The judge and the mafioso

Print edition : January 08, 2000
PRAVEEN SWAMI

The following are excerpts of the transcript of a telephonic conversation between Additional Sessions Judge J.W. Singh and mafioso Chhota Shakeel, translated from Hindi. The complete transcript now forms part of the First Information Report against J udge J.W. Singh, who remains a fugitive at the time of writing:

J.W. Singh: We have to get our money back from someone.

Shakeel: Yes, tell me, I'm listening. J.W. Singh: His name is Dara.

Shakeel: Dara - just a minute. Fahim, get that pen and diary here. Right, go on.

J.W. Singh: We have to get at least Rs.35-40 lakhs from him. The money belongs to the whole family. To my son, my in-laws.

Shakeel: OK. Do you have his telephone number and so on?

* * *

Shakeel: I was saying, the police are killing boys with families. Why don't you take action against these policemen?

J.W. Singh: We should do, definitely we ought to.

Shakeel: No, no, why don't you just do it? What is this, bhai (brother)?

J.W. Singh: Actually, I need a case to come up before me first.

Shakeel: Yes, the matter will come before you. Still, the police did that, they did whatever to that inquiry judge (reference presumably to a High Court inquiry that recently cleared police officials of charges of staging false encounters). After that, t he police have stepped up the number of encounters. The police understand nothing about the law!

J.W. Singh: It's an outrage, an injustice!

Shakeel: When people like you talk of outrages and injustices, how do you expect us to feel?

J.W. Singh: What can I do, what can I do! * * *

Shakeel: Look how it is, just the other day one of your lawyers handed over one of my men straight to (Crime Branch official Pradeep) Salaskar.

J.W. Singh: Yes, I heard a lot about it.

Shakeel: Yes! I sent that (lawyer Kishore) Sutrale away (Sutrale was murdered in the Mumbai suburb of Borivali in early 1999). But if your profession gets involved like this with the police, then whom can one trust?

J.W. Singh: Some of us are nice men.

Shakeel: Yes, there are good people. But that doesn't mean you take bad men from their families and kill them!

J.W. Singh: No, no, never, its very bad!

Shakeel: To pick up somebody in front of their parents, their sisters, and then send the dead body back home, what kind of custom is this?

J.W. Singh: It's utterly unjust.

Shakeel: Then you people deliver some justice. Find a solution. Pay some attention to this.

J.W. Singh: Yes, certainly, certainly!
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