Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mumbai Blasts: Life sentence to ex-cop

Finally, the wait is over. 14 long years after the Mumbai blasts, punishments have started coming through. Although, there will still be quite some wait since these judgements are by a TADA court, and will need to go a higher court on appeal, but there is finally some sense of completeness. These will also be testing times for Sanjay Dutt, who has already been held guilty, and is now awaiting judgement. His case is the most media disputed one, since very few people believe that he would actually be involved in terrorism; however, the truth is that since he is well know, people are ready to believe that. If he was an unknown, then the perception (and maybe the treatment would be different). The buzz is that he will not have to serve much more time over time already spent.
Now onto the main part. We have always heard that corruption is a disease, but that it extra money, and does not kill. Well, see one case where it killed. A former police sub-inspector who allowed the truck laden with arms and ammunition to move past his check-point into Mumbai for a chai-pani (consideration) of Rs. 7 lakhs was sentenced to life imprisonment. The TADA court established that V K Patil, who was supposed to check for the very thing that he allowed to pass through, misused his official position and can be counted as an accomplice. Hence no leniency, and truly, there was no reason for any leniency.
This will pass a signal judgement, police officers are meant to protect the law, and if they get corrupt, they can be charged as supporting the criminal act that they condoned. One is not sure whether such a message will get passed through, but if it makes even a few more policemen do their duty more honestly, there will be some good that will come out of all this. Refer this story:

In remarks tinged with sarcasm for his "high courage" for "personal gains", a TADA court on Tuesday handed down the harshest punishment so far sentencing to life imprisonment a former police sub-inspector for allowing a truck laden with arms and ammunition to move on to Mumbai city that was later used in the 1993 serial blasts.
Special TADA Judge P D Kode held that V K Patil did not deserve any leniency as he had misused and abused his official position as a police officer posted at the Srivardhan police station at Raigad and ordered him to pay a fine of Rs two lakh.
The court sentenced Patil to life imprisonment each on the two charges of criminal conspiracy and aiding and abetting a terrorist act and ordered him to pay a total fine of Rs two lakh -- Rs one lakh each for the two counts he was found guilty of.
The court had on Monday awarded 10 years imprisonment to Manzoor Ahmed Sayeed for accompanying gangster Abu Salem to actor Sanjay Dutt's to pick up arms and had on Friday jailed five persons to three years prison term each for their role in helping smuggle explosives arms and ammunition prior to the blasts.
There are a number of places where such a precedent can be used. For example, excise and inspection officials who allow poisonous hooch to pass through which kills and blinds people, policemen who allow a criminal to escape, transport authorities who certify unsafe vehicles and ships, and so on. If we start using such direct attribution where corruption leads to people suffering, maybe things will get better.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 7:34 PM