Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shiney Ahuja fast tracked to conviction, Abhishek Kasliwal slow tracked to acquittal

Today, the Indian justice system provided a neat contrast in the quality of police work on a rape case.  Two men, each fighting his own legal battle against an accusation of raping a woman significantly weaker in age, income and social standing, stood in judgement from a Mumbai court earlier today.

An 18 year old maid servant accused Bollywood film star Shiney Ahuja of rape on June 14, 2009.  She later withdrew the charge during a deposition in September 2010 but DNA test reports had already confirmed the incident and the judge refused to accept her testimony.  Ahuja initially denied the allegations and later claimed the sex was consensual.

A fast track court judge, PM Chouhan cleared the 38 year old defendant of criminal intimidation and illegal confinement charges but convicted him for rape and sentenced him to 7 years rigorous imprisonment and a Rs. 3000 fine.  Both the judge and public prosecutor said the "clinching factor" in the case was strong medical proof against the defendant.

A 52 year old widow and mother of two accused 27 year old Abhishek Kasliwal, heir to the Rs.1500-crore textile group Shriram Mills, of rape on March 11, 2006.  The police charge-sheet named three eye witnesses who saw the defendant take the victim to the Shriram Mills compound, forensic analysis of evidence found in the defendant's car and drug tests on the defendant.

The case took a mysterious turn in March 2008 when the public prosecutor, AM Chimulkar, admitted to the court the victim had gone missing in October 2006 and the police was unable to locate her and present her in trial.  The judge, KU Chandiwal, reprimanded the police for their lackadaisical attitude towards the victim's protection in direct violation of a court order given at the time of granting bail to the defendant.  Frustrated with the disappearance of the victim for more than two years, the public prosecutor resigned from the case.

Finally, the victim was found and brought to court in June 2009 where she identified the defendant.  Another two years later, on March 30, 2011, citing discrepancies in the victim's story and police reports, judge SR Malpani-Pawar pronounced Kasliwal with the words, "You are acquitted."

Your speculation is as good as mine on how much the following factors did or did not play a role in these two cases: celebrity, harsh media glare, money, criminal interference with a police investigation, police negligence, credible testimony from victims and eyewitnesses, medical evidence, prosecution's misconduct and subversion of the justice system. 


Amogh said...

it is sad but unfortunately this is the way,indian judiciary works

PunditCommentator said...

If you're referring to the second case, the sequence of events and available evidence points to shoddy police work.

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