Sonali Punj, sister of Sanjeev Nanda who is the main accused in a 1999 hit-and-run case, was standing in one corner of court number 36 on Monday morning and chanting a prayer — Jai Mata Di.
It was time for Justice Kailash Gambhir of Delhi High Court to deliver his judgment on the case.
Nanda’s family — father Suresh Nanda, mother Renu Nanda, sister and brother-in-law Peter Punj — had gathered in the courtroom to hear the verdict on whether the incident where Nanda had mowed down six people with his BMW in 1999 was a case of negligence or culpable homicide.
Suresh Nanda’s eyes were fixed on the wall-clock in the room as the verdict was to be pronounced at 2 pm.
At exactly 2.20 pm, Justice Gambhir delivered his verdict reducing Sanjeev’s sentence from five years to two years.
Sonali and her husband clapped and rejoiced. Suresh Nanda, who was sitting all this while, stood up.
His mother reached for her phone and informed friends and family. She then touched the feet of Ram Jethmalani, the senior defence lawyer in the case.
Suresh Nanda hugged him as they squeezed their way out of the courtroom.
“All I can say is that I am extremely happy,” said Renu, eyes welling up with tears.
Sonali was elated. After ten years of ordeal her brother would soon be out of jail. “My brother has already suffered a lot. I just hope I can celebrate Raksha Bandhan with him this time. It would be the best rakhi gift I could ever get. I wish he is out of jail by then and is home for the festival,” she said.
Sonali said she visited her brother in jail last week.
“I met him last week in Tihar. He was extremely nervous but was hopeful that justice would be meted out. Celebrations would follow but only after he is out of jail,” she said.
Sanjeev’s father said he hoped that the remaining days of his jail term would be waived off on grounds of good behavior.
“After he was convicted by a lower court last year, he had been busy providing legal assistance to prisoners in jail. He used his education to help those who were in need," he said.
“We did not have any expectations, only hope. We had been attacked from all sides and we defended ourselves,” he said. “We would not apply for bail as Sanjeev has already served 95 per cent of the two-year term in jail.”