p>The recent verdict in a scandalous Delhi killing argues the well-connected can still literally get away with murder. Our Most Favored Flatulation Guy Trebay summarized the case in the Village Voice in ’99:
A man refused a late-night drink at a tony hot spot pulls out a gun and fires it twice… the alleged killer was the son of a former cabinet minister, his victim was a onetime model, the bar was in the most stylish shopping complex in the city, and the murderer waltzed away in front of hundreds…
Demanding whiskey, Sharma was told by Malini Ramani that he could have a sip of her drink for 1000 rupees, or about $35, her sister claims. “It was a normal remark, and I guess only a madman would react in such a violent way,” Malini would later say. Sharma apparently approached Lal next and, when she told him the bar was closed, pulled out a .22 and fired. It was the second bullet that caught Lal in the forehead. Sharma then walked to the courtyard and smiled his way out through the crowd. [Link]
p>Seven years on, it’s not that the tabloids beat the broadsheets, it’s that every broadsheet has turned into a tabloid:What India lacked until lately: a headless body in a topless bar
Since liberalizing its trade policies in the early ’90s, the vast subcontinent has become a kind of dumping ground for Western culture. It’s a phenomenon observable in everything from the upper-class vogue for New Age anodynes (reiki and Viennese voodoo are currently the rage) to the more obvious glut of MTV.
What India lacked until lately… was Amy Fisher-Joey Buttafuoco-style saturation coverage. It lacked a headless body in a topless bar. In the weeks since Lal’s shooting, the capital’s major papers have printed dozens of stories daily under headlines that wouldn’t be out of place in the Post… In a country where Hindu newspapers still print pages of ads for traditionally arranged marriages, and where such stop-the-presses headlines as “Pachyderm Tramples Tigress” are commonplace, there’s an unfulfilled hunger for the Dynasty-style dross of the West. Not since the days of serial killer Charles Sobhraj has a crime so deliciously fit the bill. [Link]
p>The case just ended in the usual way:
Manu Sharma, son of a Congress party leader and minister in Haryana state, Vinod Sharma, was the main accused in the case along with eight others. On Tuesday the court acquitted all nine citing insufficient evidence. [Link]
… the man suspected of pulling the trigger surrenders to the authories… he makes a full confession admitting to the murder… The case seems to be watertight. Then, seven years later, every one of these people is acquitted… Is it any wonder that we are a nation outraged? …
The sad truth is that the delays in the legal system make it impossible for anybody to get a fair trial in this country. This case took seven years — in any Western country, it would have taken a few weeks — and during that period, judges were moved, cops were transferred, evidence was tampered with and witnesses changed their stories. [Link]
p>Yet perhaps things are changing with a recent string of legal victories on the side of Good. In Delhi, nine people have just been jailed in a high-profile case arising out of the Gujarat riots:
Twelve Muslims and two others were burned to death when the Best Bakery was attacked by a Hindu mob… A special court conducting a retrial found the nine guilty of killing 14 people during the arson attack on the bakery. They had been acquitted in an earlier trial… the Best Bakery [had] come to symbolise the failure of the Indian justice system following the Gujarat riots in 2002. [Link]
All that changed in 2004 when the country’s Supreme Court, faced with mounting public pressure from human rights groups and riot victims, hauled up the Gujarat state government for doing little to punish the guilty… “… the state did not discharge its function…” [Link]
p>Chic buildings constructed without the proper permits are being demolished with bulldozers. Building code enforcement? In India?
Several top fashion designers… have showrooms in malls on Delhi’s upscale Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road, which have been declared illegal. At least one big shopping mall has already been completely demolished… Ten high profile private schools in the city’s posh Vasant Kunj area have also received notices from [the Municipal Corporation of Delhi], Indian media reports say. [Link]
Is the rule of law being restored? Is the Indian justice system, so dysfunctional that gangsters do humming trade in debt collection, finally going straight?