No One Killed Jessica (NOKJ) is quite a good film that opened internationally last month on January 7th. As the story begins it is 1999. An aspiring model actress, Jessica Lal, is working as a bartender/waitress at a private party in one of Delhi’s most fashionable and trendy clubs. She is shot at point-blank range for refusing to serve a customer a drink after the bar had closed.
There were multiple eye witnesses to the shooting. The victim died in the ambulance en-route to the hospital. The shooter was the son of a MLA or a Member of the Legislative Assembly which is akin to our House of Representatives.
The police begin to collect evidence, and soon enough they have their man. They are also bribed to not beat a confession out of him.
Only the Delhi courts have an extreme backlog. By the time the trial begins, six years later, the ballistic evidence has been tampered with, the eye witnesses have been intimidated or bought off or both. The rest of the 300 folks who attended the party, who might have seen the gunmen leaving the club, all swore they weren’t sure, or that they hadn’t seen anything, or that they had already left the club at that time, or were in the bathrooms.
In short, the entire case went down the tubes. Insufficient evidence. Case dismissed. The shooter walked out of the courtroom a free man. The Delhi newspapers and the Indian national media outlets screamed their outrage in huge headlines: No One Killed Jessica!
The two main characters of this film, were the victim’s sister Sabrina played by Vidya Balan, and a tough-minded TV news anchor, Meera Gaity, played by Rani Mukherjee.
Not only was Sabrina dismayed at the result, but her mother passed away shortly after the trial concluded, and her father then suffered a stroke. The rest of the country was shocked and outraged at the miscarriage of justice.
But India may have been used to such things as police on the take, corrupt politicians, influence peddling, and the intimidation of judges, prosecutors, and witnesses.
Enter Meera Gaity, who had originally stated years back that she had no interest in doing a story on this case, because it was so open and shut. Everyone knew he was guilty. He’d be convicted, and that would be that.
Only he wasn’t convicted. He got away with the crime.