Written in Hinglish, ‘Innocent’ is an engaging courtroom drama about a man who kills his wife but pleads innocent. Despite all evidence pointing towards him, will he be acquitted in the end? Read on to find out.
“My Lord, this is an open and shut case. It is crystal clear.”
The victim’s lawyer was overjoyed when he got selected by the court to fight this case. It could become his maiden victory in his legal career. And even though the accused’s lawyer was known for never losing a case, he was over-confident that this would be his first loss. Mr. Shyam Banerjee, the prosecution’s lawyer, was making his opening statement.
“My Lord, mere kaabil dost Himalaya ki bottle ka paani peete hai isliye unhe pata nahi ki aaj ke zamane me toh paani me bhi milawat hoti hai. Aur hum toh fir bhi yahan insaano ki baat kar rahe hai.” Mr. Samar Hasan, the defense lawyer interrupted.
“My Lord, Mr. Hasan is distracting the court of law with his needless comparisons.”
The Judge gives Samar a good look.
“I’m sorry, My Lord.” After apologizing, he takes his seat. Shyam continues.
“So, My Lord, as I was saying this is an open and shut case. This man standing here has been accused of killing his wife. We also have an eye-witness, his brother. He is the one who called the police. But the interesting thing is, Ram Kumar Sharma, the accused, is denying the charges and claiming that he is innocent. He thinks that if the law is blind, the protectors of the law would also be blind. But he is wrong, My Lord. He must be given the most severe punishment there is and should rot behind the bars for the rest of his life. That’s all, My Lord.”
The Judge again gives a look to Samar. He stands up in his place and starts speaking.
“My Lord, you know that I have a record of winning every single case but you know why I win every single case? It’s because I stand with the truth. And I believe my client is telling the truth. I haven’t found the truth yet but I’m sure it’s hidden somewhere in all these lies. That’s all, My Lord.”
The Judge puts his pen down and asks Ram Kumar Sharma, “Mai aapse aakhri baar puchta hu, kya aap apna gunah qabool karte hai?”
“My Lord, maine koi gunah nahi kiya hai. I don’t even remember anything. All I can say is that I am innocent.” Ram Kumar Sharma says in tears.
“Very well then. The proceedings of this case will start after lunch. The court is adjourned.”
A handful of people sitting in the audience left. The police officials took Ram Kumar Sharma with them and locked him up. Mr. Banerjee gave a cunning smile to Samar and left. And Samar went to have his lunch.
[ A few hours earlier]
Ram woke up at 8am. As usual. He switched on his laptop and started reading the latest news. It was a part of his job to keep himself up-to-date. There was still an hour left before the Bazaar opened. He started checking his portfolio. Half an hour had passed but Jyoti, his wife, had still not woken up. She would always wake up before Ram but today something was different. As Ram was waiting for the Bazaar to open, he received an email. It was a familiar id. He opened it up and there was an audio message in it. He plugged in his earphones and started listening to it. A few minutes later, while Ram was busy listening to the audio message, his wife Jyoti came out. She had a towel on her shoulder. She stood in front of Ram. When Ram removed his earphones, she asked him, “Tum Bathroom me jaa rahe ho ya mai jaake aau?” But Ram didn’t answer. And then slowly, he looked up at Jyoti. His eyes had gone all red. His face seemed to contract. His fists were clenched. Jyoti saw this and asked, “What happened? Kya hua? Tum jaa rahe ho bathroom me ya nahi?” As she said those words, Ram’s reactions suddenly stopped. He looked at Jyoti dumbfoundedly. He wasn’t blinking. Jyoti got irritated with no response and said, “Thik hai fir. Tum baitho yahah bhoot banke, mai jaati hu bathroom me.” And she started walking into the bedroom where the bathroom was. But suddenly, someone grabbed her neck from behind. She started choking. Somehow she got out of the grip and ran inside. But Ram was very agile and he quickly grabbed Jyoti again. He threw her down on the floor and started beating her. Jyoti tried to scream and even used her hands and legs to help herself but nothing was working. Ram was like a man possessed. He started strangling Jyoti. Jyoti was choking and crying for breath. But Ram didn’t care.
And soon, Jyoti dies due to asphyxiation. But before Ram could move away from her, his brother, Rohit, saw him and realizing what his brother had done ran outside to call for help. Then he called the police.
Samar met Ram in his cell. Lawyers are allowed to meet their client before the trial begins. And since Samar needed information before the hearing to make his case, this was his chance.
“Toh batao Ram, kaise hua ye sab? Kya kya yaad hai tumhe?”
“Sir, I really don’t know. Mujhe kuch nahi pata. Mera yakeen kijiye maine kuch nahi kiya. Mai innocent hu.”
“Agar main tum par yakeen nahi karta toh yahan tumhare saamne koi aur baitha hota. Par tumhe kuch toh yaad hoga?”
“Nahi sir. Mujhe bas itna yaad hai ki mai subah apne time par uthkar apne laptop par news padh raha tha aur Bazaar ke open hone ka wait kar raha tha. Bas, uske baad sirf ye yaad hai ki police mujhe meri hi wife ke khoon ke jurm me giraftaar kar rahi thi.”
Samar processed the information, though it wasn’t a lot. But he once again asked, “Aur kuch batana ho? Dekho, agar hume prove karna hai ki you’re innocent then you will have to tell me everything there is. No secrets.”
“Sir, jo bhi yaad tha sab bata diya. Ab aur kuch yaad nahi.”
“Thik hai. Mai dekhta hu kya kar sakte hai itni information ke saath. Mostly I’ll try to request a few days from the judge so I can personally dig up more details.”
Samar left after that and soon the court was, once again, in session.
The Judge asked for the proceedings to begin. The victim’s lawyer stood up and started speaking.
“My Lord, I’d like to mention it once again that this is an open and shut case and to prove that I’d like to call the most important person in this case, the eye-witness of
the murder, the brother of the accused, Mr. Rohit Kumar Sharma.”
The Judge nods and his aid calls out for Rohit in the court. Rohit walks up to the witness box and stands in it. Then he takes the oath to speak truth and nothing but the truth. Then Shyam Banerjee starts his line of questions.
“Mr. Rohit, please state your full name for the record.” “Rohit Kumar Sharma. Brother of Ram Kumar Sharma.”
