Being (Terrible) Humans

Foundation of Excellence in Evading Criminal Penalties

Year 2020; Month September; Day 1309.

Yes, it’s been 1309 days since the kidnap and sexual assault of a Malayalam actress, allegedly planned by Gopalakrishnan Padmanabhan Pillai (GPP), popularly known as Dileep. The trial is going on in a special court, and the news coming out is not good - several witnesses have turned hostile, going back on their witness statements. While I do pray and hope that justice prevails, and GPP spends time in prison, I almost fully expect him to be acquitted, because the prosecution couldn’t prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.

Year 2023; Month September; Day 2400

3 years from now, we’ll most probably see an Onam Release directed by Lal Jose titled Dileepettan. Title role played by Aju Varghese. Mohanlal, Mammootty and Jayaram will jointly release the trailer on their Facebook pages. Mathrubhumi and Manorama will write sob-stories on GPP’s reaction - on watching his own life on screen. Lament how the world misunderstood the young superstar of malayalam cinema. It will be a box office super hit, raking in more than 100 crores. Ettan fans will show the box office collections as a proof of innocence (like how winning elections are an indication of innocence!). When it finally streams on Amazon Prime, Telegram users will rejoice.

I am angry

This is not unusual or unsurprising. We have the case of Mr. Abdul Rashid Salim Salman Khan (ARSSK) who has managed to get acquitted in several cases, I’ve lost count. Yes, I know, innocent until proven guilty. You know what I hate about these slogans? They work in an ideal world! Not in the real world we inhabit. In the real world, people bend the law to their convenience.

Take ARSSK’s hit-and-run case. Convicted and sentenced to jail on Wednesday in May 2015. High Court grants interim bail till Friday when finally he gets bail and sentence is suspended. State appeals the decision. By December 2015, he’s acquitted by the High Court. It’s in the Supreme Court since then.

Wow, that seems quite fast. I thought there was lot of pendency, that there’s a lot of vacancy of judges, and appointments were not happening, and justice is slow. In 7 months, ARSSK moved from conviction to acquitted. How much time did it take for him to go from accused to conviction? 13 years.

Let me make it clearer.

Accused to Conviction: 152 months.

Conviction to Acquittal: 7 months.

Nights spent in jail: 0

Meanwhile 70% of people in Indian jails are under-trial prisoners, languishing in jails because their trails haven’t started, or if started, hasn’t been completed.

The Bail Order

Remember how ARSSK got interim bail in 3 hours on 6th May? Let’s read a few snippets from that order. Just to make your blood boil (i.e. if you are not an ARSSK fan)

Case No: Criminal Application No.592 of 2015, Criminal Appeal No.572 of 2015, Bombay High Court. 

Applicant: Salim Salman Khan, represented by Harish Salve
Respondent: State of Maharashtra

Para 2: The urgency in the matter is arising out of the fact that the appellant, who was throughout on bail, is likely to be taken in custody, on conviction. It is submitted that though the applicant/appellant has been convicted, copy of the impugned Judgment had not been delivered to him yet.

Para 4: Since the applicant/appellant was on bail throughout the trial, and since a copy of the impugned judgment of conviction has not yet been furnished to him, it would be proper to protect the appellant for some time **in the interest of justice**.

Great. So even before the order of the trial court is produced, High Court grants ARSSK interim bail because not protecting the appellant for some time would not be in the interest of justice. Wow, I thought judiciary was heartless. No. They love protecting people’s rights.

Let’s read what happened on 8th May.

Para 11: The applicant was on bail throughout the trial. Even after the addition of the charge of an offence punishable under section 304 II of the IPC, his liberty was not disturbed. The applicant is not likely to abscond, if released on bail during the pendency of the Appeal – and there is not even a suggestion to that effect

Para 15: This is not a case where in spite of the admission of the Appeal, the appellant should be kept in detention till the Appeal is decided. It would be proper to suspend the sentence during the pendency of the Appeal.

Para 16: Application is allowed.

It’s not just movie stars

Politicians, obviously. Bureaucrats too. Venkataraman IAS, accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, resulting in the death of a person (looks like he’s a protégé of ARSSK), has been re-instated into service after serving a 6 month suspension.

Final Thoughts

This has been an angry post. And I make no apology for it. Our justice system is broken, and it affects the the poor, OBCs, SCs, STs, and Muslims disproportionately. All the politicians, the biggest netas of the downtrodden castes and classes are nothing but cogs in the system - getting rich while their people are trampled by the very same system that gives them immense wealth and power. I don’t write well, and I don’t dabble in poetry. Today is an exception. This is for all those leaders.

Far away they sit
Uninterested in the plight of their people
Coddled by the system
Kings of the downtrodden

Yearning for justice only
On Social Media for the
Unsuspecting idiotic public

Let us wake up
Educate ourselves
Alone we fail, together we shan't
Doors to knock
Ears to reach with the 
Right answers
So we shall prevail!
Arun Sudarsan
Arun Sudarsan
Economist and Policy Researcher

Arun is an Economist, passionate about Open Data and its potential to increase state transparency and accountability. Loves teaching. Previously worked at NITI Aayog. To subscribe to this blog’s mailing list, please enter your details here. Check your spam folder if you are missing updates. Thanks for subscribing!

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