ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Grinding Wheels of Justice

The judgments in the Katara murder and Uphaar fire cases show that justice delayed is justice denied.

Thirteen years after 25-year-old Nitish Katara was killed, the Supreme Court recently upheld the conviction of his killers. Judicial delays, unfortunately, are only too predictable in India. Just days after the Katara ruling, the apex court gave its final ruling in the Uphaar cinema hall fire case that had killed 59 people (23 of whom were minors) in New Delhi, 18 years after the event.

The responses to the two judgments, however, were vastly different. In both cases, the mothers and parents of the victims who were predominantly middle class had waged a long and tedious legal battle against rich and influential opponents. But while in the Katara murder case, the Court said that it was “a classic example of how the rich and powerful people try to influence the justice delivery system,” the other ruling was seen as punishing the theatre owners, who are real estate tycoons, too little and too late. They were asked to deposit Rs 60 crore with the Delhi government to be used to build a trauma centre. The two Ansal brothers (one had earlier spent five months in jail, and the other four months) were free.

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