“Okay. Ab court ko yeh bataiye ki aapne kya dekha. Pure details to me.”
Rohit takes a deep breath and describes what he had seen.
Then the lawyer spoke, “My Lord, I don’t think you need to hear anything else, so that’s all.”
The Judge, then, asks Mr. Samar if he’d like to cross-examine the witness.
“Yes, My Lord.” He starts his cross-examination.
“So Mr. Rohit, ye bataye ki aap apne bhai ke ghar kya karne gaye he?”
“Sir mai toh roj hi jaata hu. 9 baje bazaar khulta hai, toh mai aur bhaiya 8 baje se hi apna kaam shuru kar dete hai aur fir 10 baje saath me hi office jaate hai.”
“Toh aap roj 8 baje apne bhai ke ghar pahuch jaate ho?” “Ji, Sir.”
“Aur aaj bhi aap 8 baje hi pahuche the?”
Rohit tries to remember the time and says, “Pakka toh yaad nahi par ha 8, 8:30 ko pahuch gaya tha.”
“Mr. Rohit, 8 ya 8:30?”
Rohit starts sweating a little. He pressures himself to remember the exact time. “8:30 ke aas pass.”
Samar walks back to his desk, his assistant gives him a document.
“My Lord, according to the police, unhe Mr. Rohit ka call 8:45 ko aaya. Toh ye kehna galat nahi hoga ki Mr. Rohit 8:40 ke pehle vahah nahi pahuche the.” He then hands a copy of the document to the clerk who hands it over to the judge.
“Toh Mr. Rohit, ab ye bataye ki aap aaj itna late kyu pahuche? Koi khass vajah?”
Rohit sweats a little more. He tries to make something up. “Vo….vo kya hai na aaj thoda late uth gaya tha, isliye.”
“Fair enough. Mere saath toh ye aksar hota hai.” Then Samar moves away from the witness box and looks at Ram.
“Mr. Ram, kya aap ye bata sakte hai ki aaj tak aisa kitni baar hua hai ki appke bhai, Mr. Rohit, aapke ghar deri se aaye ho?”
Ram was quick to answer. “Never, sir.”
“Are, take some time to think, Mr. Ram. Maybe you don’t remember.”
“No sir, I’m sure about this. Actually, I’m very strict about the time and I don’t like people coming late to work. He knows that and that’s why vo aaj tak kabhi late nahi aaya.”
“That’s all, my lord.” Samar takes his seat. Rohit is also excused from the witness box.
“My Lord, my friend here is just trying to distract the court by asking unnecessary questions. Let me save all of us some time and end this case once and for all. I’d like to ask a few questions to the accused, Mr. Ram.” The Judge gives his permission and the lawyers begin to ask his questions.
“Mr. Ram, let’s start with some very simple questions. Tell us, did you love your wife?”
“Did you keep her happy?”
“I believe so.”
“Did she keep you happy?”
At that moment, Samar objected. “My Lord, now who’s asking unnecessary questions? He is trying to intimidate my client.”
Shyam answered back, “My Lord, just give me a few moments. I’m getting to the actual question but these are equally important.”
The Judge said, “Make it quick.”
Shyam nodded and continued.
“So, did she keep you happy?”
“Yes, she did.”
“Then why were you having an affair with your assistant from the office, what’s her name, yeah, Rita Shah?”
That revelation spurred a lot of shocking reactions from the audiences as well as the judge. But the most shocking reaction came from Samar. Even he didn’t know that his client was having an affair. Ram started sweating. He tried to escape the eyes of his lawyer.
Shyam knew that this was a big moment towards winning the case. He didn’t waste any second and leapt on it.
“Mr. Ram, please tell us, were you or were you not having an affair with your assistant?”
Ram somehow managed to look up and said, “Yes, I was.” Even the judge’s eyes had popped up and he was writing all this down.
But Shyam didn’t stop at that. He kept going. “And did your wife know about this?”
Ram was looking down.
“Yes, she did.”
“Who told her?”
“Were you planning to leave your wife?”
“And did she know this?”
“And how often did you two fight because of this?” “Very often.”
It was like a rapid fire round. Shyam kept on asking the questions and all the answers were in his favour too.
Samar was very pissed that he didn’t know the most important piece of information about the case. He was pressing his forehead with his right hand, trying to think how to salvage this.
But Shyam was planning to put the last nail in the coffin.
“My Lord, I’m done with my questions. But I’d like to sum up the case so you can make the decision right away. We know that the accused was having an affair, his wife knew, the accused was also planning to leave her wife and this had complicated the relations between them. I think, My Lord, that since the accused was going to leave his wife and his wife was not going to make it easy for him, he decided to finish her off. It also had one more benefit for him. He wouldn’t have to share any property with his wife if she’s already dead. It was a win-win situation for the accused but to his misfortune, his brother reached there just at the right moment and witnessed the murder. Now, I urge the honourable court to punish the accused as severely as you can. That’s all, my lord.”
However small the audience was, they all clapped for the prosecutor. The case is done now. Shyam Banerjee was all set to win his first ever case. And his happiness had doubled up as he was going to be the reason for Samar’s first ever loss in his career. The Judge, as mandatory, asked the defense lawyer if he’d like to make any closing statements.
Samar Hasan nodded and stood up. He looked at his client, then he went up to him, he told him to look into his eyes and asked him one last time if he was guilty. But, Ram looked straight into his eyes and said he was innocent. Samar stepped back.
“My Lord, I know it all seems very clear that my client is guilty. But I’d like to request the honourable court to wait at least for a day before reaching any verdict. It’s only been a few hours since the murder. Let the police do some investigation or at least wait for the autopsy to confirm the result. And even if after that, there are no new developments in the case, then you can pass your judgement. Please, My Lord, I request a little bit of time.”
The Judge took a good look at the accused, thought a little and then spoke.
“Okay. Since the autopsy is yet to come, I can allow some time for the defense.”
Shyam Banerjee tried to object to the decision of the judge but he was shut down.
“Mr. Banerjee, I’ve made my decision. The court will resume its session after tomorrow’s lunch. The court is adjourned for the day.”
Everyone started emptying the court. Ram was taken away by the officials. Samar didn’t talk to him. Shyam was a little disappointed that he didn’t win the case on the very first day. While walking out of the court he told Samar, “Koi nahi, Samar. Kal mai meethai leke aaunga. To sweeten your loss a little.” He smirked and went away. Samar went into his chamber.
