BMW case: NDTV exposes prosecution-defence nexus
Wednesday, May 30, 2007 (New Delhi)
An NDTV investigation has revealed how the legal system may have been subverted in the high profile BMW case.
In 1999 six people were run over, allegedly
by a BMW driven by Sanjeev Nanda, a young, rich industrialist. But eight
years later every witness, except one, turned hostile.
The story is not only a comment on an isolated, single case but a larger statement on the state of India's legal system.
Two months ago, Kulkarni approached NDTV after watching the channel's expose on the BMW case.
Kulkarni claimed he was under great pressure from both sides- the Defence and the Prosecution, to change his original statement . He offered to prove this on hidden camera. But just before his testimony began, he withdrew his initial consent.
After consulting legal opinion, NDTV broadcast the story in public interest.
There are four main players in the BMW
Sanjeev Nanda, son of a rich arms dealer,
accused of running over and killing six people in his BMW. The car was
later filmed by the police with blood on its wheels. Nanda got bail after
9 months in jail when the only survivor changed his story and said a truck
and not a BMW caused the accident.
Sunil Kulkarni, a passerby who allegedly saw the accident and the only witness who has refused to turn hostile but was inexplicably dropped as a witness by the prosecution on grounds that he had been bought by the Nandas. This despite the fact that he is the only witness who still says the accident was caused by a black car with two men in it, one of them called Sanjeev.
Public Prosecutor I U Khan who is meant
to prove the killing.
This is when he approached NDTV to catch on hidden camera the pressure he claims he's under to change his testimony.
His first meeting was with the prosecutor on April 28.
Kulkarni: Why have I been summoned now?
Khan: We dropped you. The court has called you.
Kulkarni: I think the state asked you to drop me, right?
Khan: These are the instructions I received from the HQ. And that's why I got the SHO statement recorded that ''on the instructions of the SHO and the ACP, such-and-such witness has been dropped''. How can I make a statement? My clients are Delhi Police. Whatever instructions they give, I will act upon it.
Kulkarni: So this headache?
Khan: You won't have it. They've petitioned the High Court that Kulkarni's statement should not be recorded.
Kulkarni: So it won't be recorded, right?
Khan: No. Relax. Who is the court to say you should be examined?
The public prosecutor then asked if the witness has met bade sahib. Kulkarni claims the bade sahib they are talking about is R K Anand, the lawyer representing Sanjeev Nanda.
Khan: You've met bade sahib?
A few days later the witness meets R K Anand, Sanjeev Nanda's defence lawyer at the airport.
Kulkarni meets Defence Lawyer R K Anand on May 6
Kulkarni: Khan has told you that he met me.
Kulkarni: So what is our strategy now?
Anand: I'll be back in town tomorrow. Meet me at home.
Then comes the key moment where money is discussed. The defence lawyer and Kulkarni talk about how much money to ask for.
Kulkarni: Should I ask for Rs 2.5 crore?
Anand: Ask for Rs 5 crore and I will cross-examine you.
Kulkarni: So you will cross-examine me...
Is this, as Kulkarni the witness says, Anand's way of guaranteeing that only he and no other lawyer will do the cross examination?
It doesn't end here. R K Anand has another meeting with Kulkarni in his own car. Here Anand negotiates on behalf of the Nandas.
Defence Lawyer meets Prosecution Witness on May 8
Kulkarni: What are we discussing?
Anand: Be reasonable.
Kulkarni: You decide.
Anand: No, you decide. Anyhow, what statement you are supposed to make, we will decide about it. First of all, meet the bugger and talk to him. And be reasonable. Don't be unreasonable like what you told me that day. Don't be silly.
Kulkarni: So how much?
Anand: Forget it. Life makes big demands of us.
Kulkarni: So Sanjeev must be saved.
Anand: Yes. Never harm anyone.
Kulkarni: But Khan and you tell me what has to be done. It was merely an accident. It was not murder.
Anand: And he remained in jail for 8-9 months.
A few hours later Kulkarni claims he is asked to meet Anand's assistant at a crowded market near Anand's office.
He introduces Kulkarni to a man sent to negotiate how much Kulkarni will be paid to change his testimony.
