Sunil Kulkarni a character from Dickens’ novels: Court

September 2nd, 2008 - 10:38 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 2 (IANS) Terming Sunil Kulkarni, a key witness in the sensational BMW hit-and-run case a character direct from the novels of Charles Dickens for his “peculiar personality”, a court here Tuesday noted that his statement played a crucial role in nailing Sanjeev Nanda.Initially Kulkarni, a Mumbai-based businessman, was dropped from the list of witnesses because of his flip-flops and controversial nature.

Additional Sessions Judge Vinod Kumar in his 87-page order said, “It is true that Sunil Kulkarni possesses a very peculiar personality. He appears to be a character direct from novels of Charles dickens and has a very strange aspect attached to his personality. But the truth is that such people are not uncommon.”

“Such people behave in a very strange manner. Normally such persons are very sharp. But at the same time throwing the evidence of such witness at first instance would not be justified.”

“Such persons (Kulkarni) may be truthful witnesses to an event. If they are an eyewitness of an offence, there is nothing in law to disbelieve them. However, the courts would be at guard and would be extra cautious in weighing their evidence. In fact, such a witness has to pass through a close scrutiny by the court. If his testimony is well corroborated, there should be no hitch in believing them,” ruled the judge.

Sanjeev Nanda, son of arms dealer Suresh Nanda and grandson of former navy chief S.M. Nanda, was found guilty of mowing down six people in the heart of the city with his speeding BMW car in the wee hours of Jan 10, 1999. The quantum of sentencing will be announced Wednesday.

Kulkarni had come forward as a witness some six days after the incident and approached the police to describe the scene. His statement was also recorded by the police under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) where he stood by his word.

However, when the trial started and the statements of three witnesses were recorded, Kulkarni moved an application in the court that he needed protection as the police were harassing him.

He took a U-turn in the application and said his initial statement was made under police pressure, and added that the police were adamant on nailing Nanda.

Soon after the application, the prosecution dropped him as a witness, fearing he would turn hostile.

“The testimony of Sunil Kulkarni in respect of as to how the offence took place is worthy of credence but the same is also well corroborated by the scene of crime,” said the judge.

However in 2007, prosecution once again recalled Kulkarni as he was the only witness who saw the accident taking place before his eyes.

Kulkarni then said in his statement: “I did not see Sanjeev Nanda driving the vehicle.” But he identified Nanda as the man who was one of the three people in the BMW car, which had crushed six people to death.

He also added that the car was speedily taken away after the accident. Apart from the sound of the breaks, “I also heard a voice saying, ‘Lets rush Sanj, Sidh’,” he added.

The witness said three people in the vehicle came out to assess the damage and they again sat in the car and drove off. He, however, failed to mention in the court as to who was driving the car.

In yet another tortuous twist in the case, Kulkarni helped the NDTV news channel to carry out a sting operation showing defence lawyer R.K. Anand and then special prosecutor I.U. Khan trying to influence him.

A subsequent inquiry by the Delhi High Court found both lawyers guilty and they were barred them from practice for four months and fined Rs.2,000 each.

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