Samar was sitting in his chamber, legs on the desk, looking at the ceiling and thinking of a way to save his client. His assistant, Madhav said, “Sir, may I say something?”
“I think….maybe…that our client is guilty.” The assistant was scared of the response his boss would give.
Samar didn’t flinch for a few seconds. Then he looked straight at him and said, “ Never, I repeat, never ever say that again.”
Madhav nodded and apologised profusely. But he managed to ask one question, “Then sir, who do you think did it?”
Samar gave it a little thought. He had a name in his mind.
“Rohit Kumar Sharma. Maybe he is not the killer but he is definitely involved in this. But how to prove that? I guess there’s only one way really to do that. Call Sanjay Pandey and tell him I want to meet with my client. I am leaving. Make sure I don’t face any problem in meeting him.”
The assistant nods and Samar picks up his coat and leaves.
Samar enters the cell in which his client is being kept. He sits on a table provided by the officials. Samar looks straight at Ram but he is not even able to look up. He is ashamed of himself that he hid the most crucial information from his lawyer. He apologised and kept saying sorry. But Samar was very straight forward.
“I don’t want your sorry. It’s of no use to me. What I want you to do is tell me the whole story and this time no lies and no secrets. This is your last chance. Tell me from the beginning. How you met your wife, what was the situation, how it came down to this and everything else. And think very carefully because I am in no mood to hear any lies. You can start now.”
Ram drank a glass of water from a clay pot kept in his cell. Then he took a deep breath and started telling the whole story.
Ram and Jyoti had met in their second year of college and they had instantly hit it off. They fell in love with each other. It wasn’t some young love or temporary one. They really loved each other. And they were very passionate about it. The whole college knew their relationship. They were often called to the principal’s office for behaving inappropriately within the college premises. But they kept on doing it. And soon after college, they got married and bought the house. Jyoti became a house-wife as Ram was earning more than enough for the two of them. The starting year, they were very happy and had loads of adventures. They had promised each other that no matter what happens, their love would never fade away. They will always be together and never betray each other. Jyoti was very passionate about Ram. There were few instances in college where she yelled at some of Ram’s female friends for being too close to him. Ram would enjoy this. But after a few years of marriage, Ram started getting irritated by Jyoti’s possessive behaviour. She would doubt Ram every time she saw him talking and laughing with other women. And soon, they started fighting. This was the time when Ram started spending a lot of time in the office and thus got closer to his assistant. She was young, more beautiful and better understanding than Jyoti. And it was only a matter of time before they started sleeping together. Ram realised that what he was doing would remain wrong as long as he hid it from Jyoti. So he came clean to her. Jyoti was very furious for a few days. They did not talk. But then Jyoti started behaving too sweetly. She tried everything to please Ram. But nothing worked. And then eventually, Ram told her he wanted a divorce. Jyoti didn’t agree to it. Jyoti stopped talking to Ram. She thought this would blow over with time. But it didn’t.
And then yesterday, it happened.
Samar listened carefully and digested the truck-load of information. Then he asked,
“Do you think your wife was also having an affair…..with your brother?”
Ram got shocked at that question and quickly rejected that idea.
“No, what are you even saying! It’s not possible, not at all.”
Samar thought it was better to leave this topic at this point.
“So, nothing else then? Do one thing: walk me through the events of yesterday. From the moment you woke up.”
“Okay. So, I woke up at 8, as I always do. Rohit hadn’t arrived yet. It was unusual. But there was one more unusual thing. Jyoti would always wake up either before me or with me. But yesterday, she woke up very late. Almost half an hour after I did.”
“Maybe she just needed some sleep. Like your brother.”
“So, I was on my laptop when she woke up and came up to me. She said something. I don’t remember clearly. I don’t know. From that point, I can’t seem to recall anything.”
“What were you doing on your laptop?”
“Uhh, as always, I was reading the latest news and…..yes, checking my portfolio and clients’. And…..something else happened too. I can’t remember.”
“Ram, think hard. It could be important. Please think hard.”
“Uhh…yeah, I think I have received a message. Um…..yeah, I remember. It was an email. Actually, it was from someone familiar. So I opened it. There was an audio message in it. I don’t remember what it was, but I was listening to it when Jyoti came up to me and said something. Yeah, that’s it. I don’t remember anything else.”
“An audio message? Okay. That could be important. I’ll have to check your laptop. Give me the password.”
Samar remembers the password Ram told him. Then, without wasting any moment, he left. Outside, he asked Sanjay Pandey if the police had seized Ram’s laptop as evidence. But Sanjay said,
“Ab evidence ki kya jarurat jab crime karne wala hi aapke samne khada ho. Aur waise bhi, usne apne haathon ka istemaal kiya tha apni wife ko maarne ke liye. Toh laptop kyu leke aate.”
“Toh laptop abhi bhi uske ghar pe hai.”
“Aapne crime scene ko tape toh kiya tha na? Koi contaminate na karde isliye?”
“Kya Samar? Tujhe kya lagta hai ye Inspector ki post paise dekar mili hai? Hum police ko apna kaam karna aata hai. Sirf crime scene ko tape hi nahi balki do hawaldar bhi khade kiye hai vahah. Jab tak case khatam nahi hota tab tak kisi ko entry nahi. Par tum us laptop ke baare me kyu puch rahe ho? Kuch chupa hai kya usme?”
“Ha. Ek kaam karo tum bhi mere saath chalo. Agar evidence mila toh use seize tumhe hi karna padega na.”
“Thik hai. Chalo.”
Samar reaches Ram’s house with Sanjay. The two constables sitting outside the house salute Sanjay. They enter the house and look for the laptop. The laptop was sitting still on a desk in the verandah. Ram had left it open but the police had closed it. Samar went and sat in front of it. He was going to touch it when Sanjay stopped him.
“Agar is laptop me evidence hai toh shayad ispar fingerprints bhi honge. Ye gloves pehen lo. Evidence contaminate nahi hoga.”
“Good Thinking Sanjay.” Samar wears the glove and then switches on the laptop. He puts in the password as revealed by Ram.
