| Joglekar in Bhubaneswar. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee
Bhubaneswar, Dec. 7: How many days should it take for a trial to start in a case of attempt to rape' A year, maybe two, at best five'
In Archana Joglekarís case, it took more than nine years to set the wheels of justice rolling. The former Marathi actress and now a Kathak guru today flew all the way from her New Jersey home to make her first appearance in the trial at a sessions court here, only to find the defence lawyer absent.
On the chilly night of November 30 in 1997, Joglekar had come to the city to shoot for an Oriya movie, Stree. Shooting over, Joglekar returned to her room at the Orissa Tourism Development Corporation-run Panthaniwas and placed her order for dinner. Around 10 pm, there was a knock on her door.
Joglekar, then changing her clothes, opened the door only to find accused Bhubanananda Panda, then an unemployed youth, pestering her for an autograph. When Joglekar asked him to go away and come the next day, an inebriated Panda reportedly forced himself on her and tried to molest and throttle her.
Two different FIRs of attempted rape and molestation were later lodged with the Bargarh police station in the city by Joglekar. The actress complained that even after repeated complaints, the Panthaniwas staff stood mute spectators to the whole incident.
Panda was arrested the next day and was sent to the Jharpada jail. He was released on bail after 10 months till he was again arrested recently and put behind bars in a cheque bouncing case.
The chargesheet in the case was filed on February 28, 1998. However, the case was lost in the quagmire of justice till it was transferred to the fast-track court, presided by the additional district and sessions judge, R.K. Saran, in 2005.
Outside the courtroom of Saran, an upset Joglekar, clad in a yellow salwar and a matching kurta, kept mum despite a barrage of questions from reporters. She reportedly told the judge that it was not possible for her to come to Bhubaneswar time and again for the hearing and she would be forced to demand the return airfare from the US, where she stays with her husband.