By Hemantha Warnakulasuriya
Samad, who hails from India and studied law passed his finals in the 15th attempt, was a very lovable character. He was a great voet inner. When he passed out he became a permanent boarder at the best watering hole in Hulftsdorp, the Crown Hotel.
When he was retained, he had a very common defence. He pleaded insanity. Once he defended a notorious pick-pocket and pleaded insanity. Mr. Ellepola the Chief Magistrate who had an inherent sarcasm in him, asked Samad;
Magistrate: Mr. Samad, how is it that for the last six months you have pleaded insanity in more than 03 cases before me and this is the 4th case?
Samad was rambling and could not respond to the question asked by the Magistrate. Then Lal Perera, who was seated in the corner finding that his friend, Samad was facing tremendous odds in answering the questions to satisfy the Court, immediately got up and said, “Sir, you must not blame Samad for the insanity of his clients who retain him as they know he can defend better than all of us. It’s like birds of a feather flock together”. The whole court laughed.
Magistrate Elllepola then permitted Samad to tender his plea of insanity and asked Samad “Who told you that the accused is insane?
Samad: His wife told me Sir, he is very forgetful when he is suffering from a bout of insanity. He forgets everything.
Magistrate: Like what?
Samad: His wife told me that they had shifted to a new tenement and he had paid an advance of three months to rent out the tenement. The day they went to the tenement, he has asked the wife why he was here and wanted to go back to his old house. And the wife has said, this is the tenement you recently rented out. Then he has said, I do not remember.
Magistrate: Then what happened?
Samad: Immediately the wife has taken him to a psychiatrist and the psychiatrist has concluded that he has undergone temporary hallucination and should be treated. Then after treatment he became worse.
Magistrate: What did he do?
Samad: In the night when the wife got up she saw that the accused was in bed with her sister. The wife then took a piece of firewood and assaulted him. This man then cried and said to her, “Nanda, why are you assaulting me?” Now, Nanda is his wife’s sister. Then he turned around to his sister-in-law and said, “Sunanda, why is your sister assaulting me?” So, the wife pardoned him, and told me that he was insane and the specialist confirmed that this syndrome which afflicts mainly rich people who sometimes have no knowledge of how their wives’ are able to purchase palatial houses with his own money. But now the syndrome has become so political, it affects poor pickpockets like him.
Magistrate: How does the memory loss of your client or what you call insanity be proven in this case? There is clear evidence that he has picked the pocket of the complainant teacher.
Samad: That is the problem. When I questioned him, he did not seem to remember the incident. He said that he wanted to pay for his travel and has put his hand to his pocket trying to pay the bus fare, when the complainant had shouted that his pocket had been picked.
Magistrate: But Samad, that is evidence!
Samad: Yes sir, the evidence is so. There is no mental element as the accused in his bout of insanity, thought he was taking the money from his own pocket for the bus fare without realizing that he had put his hand into the pockets of the person in front of him.
Magistrate: You are trying to say to this Court that this person is suffering from insanity?
Samad: Yes Sir, I can call his wife to testify that every night he moves to the bed in which his sister-in-law sleeps thinking that his sister in law is his wife, and that he always wants to return to his old slum and refuses to live in this present house because he can’t remember that he had paid an advance and wanted to move into better surroundings. Then he has addressed his wife by the sister-in-law’s name, and the sister-in-law with his wife’s name, and so it goes on and on and in this case he had no intention of committing a theft. He only wanted as a good citizen to pay his bus fare and instead of removing the money from his own pocket, he had pick pocketed the complainant. Sir, what about my plea of insanity?
The magistrate turned to the accused and said, you can say it to the marines or I can use a Sinhala phrase, ‘Konde Bandapu Cheenunta kiyapan’.
Samad turned towards Lal Perera as he was not very conversant with Sinhala and asked him what the Magistrate had meant. Lal quickly turned around and told him. “You’re lucky the Magistrate has said Hair knotted Chinaman would accept your story”. Samad was still not able to infer either what the Magistrate said and asked him
Samad: What about the magistrate? What does he think about my plea?
Lal: Look at the Chief Magistrate. Is he a Chinese with his hair combed back with a knot? If the answer is no then you will have a tough time.
Magistrate: I am very sorry to say that your defence is worse than the offence. Now it has become the vogue to say, ‘I can’t remember, I can’t recall I do not know, when evidence is very glaringly one sided. I sentence your client to two years of rigorous imprisonment and as he has previous convictions, I am imposing another two years.
The writer of this interesting humour piece is no saint. The readers would remember he defended Duminda during MR’s regime. The Blogger chose the anecdote for its deep humour targeting the defender RK. Hope you would have enjoyed the read.