He looked at the screen. Then his eyes travelled to the taskbar at the bottom. Several apps were open. He checked chrome and found that Ram was telling the truth. He really was reading the news and checking his portfolio. Then he clicked on the gmail tab. After loading, it opened. The home page of gmail showed a message. And in bold letters it was written “From Rita Shah.” Samar curiously opened the message. Inside was an audio recording attached to it. Sanjay was also seeing all of this. Samar decided to play the recording. But in an instant he paused it.
Sanjay was confused and asked, “Are kya hua, chalne do. Shayad koi saboot mil jaaye.”
Samar replied, “Nahi. Ram ne kaha tha ki usko ek message aaya, usne ek audio suna aur uske baad ka use kuch yaad nahi. Toh ye baat pakki hai ki ye audio bahut bada evidence hai par ise aise direct sunna sahi nahi hoga. Nahi, hum ise nahi sun sakte.”
“Toh Samar, fir pata kaise chalega ki iske andar kya hai?”
“Mere pass idea hai. Chaliye aapke Cyber Cell ke office. Vahah batata hu.”
Sanjay was still confused but thought to be patient for a while. He started his car and they both left.
When they reached the Official Cyber Cell of the local police station, Sanjay asked what they were doing here but Samar didn’t respond. His eyes were scouting already. As soon as he found the person he was looking for, he rushed to her.
Manika Kinnari was listening to music at a very high volume and doing some work on her computer which Samar definitely didn’t understand. Samar snapped his finger in front of her face to get her attention.
“Ohhooo, look who’s here. Don’t you think these visits are becoming too frequent? People might start thinking that something’s going on between us.”
She gave a slight laugh at the end of that sentence. But when she saw Sanjay Pandey standing behind Samar, it quickly disappeared and she stood up.
“Look, there’s an audio clip in this laptop and we want you to transcript it. Can you do that?”
“But why can’t you just listen to it?” Manika asked casually.
“Vo tumhe batane ki jarurat nahi. Tumse jitna kaha jaaye wo karo.” Sanjay now stood beside Samar. His voice had an authoritative tone to it. Samar gave the laptop to Manika and she quickly got on with it.
After she printed out the transcript, she put it inside an envelope and gave it to Samar. They closed the laptop and left. After they had gone, Manika took out a second copy from the printer. She wanted to know what was in it.
After getting into the jeep, Samar opened up the envelope. After reading the whole page, his eyes became bigger. He then passed it to Sanjay.
“Iska kya matlab hai?” Sanjay didn’t really understand what it all meant.
Samar took a few seconds to understand it himself. He was mentally putting the pieces together. This was the centrepiece of the puzzle. He then explained to Sanjay what the document meant and what the recording was for.
After understanding it, Sanjay said, “Toh ab bas yeh Rita Shah ko pakad le, fir tumhara case solve ho jaayega.”
Samar already knew who Rita Shah was. “Aur is tak hume Ram hi leke jaayega.”
They didn’t waste any second and left for the station. Took the address from Ram and without telling him anything, left. Outside the station, Sanjay said to Samar, “Tum hamare saath nahi aa sakta. Yeh hamara kaam hai. Aur waise bhi, tumhe apne chamber jaa kar apni jeet ki tayari karni chahiye.”
Samar realised Sanjay was right. Samar had met Sanjay the first time he fought a case. And they have been good friends since then. In all the cases that Sanjay came across where the suspect pleaded not guilty, he would call Samar to fight the case. And if Samar really believed that the suspect was innocent, he’d not only fight but also win it. Samar left for his chamber.
The next day, the court resumed its session after lunch.
The prosecutor didn’t waste a second and started right away.
“My Lord, I hope you are ready to make a decision now.”
The Judge had just taken his seat. He gave a stern look to the prosecution and said, “I will take a decision only when I have seen all the evidence and heard all the arguments. And I think I am very capable of deciding when that would be. You may be seated till then.”
Shyam Banerjee apologised and got back into his seat.
The Judge went through some documents kept in front of him. He shuffled through some more documents. After
reading one, he looked at the Case In-charge Inspector Sanjay Pandey. Sanjay nodded. The Judge began,
“Mr. Hasan, I believe there have been some developments in the case.”
Before Samar could even stand up and speak, Shyam got up quickly and asked, “What developments, My Lord? Why wasn’t I made aware of those developments?”
Samar answered his question.
“Mr. Banerjee, you have been made aware of the developments. The police officials have given the latest documents to your assistant sitting right next to you. Maybe he forgot to tell you.”
Shyam looked angrily at his assistant, who suddenly remembered that he had forgotten to show the files from yesterday. He quickly found them and handed them to his boss. Shyam sat down and started going through them. Samar continued.
“Yes, My Lord, you’re right. There have been some very critical developments since yesterday. But before I talk about them, I want to conduct a small experiment. I assure you, My Lord, that it’s harmless and it’s very necessary to understand these new developments.”
Shyam was still reading the documents. The Judge gave the permission but said to make it quick.
Samar then called his assistant Madhav and made him sit on a chair kept in the middle of the court. Then Samar gave him earphones which he plugged into his phone. He then played something in it and gave the mobile to Madhav. The earphones were on full volume and Madhav could not hear anything else. Shyam tried to object that this was a waste of time and Samar was just delaying the proceedings and even the judge said that it looked like a waste of time, but Samar requested for a few more minutes.
After Madhav had listened to the recording for at least twice, Samar stopped it. He took the earphones out. Then he told him, “Madhav, jaao, bathroom jaakar aao.”
And at that moment, Madhav got very angry and he caught Samar by the neck. His hands were on his neck, trying to choke him. The scene caused a lot of disturbance in the courtroom. Sanjay and his men quickly ran to Samar’s rescue. They pulled Madhav back. But Madhav was constantly trying to get to Samar. After taking some air, Samar said to Madhav, “Thik hai bhai. Bathroom nahi jaana tha toh seedhe bol deta, gale padne ki kya jarurat thi.”
And at that statement, Madhav immediately calmed down.
When he saw that the police were holding him, he got very confused. He looked at Samar and asked,
“Sir,….kya hua? Ye log ne mujhe kyu pakda hua hai?”
Madhav looked very tense. But Samar told him to relax and requested Sanjay to order his men to take Madhav to his chamber and let him rest. Sanjay’s men then took Madhav away.
After sipping some water, Samar felt better. But the judge was very angry.
