Guilty of Crime

lijoe's picture

Did the accused hear the petition? ... Yes
Did the accused understand the petition? .... Yes
Does the accused plead guilty? .... Yes...

My heart faltered, the verdict was announced. The Thodupuzha First Class Magistrate pronounced her verdict. I had been fined Rs.1500/- for rash and negligent driving. The money did not matter, it was expected. I felt empty for a moment. We believe the judiciary to be the highest place of justice and if I were under oath, I would have pleaded, “not guilty!”

But it was not to be. The judges I spoke to , the lawyers I spoke, all advised me to plead guilty. They were doing it for my benefit. If I pleaded guilty, the case is closed, the fine was all that they would charge and the chapter would close.

It was two months back that I decided that the wedding of Shameer & Abitha was too important for me to miss. After all, he was my mentee and Abitha a good friend; both were my colleagues for a really long time too. So I took off for Thodupuzha from Cochin in my Swift. As I reached a place called Vengallur, in my perception, I noticed a lady with a scooter moving outside the line of the road and slowing down. (I am always scared of Indian Women Drivers, 95% of the women I know drive with their heart in their mouths! Exceptions are there, Gemi I hope you are reading this!)

There was a petrol pump across the road and something told me she would do the obvious and cross across. I was moving close to 80kmph, way above the 60kmph speed limit on the State Highway. I moved towards the center of the road, so that I give her space to rotate her head and see me. But then the unexpected happened and she just rode across without turning her head!

I had no option but to veer to the wrong side of the road and accelerate. Lucky I did that, else I would have collided on her head on. Three fourths of my vehicle passed her and she finally banged into my tyre and crashed on to the road. People rushed and took her to the hospital. Luckily for me, the Autorickshaw drivers in the stand saw the entire incident and squarely supported me saying they saw it was her fault. Else the local people would have laid their hands on me! Yes I had been speeding, but I was more in control than I could ever be and I know it was my momentum that saved her from a possible brutal head on collision.

My tire had been punctured by her front wheel mudguard slicing the tire and so I spent time fixing it. By then my other friends who were coming for the marriage stopped by and stood with me showing solidarity and we changed the punctured tire. I then left the vehicle at the spot and went to the police station to register the complaint. They came with me, marked the accident spot and then allowed me to take my car. After which I went to the hospital, found out she had escaped with minor bruises and swellings. But since her head had hit the road, I offered to pay for her CT Scan and they accepted gladly and said we were settling the entire case because it was her fault and they thanked me for my good will. I went with her son to the Police Station and the FIR was withdrawn saying there was no case....

A month passed and a Policeman came to my home, with a warrant to confiscate my car and arrest me on the basis of a accident case. At that moment I felt the seething rage. How blindly did I trust the honesty in people and how easily money corrupted it....

As I stood two hours in the Accused enclosure waiting for the judge to take up my case and judge me, I felt sad that people can be like this. If I contested the case, it would mean I would need to appear atleast 5-6 times spending money, effort and time for the same. Traveling one and half hours each way is not a fun thing. So I acceded to the suggestions of the lawyers and accepted the verdict of being guilty....

As the day ended and I returned, I pondered, what wrong have I done to be condemned guilty in the eyes of the Law, what other alternative did I have? I hope I am never tested again like this....

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Hi Darin, Thanks for sharing

Hi Darin,

Thanks for sharing your experience too, it does leave a bitter taste in my mouth at the end of the day, but you described it precisely, it feels so gray... and guess it feels so bitter since its the first time..

Hi Lijoe, Having been down

Hi Lijoe,

Having been down this road before, but on a different issue, I understand your feeling. There is a strong desire to stand up and say you are not guilty when you aren't, and when your advisers suggest that you take the least costly/easy road to settle the case, your first thought is "that would not be the truth".

It took me some time but I came to grips with it myself by understanding that usually right and wrong isn't a black and white issue, but more a matter of gray.

All the best

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