The courtroom was packed to capacity; there was pin-drop silence.
Many had gathered in the courtroom as they were eager to listen to the
proceedings of the case, which was unprecedented in the history of the
country’s court cases.
Alex Pajera was swallowed in the whirlpool of thought. His mind
wandered to the time, when he had visited Riban Restaurant in the
morning with his son. After a breakfast of butter buns, cakes and
plantains, he was sipping Koolko when suddenly a decayed insect,
seemingly a cockroach, entered his mouth. At once he spat out the
insect, paid the bill and wended his way to the nearest police station,
where he lodged an entry.
He was shaken from his reverie when the case was called up. He got up
from the public gallery and went forward. His lawyer led the evidence.
“You’re the plaintiff in this case?”
“Did you visit Riban Restaurant on 5.4.2001?”
“What did you have?”
“Butter buns, cakes, plantains and Koolko drinks.”
“With whom did you go?”
“With my son.”
“Then what happened?”
“We both were drinking Koolko in separate bottles. Suddenly, I felt
something going into my mouth.”
“It was a decayed insect, seemed like a cockroach.”
“Did you inform the restaurant?”
“Did you pay the bill?”
“I paid the bill and also for the two bottles of Koolko, and left the
“Then where did you go?”
“I lodged an entry at the police station.”
“Did you get a certified copy of the police entry?”
The prosecuting counsel submitted the certified copy of the police
entry to be a marked document.
“Then what happened?”
“I submitted the two bottles of Koolko to the Food and Drugs
Department also with the certified copy of the police entry.”
“Why did you submit there?”
“For the Food and Drugs Department to submit the two specimen Koolko
bottles to the Medical Research Laboratory for a certified report.”
“Did you get that report?”
“The Food and Drugs Department sent me a copy of the report.”
The prosecuting counsel submitted the copy of the report to be marked
On the next trial date the defence counsel cross-examined the
“You said that you visited Riban Restaurant on 5.4.2001?”
“What day was it?”
“It was Monday.”
“Have you visited Riban Restaurant before?”
“How many times?”
“Is it seven times, eight times or nine times?”
“I didn’t count the number of times.”
“Are there some restaurants near Riban Restaurant?”
“Are there several boutiques in that area?”
“How many shops?”
The prosecuting counsel stood. “Your Honour, I object to that
question; my learned friend is asking an unnecessary question.”
“The defence counsel’s cross examination should be relevant to the
point,” remarked the judge.
The defence counsel wiped his forehead, cast a glance at the
prosecuting counsel and resumed his cross examination.
“Is it true that you came across a cockroach in your Koolko bottle?”
“Are you sure it’s a cockroach?”
“It’s a decayed insect, it could be a cockroach or anything else.”
“Did you inform the restaurant manager that there was a decayed insect
in your Koolko bottle?”
“I put it to you that you introduced a dead insect into the bottle.”
“I deny that.”
“Then why didn’t you bring this to the notice of the restaurant
“If I did so the matter would have ended there.”
“So you went to the restaurant to drink only Koolko?”
“No, no, I had my breakfast there with my son.”
“How old is your son?”
“Do you go there for breakfast every day with your son?”
“Then why did you go with your son on 5.4.2001?
The prosecuting counsel stood up. “Your Honour, I object to that
“Your Honour,” said the defence counsel, “the little son could have
playfully killed a cockroach and introduced it into the bottle.”
“It’s a decayed insect,” remarked the prosecuting counsel.
“How do you know it’s a decayed insect?”, thundered the defence counsel.
“We will prove that at the appropriate time.”
The court adjourned. When the court resumed after a week, the defence
counsel led his evidence.
The defendant entered the witness box. “What’s your name?”
“You’re the defendant in this case?”
“Are you the owner of Riban Restaurant?”
“How long are you in this restaurant business?”
“For the past twenty years.”
“During this period have you faced a problem like this?”
“In this the first time?”