Kulkarni: Now what? And how? Anand and Kulkarni have to decide whether I testify on May 14.
Kulkarni: The Nandas need me now, they're sending me messages but I won't meet them without Boss.
Kulkarni: So now?
Lovely: Tell me your demand. We have to settle the matter.
Kulkarni: That Boss has to decide.
Lovely: He wants you to decide. I'm the middleman. I'll handle it.
Kulkarni: So then you decide. I am testifying for the first time. I have no idea.
Lovely: The party is rich. Ask for Rs 60-70 lakh?
Kulkarni: That's nothing.
Lovely: Then you decide.
Kulkarni: And things like changing my testimony- that Khan and boss Mr Anand have to decide. And I will not meet Nanda alone. And no other lawyer should be involved. This is my condition.
Lovely: Should I say Rs one crore.
Kulkarni: Ask for Rs 2 crore.
Lovely: They won't agree.
Kulkarni: Then it's 10 years in jail.
Lovely If they don't agree, then how much?
Kulkarni: How can they disagree? Why approach me then? I have not volunteered.
Lovely: Fine, I'll say 2. But I think 1 is fine.
Kulkarni: Payment by tomorrow?
Lovely: Not so soon. It'll take a day to talk to the Nandas. I'll speak to Boss. He'll call the Nandas. Then I'll meet you.
Kulkarni: Tell boss, he and I will share this. Your cut?
Anand's double speak caught on tape
However, there are important contradictions in his reaction to NDTV.
His first response was that the tapes were doctored but within seconds he takes that back. Grilled by NDTV, Anand then contradicts himself repeatedly in a series of interviews.
Anand says that he met Kulkarni once but then he admits there were two meetings. He also insists that it was always Kulkarni who approached him but in the NDTV expose Anand asks Kulkarni to meet him at his house.
Cornered by that on air, Anand finally has a weak explanation that it was not a big deal if he called someone over.
Despite being caught on camera RK Anand says that he did not meet Kulkarni in his car, but in a separate interview to NDTV, he again contradicts this saying, what was wrong with that.
Among Anand's many allegations the charge
that this expose is being used to blackmail him and that NDTV paid Kulkarni
a charge, we flatly deny and will contest in court.
On January 10, 1999, six people were run over, allegedly by a BMW driven by young industrialist Sanjeev Nanda.
Nanda is a Delhi businessman, son of an influential arms dealer and the grandson of former Navy chief.
Six persons, including three policemen, were killed in the incident that had occurred at Lodhi Road in the capital.
Three youths including prime accused Sanjeev Nanda, grandson of former Admiral S M Nanda, are facing trial in the case.
Others who have been chargesheeted are his friend Manik Kapur and Siddharth Gupta, who were allegedly accompanying him in his car.
Prosecution alleged that Nanda, who was at the wheel, was drunk along with his friends.
Sunil Kulkarni, who was named as an eyewitness to the accident, retracted from his statement by saying that it was not a BMW but a speeding truck that mowed down the victims.
Kulkarni is the only one so far who has not turned hostile in the case. Earlier witnesses had changed their statement to say that a truck and not a car had run over the people.
Kulkarni says he was walking on South Delhi's Lodhi Road on the fateful night when he saw a black car hit a police picket and then crash into a group of people who were sitting around a fire.
Three people came out of the car after that and one of them was Sanjeev Nanda. Then one of them said: 'Sanj lets get out of here', and they fled the scene.
Kulkarni said he could not see the driver due to blinding headlights. In the second round of questioning, he claimed that he had heard someone say 'Sanj' instead of 'Sanjeev', as he had claimed last time - an anomaly which the defence will try and exploit.
Two other witnesses, Manoj Malik and Harishankar, the petrol pump attendant who had called up the Police Control Room, have already turned hostile in the case. Malik had told the court that it was a truck, not a car, which killed the people.
In April 2007, the Delhi High Court had issued notice to the Delhi police to explain why Sunil Kulkarni, the prosecution witness in the 1999 BMW hit and run case should be brought back to Delhi from Mumbai.
© 1998-2001 Live India Internet Services! All rights reserved