The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of advocate R K Anand for contempt of court by attempting to influence controversial witness Sunil Kulkarni in the infamous BMW hit-and-run case.
In its judgment, the apex court also indicated the possibility of enhancing Anand's sentence.
A three-judge bench of Justices B N Agrawal, G S Singhvi and Aftab Alam, however, set aside the conviction of Special Public Prosecutor I U Khan, who was also debarred by the Delhi High Court from practising for four months along with Anand.
Referring to the criticism about the sting operation carried out by a news channel, the apex court noted that it was not a typical case of trial by the media but rather a sting undertaken in public interest.
While acquitting Khan, the apex court observed that his conduct as special public prosecutor in the case was not appropriate. Khan and Anand were convicted by the Delhi High Court last year for trying to influence Kulkarni, and the scandal was exposed through the sting operation by the TV channel.
The two senior advocates were convicted for obstructing administration of justice and, as a punishment, barred from appearing in the high court and other subordinate courts for four months and fined Rs 2,000 each. They were also stripped off their designation of senior advocate by the court.
Reacting to the court's verdict, S K Aggarwal, counsel for Khan, said, "Justice has been done as far as my case is concerned, we should respect the judgment. It is a good judgment and we are happy about it."
Aggarwal had contended that Khan's case stood on a different footing during the arguments in the case before the apex court. Both Anand and Khan were shown in the sting as colluding to influence Kulkarni in the BMW hit-and-run case in the sting operation on May 30, 2007.
A day later, the high court had taken suo motu cognisance of the sting operation showing Anand, in collusion with Khan, allegedly offering money to Kulkarni to depose in favour of Sanjeev Nanda, the prime accused in the hit-and-run case.
Nanda, the grandson of retired Naval chief S M Nanda, was recently sentenced to two years prison term by the Delhi High Court for mowing down six persons, including three policemen, on January 10, 1999. He was earlier handed down five years imprisonment by a trial court in the case.
Noted apex court lawyer K T S Tulsi has hailed the judgment against Anand. "The truth has ultimately triumphed," he said.
"This judgment should have come a long time back. I am glad that finally the role of lawyer is being specified and the responsibilities that go along with our noble profession," Tulsi told rediff.com.
With additional inputs from PTI