“Mr. Samar, ye sab kya hai? This is not allowed in my courtroom, do you get that? What if something had happened to you? What if someone else had gotten hurt? This is not acceptable.”
“I’m deeply sorry, My Lord. But it was necessary to prove my point.”
“Still, I can’t let such things go unpunished. For creating disturbance in the court and putting the people of the court in danger, the court hereby fines Mr. Samar Hasan, 10,000 rupees. He shall pay the fine by the end of the day.”
Samar accepted it without any objections.
“My Lord, can I now go ahead and explain why I did this and what I’m trying to prove here?”
“My Lord, what you just saw was a small representation of the effects of ‘Hypnosis’. Allow me to explain how this works in relation to this case. While my client was working on his laptop, he received an email with an audio message attached to it. He listens to the audio message because it’s from a familiar person. And it has the same effects it just had on my assistant, Madhav. The content of that audio is present in the document given to you. I believe Mr. Banerjee has one too. As you can see, it’s clearly mentioned that he was hypnotised by the voice in the audio to murder his wife. And, My Lord, if you will notice, there’s a word that is repeated again and again. It’s called a trigger word. As soon as that word is spoken by someone, the hypnotised person starts behaving as instructed. And that word in the document is ‘Bathroom’. A very common word spoken in the morning. Very clever. And now, I’d request Inspector Sanjay Pandey to bring the person who sent this email to my client.”
The Judge gives his permission and Rita Shah is brought into the courtroom by two female police officials. She is ordered to stand in the witness box.
“My Lord, I’d like the permission to ask Rita Shah, a possible suspect, some questions.”
The Judge gave his permission to Samar.
“Ms. Rita Shah, please court ko bataye ki aapne ye email kyu bheja aur aap kyu Mrs. Jyoti Kumar Sharma ko maarna chahti thi.”
But the answer shocked everyone. Especially Samar Hasan.
“Judge Sahab, maine koi email nahi bheja aur nahi mai kisi ko maarna chahti hu. Mujhe toh pata bhi nahi tha ki Ram sir ki wife ka murder ho gaya hai. Jab police mere ghar aayi tab mujhe pata chala. Judge Sahab, mai sach keh rahi hu maine koi email nahi bheja. Mai innocent hu, Judge Sahab.”
The audience in the courtroom had doubled up since yesterday. The murmurs grew louder.
“Order, Order. Please be silent. Mr. Samar, what is this? She is saying that she is not guilty.”
The prosecutor jumped on this opportunity to dis-credit the defence argument even more.
“My Lord, Mr. Samar is trying to distract the court. He is creating confusion and buying himself some time. This shall not be tolerated in your courtroom, My Lord.”
“No My Lord, not at all. She’s definitely lying, my lord. Wait. Here is the copy of the email that my client had received.”
The Judge and the prosecutor both take one more look at their respective copies.
“As you can clearly see, my lord, that in bold letters, it’s written ‘From Rita Shah’. What does that mean? That this email was sent by her. She is lying, my lord.”
“No I am not. I’m not lying. I’m innocent.”
There was already a lot of confusion and Shyam added more to it.
“My Lord, if you will, please notice that the email id is made up of a fictional character’s name. Then it could also mean that Mr. Ram, the accused, created a fake id and sent the email to himself and wrote in bold letters Ms. Rita Shah’s name to frame and save himself.”
At that statement, Rita quickly said, “No, Ram would never do that to me. He would never frame me or even hurt me.”
Ram followed her. “Yes my lord, I did not create any fake id and send the email to myself. And Mr. Samar, you are wrong. Rita would never do this. This is a mistake. Someone is trying to frame her.”
Everyone was speaking after one another and on top of it, the audience was adding to chaos by constantly murmuring.
Mr. Samar was trying to understand what his client was saying. Mr. Shyam was trying to understand what Rita was saying. But the Judge was getting irritated. He could not understand even a single thing. Everyone was speaking a different language. Nobody seems to know the truth. Not the prosecution and not even the defense. He got up from his chair and with all his might, banged his gavel to bring order to the courtroom.
“ORDER, ORDER. ORDER, ORDER. Everyone be silent.”
“My Lord, I told you the defense..”
“I said BE SILENT. Everyone will take their seat.”
Everyone goes back to their seats. The Judge takes his seat too and drinks some water. The chaos had attracted a lot of attention and a lot of people started coming into the courtroom to see what was going on. The courtroom was crowding. The Judge ordered us to close the doors of the courtroom and not let anyone inside for a while.
After few moments of pin-drop silence, the Judge spoke,
“This case is now not as clear as water, as it was in the start. Things have gotten more complicated. First there was only one accused and now there are two. And both of them are saying they are innocent. There is only one evidence and that is the eye-witness. But I cannot say that it is enough to make any decision in this case. So, I am giving 24 hours of time to the police to investigate this case thoroughly and gather all the evidence they can. I urge both the lawyers to go through all the details once again and see if they missed anything that could help solve this puzzle. And if there are no new improvements in the case by the end of these 24 hours, then the court will reach its final verdict in day after tomorrow’s morning session. The court is adjourned for the day.”
And like that everybody left. But it could be seen clearly on everyone’s face that they were more than eager to come back again and see the results of this interesting case.
Samar was sitting in his chair, trying to process what had happened. Before leaving, Shyam walked up to him and said,
“Only if you had accepted your defeat on the very first day, we all would have been free by now.”
Samar could clearly see how upset Shyam was. But, Samar was even more disappointed than him. He thought he had solved the puzzle but there was still one more missing piece left.
Samar went straight to his home afterwards. He just didn’t know what to do. He needed to take a short break and come back with a fresh perspective. He didn’t return to his
chamber that day. The next morning, he asked Madhav to meet him in his chamber. Madhav was feeling better than yesterday. Samar was sitting in his chair, looking up, lost in his thoughts. Madhav entered and sat opposite him.
“Did you read the minutes of yesterday’s proceedings?” “Ha sir, I did.”
“Toh, kya lagta hai? Kaun jhut bol raha hai aur kaun sach?”
“Sir, you have never been wrong till date in reading people. Aapko already pata hai ki Ram sach bol raha hai. Aur Rita ko aapne kal dekha tha, toh mujhse behtar aapko pata hoga ki vo sach keh rahi hai ya jhut?”
