Trap, Not Tempt, a Criminal
This has to be the horror story of the year. American justice gone Wild West. And a sensible appellate court to the rescue.
 
Readers will recall an article in Moneylife, titled “Is Trapping and Entrapment the Same?”. Trapping is right and entrapment completely wrong. A sequence in the Jack Palance film, The Horseman, set in Afghanistan, explains the sin of enticing a person to do wrong. It calls for punishment for the enticer. 
 
Three strikes and you are out
In baseball, if the striker fails to connect with the ball three times he is declared out. “Three strikes ‘n’ you’re out”. That thinking has crept into some American states’ judicial rules, when dealing with habitual offenders. Third conviction and he or she is sent away for life. Locked up and the keys thrown away!
 
New Orleans, Louisiana. A man walks past a jeep, window down. He sees a laptop on the seat and two currency notes. They totalled US$15, about Rs1,000. The man picks them up, leaves the laptop behind. The man had three previous convictions. He had walked into a trap.
 
The money was planted by the cops. They were waiting for, what is now called, ‘the catch of the day’. The man was arrested. He was convicted for what, even in India, may not amount to much. The prosecuting advocate reminded the crime court of the three-strike rule. The judge concurred. The man was given a life sentence. For US$15. It would now cost the state 10 times as much, every day, to keep him in prison; for his lifetime! Justice gone haywire?
 
In appeal, usually a court of equity, the judge saw the light. His Supreme Court had noted the harshness of the three-strikes law but, reluctant to interfere with the legislature, had called for a bit of sanity. The matter was remanded to the trial court indicating the street theft ‘shockingly minor in nature’, the amount ‘extraordinary in its triviality’ and the life sentence an ‘unconscionable’ punishment that ‘shocks our sense of justice’. It called for a sentence that was ‘not unconstitutionally excessive’.
 
There is a conundrum in this. Was the first judge guilty of excess? When the law insists on the harshest punishment, the judge’s hands are tied. It then calls for great courage, and a very reasoned judgement, to nullify what is an unintellectual statute. Few judges want to rock the boat, lest their advancement be impeded. Prosecuting attorneys will try for the severest sentences to boost their careers. It’s a tug-of-war.
 
The question that must agitate any mind is the one of entrapment. We have discussed these issues before. In this case, should the police lay such a blatant trap, just to entice any passer-by who wants to help himself to a few dollars, to prove their effectiveness? For this answer, we revisit an Indian court and the moral courage that a magistrate showed at Umbergam, south Gujarat.
 
Umbergam lies on Maharashtra’s northern border. It has industrial estates to lure then Bombay’s entrepreneurs. With the businessmen came the workers. They would travel by a slow train that would stop at platform No. 3, to allow the following fast train to breeze through on line one. To catch connecting buses, passengers would cross lines two and one, exposing themselves to danger.
 
To curb this, a policeman would round up a dozen or so people every day as they clambered on to platform No. 1 and march them to the local court to be fined.
 
One of them, a lawyer, admitting his guilt, asked the magistrate if the cop were not failing in his duty by not preventing the dangerous crossing, rather than allowing it, just to get his daily quota of fines. The magistrate agreed, returned the fines and reprimanded the policeman. Brave decision. Three cheers. Cops, who hide behind walls to nab errant motorists, encourage, not prevent a misdemeanour.
  • Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

    User

    Uber to Pay $20 Million for Allegedly Misleading Drivers in US
    In early 2015, Uber posted job listings on 17 Craigslist websites across the US advertising that Uber drivers in the area made anywhere between $15 and $29 per hour. But, according to the FTC, none of the job listings advertised reflected what the majority of Uber drivers actually earned for an hourly rate. In cities such as Boston and Philadelphia, where a $25 per hour rate was touted, less than 10 percent of Uber drivers actually made that much.
     
    Fast forward two years and Uber has agreed to pay $20 million to settle FTC allegations that it lured prospective drivers with exaggerated earnings claims. The claims included a published statement on the company website from Uber’s CEO in 2014 that overstated median annual income earnings by more than $20,000. The statement and purported annual earnings of $90,000 in New York and $74,000 in San Francisco circulated widely in the media even though in reality the actual median income in N.Y. for drivers was $61,000, and $53,000 in San Francisco.
     
