Twenty four years is a long time. Especially if it is for justice to be delivered.
Ask 61-year-old Arun Kakkar who was dragged to court hearings as an accused. He, along with four others, were accused in a case in which no charges were ever framed against them.
Time took its toll—three lawyers and a co-accused died.
Kakkar was accused of evading customs duty of Rs 21 lakh on zip fasteners, cotton material and polyester material.
Rajeev Dawar, Kakkar’s counsel contended, “Adjournment after adjournment became the fate of case. For 24 years no evidence was brought on record to frame charges. It is a travesty of justice.”
Mala Sharma, customs counsel, submitted that there is sufficient material to frame charges against all the surviving accused: Arun Kakkar, Arun Singhania and Chander Kant Mody. She further drew the court’s attention to the written arguments filed by the prosecution. Dawar, however, contended that neither the complaint nor the complainant’s authority is proved in the case.
The Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate noted, “Out of 36 witnesses, only five have been examined by the prosecution since 1986. Even the testimony of these witnesses is not certain and conclusive”.
Fed up with the customs counsel’s argument, the judge said, “The court cannot convict any person on the assumptions or probabilities as stated by the witnesses.” Criticising the customs counsel, the court said it’s not in agreement with prosecution submissions that the sanction and complaint was proved.
Speaking to HT, Kakkar said, “For 24 years I pleaded in courts that I am innocent. The case has consumed my finances. I was falsely implicated by customs, and it took me 24 years to prove it.” He said three lawyers—N.C. Chawla, Trilok Kumar and Advocate Gill—died during the trial. His friend Rajinder Mody (co-accused) also died.