“I don’t think she’s lying. Uske chehre se lag nahi raha tha. Lekin, agar dono sach bol rahe hai toh jhut kaun bol raha hai?”
Samar was very calm right now. He knew panic wouldn’t help him, so he needed to relax and let the solution come to him.
“Sir, appko Ram ke bhai pe doubt tha na? Uska kya hua?”
“Ha, mujhe doubt to hai, par humare pass koi evidence bhi toh nahi hai prove karne ke liye.”
Samar felt silent for a while.
Madhav didn’t know what to do, so he started shuffling through the minutes of yesterday’s proceedings. He saw something that he had highlighted when he first read it.
“Sir, what about the email id?”
“Kaunsa email id?”
“Sir, vahi jise Ram ko mail aaya tha.”
“Lekin usme kisika naam toh hai hi nahi.”
“Ha sir, par hum search kar sakte hai email id ki madat se.”
Samar suddenly realised something. Madhav was right. They could do that. He immediately called Manika. She was still sleeping.
“Can you find details of a person with the help of their email id?”
“What?…” Manika was still half asleep.
“Please wake up. I really need your help.”
“Okay, okay. Wait. Yeah, tell me.”
“Can you find details of a person even if they have used a fake email id?”
“Uhhh…it depends really. Share the mail id and I’ll see what I can do.”
Samar Whatsapp the information. He eagerly waits for Manika to send something useful that can help him put an end to this case.
After a few minutes, Samar gets very impatient. He dials Manika but she doesn’t pick up. He starts walking up and down. Madhav tries to calm him down but fails. Finally, Manika calls him.
“Have some patience for god’s sake. You’re not paying me.”
“I’m sorry, okay. But please tell me that you found the details.”
“Yeah, I did. It wasn’t easy though. I had to use a lot of different sites and softwares to figure it out.”
Samar rejoiced when he heard this good news. “Thank You so much. I owe you a big time.”
“Of Course you do.”
“Okay, now send me the details.”
“I’ve already mailed you.”
Manika didn’t reply and hung up on him.
Samar didn’t waste any time and opened his mail. At the top was the latest mail from Manika. He opened it and read the message.
“What the f….? Ye…ye kaise ho sakta hai?”
“Kya hua sir? Kisne bheja tha ye email? Kiska naam hai?” “Jyoti Kumar Sharma!”
Samar was baffled after knowing this information. He couldn’t wrap his head around how this was possible? A theory started to form in his mind. He shared it with his assistant.
“Maybe Jyoti wanted to frame Ram for her own murder. She didn’t want Ram to leave her so maybe she wanted revenge. And she wrote Rita’s name and used a fake email, so that we would think it was Rita who sent that email.”
“Yes sir. You are right. Matlab Ram aur Rita, dono innocent hai. Aur murderer actually Jyoti khud hai. Kya baat hai sir. Is baar bhi aap sahi nikle. Aur hum faltu mai hi Ram ke bhai pe shaq kar rahe the.”
The smile left Samar’s face as soon as he heard Madhav say that. Something clicked in his mind. He had missed something. Something very important.
“Wait.” And suddenly he opened his mobile and started to find something. Madhva tried to ask what was going on but he didn’t get any reply. So Madhav went to the opposite side and looked at what Samar was doing. Samar was going through his emails. And when he confirmed what he was thinking, he banged on the desk.
“Sir, kya hua?” Madhav was eager to know what had piqued Samar’s interest so much.
“Ye jo email fake id se Ram ko aaya tha, ye vo email nahi hai jo Ram ne open kiya aur vo audio suna.” Madhav looked at him dumbfoundedly.
“Sir, aap kya bol rahe ho? Kuch samajh nahi aa raha.”
So Samar showed him. He sent an email from Madhav’s mobile to himself.
“Dekh. Jab naya email aata hai toh vo homepage pe aise bright dikhta hai. But jaise hi hum us email ko open karke read karte hai, homepage pe us email ka brightness chala jaata hai. Aur mujhe abhi yaad aaya ki jab maine Ram ke laptop me ye fake email id se bheja hua email dekha toh vo bright tha. Matlab ye ki vo email Ram ne open hi nahi kiya tha.”
Madhav understood now what Ram was indicating.
“Toh sir, aapka ye keh rahe ho ki Ram ne jo email open kiya aur vo audio suna, vo koi aur email tha.”
“Ha Madhav aur vo email kisine delete kar diya.” “Par kisne sir? Ram ne?”
“Nahi. Ye nahi Ram ne kiya hai aur nahi Jyoti ne. Mujhe pata hai ye kisne kiya hai. Bas as kisi tarah ye deleted email recover ho jaaye toh case solved.”
“Sir fir aap phone kijiye na apne friend ko. Unko pata hoga kaise karte hai yeh.”
“Yeah right.” Samar dials Manika. After a few long rings, Manika picks up.
“What the hell Samar? At least let me sleep in peace. Now I really should start charging for every time you ask me for help.”
“Are, it’s just a small thing. And don’t worry, I’ll pay you okay. Now just tell me, can you recover a deleted email?”
“No, you can’t.”
“What? C’mon yaar. There has to be some way.”
“It can’t be recovered because it doesn’t need to be. Look, when you delete an email, it goes into the trash and it remains in the trash for the next 30 days. So technically, it’s not really deleted.”
That made Samar very happy.
“Ohh thank you so much. And I owe you one more. And I’ll definitely pay you.”
“Just let me sleep.”
Manika hangs up.
Samar shared the amazing news with Madhav. They both rejoiced. Now Samar had found all the pieces to solve this puzzle. But he still needs to do one more thing. Samar tells Madhav to start preparing for tomorrow and assemble all the information they have gathered till now. He had to go see a guy.
Samar reached the police station and met with Sanjay Pandey. He told Sanjay about all the new developments that had come to light. He even checked the laptop and found the deleted message to confirm his theory. But Samar told Sanjay that he needs to do something for him. When Samar told him what it was, Sanjay straight away refused. It was against the law and they had no motive or any evidence to do that. But Samar successfully convinced Sanjay that it was necessary to do this and he will take the responsibility for everything in the court. So Sanjay reluctantly agreed.
24 hours had passed. The court was in session again in the morning, hopefully for the last time. The courtroom was over-crowded today. So many people had taken a keen interest in the case and everyone wanted to be present when the judge passed his verdict.
