Posted: 08 May 2015 at 9:51pm | IP Logged
Hit and run affirms Salman's amazing record: 3 convictions, 6 days in jail
by Sandipan Sharma May 9, 2015 08:03 IST
Next time you hesitate in taking the wheel after getting sloshed, get inspired by the true story of Salman Khan.
But for the minor inconvenience of having a breath analyzer thrust down your throat and getting a small ticket-which can be managed if you are lucky to find somebody waiting for chai paani -there is very little to fear.
Get drunk, drive like a Formula One racer and don't bother stepping on the brake. In case you notice human beings on the road, don't worry about Being Human. Bear in mind singer Abhijieet's advice: 'kutta road pe soyega, road pe marega.'
The latest twist in the story of Salman's hit-and-run case has just one moral: the faster you can drive, the more money you can burn, the farther you can run from the law.
While the court took 13 years to send Salman to jail, his lawyers took just a few hours to get him out on bail. Indeed, a great advertisement for drunken driving!
The Bombay High Court is justified in suspending Salman's 5-year sentence. When a convict approaches a higher court with an appeal against a lower court's judgement, the judge is right in granting bail till the case is decided to ensure that an innocent man doesn't suffer. This is the established procedure in India and the High Court has followed the standard practice.
But the problem with the system is that it works best for the rich and the privileged. For many others, securing bail is impossible even when they have not been convicted and are just facing trial.
A few years ago, The Hindu had revealed that more than 75 percent prisoners in Indian jails are undertrials. More than 3200 persons out of the nearly 2.8 lakh undertrials have already spent five years in jail.
Compare this with a celebrity like Salman Khan, accused of repeat offences. Around ten years ago, Salman was sentenced to a year in jail for poaching protected animals in Jodhpur. Some months later, he was sentenced again " this time for five years.
The five-year sentence in the hit-and-run case by the Mumbai court means Salman has been convicted thrice so far, he is facing a combined sentence of 11 years. Yet, he has spent just a few days behind bars.
Salman's hit-and-run case has often been compared with that of Alistair Anthony Pereira's, who was sent to jail for three years for driving his car over six persons in Mumbai. Though a lower court had let off Pereira with just six months in jail, the Supreme Court had later upheld the tougher punishment granted by the Bombay High Court. It had also commented that the punishment in such cases should be much more. Pereira, like Salman, was found guilty under Section 304 (2) of the IPC.
It would be relevant to quote a part of the SC verdict on Pereira.
"The object should be to protect society and to deter the criminal in achieving the avowed object of law by imposing appropriate sentence. It is expected that the courts would operate the sentencing system so as to impose such sentence which reflects the conscience of the society and the sentencing process has to be stern where it should be."
The court will be failing in its duty if appropriate punishment is not awarded for a crime which has been committed not only against the individual victim but also against the society to which the criminal and victim belong.
The punishment to be awarded for a crime must not be irrelevant but it should conform to and be consistent with the atrocity and brutality with which the crime has been perpetrated, the enormity of the crime warranting public abhorrence and it should "respond to the society's cry for justice against the criminal."
Even the Supreme Court would be wondering if we have learnt the right lesson from its verdict in Pereira's case: that fear of severe punishment will deter people from drunk driving.
Or, if Salman's story has a more powerful message: drink, drive; don't worry about the punishment.