Who killed the prof? – the movie plays on

The dramatic scenes are back in the Professor Sabharwal murder case. The same poor guy who sounded so emotional and confident about his abilities to stand by his “bade achhay aadmi thhay” (was a very good man) professor, has changed his lines. See IBNLive link – witnesses turn hostile.

May be the witnesses feel threatened. May be they get bought over. Whatever, this witness-turning-hostile drama and trial-by-media thing is getting monotonous and boring now. To me, this case is more important than Jessical Lall and all. Because, we are talking about plain old goonda-giri here. Don’t like someone, go beat him. Don’t like a government order or court’s verdict, go torch a bus – I bet the same type of guys do these mob-y things. A harsh verdict here could set a precedent, a message that mobs can’t get away.

But how do the courts move forward from here? Some out of the box ideas:

  • Let us assume this murder deserves a total of 40 years of imprisonment. Now, if the witnesses don’t step forward (Bollywood style – maine kuchh nahin dekha), how about distributing the 40 year sentence amongst everyone who was known to in the area 20 minutes before or after the incident. 40 people getting 1 year each isn’t bad. Do your duty by helping law take its course, if not, then you get punished for it.
  • The accused and and key witnesses (key defined as those who say one thing to TV cameras, and another to the judges) should declare their finances to the judges. And the judges could get a weekly report on these guys finances till the case is resolved.
  • How about secret witnesses? Only the judges get to talk to them. May be both sides’ lawyers as well, with the condition that if identity of these witnesses get leaked, lawyers will get a lifer each.

I am running wild and out of ideas now.

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8 Responses

  1. Ha ha ha… :-)

    Just 3 days back the supreme court ruled that POLICE can NOT give protection to all witnesses. They went furthur to say there are not enough police man to do that. FULLSTOP

    In the indian judiciary there is a joke in colloquial kannada – “Geddavanu sootha, soothavanu sattha”. Meaning the winner has lost the case, the loser is dead. When cases drag on for 15 to 25 years for various reasons, expect the witness not to be harassed,bribed,beatean et all?

    And how much of secreat confession statements would be binding by law? How would anybody liked to be one fine day prisoned for 1 year just because he was in the proximity of a crime?

    No those solutions are worse than our indian judicial system. Am not saying that mobs should rule the roost but there should be some outside box answers to this right? :-)

  2. According to stats – as high as 30% of posts of judges lie vacant in lower courts – and at the present rate it will be 300 years before all the court cases are settled.

    Swift and immediate punishment is the best deterrent – else as Mohan says – wait for people to simply die naturally waiting for justice.

  3. I like the idea of secret witnesses… assuming of course that their identities can be kept secret…

  4. i like these out of box solutions. Witnesses should be handed hefty fines and the lawyer even bigger ones or prison terms. There should be a time limit – say 3 months to complete the case or both the lawyers go to cool their heels in tihar for atleast a year. Judgest & Lawyers to be graded for the number of adjournments that they provide. After a ‘pre-set’ number ( say 5 or 10 ), every adjournment asked for/given should attract a good penalty (how about 1 lac) and then jail terms. BTW, whatever happened to Bittu Mohanty and his shameless father, the cop.

  5. @ SB

    I agree it is getting a bit too predictable now with the witnesses turning hostile. But then I put myself in their position, and think about what I’d do if I found out that the police were in collusion, or that my family would be put at risk if I decided to go ahead and testify against the accused. Maybe I’d do the same thing, if I’m cornered like that and have no one to turn to. That doesn’t make it right by any stretch of imagination but the circumstances have to be considered as well before passing judgment. (SB- I am not saying that you’re passing any judgment on those people when I say this)

    About your “out-of-the-box” ideas, I’ve got another one to share. I am not sure how true/false this is, but my grandfather used to tell me this story when I was a kid and when riots or mob-giri occurred anywhere.

    During the British Raj, he used to say, if there was an incident of stone throwing or bus torching or damage to public property of any kind (street lamps etc), the people living in that area used to be fined and made to pay for the damage caused, regardless of who caused it. And this worked so good that the people would not allow any hooliganism of this sort to continue coz in the end they were the ones who used to end up paying for it.

    I don’t know if this is too radical for today’s times but surely makes you think of the effectiveness of the whole exercise, doesn’t it?

  6. @ OI, thats a good one – making the community feel ownership of public property in an area – that could work even now.

    Yes, you can easily explain why witnesses turn hostile. I bet even the judges know that. Stronger Witness protection program may be their answer to this.

    @ Apun KD – 30% vacancy!? Sounds so high.

    @ Namma Nadu – things work better if you have fewer necks to choke. No idea about Bittu Mohoanty, not tracking that.

    @ Mohan – cases drag on perhaps due to lower judge/people ratio. I remember seeing stats that compared that ratio, we compared pretty bad with a few countries. Law and order is a part of so called “infrastructure”, isn’t it. When they say our country needs $350 billion worth investment in infrastructure, wonder if law and order systems are included there as well.

  7. Oh man…this has become so common….

  8. […] that the new cases have surfaced, witnesses turning hostile in Professor Sabharwal case isn’t a hot story […]

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