The Judge entered, everyone stood up and then they all took their seat after the judge had taken his seat.
The Judge gave his permission for the proceeding to begin.
But before Samar could even stand up, Shyam Banerjee quickly started blaming Samar.
“My Lord, Mr. Samar, along with Inspector Sanjay Pandey, arrested Mr. Rohit, Mr. Ram’s brother and the key-witness in the case. My Lord, I know for a fact that they definitely tried to coerce Mr. Rohit into changing his statement so that Mr. Samar can win this case. My Lord, the police had no evidence, not even a slight doubt against Mr. Rohit and still they took him into custody. My Lord, this is foul play and Mr. Samar should be severely punished for it. And you must not waste any more seconds in delivering the verdict. Thank You, My Lord.”
Shyam Banerjee took his seat, confident that now his win was guaranteed. Samar had dug up his own grave. And Shyam had just pushed him into it.
“Mr. Samar and Mr. Sanjay, is this true?”
Before Sanjay could say anything in his defense, Samar spoke.
“My Lord, yes, it is true but Mr. Sanjay is not to be blamed for this. I literally forced him into doing this. But not without a good reason, My Lord. And we did not coerce Mr. Rohit into anything. We have the official recording of it that I will present to the court in a few minutes. And you will know after I finish, that what we did needed to be done. Again, I take the full responsibility of everything.”
“Hmm. Okay, if you can prove that this was a necessary step then it’s alright. But if I’m not convinced, you and Mr. Sanjay could very well lose your jobs.”
“No worries, My Lord. It won’t come to that. Because we have solved the case. My Lord, we know who the real killer is.”
The claim spurred a lot of murmurings in the room and even the judge’s interest was piqued.
“Order, Order. Please maintain silence or I’ll have to remove everyone. Yes, Mr. Samar, please tell the court who you think the killer is. At least someone knows it.”
“Yes, My Lord. So the killer of Mrs. Jyoti Kumar Sharma’s murder is….Mrs. Jyoti Kumar Sharma herself.”
People went bananas when they heard this. They were all shocked and baffled. Moreover, the judge and the prosecutor were taken aback with this statement.
“My Lord, I think the defense lawyer has a great sense of humour but he is displaying it in the wrong place. He should be a comedian and not a lawyer.”
People laughed at that remark.
“Mr. Samar, what are you saying? How can the victim be the killer? It doesn’t even make sense. Are you sure you are in your right mind? Is your health fine?”
Everybody thought it was sarcasm but the judge was genuinely concerned.
“My Lord, I’m perfectly fine. I know it sounds very weird but it’s the truth, my lord. And I can prove it.”
“Of course you have to prove it or you will be nothing more than a laughing stock at the end of this case.”
Samar looked at his assistant and he was ready with the document. He hands one copy to the judge and one to Shyam.
“My Lord, my very capable friend pointed out in the last session that the email from which the hypnotic audio was sent, was fake and thus could be anyone’s. Even my client’s. But it isn’t. My prosecutor friend will tell you whose email it is. Mr. Shyam Banerjee, please tell the court the name of the person whose email it is.”
Shyam stood up and was completely shocked when he read that the name was none other than Jyoti’s. As he read it out loud, the whole courtroom emerged into whispers.
“Yes my lord, the fake email id was created by Mrs. Jyoti Kumar Sharma. And this is the first thing that indicates that Jyoti was the one who sent that email with the intention to get herself killed by her husband. But my lord, this wasn’t the email that my client, Mr. Ram saw and heard the audio and thus killed his wife under the influence.”
“What do you mean, Mr. Samar?”
Samar again hands over one more document each to the judge and the prosecutor.
“My Lord, the document that you are seeing shows a deleted message in the trashbox of my client’s mail account. And Mr. Shyam, if you haven’t noticed yet, then please do because the email id from which the deleted email was sent was again Jyoti’s.”
“My Lord, how does this make sense? Why would Jyoti send two emails from two different ids to her husband?” Shyam was desperately trying to point out anything that could raise doubts on the evidence.
“Have some patience my friend. I am not going anywhere without finishing this case. My Lord, my client and the victim were very passionate lovers. At Least in their youth. They had promised each other that they would never betray one another and would stay together forever. But when my client turned out to be unfaithful and started having an affair, it deeply hurt Mrs. Jyoti Sharma. She tried to win back her husband but my client had already decided to leave his wife. Naturally, it wasn’t taken well by her and she became very upset. She even refused to give divorce to my client when he proposed it. Knowing that she had lost her husband and there was no way to get him back, Jyoti decided to teach her husband a lesson and make him suffer the pain she was suffering. She devised a plan. That morning she intentionally woke up late and waited for Ram to start working on his laptop and when he did, she sent him an email from her personal mail id. My client saw the message and since the id was her wife’s he didn’t think twice before opening it. When he saw that an audio message was attached, his curiosity got piqued and he quickly plugged in his earphone and started listening to it. As my client was getting hypnotized by listening to the audio on loop, Jyoti thought it was the right moment to wake up and go out to him. She stood in front of him and when he removed his earphones, she said the trigger word ‘Bathroom’. And this set off the instructions my client was given while listening to the audio. And thus, he ended up killing his wife. ”
Samar took a deep breath and drank some water after speaking so long. People were muttering things to each other. The Judge was evaluating what he had just written
down and Shyam was trying to find at least one loophole to Samar’s theory.
“My Lord, I have some questions. Even if we do believe the defense lawyer’s neatly weaved story, what’s the explanation behind the second email? And who deleted the first email? Can the defense lawyer answer these questions?”
“Even if you hadn’t asked, I’d have explained it. So, My Lord, this is where Mr. Rohit comes in. Jyoti knew that she needed an accomplice who can cover for her after she is gone. And she chose the right person. Rohit’s role in the plan was to delete the email and send another email from the fake id Jyoti had created. And most importantly, become an eye-witness to the murder. So, that morning, Rohit intentionally reached late to Ram’s house. He was already there when Ram was choking his wife to death. Behind his back, he deleted the first email and sent the second one. And then waited for Ram to finish the job so he can say the trigger word ‘Bathroom’ again and end the effect of hypnosis. After that, he called the police. And before my friend asks for the proof to back my story, I’d like to present in the court Mr. Rohit’s confession.”
