“Fighting the rich, mighty never easy”

By Samyukta Maindarkar & Sugandha Kapoor | TNN

New Delhi: With the sting operation by a news channel showing how the influential accused in the BMW case allegedly trying to influence a key witness to strengthen their case, other victims also say they face an uphill battle for justice.

Neelam Katara, who has been fighting for five years to bring her son’s killers to the book, says muscle power and money almost always play a role in cases involving high profile accused. “Witnesses turning hostile is becoming a common feature, it has spread across many cases. These cases get dragged over such long periods of time that they tend to become indifferent towards the plight of the victim. And they cannot hold up in front of the muscle power and money that the rich accused wield. And the rate of convictions is extremely low,” she said.

In the Jessica Lall case, the Delhi HC had termed witnesses being influenced as a “disturbing trend”. Sabrina Lall, the slain model’s sister, feels that the emphasis on eyewitness accounts is ridiculous. “When scientific evidence clearly points out the criminal, holding up a case on circumstantial evidence is unfair, especially because witnesses are bound to change their testimony,” she said.

*Originally printed in The Times of India’s Delhi and Mumbai editions on June 1, 2007