial court judge has limited options in case of serious charges and when a case involves a celebrity like Salman Khan, in becomes talk of the town, including the higher courts and to judge wants scathing remarks on his verdict from a higher court judge. The case was in limelight anyway and it got some undue negative social media publicity when Salman’s driver Ashok Singh tried to claim the blame on him (March 30, 2015). Ashok Singh had made similar attempt in 2007.

Sessions court had to sentence Salman. Supreme Court had observed in the past that the accused could not get benefit of procedural lapses. So even if the witnesses turned hostile, Salman could not prove that he was not driving, that he was not without license, and that he was not drunk. The Sessions’ court judge found him guilty of all charges and chose to sentence him for 5 years.

It is harsh given by the cases above. It is not harsh given by the fact that everyone is equal before the law.

Higher courts’ response is to be seen in this case now with a balanced judgment by the Sessions court.

The Bombay High Court would hear Salman’s bail plea on Friday once the order is in. In case of Sanjeev Nanda, the final Supreme Court order came after 13 years. Salman’s hit and run case has already dragged for 13 years. Hopefully it will not be dragged on for many more months and the Bombay High Court will hear the appeal in a time-bound manner.

And obviously, we would keep on asking ‘if everyone is equal before the law!’

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/