Former Delhi High Court Bar Association President, Rajiv Khosla has been spared of imprisonment, despite being convicted of aggravated assault. The Court levied a meagre fine, while being mobbed by unruly lawyers in the courtroom, writes UJJAINI CHATTERJEE.
THE Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM), Central District, Tis Hazari Court, Delhi, Gajender Nagar, on Tuesday, sentenced the former Delhi High Court Bar Association president, Rajiv Khosla to pay a token fine of INR 20,000 under Section 323 and INR 20,000 under Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for assaulting a woman lawyer in 1994. Half of this fine must be paid to the State and half to the complainant, Sujata Kohli, the CMM directed.
Under Section 323 of IPC, which deals with punishment for voluntarily causing hurt, a convict shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.
Under Section 506 of IPC, which deals with punishment for criminal intimidation, the convict shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both. If threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, etc., the term of imprisonment may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.
The hearing on Tuesday, where the concluding arguments were presented by both the parties, was interrupted several times by supporters of Khosla. Khosla stated that the proceedings in the case were delayed for many years because of the complainant. He also claimed that he has never stopped the complainant from appearing before the Court.
Kohli responded by recalling the manner in which she was locked at the gate of the courtroom and barred from joining the court’s proceedings during the trial. This, she said, was a way of intimidation and threat that was used by the convict. She alleged that the convict always comes to the Court with a crowd of unruly lawyers to obstruct all hearings. Kohli further alleged that the convict has used social media to use unparliamentary ways of attacking the Court. The convict has been utterly contemptuous without any regard for the Court, Kohli alleged.
The convict has been released after due admonition, keeping in mind his old age of 65 years and the fact that he has not been convicted in any other case, even though he has another pending case against him.
At this point, Kohli’s arguments were interrupted as chaos persisted in the Court and the judge continued to request the crowd of lawyers to behave, while asking Kohli to pause. Kohli helplessly tried to continue her arguments that were nearly inaudible in the noise caused by the mob of lawyers in the courtroom. She questioned the court’s leniency towards the convict, and the manner in which she was being asked to complete her submissions early.
Kohli insisted that the convict deserved maximum punishment and there was no scope of leniency. This was one of the most aggravated forms of the crime that she had witnessed as a lawyer and a judge, she said.
After the pronouncement of the judgement, CMM Nagar raised both his hands to the crowd and left.
The Sentencing Order
CMM Nagar recorded that the convict was being punished with a fine for simple hurt under the Indian Penal Code. The order records that the assault on a lady advocate by a member from the bar and an officer of the Court is definitely an aggravating factor. However, the convict shall be released after due admonition, keeping in mind his old age of 65 years and the fact that he has not been convicted in any other case, even though he has another pending case against him. The order also says that if the fine is not paid within a month, the convict shall be liable to undergo simple imprisonment for 30 days. The Court refused to make any comments on the allegations made by the convict against it in his written and oral submissions.
Reactions of the parties
The Leaflet reached out to Kohli, seeking her opinion on the sentencing order. She said, “The reduced punishment with a mere token fine is a mockery of my 27 years of struggle against harassment, assault, intimidation and insult. I had moved on in life but the judgement of conviction had given me a renewed hope. The judgement was a very courageous one as it came despite the threats of the maddening mobs of advocates in the Court. Yet, we lost to these very same mobs with this mockery of a sentence that ordered an admonition and a meagre fine. Clearly, the Court was under tremendous pressure. I did not expect this. I have spent sleepless nights and undergone a lot of trauma. This is very disappointing. I have no words left to say how I feel today.”
She added, “I feel disgusted with the system…but, I’m going to resume my fight. I shall not give up.”
The Leaflet also spoke to the convict, Khosla, who said, “I am badly hurt with the conviction judgement as the allegations made by the complainant were absolutely false and though the sentence order is in terms of fine and compensation but the same is conviction in the eyes of law and I don’t want to have tag of conviction in my over 40 years of professional career and I will file appeal against the same.”