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Tuesday , December 20, 2011 at 16 : 58

Witness protection or decimation?


How often have you seen a road accident...or an eve teasing incident or any crime in your surrounding? How often have you taken the pain to go to police about it? Most of us stay away, for who will take the pain of becoming a witness and going to court? Who will take leave from work and run after lawyers day in and day out?

Imagine then a man who not only risked exposing a 1.76 crore rupees (CAG estimate subject to debate) scam but who is also facing the ignominy of being a witness!

In the 2G court room these days, Aseervatham Achary is in the witness box. Surrounded by at least 17 lawyers representing 17 accussed. Facing the greatest criminal law brains Majid Memon and Ram Jethmalani!

Jeered, mocked at by the defence camp trying to break his confidence..Achary so far has refused to be cowered down. He was A Raja's additional personal secretary for 10 yrs and yet he decided to stand by CBI in the 2G trial. Obviously he knows a thing or two about his former boss..the reason why the defence camp is jittery. And perhaps the reason why the great Jethmalani decided to begin cross examination by not asking Achary about the case but about his mobile phone!

Jethmalani- Mr Achary, is it true that you own a mobile phone costing Rs 4 lakh almost?

Did you pay the custom duty of Rs 25000 on it? Who gave you that phone?

Readers might wonder what a witness's mobile phone has got to do with the 2G case but any sharp criminal lawyer will tell you Ram was spot on in trying to discredit CBI's star witness. If he can prove any immoral or slightest hint of illegal act by Achary, his entire testimony can be discredited.

Jethmalani's tactics could not shake Achary but did it have a vice versa effect? At one stage Ram said 'My lord, you have to note the witness' demeanour at some point!'

How could a officer of the Govt of India not get rattled facing an ex-law minister and the best criminal lawyer? How could he pay back Ram in his own coin?

Jethmalani - You said in your statement that Raja told you that then Telecom Secretary Mathur was being very uncooperative. You said you suggested to him ,'why don't you invite Mathur for lunch like you do for all retiring officers?'

Mr achary such a small officer as you dared to speak like this to the Minister?

Achary - I did. Because of my ten-year-long association.

A few unrelated questions later (meaning to distract witness)

Jethmalani - The line about being uncooperative was what you heard as gossip Mr Achary. Why didn't u ask Mathur about his relation with Raja?

Achary - I am a small fry sir. (the entire court room bursts in laughter)

Achary stood up to Ram! Faced constant jeers from other defence lawyers..but how many witnesses can? The defence lawyers in the 2G case are doing a great job of defending their clients' intetest. But if such is our justice system, why will you want to expose a crime?? Why? If instead of any praise, this is the price you pay for being a witness?


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More about Arunima

Arunima, covers the ministry of home affairs, the central bureau of investigations and all other investigating agencies as her beat. A founder member of the IBN network, she started with CNN-IBN 5 years back as their crime and legal correspondent. From Jessica Lall to Nitish Katara to Priyadarshini mattoo, she has covered every case from scratch in the delhi courts and is often jokingly referred to as the 'justice correspondent' by her colleagues. She started her career with eminent journalist Vinod Dua's news magazine Parakh and since then have covered several important stories like the Delhi bomb blasts of 2005 at Paharganj and Sarojini Nagar, the Jama Masjid blasts of 2006, the Anti-Reservation Stir lead by youth for equality, the droughts at Bundelkhand and recently the beheading of Jharkhand Police Inspector Francis Induvar.