SC accepts R K Anand apology, imposes Rs 21 lakh fine for influencing witness

The Supreme Court on Wednesday adopted a considerate view and ruled that lawyer R K Anand need not go to jail for contempt of court. He was convicted of influencing a witness in the 1999 BMW hit-and-run case.

While dismissing Anand's plea to set aside his conviction in the case, a bench led by Justice G S Singhvi disposed of the matter after accepting his unconditional apology and offer to exclusively give free legal aid to the poor for one year.

He has also been directed to pay Rs 21 lakh to the Bar Council of India within one week. "The Bar Council shall give the money to a law college attended mostly by children from the underprivileged and deprived sections of the society," the bench said.

The court was of the opinion that the offence committed by Anand was "odious", since it struck the roots of the administration of criminal justice. "We reaffirm the observations and findings made in the earlier judgment. Further, we do not have the slightest doubt that normally the punishment for the criminal contempt of the nature committed by the contemnor should be a term of imprisonment," the bench said. It had decided to take a lenient view due to Anand's old age and the poor health of his bed-ridden wife.

The court also took note of the facts that Anand had been facing proceedings for five years and further that the trial in the BMW hit-and-run case has concluded in the Supreme Court, upholding the conviction of Sanjeev Nanda.

"We feel that no useful purpose will be served by sending the contemnor to jail. On the contrary, by keeping him out and making him do the things that he has undertaken to do would serve a useful social purpose," the bench noted.

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