Bollywood coming out in support of Salman Khan isn’t surpris ing. No one expected them to say otherwise. But asking people not to sleep on pavements or governments to rehabilitate all such squatters give the impression that they woke up to this harsh reality of our country only yesterday . And, equating such people to dogs is going a bit too far. Those finding fault with people (read dogs) sleeping on pavements are forgetting that these people could have been standing, sitting or even walking and still become victims of a drunken driver. In 2010, the four senior citizens who were mowed down in Bengaluru by Karthik Somaiah, who was under the influence of alcohol, were neither sleeping nor squatting but were on their regular morning walk. Even if we agree that footpaths aren’t for sleeping, they aren’t for driving either.The judgment is pleasantly surprising and reassuring. Despite challenging every action of the lower court and taking the battle to Supreme Court; despite trying to entice, influence, threaten, indulge in perjury and exploit every loophole to delay the judicial process, the accused failed to get himself out of the mess. It’s well known that if the accused can prolong the judicial process (13 years in this case), half the battle is won. This is the source of confidence every accused has while professing his full faith in the law of the land. For a change, tables have turned; the judgment has shaken even the big and mighty.
Yet justice is still far from final.Multiple levels of higher courts and appeals for mercy are yet to follow. We shouldn’t be surprised if, in the interim period, the accused himself or somebody on his behalf questions the constitutional validity of the law.Many will be willing to take up his cause citing flaws in the law or judicial system or even questioning the propriety of punishing people.
Money riding on the accused, his large-heartedness, his generosity and societal standing become points of discussion rather than the real issue. We have heard of Indian law being based on the principle of a person being innocent till proved guilty. Now, we are progressing to the next level of tolerance where one is innocent even after being pronounced guilty .