For many, Tada judge’s verdict has proved that delay doesn’t mean a denial of justice
MUMBAI: Fourteen years, 12 death sentences, 20 life terms, and many more convictions later one hero has emerged — judge PD Kode.
When the Tada judge brought down the curtains on one of Asia’s longest running trials on Tuesday, many felt he had disproved the maxim — ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’. After 12 years of hearing the 1993 blasts case, Kode’s verdict seeks to be a harsh deterrent against terrorist acts.
But his has not been an easy job. Even senior lawyer Majeed Memon, who represented several blasts convicts, acknowledges this. “During the trial, Kode did not falter so as to be a subject of controversy or criticism. This is no mean job,” says Memon. “The mental turmoil and heavy workload would have left any single judge shattered. But he has fulfiled his judicial obligation in a dignified and successful manner.”
While nursing a fractured shoulder, Kode sentenced 12 key conspirators to death and 20 others to life imprisonment from among the 100 convicted in the case. But it was the six-year jail term for Sanjay Dutt, undisputedly the most high-profile figure in the case, that reinforced the public’s faith that all are equal before law.
The trial almost consumed the man behind the judge though. On July 24, when Kode sentenced the three Mahim bombers to death, it was his father’s death anniversary. But the judge presided over the court proceedings just as he had done when his father died in 2000. In fact, the two-week break when he fractured his shoulder on June 24 was the first time he took leave.
Shrouded in Z-plus security, he is bound to his New Marine Lines home except when he goes to court and his annual Shirdi pilgrimage.
Now, the judge probably has to worry about nitty-gritties like whether to number the paragraphs in his final judgment. But the real test will be whether his judgment passes the SC’s scrutiny.