Justice at last in BMW case, but why the delay?

September 2nd, 2008 - 6:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 2 (IANS) The guilty verdict against Delhi businessman Sanjeev Nanda for mowing down six people under his BMW nine years ago was welcomed Tuesday as a sign that the arms of the law stretched to catch the powerful as well. But the inordinate delay in delivering justice was a cause of concern for many. “Why does justice take so long?” asked Neelam Katara, who waited six years to get justice for her son Nitish Katara who was murdered in 2002. The conviction against her son’s murderers, Vishal and Vikas Yadav, came only this year.

“I don’t know the details of the BMW case. Therefore, I can’t comment on the case. But from whatever I know, all I can say is that verdict in the trial court takes so long that it becomes difficult for the common man to continue his fight,” Katara told IANS.

A Delhi court Tuesday held Sanjeev Nanda, son of arms dealer Suresh Nanda and grandson of former navy chief S.M. Nanda, guilty of running over six people under his BMW car on Jan 10, 1999 in south Delhi’s Lodhi Colony while acquitting his friend Manik Kapoor who was sitting next to him. The quantum of sentencing will be announced Wednesday.

Nanda was declared guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder under Section 304 (2) of the Indian Penal Code, for which the maximum punishment is 10 years.

This is one of the first instances that a court has convicted the accused in a hit and run case under Section 304 (2). In most cases, the conviction is under Section 304 (1) - causing death by rash and negligent act - in which the maximum sentence is two years.

Calling it a landmark judgement, Shekhar Krishnamoorthy, who lost his son and daughter 11 years ago when a fire in the Uphaar cinema killed 59 people, said this judgement should bring about a sense of responsibility amongst people who indulge in rash driving.

“People too often have started taking things, even life for granted. This judgement will be a lesson to all those people, even the influential ones, who are not careful on the roads,” Krishnamoorthy, who fought a long battle for justice along with the relatives of the other victims before real estate tycoon brothers Sushil and Gopal Ansal were held guilty by for criminal negligence.

The time taken for justice to prevail, however, many a time acts as a deterrent.

“The time taken for justice to prevail is just too long. And why does everything have to come under Section 304 (2) and amount to culpable homicide? To me, negligent driving which has taken people’s lives is murder, and that’s it,” Krishnamoorthy told IANS.

For Pragya Raj, a social activist, the Nanda judgement is yet another ray of hope in recent times that the rich and the powerful are not above the law.

“Judgements such as these give us, the common man, hope that no one is above the law. I hope the accused gets the most stringent punishment. However, care should be taken that he doesn’t get away because they are sure to appeal in a higher court,” Raj said.

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