    The FTC also took issue with the advertising of Uber’s Vehicle Solutions Program. Despite claims that it would provide drivers with the “best financing options available” regardless of credit history, the FTC found that drivers “in many instances received worse interest rates than industry averages.” Further, the agency alleged that Uber misled prospective drivers on the weekly costs associated with owning or leasing a car through the financing program, touting that it would cost $119 a week when the median level was really between $160-$200. The company also advertised “unlimited mileage” leases that actually imposed limits.
     
    The settlement prohibits Uber from misrepresenting drivers’ earnings and its vehicle financing program. The $20 million will go toward refunds for drivers.
     
    Find more of our coverage on Uber here.
     
  • Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

    User

    COMMENTS

    Gopalakrishnan T V

    3 years ago

    Excellent way of punishing the wrong doers. Uber and Ola are here not to serve public and make money ethically. Their objective is to loot the public by attracting them with some incentives and trapping them as and when the opportunity comes. I was a victim of both Uber and Ola and they cannot be taken for granted either for reasonable rates for their cab services or for personal safety or valuables of their customers. Technology is very handy for them to dupe customers in different ways. Those who make huge money or easy money by not paying taxes or through some illegal means can afford to have these services and they are comfortable with them. Those who make money honestly or through hard work definitely cannot afford their services. They are there to take a ride literally and they do not seem to be amenable to the laws of the land.

    Avinash Murkute

    3 years ago

    Hope the predictions come true. But to my practical experience, builders are using gimmicks to misrepresent cost reduction. For example one builder in Pune reduced prices from 3000 to 2444 and finally agreed to INR 2300 psft but the calculation of area was wicked. Loading calculated was 40% and that too in a reverse manner. Thus carpet and saleable area has to be understood by the buyers. Whereas State allows 12% loading standard practice is 30% in the market. To beat the price bleeding, builders have reduced the height of the flat. If carpet area speaks of length and breadth, the standard height of 10 Ft has been reduced to 9.75-9.5-9.25 and in some cases 9 also and this is done according to market trend says the builders. When asked about to record the height in agreement, they the builders kept their head down. Hope CREDAI is listening. Last but not the least 90% of builders in Pune are cheating customers by extorting service tax at the rate 0f 4.5% even if the sale value is less than 50 Lakhs. So, if the buyer is purchasing flat worth 20-25 Lakhs, builders here make a mullah of 20-30 thousands as the actual service tax rate is just 3.75% as per 75% abatement calculations. Sucheta Jee - I request you to take a look at my experiences and especially ST manipulations. I can mail you many price lists of so called top builders who are member of so called CREDITABLE CREDAI.

    Banks Need To Give Notice on Loan Recovery
    Most of us have to deal with banks on a regular basis and, with emphasis on making India cashless, dealings with banks are bound to grow exponentially. Customers have no choice but to bank on their bankers! However, not all experiences of consumers are positive; at the same time, sometimes, consumers fail to discharge their duty vis-à-vis the bank. 
     
    In one case of a consumer...
    Premium Content
    Monthly Digital Access

    Subscribe

    Already A Subscriber?
    Login
    Yearly Digital Access

    Subscribe

    Moneylife Magazine Subscriber or MAS member?
    Login

    Yearly Subscriber Login

    Enter the mail id that you want to use & click on Go. We will send you a link to your email for verficiation
  • We are listening!

    Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
      Loading...
    Close

    To continue


    Please
    Sign Up or Sign In
    with

    Email
    Close

    To continue


    Please
    Sign Up or Sign In
    with

    Email

    BUY NOW

    online financial advisory
    Pathbreakers
    Pathbreakers 1 & Pathbreakers 2 contain deep insights, unknown facts and captivating events in the life of 51 top achievers, in their own words.
    online financia advisory
    The Scam
    24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
    Moneylife Online Magazine
    Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
    financial magazines online
    Stockletters in 3 Flavours
    Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
    financial magazines in india
    MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
    (Includes Moneylife Online Magazine)
    FREE: Your Complete Family Record Book
    Keep all the Personal and Financial Details of You & Your Family. In One Place So That Its Easy for Anyone to Find Anytime
    We promise not to share your email id with anyone