February 24, 2006

Way of justice

For over a year, a young man stalks a young woman called Priyadarshini Mattoo. He calls her home and makes threats. He stops her car and shouts at her. The police give her protection, but he doesn't stop. A neighbour notices him at the entrance to her flat one day; shortly after that, she is murdered.

By "murdered", I really mean that she is assaulted, raped and strangled to death. She has 19 injuries on her body.

The police arrest and charge the young man, Santosh Singh, with the murder.

The trial ends nearly four years later. In the judgement, the Additional Sessions judge comments on various attempts to weaken the case against Singh. He faults the CBI for not following "official procedure"; for concealing evidence including a fingerprint report; for even fabricating documents that supported the man's case. He observes about the police: "[they] attempted to assist the accused during investigation and also during trial ... [all this suggests] that the rule of law is not meant for those who enforce the law or for their near relatives."

The young man, you see, is the son of a powerful man: a senior police officer who was then Inspector-General of Police, Pondicherry.

The judgement concludes: "Though I know [the accused] is the man who committed the crime, I acquit him, giving him the benefit of the doubt."

Those words always send a shiver down my spine. What must it be for a judge to be both convinced of an accused's guilt, and forced to let him off because the case against him has been so seriously undermined?

Was the judge in the recent Jessica Lal judgement caught in a similar bind?After all, the accused, Manu Sharma, is also the son of a powerful man: a politician who is a minister in the Haryana Government. Was there similar subversion there too?

Well, yes, but in another way. Three prosecution witnesses turned hostile. Two refused to identify Sharma, another claimed he was not even in Delhi at the time of the murder. I don't know what the judge observed in his judgement, but faced with this crumbling away of the prosecution's case, he must have had no choice but to let Sharma off.

And so we have Priyadarshini Mattoo and Jessica Lal. Young women murdered, but their murderers roam free.

Justice, served.

14 comments:

Arthur Quiller Couch said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Harish said...

One can't help but feel scared that this case will also end similalrly. Don't you think so too, Dilip?

harish said...

Apologies. Forgot to hyperlink to this site.

anthony said...

sorry it is unrealted but do check this out http://anthonysmirror.blogspot.com/2006/02/did-monster-mauled-her.html

TTG said...

I notice there's no mention of life-terms given in the Best Bakery case. But that is probably gonna be spun as an injustice.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Ray of sanity - the Delhi High Court has ordered re-opening of the case.

J.A.P.

Nikhil said...

I guess the women of Nagpur who lynched a rapist in court seem to show the way for the rest of us who suffer in silence.
Thanks for reminding us of these incidents that are a blot on our legal system.
This is the point I have highlighted earlier that it is the legal system that is to blame and it can be cruel to anybody irrespective of religion etc..

Anonymous said...

True journalist are busy figthing Hindutva windmills.

------------
Filthy underbelly of Delhi's high society, low culture
Kanchan Gupta

Picture this. It's a winter night in Delhi. The date: January 10, 1999. An inebriated chap with powerful parents and a well-connected arms dealer for grandfather, is out on the streets, taking a spin in his BMW with his buddies, both of them sons of wealthy businessmen and also drunk to their gills.

The chap at the wheel, high on the heady cocktail of adrenalin and alcohol, hits the accelerator for extra speed. He loses control over the car - any drunk would - and runs it over pavement dwellers huddled in rags against the biting cold. Three of them are killed on the spot; two suffer serious injuries.

Our chap couldn't give a toss. He shifts gear, races the engine, rams the car into a nearby police picket and kills three policemen. A bit bothered about the mess on the car - blood, flesh - he drives to his friend's home. There, the friend's dad tells his servants to hose down the BMW.

Unfortunately, for all the washing it gets, the car is traced because it has leaked oil. Our chap and his two friends are taken to the police station. They are still flying high on booze and the thrill of recklessly driving.

The rich and wealthy parents of these louts, who represent the happening crowd that keeps Delhi's Page 3 high society and low culture alive and going, hire a battery of lawyers - the best money can buy - one of whom is a leading light of the Congress. Predictably, the case collapses as witnesses turn 'hostile'.

Such is the power of lucre that Manoj Malik, who barely survived the speeding drunk's fun-and-games, says in court that it was a truck and not a car that ran over him and his mates. Another witness disappears. Our chap's friends are soon out on bail while he is allowed to fly out of the country.

Six men are run over and killed. But their alleged killer, Sanjeev Nanda, grandson of Chief of Naval Staff-turned-arms dealer Admiral SL Nanda, is neither held guilty nor punished. Sanjeev Nanda and his pals, Manik Kapoor and Siddharth Gupta, are back to where they belong - Delhi's happening crowd.

On another winter day, this time on January 23, 1996, Priyadarshini Mattoo, a third year student of law, is brutally raped and murdered in her apartment in Delhi's Vasant Kunj housing colony. The alleged rapist and murderer, Santosh Kumar Singh, son of an IPS officer, JP Singh, taunts the police to try and prove him guilty.