“Are there other shops selling Koolko?”
“There are many.”
“Do you think this is planned to discredit your business?”
“Definitely, I think so.”
“So, do you say that the plaintiff could have brought a cockroach and
introduced it to the bottle in your restaurant?”
“Your Honour, a receipt from Riban Restaurant will not prove that the
bottle of Koolko from that restaurant contained the decayed insect.
“The prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the said
bottle was purchased from Riban Restaurant, because there are other
shops selling Koolko. Furthermore, the prosecution has to prove that the
plaintiff was present in the restaurant on 5.4.2001. Otherwise the
benefit of doubt should be given to the defendant who was cross-examined
by the prosecuting counsel.
“What’s your name?”
“Are you the owner of Riban Restaurant?”
“Do you admit your restaurant has sold a bottle of Koolko with a
“I don’t admit it.”
“I think the customer has introduced the insect to the bottle to
discredit my business.”
“But the plaintiff has the receipt dated 5.4.2001 from your
restaurant. That means he has purchased Koolko from your restaurant.”
The defendant remained silent. The defence counsel got up.
“Your Honour, there are other shops selling Koolko as Riban
Restaurant. The plaintiff could have easily brought a Koolko bottle from
another shop, when he entered the restaurant.”
“My learned friend is making a mistake, your honour”, said the
prosecuting counsel. “Other small shops do not issue receipts for
purchase. Only Riban Restaurant issues receipts for items purchased. So
it is proved that Koolko was purchased from Riban Restaurant.”
“What if the plaintiff had purchased a bottle of Koolko from
elsewhere and began to drink it in the restaurant. When he discovered
the decayed insect in it, he could easily settle his bill and walk away
and lodge an entry against the Restaurant. As he had the receipt from
the restaurant, he thought he could claim damages,” explained the
“I’ll prove that my client purchased the said Koolko bottles from
“How, with your purchase receipt?” thundered the defence counsel.
“Ever since Riban Restaurant operated business, they have been
getting Koolko drinks from Koolko Company Limited. To guarantee security
from risk from other sellers of the brand Koolko, the restaurant had
entered into an agreement with Koolko Company Limited, that they supply
Koolko in specially marked bottles. All Koolko bottled drinks supplied
to the Restaurant contain a special mark ‘A’ at the bottom of the
bottles. Your Honour, I produced the Koolko bottles containing the
special mark ‘A’ as samples and the copy of the agreement between Riban
Restaurant and Koolko Company Limited, specifying this fact.”
The defence counsel stood up. “But still the plaintiff’s son could
have introduced a decayed insect in to the bottle.”
“I have proved beyond reasonable doubt that the two bottles of Koolko
were purchased from Riban Restaurant by receipt and that the two bottles
are from Riban Restaurant by the marks ‘A’.
“But you have not proved that your client was in the restaurant on
5.4.2011. It could be someone else who had purchased the Koolko
“Your Honour, on the day in question my client had taken a telephone
call home from the restaurant telephone.
“I have obtained a report from the Telecom Department to that effect.
I produce this to be a marked document.”
The court adjourned for adjudication. The members of the jury sat in
Minutes ticked by, the crowd was restless. The plaintiff was having a
hush-hush talk with his lawyers; so was the defendant.
After an hour the court crier came and restored order and then
pin-drop silence prevailed. The judge read out the judgement.
“The members of the jury are of unanimous view that the prosecution
proved beyond reasonable doubt the plaintiff’s case, that the Koolko
bottles were purchased from Riban Restaurant; that by the copy of the
agreement the bottles contained the special mark ‘A’, which meant they
were purchased from Riban Restaurant.
“Besides, the prosecution produced the purchase receipt from Riban
Restaurant; Telecom Department report proves that the plaintiff was in
the restaurant on 5.4.2001.
“All the evidence led being against the defendant, I award the
plaintiff a sum of Rs. one million as damages.”