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TV channel exposes attempts to buy witness in high-profile trial


New Delhi : In a sensational turn to a dragging trial for murder involving a hit-and-run BMW car driven by a rich and influential businessman, a television news channel Wednesday broadcast an expose that purported to show the shocking collusion between the prosecution and defence attorneys who seek to bribe the sole surviving witness to change his testimony.

The expose, which NDTV said it did through a hidden camera in conjunction with the sole prosecution witness Sunil Kulkarni, was in possession of the channel for two months before it decided to air it a day before a crucial hearing of the case, that has attracted nationwide attention, in the Delhi High Court.

The expose began with prosecution counsel I.U Khan informing Kulkarni that he has been dropped as a prosecution witness in the case, in which accused Sanjeev Nanda allegedly mowed down six people on Lodhi Road in central Delhi in the wee hours of Jan 10, 1999.

Khan directs him to meet defence counsel R.K. Anand, whom he calls 'bada saheb' (big boss), a former MP who represents Nanda, grandson of former Indian Navy chief, Admiral S.M. Nanda and son of an arms dealer.

The channel shows Kulkarni approaching Anand on Khan's instruction and asking him if he should demand Rs.25 million (Rs.2.5 crores) from the Nandas for retracting his proposed statements to the court, indicting Sanjeev Nanda as the erring BMW driver.

To Kulkarni's query, a trifle irritated Anand asks him to demand Rs.50 Million (Rs.5 crores) instead and also to meet him some time later.

Discounting the authenticity of the visual footage caught on hidden camera and aired by channel, Anand said that "everything was fabricated."

Asked by the channel as to why did he talk about money, Anand said: "He merely joked about it" and said that Kulkarni was a blackmailer.

In response to another query, Anand said he even told the high court during arguments in the case that Kulkarni was a blackmailer.

Kulkarni is eventually shown meeting Anand later in his car, where Anand pleads to him that it was after all an accident and not a murder and young Nanda had already spent around nine months in the jail.

Nanda had been released after the other six witnesses to the incident, except Kulkarni, turned hostile and retracted their statements.

Kulkarni later told NDTV that he was then directed by Anand to meet one Sikh gentleman named Lovely. Kulkarni then meets Lovely, with whom he is seen bargaining for his price to turn hostile in the court, and Lovely promises him that he would try to fix his deal with the Nandas for Rs.20 million (Rs.2 crores).

Talking about the entire episode, Congress spokesperson and noted lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, "The entire thing is quite depressing and requires a thorough investigation."

Union Minister Kapil Sibal, a noted criminal lawyer himself, admitted there was collusion between defence and prosecution counsel in derailing many criminal cases.

Anand had unsuccessfully contested the 2004 Lok Sabha election from South Delhi.