Mangaluru: Will These Exemplary Punitive Verdicts Hopefully Serve as Deterrents against Crime?

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Mangaluru: In an atmosphere of despair among the people regarding ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’, a few judgements pronounced in the local courts in the past few days have strengthened the trust of the public in the judicial system.

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Several cases of murder and other crimes have fallen flat in the past for reasons of witnesses turning hostile, legal fatigue of the appellants, constant transfer of prosecution and police officials and other loopholes and inconsistencies which are taken advantage of by the defendants.

In this backdrop, some significant rulings were delivered in the city’s courts lately. In a case in which female employee of a firm had accused its manager and two others of sexual harassment, they have been sentenced to imprisonment and fine.

Loy D’Souza (30) of Bajal and two other employees Puneet Shettigar (22) of Yeyyadi and Ashok Crasta of Talapadi had been charged with sexual harassment by the female employee on July 10, 2013. She had complained to the women’s police station in Pandeshwar.

Following a hearing, the JMFC III court has held them guilty under IPC section 354 for attempt of sexual assault, imposing on each of them simple imprisonment for a year and a fine of Rs 5,000. They have also given a year of simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs 3,000 under IPC section 506, and six months of jail and a fine of Rs 2,000 under IPC section 509. Rs 6,000 shall be paid to the victim in the form of relief.

In another case, Zubair (30) of Bastipadpu in Bantwal, had been charged with the murder of Mohammed Sharif in Nandavar of Sajipamunnur village on June 23, 2011. The first additional district court has sentenced him to ten years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000. Should he fail to pay the fine, he shall undergo an additional year in jail. The fine amount has been ordered to be paid to the brother of the deceased.

The next case is of chain-snatching by Naveen Sequeira (38) of Thokkottu and Vincent Sequeira (48) from Ullal. As Flossie D’Souza had just come out of the Jugul hall in Mallikatta after attending a function at 9-15 pm on Nov 23, 2012, and was getting ready to leave with her son in his bike, Naveen and Vincent arrived in a motorbike, snatched her four-sovereign gold chain and fled the spot.

The same duo had also robbed one Leelavati Shetty of eighteen-sovereign gold ornaments when she was walking near the Sharavu temple in the city on Oct 3, 2012. After a trial, the second chief judicial magistrate’s court has slapped them with a three-year term in jail each and a fine of Rs 5,000 each.

Yet another landmark judgement, said to be the first of its kind in the district, has been pronounced by district second JMFC court magistrate Roopashree. Brendon A D’Souza of Mumbai had married a woman of Kadri temple road locality on April 24, 2005. They had two children out of their marriage. He is said to have kept harassing her without even seeking divorce.

Being tired, she had approached the court. In normal cases, the victim is ordered to be paid alimony or maintenance amount in the event of a separation. But in this case, without a divorce, the husband has been ordered, by invoking the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, to pay Rs 15 lakh as relief in a lump-sum under section 22 and Rs 12,000 as maintenance money to support herself every month under section 20. Besides, he has been ordered to return all the gold given at the time of marriage. This judgement is being seen a warning bell to all potential trouble-makers.

During the past months also, a few verdicts have been passed by various courts in the city, holding the accused guilty. Many of them concerned harassment and sexual assault on women and children. A notable aspect in all these cases was that the judgements came out much faster as compared to many earlier cases. Many of them were handed out by women judges.

The provision for appeal in the higher courts apart, the process of justice is being perceived to be quicker to some extent. It is only to be seen if this development will help arrest the crime rate in the interest of public good.

At the same time, it is hoped that this will not instigate ill-advised women to take undue advantage of the law by filing false complaints.

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