In the Delhi hit and run case which is popularly known as the BMW hit and run case, Sanjeev Nanda had allegedly lost control of his BMW near Lodhi road and ran over six people including three cops. The case attracted media attention, andIndia Today even quoted it as "a test of the judicial system's ability to take on the powerful."
The trial court found respondent guilty of commission of offence under Section 304 Part II of IPC and awarded him a jail sentence of five years.The High Court held that though the act of accused amounted to rashness and negligence endangering the lives of others, since there was no intention or knowledge of causing death, no case for conviction under section 304 Part II was made out. And thereafter found the accused Sanjeev Nanda guilty of commission of offence under Section 304 A of the IPC and reduced the sentence to two years. The Supreme Court held that the accused had sufficient knowledge that his action was likely to cause death and such an action would, in the facts and circumstances of this case fall under Section 304(II) of the IPC and the trial court has rightly held so and the High Court has committed an error in converting the offence to Section 304A of the IPC.
The Supreme Court held that on default, the accused will have to undergo simple imprisonment for one year. Accused has to pay an amount of Rs.50 lakh to the Union of India within six months. In the case the accused was acquitted by the Supreme Court after a big discussion on 304 (a) and 304 (b) on the basis that he will provide community service which will be better for the society rather than him being in jail.
Several references to a lot of other cases were made during the trial to highlight the ineffectiveness of traditional criminal law system when there are high profile perpetrators on the opposite side.
This case is often quoted as ‘A Massive Judicial Failure’ and there are several reasons for it:
1. Eyewitness Sunil Kulkarni turned hostile and denied having seen Nanda at the accident site. This raised question over the legal system not having laws to punish hostile witnesses which results in them being manipulating the truth and contribute to the wrong person being convicted whereas the criminal walks on the streets in freedom.
2. The Delhi police was scrutinized for mishandling the case and evidence. Delhi police did not lift fingerprints from the car to establish who had tried to destroy the evidence.
3. In a sting operation done by NDTV, Nanda's then counsel senior advocate RK Anand was caught influencing Kulkarni to depose in his client's favour. The expose also showed an alleged deal being struck between Anand and special public prosecutor in the case, IU Khan. Even though the sting operation helped in this case, it gave birth to the following questions:
- Should the power of media of self-investigation be restrained to an extent that it doesn’t affect the outcome of a case.
- Is media trial a contempt of court?
- Should it be allowed to speak at all on matters which are sub-judice as it affects the rights of both victims and the accused, besides influencing the process artificially?
4. The Delhi government had promised a government job to the wife of a victim, Phulo Devi but even 16 years after my his death, the promise has not been fulfilled. Several promises are made to the aggrieved families by the government when cases are in trial period. Once the final verdict is out, nobody has bothered to fulfil the promises.
The inefficiency on the part of the Judiciary and the police, The controversies in the case regarding the lawyers, evidence and witness etc. case gave rise to several other questions such as:
- Can we afford the so called 'leading lawyers', who make manipulations in the legal proceedings to satisfy their personal interest?
- Can we afford the so called 'witnesses' who change their statements and reverse the truth when their testimonies are the only hope for those seeking justice?
- Can we afford a so called 'case' to extend up to eight long years (and not yet over) in a country with about 27 million pending cases and hundreds of cases pouring in every day?
These questions are still unanswered and the family of the affected still seek justice.