The Judge gave permission and the video was played on the projector for the whole courtroom to see. After the video ended,
“My Lord, I had a doubt on Mr. Rohit from the very start but I had no proof. So to confirm my doubt, Mr. Sanjay and I came up with a plan. Mr. Sanjay brought him into custody and we showed him a fake letter. As you just saw. We lied that it was written by Mrs. Jyoti and in the letter, she was blaming Rohit for everything. That it was he who gave that idea to Jyoti and he practically forced her to do it. So that after his brother goes to jail, he can take over the office and all his property. And as you witnessed, he confessed that it was actually Jyoti’s plan and he only helped her out of his own selfish reasons.”
The Judge then asked the inspector to bring Mr. Rohit into the courtroom. After he stood in the witness box and took the oath, the judge asked him if the confession was the truth. He admitted that it was and apologised for his behaviour. He even apologised to his brother. Then he was
taken out of the witness box but was still in the courtroom as the judge was yet to pass his sentence.
The Judge, understanding that now they had reached the end of this case, asked both the lawyers to present their closing statements. Shyam went first.
“My Lord, I know I have lost the case. I can longer prove that the accused intentionally murdered his wife. But, my lord, even though he did not do it intentionally, the court cannot ignore the fact that it was still him who did it. And my lord, what was the reason behind all this? Infidelity. If only Mr. Ram had been faithful and had not betrayed the trust and love of his wife, she would never have taken such an extreme step. The case should also be seen as Mrs. Jyoti’s way to get justice for herself. She was hurt. Mr. Ram hurt her. And what would have happened if she hadn’t done that? Mr. Ram would have divorced her and led a happy life himself. Who would have been left to suffer? Mrs. Jyoti. I admit that Mr. Ram was under the influence of hypnosis when he killed his wife, but my lord, don’t we punish people who commit crimes under the influence of alcohol and drugs? If those acts are criminally offensive then why not this? The rest is up to you, My Lord. I rest my case now.”
It was a really good closing statement made by the prosecution. Even Samar himself was a little shocked to see that Shyam had this in himself. Few people from the audience clapped too. And it was clearly visible that the judge was impressed too. Now it was Samar’s turn to make the closing statement. Samar gulped down a glass of water and stood up to close the case.
“My Lord, I must appreciate the impressive closing statement made by the prosecution. He is right. But, so am I. I admit that if my client had not had an affair and had not broken the trust of his wife, this would never have happened. But adultery is not a crime in India. Moreover, our law does not work on ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, rather it works on ‘what is’. And the reality is this : the real victim in this case is my client. He may have unknowingly killed his wife but it does not hide the fact that he took a human’s life. And not just any human but his own wife. He may have stopped loving her but he did love her once. And no one in this courtroom, neither me, you or the prosecution, can really understand what it means to kill the person you once loved so dearly. His wife is dead, but my client is alive and he has to live with it. We know that he did not do it intentionally and even the media will inform the country of the same but people will still see him as a criminal. A man who killed his own wife out of the love for his lover. My Lord, the real victim is my client because even if the court finds him innocent today, his life is already ruined. Who will want to work with a criminal? Who will want to sell their property to a criminal? Who will want to be seen with a criminal? Who will want any kind of relationship with a criminal? Except a few, no one would! And, my lord, the court cannot, at any cost, ignore the fact that my client did not just lose his wife but he also lost his only brother. And because of whom? We all know the answer to that. Finally, I would like to conclude by saying it isn’t my client who is the real killer, not even Mr. Rohit, it’s Mrs. Jyoti Kumar Sharma. The reason she mentioned Ms. Rita Shah’s name in the second email was to frame her. She knew that there was a possibility that the court might find him innocent, and if it did, the only way to still take her revenge was to devoid my client of his lover by framing her. His lover would suffer in jail and my client would suffer outside, in society and probably never find love again. And no matter what punishment the court will seem fit for my client, he has already suffered a lot. Thank You my lord and I, too, rest my case!”
Samar’s closing statement was even longer than Shyam’s and very moving too. The courtroom erupted in applause at the end. Shyam also knew that he had hit a home run. Now, it was all up to the judge to decide what the result of this case would be.
The Judge took a few minutes to write down his thoughts. After what felt like an eternity of wait, the judge finally spoke.
“Order, Order. I have to acknowledge that the closing statements made by both the lawyers were equally promising. The case seemed very straightforward, as said by the prosecution. But, Mr. Samar’s search for the truth led to many developments in the case. It became very complex. And it’s tough to make a decision especially in such cases where the truth is not so black and white. And it’s very difficult to not let your moral beliefs ‘influence’ your decision. I know for a fact that whatever decision I take today will receive equal support and outrage. After hearing all the arguments and examining all the evidence, the court has decided that Mr. Ram was under the influence of hypnosis while committing the crime and did not commit the crime intentionally. Hence, the court finds the accused innocent of all the charges. However, there were certain elements caused by the accused that led to the crime and thus, the court ordered him to do one year of community service. Just to learn some moral ethics. Also, the court finds Ms. Rita Shah innocent and orders the police to let her go. As for Mr. Rohit, even though he did not have a direct hand in the crime, he had the chance to avoid the crime from happening which he failed to do as he was overcome by greed. So, the court finds him guilty of being an accomplice in the crime and hence, announces 4 years of imprisonment. And finally, the court will leave Mr. Samar and Mr. Sanjay with a warning for acting without the permission of law. One more such complaint will result in severe punishment. The case is closed.”
The Judge bangs the gavel for the last time and leaves.
Rohit is taken away by the police. Ram is freed by the police. Rita is freed by the police. Ram expresses his gratitude towards Samar and goes on to meet Rita. Shyam packs up his things and begins to leave. Samar stops him and says,
“Are ruk yaar, itni kya jaldi hai? Tune toh last time kaha ki tu sweets leke aayega. Apni jeet ki khushi me.”
Shyam’s assistant blurts out that he has brought the sweets as a matter of fact. Samar asks him to remove it and hand it to him.
“Ye le, teri jeet nahi sahi par meri jeet ki khushi me khaa le.”
Chagan has a knack for writing and being occasionally creative. He possesses a sense of humour which is, at times, very dark and disturbing yet sometimes hilarious. He believes he can survive only in a creative environment and thus wants to work either as a content writer or a copywriter.