Today, watching Scooter Libby getting convicted for 30 months and yesterday, on a very different note, watching Paris Hilton go to prison caused me to think about the BMW case in India that I have been reading about the past couple of days.

Scooter Libby was the Chief of Staff for the Vice President of the United States and he got convicted for lying under oath. And Paris Hilton, probably the most infamous celebrity was packed off to prison for drinking under the influence of alcohol for the second time.

And in India we have the BMW case where Sanjeev Nanda was accused killing six persons, including three policemen, in the early hours of January 10, 1999, on Lodhi Road in New Delhi. And it was the usual farcical drama that Indian judicial battles are – witnesses retracted initial statements and one of the survivors – Manoj apparently has now “vanished” after he was paid off by the Nandas. (Incidentally, Sanjeev Nanda’s father Suresh Nanda was a Lt. Commander in the Navy before leaving to start working as an Arms Trader as the head of Crown Corporation. And his grandfather S.M. Nanda was the Chief of Naval Staff – he too joined the arms trading business after retirement – so they are a very influential family).

So now eight years after the incident and still without convictions because all the witnesses either were bought off to change their statements and finally the courts didnt find “enough” evidence for conviction and all the accused were released.

Now, Sunil Kulkarni, the only witness who didnt turn hostile to the prosecution was the basis on which the case continued in the Additional Sessions court in Delhi. However, recently, NDTV conducted a sting operation capturing on video where defence and prosecution lawyers in the BMW hit-and-run case were
allegedly shown discussing with eyewitness Sunil Kulkarni ways to bail
out prime accused Sanjeev Nanda. And this drama goes on.

And that’s why I thought about when I read the convictions of Scooter Libby. Such a contrast – a country where even the chief of staff of the Vice President cant work around the law totally (some will argue that he did get past leaking the name of Valerie Plame) – but the point is that he was still convicted.

And in India, we have in just this example, a bunch of privileged brats (Arms Dealers, no less) and 8 years after the incident – they are still scott free. Because they ran over just a few pavement dwellers and a few policemen – and in India we have a billion of those. How many ex-admiral Arms Dealers do we have.

I hear it all the time now that the Presidential Debates are on here – that America is a nation of laws and not that of personalities – and that noone is above law. Sometimes it sounds just like everything else – soundbytes that sound good. However, there is an element of truth to it.

All too sadly, in India, the law plays a distant second fiddle to personalities, who, as personalities go, are not much to speak of in the first place.

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