Sanjeev Nanda deserves jail term, say lawyers, activists
The five-year jail term for Sanjeev Nanda has been hailed as a fair sentence by many eminent Indian lawyers, social activists and people who have been fighting prominent court battles.Updated: Sep 05, 2008, 19:18 IST
The five-year jail term for Sanjeev Nanda Friday was hailed as a fair sentence by many eminent Indian lawyers, social activists and people who have been fighting prominent court battles. But they wondered if this would stop youngsters from drinking and driving.
Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan said: "It's a landmark judgement only because of sheer media pressure. It won't have any effect on other cases, as other courts are not bound to this judgement. I am satisfied with whatever punishment is being handed over to Sanjeev Nanda."
Nanda, in a drunken state, had mowed down six people while driving his BMW in January 1999 for which he was punished by a Delhi court Friday. He was 22 at that time.
Said Bhushan: "In my opinion it won't be a deterrent for youngsters who drink and drive. Nanda was convicted due to a sting operation. Do you think the media would conduct such sting operations in similar cases?"
Leading lawyer Pinky Anand said the punishment was proportionate to the offence and "in my opinion, Section 304 (2) should be extended to all such similar cases of rash and negligent driving where a driver kills people under the influence of alcohol."
"There should be a speedy trial in all cases. Here the media played a vital role but I don't think the judgment was influenced by its pressure," she added.
Neelam Katara, mother of the slain Nitish Katara, hoped the punishment would be a lesson for others.
"The court must also make parents accountable for the acts of their children. Moreover, the compensation amount of Rs.1 million to the families of the deceased in the case is a pathetic amount. The court must ensure that the convict has to take the lifetime responsibility of the family of the deceased," she said.
Social activist Prince Singhal, who have been running a campaign against drunken driving for the last seven years, said it was an exemplary verdict and would definitely instil respect and fear of law in the common man.
"Our faith in the judiciary is reinstated as we feel justice has prevailed with such a balanced verdict. I am certain that such a verdict would help in controlling the menace of drinking and driving," Singhal added.
Every year 90,000 people are killed in road accidents in India.
Neelam Krishnamoorthy, convenor of the Association of the Victims of Uphaar Tragedy, however, felt that the five-year jail term is not good enough.
"Nanda was charged with Section 304 (2), culpable homicide not amounting to murder. He should have been sentenced for seven years," she said.
"I am worried that the high court will give him bail in a few months and the case will again come to the Supreme Court. It will take some years before he is punished. There should be a guarantee that these people are behind bars," Krishnamoorthy told IANS.
"Still the punishment will act as a deterrent for people who drink and drive," she said.
KK Manan, former chairman of Delhi Bar Council, however, questioned the basis of Sanjeev Nanda's conviction.
"The quantum of punishment awarded to Nanda is right as per the section he was charged in. But he was wrongly convicted due to absolute media pressure. There was no tangible evidence against him," Manan said.
"The police have framed him under wrong sections. Is it a crime to be rich and influential in the country?"