Criminal cases based on circumstantial evidence can be resolved in several ways in a work of fiction. Judges do not have that liberty. It would be in the fitness of things to assume, there is only one right way for them to interpret the ‘circumstances’.
in love forever,
alone in a stranger’s house,
scribbled their last words and
consumed a delicious dose
of copper sulphate.
‘Garland-Bindi-Bangle-Sindoor’ Pooja finished her drink. ‘Non-Matric’ Satish did not. He rushed out to seek help. On return, she was found hanging by a cable wire. Two Courts found Satish guilty of murder.
The Supreme Court in Satish Nirankari v. State of Rajasthan, [Criminal Appeal No. 1074 of 2007] laid special emphasis on the suicide note, which as per the Investigating Officer, was undisputedly in Pooja’s handwriting, for which reason, no efforts were made to compare the writing on the exhibit with the admitted handwriting of Pooja nor was any expert opinion taken thereupon.
The SC also observed that if Satish wanted to commit murder and escape, he could have left the deceased at the spot. He would not have raised an alarm. In fact, Satish was hospitalized for 50 days and was convicted under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 for an attempt to commit suicide. He did consume some copper sulphate.
Medical reports further indicated no foul play in Pooja’s hanging and in a dismal investigative move, the cable wire was never sent to any scientific laboratory to confirm fingerprints. For all the above significant doubts, the SC has ordered for Satish’s release.
Bollywood fans will recollect Baazigar (1993, dir. Abbas-Mastan), released 2 yrs. before the incident. Lovers Ajay and Seema wrote suicide letters, contemplating death. Later, Ajay tore his letter, slyly retaining Seema’s, proclaiming he was putting her to test. When Ajay finally throws Seema off a high rise, he posts her letter to her family.
In a fictional account, one would imagine even when Pooja and Satish were writing their suicide letters, Satish like Ajay knew he would not have the courage. It was considered ‘plausible’ that:
“Pooja because of stiff resistance from her family said she would not marry… such a reaction on the part of a girl to sacrifice her love and accept a decision of her parents, even though unwillingly, is a common phenomenon in this country… it also happens in love that when a man is not able to get a girl which he wants, he may go to the extent of killing her as he does not want to see her alliance with any other person…”
Criminal cases however cannot be decided based on hypothesis. Moral arithmetic and prosecution lapses may have saved Satish. But his love story should not be remembered.