After a desultory prosecution, Santosh Kumar Singh walks free. This despite the judge saying, "Though I know he is the man who committed the crime I acquit him, giving him benefit of doubt." Santosh Kumar Singh's father JP Singh goes on to become Joint Commissioner of Delhi Police.

The outrageous verdict in the Jessica Lal murder case - this vivacious girl was shot dead in front of hundreds of people on April 29, 1999, none of whom has had the courage to identify the killer - has understandably upset those who still believe in the rule of law. But this is not the first time that the rich and the powerful, the beautiful people whom media features regularly partying late into the night in designer finery, have got away with murder by manipulating our justice system.

And, let there be no doubt. We shall never ever put the Manu Sharmas of Delhi on a shame-and-shun list. Because deep within, we aspire to be a part of the crowd to which Bina Ramani and Malini Ramani belong. That's Delhi's filthy underbelly for you.

Aditya Raj Kaul said...

Please do leave your signature on the Petition for the retrial in the Priyadarshini Matto Case :
http://www.petitiononline.com/mattoo/petition.html

Thanks a lot

Plz do spread this message....

Aditya Raj Kaul said...

JUSTICE 4 PRIYADARSHINI - Plz give it a reading...


Priyadarshini means lovely. And so she was. A lovely girl with massive zeal for life. Law and Music were among her passions. She was the apple of her parents' eyes, as is any other daughter to her parents. She was brutally raped and murdered by the son of an IGP. This has been the only case in the history of India where the judge himself clearly wrote that he knew the accused was the culprit and CBI had not acted fairly. It was a shame for the country's judicial system. A shame for New Delhi To add salt to the injury, the culprit - Santosh Kumar Singh - is a lawyer in Delhi's Tees Hazari Court. How many more years are we going to hide our heads in the sand? How many more years are we going to assume that our daughters and sisters are safe?


This in a country where women are traditionally given more respect than anywhere else in the world. How ironical?


Justice J.P. Thareja's words:
''Though I know he is the man who committed the crime, I acquit him, giving him the benefit of the doubt."

"The CBI in the matter of DNA evidence has not acted fairly. It tampered with the evidence of clothes of the deceased and also the blood sample of the accused.It even fabricated the documentary evidence and also the Malkhana Register of the CBI as is clear from the discrepancies."


Priyadarshini's parents' words to us:

"Your email has infused hope and strength in us and we know that after we are gone, people like you will carry this mission forward and you will bring the guilty to book. Our prayers and blessings are with you."

10 years .. Justice denied. She is waiting with her lovely smile as are her parents' wet eyes and a broken heart. 23rd January, 1996 she was murdered.

Sunday, 23rd July is her birthday. A war cry for justice in the heart of Delhi, a protest that shakes the pillars of the Govt. and one demand - Let justice be delivered immediately.

Are you ready to give her justice?

Join us :

Venue: INDIA GATE , NEW DELHI
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Date: 23rd July, 2006

Feedback: justice4priyadarshini@gmail.com

To watch video on the Priyadarshini Mattoo Case visit the link :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Edf0GuegTUc

To sign the Petition for retrial in Priyadarshini Mattoo Case visit the link:
www.petitiononline.com/mattoo/petition.html

To join the Justice 4 Priyadarshini group on ORKUT, visit the link :
http://www.orkut.com/Community.aspx?cmm=13779556

You Can visit My Blog at www.kauladityaraj.blogspot.com

With still some hope left...

Aditya Raj Kaul
UNITED STUDENTS

Anonymous said...

Hi Aditya,
You are doing a great job. From the time i heard the case of Ms Matto, among other such pathetic cases like the BMW hit and run and Ajmer scandal, I had been wondering if we can ever get justice of do we all need to get out of this country for good. When the verdict was announced I was equally disheartened as would be a family member. But you have now shown the light, you have chosen to be the torch bearer for this crusade. I am going to request all my friends to visit the site and sign the petition. Please help wiht the petition page, i dont know if it is working properly or not. Meanwhile please let me know of we( the common mass) can be of any other help.
May god help us all in getting justice.
crusader7@hotpop.com

Anonymous said...

there is hardly any smoke without fire. and to have a near crimeless society the suspects must be given immediate punishment. a few innocents may become victims but the whole society will be crime free. encounter killings did bring crime syndicates to their knees in mumbai in the late 90s. police did excellent job to bring crime rate down.

Crusader111 said...

I wonder if this wretched character was really born to his father. Not that his father is an upright character, but this sort of a behavior comes from a B**T**D.Chaman Mattoo, the father of the victim should stop trying to look for the non-existent in India, i.e 'Justice'. He should get one of the contract killers and finish off the accused. That is what I would do. I have no faith in the Indian justice, thanks to the corrupt politicians, lawyers and judiciary. and have almost become an aethist. We should adopt to follow 'an eye for eye' policy. There is nothing wrong in it. Just dont get caught.

Anonymous said...

Better late than never. I hope the guilty verdict today brings some closure to the griefing parent.