With no family background in the legal profession,I chose to become a lawyer in the 1980s. I completed my Bachelors in Law after which I pursued my Masters with a specialisation in criminal law and criminology. In 1987,I started my individual private practice. Initially,I used to contest civil matters before the co-operatives court and the charity commissioner. After about three-four years,I moved to criminal cases. As my practice began to settle,I started getting the opportunity to practice outside Pune and even in the Bombay High Court. However,the number of cases coming to me from Pune started increasing and I decided to focus on them and put the brakes on those outside the city.
It was in 2000 that I became an additional public prosecutor in Pune sessions court. Initially,the sad tales of litigants would disturb me to a great extent. My appointment as district government pleader on August 30,2011,has brought me closer to the public — particularly to the witnesses,relatives of the victims,their problems and sorrows. I now enjoy representing victims or their relatives in the court of justice. The profession demands a lot of hard work in terms of researching every case,being well-versed with various acts and the Indian law. But,I make efforts to handle such cases with a calm mind. My hobbies of reading and listening to classical music help me remain calm and composed. I try to be the Iron Lady. The profession has also taught me to be an avid reader. As the DGP,my communication with colleagues and with public prosecutors in the district has increased. I believe that my prosecution machinery is really good and is making sincere efforts to nail criminals.
This is probably why one such case will stay with me forever. It was about a four-year old Nepali girl who was raped and murdered by a Nepali man,who was married and had two small children. He was convicted and the court’s inclination was to award him death penalty. But,he showed photos of his children to the court after which he was awarded life imprisonment. I was also convinced that the pain of staying away from his family for life would be an apt punishment – he would realise what the four-year-old girl’s parents were going through.
I have never faced gender discrimination in my years of work. I would not say that there is no discrimination,but,personally,I did not have to go through any. I believe that today’s women are competent,brave and bold enough to tackle any situation effectively. Some are even better than men in handling pressure. They are also sincere,honest,hard-working,have a sense of responsibility and are of great integrity.
(As told to Aaditi Jathar Lakade)