It has been three months since R.N. Kulkarni was murdered on Nov. 4, 2022. The Police have still not filed a chargesheet. That apart, the reason that led to the murder — illegal construction — still has not been demolished. Is this not proof that our system is broken?
R.N. Kulkarni was a former Intelligence Bureau (IB) Officer who had escaped two attempts on his life while serving this nation. Sadly, no Government official was there to pay the last respects on the day he was cremated. Oh! How callous our system has become.
The fear now for most Mysureans should be this — has the inaction by the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) and the delay in Courts emboldened the thugs in our society?
This question is important because as the real estate value in Mysuru keeps increasing and as more and more builders start construction in the city, the Bengaluru land mafia will land up in Mysuru sooner than later. This means Mysureans will need the MCC, the Police and the Courts to wield their power else we are in trouble.
Thankfully, the new City Police Commissioner Ramesh Banoth seems strong enough to wield the Police power. We saw this recently when he brought all the rowdy-sheeters to the Police Station for a roll-call, including a few powerful politicians. Such acts give the public confidence.
Yesterday, it was reported that the City Court had adjourned the hearing on the issue of vacating the stay order on the demolition of the illegal structure that led to Kulkarni’s murder. The MCC lawyer didn’t show up in the Court. Looks like this delay might continue.
Kulkarni had first filed a complaint about the illegal construction by his neighbour to the Assistant Commissioner of the MCC Zone-3 on 18.12.2021. There was no response.
Since the illegal construction continued as MCC had not taken any action, Kulkarni wrote to the MCC Commissioner on 11.2.2022. There was no response again.
The illegal construction continued. So, Kulkarni went to the City Law Courts. Nothing happened.
He then went to the High Court with the prayer that the MCC Commissioner be directed to take action as per law, on his complaint. This case was posted on 3.11.2022, but Kulkarni was killed on the evening of 4.11.2022.
Eight days after this murder, the MCC set a deadline of Nov. 12 to demolish the illegal structure. But it didn’t. Why? Because of the holidays!
On the 13th, the MCC Commissioner said, “Tomorrow (Nov. 14), the jurisdictional Revenue Officer of the MCC will personally visit the spot at Sharadadevinagar and issue an ultimatum to Madappa and his family members to remove the doors of the unauthorised portion of the building and demolish it by Tuesday.”
He added, “If Madappa fails to pay heed even to the ultimatum, then the MCC will waste no time and spring into action on Wednesday and demolish the full portion of the unauthorised structure, which is in violation of the MCC’s building bylaws.”
On the 14th, the next day, nothing happened. When asked by the media, the Development Officer of MCC Zone-3, under which jurisdiction Kulkarni’s house comes, said that the demolition as per the marking would be done either tomorrow (Nov.15) or the day after (Nov. 16).
He confidently added, “All necessary preparations have been made, including keeping ready the machineries and other equipment needed for demolition.”
It has been exactly three months since Kulkarni died and the MCC has not touched a single brick on the illegal structure! Meanwhile, Kulkarni’s wife has left the house, fearing for her life and moved into an old-age home.
Our leaders and officers have lost all sense of empathy, shame, guilt and kindness, the emotions that make us human and humane. They seem to have lost these traits, the swirl of a system that selectively follows the due process of law.
No wonder this lack of justice has allowed local rowdies and mafia to run parallel courts. Today, most cases in Mysuru, be it an accident or land dispute, are settled by the rowdy elements. The reason is that it’s quick and, to some extent, even judicious.
While we wonder about the demolition of the illegal structure, we also wonder when Kulkarni’s murderers will be brought to justice.
This delay reminds us of what former Union Minister, the late Arun Jaitley, said in 2002. He said, “if you commit a crime in India, there is 93.5 percent chance — if it is heinous — that you will get away with it.” Shocking indeed. Even more shocking is that he said this when he was the country’s Law Minister! So, will Kulkarni’s killers get out scot-free?! I do not know.
It is an old strategy. The more a case is delayed, the more chances of interference. The more interferences, the weaker the case becomes. Weaker the evidence, further the case is delayed. The further it is delayed, the further away chances of conviction.
Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) T.S. Thakur said, “As long as the judiciary exists, people have nothing to fear.” He is wrong. As long as straightforward cases like Kulkarni’s murder keep getting adjourned and chargesheet filing is delayed, we have much to fear.
Implementation of the law and justice delivery system has been stalled. But the fault is not in our laws. It is the flaw in our character.
India’s top lawyer Ram Jethmalani rightly said, “In any case, you cannot improve character by law. The legal system can play some part in improving character, but basically, you need character to run a legal system.”
Unfortunately, we have a first-rate nation, second-rate laws and third-rate character. If this continues, we will end up with an nth-rated society.
The outcome of R.N. Kulkarni’s cases, both the demolition and murder, will set the tone for what will become of Mysuru city — will it become a chaotic city like Bengaluru where the land mafia calls the shots or will it remain a decent city that has culture, a sense of heritage and a feeling of safety. Let’s hope it’s the latter.
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