27 Aug 2023  |   06:41am IST

The wounds of accidents may fade over time, but the wounds of injustice to the weak NEVER heal

The police and prosecutors are supposed to be lighthouses of care. Instead, they are acting as ‘friends’ of the power couple in the killer Merc
The wounds of accidents may fade over time, but the wounds of injustice to the weak NEVER heal

The statement of the Sessions Court in Ponda that Meghana Sawardekar, the owner of the high-end Mercedes that killed (yes killed) three people and severely impacted the future lives of the three who somehow survived, would have sent shivers down the spines of the families of the victims.

During the arguments for the grant of anticipatory bail, neither the public prosecutor nor the Mardol Police submitted their say. This means the police acted as helpers to ensure that the police 

didn’t arrest her.

The court therefore had no option but to grant bail, since there was “no material evidence” produced by the initial investigating agency or the prosecution, which would have helped to secure a rejection of their anticipatory bail application.

The police support for those in the Mercedes, and not for those who were killed by the Mercedes, is too painful

The open support for the accused, when three people have died and at least one of the three injured may not walk for a very long time, is painfully evident, based on the words of the judge hearing the anticipatory bail application. “The respondents (the Goa Police), in spite of being given the opportunity and even after seeking time on August 16, 2023 to file their say, “DID NOT BOTHER TO REMAIN PRESENT FOR  THE HEARING”.  These are the words of the Court, not of any opposition or critic. The judiciary is aware that the bail was given not due to the merit of the application, but by the deliberate neglect of the police and the prosecution.

Is the police and prosecuting arm of the State at the service of the powerful?

Is there any scope or debate over the answer after what the Court has said? And this has only confirmed what most in Goa, who have had to deal with the system and the law know. The powerful have many friends in high places including the bosses of the Mardol Police.

But then where does this leave the poor and the victimised? Where does it leave the family of Vanita Bhandari, just 21, who will be confined to her bed for at least eight months to allow her fractures to heal? She will miss her second year of B Com. Her mother, a single parent, working at the Ponda Sub-District Hospital, has been forced to stop working and look after her daughter full time.

What answer will the system give to the hitherto perfectly healthy Shankar Halarnkar, who came on the path of the rich and is completely bedridden by the accident he needs a person looking after him all the time?

What answers will the system give to the families of Suresh and Bhavana Phadte and Anup Karmakar?  That the death of their loved ones is only a temporary “disturbance” in the lives of the rich and powerful? Is this what we are all about? Is this the Goa we once knew?

Can those in uniform look at their children and families and tell their conscience that they are doing right for the victims of a tragedy caused by those who can afford to drive such cars and not bother about multiple cases of rash driving and traffic violations?

Is it all about protecting the accused and ensuring the system works for them?

What impact will the negligence of the police and prosecution to even file their say (a strong reply with evidence or arguments) have on the families of those who died? Has this even been considered? Or is it all about protecting the powerful accused and ensuring that the system works for them?

If the Mardol PI and Deputy SP Ponda wanted…

... They would file a clear say stating why Meghana Sawardekar should not get anticipatory bail.

This would have allowed a detailed argument in court with greater chances of anticipatory bail being denied allowing for the interrogation of the second occupant in the Mercedes that killed three.

It took the High Court to ask the accused to deposit Rs 2 crore. This order didn’t come from the government

The government may have thought about giving compensation to the families of the dead and injured. But no decision in that regard was announced. While the accused Paresh Sawardekar was in custody, his wife went to the High Court to quash even a summons issued for questioning. Now, why would her lawyers even advise her to ask the Court to intervene and stop the police from doing its work? But ironically it appears that the police too have no problem with that.

But the humane High Court did what an elected leader should have done naturally- ask the accused to pay up, asking the accused to first deposit Rs 2 crore to be used largely for the compensation of victims.

The wounds of an accident may fade in some years, but the wounds of neglect and injustice never heal

Those elected are supposed to be guardians. They are supposed to be lighthouses of care. When they don’t do that and spread darkness and not light, the wounds of injustice meted out to people without fancy cars and the means to manipulate the system, never heal.


Iddhar Udhar