Jethmalani’s defence – The Saving Grace for Many A Criminal

Indira Gandhi’s killers, Rajiv Gandhi’s killers, stock market scamsters Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh, underworld don Haji Mastan, Havala scam accused LK Advani, Jessica Lall murder convict Manu Sharma, 2G scam accused Kanimozhi, Rs 3000 crore scam accused Jaganmohan Reddy, illegal mining scam accused BS Yeddyurappa, murder accused Amit Jogi, prime accused in several fake encounters Amit Shah… they all have one thing in common- they were all defended in various courts by Mr Ram Jethmalani.

90 year old Mr Jethmalani is now appearing to bail out 72 year old Asaram, accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year old girl in his Jodhpur ashram.

Just when the whole country is deeply concerned and disturbed about the rising sexual assaults against the women, Ram Jethmalani chose to humiliate the victim of the Asaram sexual assault case by describing her as a girl suffering from psychological disorder making her desire to meet men alone!

The manner in which the rape cases are conducted by the defence lawyers of the accused, the victims of rape cases are brutalized all over again. The trials turn out to be another sustained assault on their character. And that’s why most girls and women are afraid to come forward to prosecute their rapist. Especially so when the accused is rich and powerful.

The submissions of Jethmalani in Asaram case at the stage of a bail hearing is of course both shocking and alarming. Coming from a lawyer of national repute, his allegations regarding the poor minor victim of Asaram that she was suffering from a psychological disorder that draws a woman to man (essentially accusing her of being a ‘nymphomaniac’) would hurt her character irreversibly.

The law regarding bail is well settled. At the stage of bail, the only consideration by the Court is whether the charges are serious or not, whether there is a prima facie case and whether the accused is in a position to tamper with the evidence. On all three counts, the session court has rejected Asaram’s bail application; How does the mental condition of the victim become the issue of debate to decide whether Asaram should granted bail or not? And which medical doctor or psychiatrists has given Jethmalani the certificate to brand the victim with such a mental disorder that would make her the aggressor?

Eminent lawyer Dr Mukul Sinha says:

We may take notice of the fact that under the recently passed Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 that received Presidential assent on 2 April 2013, the definition of sexual harassment has been amended and the new Section 354A (iii) makes sexually coloured remarks punishable. The submission made by Mr Jethmalani squarely falls within the definition of the amended section. No law gives absolute immunity to any lawyer to commit a criminal offense even during the course of conducting a court proceeding.

Dr Sinha also said that the Bar Council ought to take serious note of such wholly irrelevant and unethical utterances being passed off as legal submissions.

Asaram enjoys a massive mass-following. He has gotten himself a famous lawyer to enable him to play hide-n-seek with the law. All he needs now is an internationally reputed PR-agency to maintain (or increase) his popularity and acceptance. The PR agency would clean-up his public image by spreading positive stories through the newspapers, news channels, youtube, facebook, whatsapp and word-of-mouth – aka APCO.

A big crime invites criticism and grabs a lot of attention. So an accused gets an opportunity to present twisted facts to win sympathy of the perpetually confused masses. Then the accused needs to play the victim of a conspiracy to convert sympathy into support. I bet, if the PR agency does its job well, Asaram could be a potential prime ministerial candidate. Anyways, public knowledge is too little and memory too short.

The problem with the laws these days is that criminals know their rights better than their wrongs. And we don’t give our star criminals as much punishment as much we give them publicity. Seasoned criminals can afford seasoned lawyers and therefore their conviction rate is so low. Law should be like an earthquake – equal to all. But tall buildings should worry more.

Criminal lawyers like Jethmalani consider themselves to be a higher breed of intellect, and think that it’s their privilege to lie. They twist every answer and fact until truth becomes a shroud of mystery. If the laws could speak for themselves, they would complain against Jethmalani for molesting them.