Dom Martin vs The Times of India
Criminal case No. 171/C/ of 1978
If there is a God, I ask of Him to be my Judge no less than Truth is my Advocate.
And if Freedom awaits me in His Court of Law, then so it shall be. For in this earthly Armageddon,
I had sought for no vengeance. I only sought for that which the Laws of Humankind had righteously assured every being:
The dignity to live freely, and the freedom to hold such dignity, forever.
-Dom Martin

The media is Truth's savior, but when the media is at default while projecting that which is prima facie untrue, it makes the scenario even more damning for the complainant. And when the accused involves the likes of Times of India, the matter demands the resilience of David vs Goliath!

My aspiration in life was simply to be an accomplished painter-poet-writer -- not a David! But when Dyaneshwar Nadkarni -- art-critic of Times of India -- roughshodded his pen on March 26, 1978 -- by traversing beyond the purview of art criticism and into an assassination of my character as a person and as an artist, he awakened the David in me. However, a mere rebuttal of the Times of India libel by a rival paper would have suited my quest for vindication, and it would have also been proportionate to my shoe-string budget. But no rival paper was eager to confront the likes or looks of Goliath.

R.K. Karanjia, editor of Blitz, was resounding in his affirmation that I had a prima facie case of libel against Times of India, but refrained from taking a public stand. Other editors were not so exhilarated. One editor even went as far as to rebuke me for embarking on the notion to sue the Times, whose quarterly revenue -- in case I was not cognizant -- was in the threshold of several crores!

To me, it was not a question of crores vs how many crows I had perched on my rooftop. It was solely a matter of principles and the integrity upon which one's principles were based. For Times of India, it was putting to peril the very halo -- "Let Truth Prevail" -- which crested its letterhead since the paper's founding in 1838.

But as Deman Tujer Poddom or Tu Deman Poddom would have it for me, on June 28, 1978 -- I found myself drawn as David before the Court of the Judicial Magistrate (Trial Court), in Panjim, to square off with Goliath. The legal marathon went on for 10 years, 2 months and two days -- through the jugglery of nine judges and numerous counsels on the part of the accused before Goliath was found guilty and sentenced to seven days simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 250.

The editors of the Guiness Book of World Records were astounded by the circumstances of the case and by what, at the material time, was the longest criminal defamation case in history. However, they were disinclined to include the entry, and fearing that their inaction might be challenged, they discarded, altogether, the category relating to "Defamation Suits".

Despite the findings of the Trial Court and the overwhelming evidence upon which the art critic, the editor and printer-publisher of Times of India were first indicted and subsequently convicted, the media maintained the erroneous stand that the article had to do with a criticism of my art, thus fostering the impression that I was merely being overly sensitive to such criticism.

An art critic should have the inherent ability to interpret art with the faculty of wisdom rather than prejudice. His ability to criticize should be as constructive as that of an artist to create. In the realm of such conformity, an artist will be assured his place in the spectrum of recognition no less than the art critic.
Nemesis notwithstanding, in 1991, Nadkarni found himself precariously seated in the eye of a controversy involving allegedly fake Aras which he himself had earlier — for an undisclosed fee — authenticated as genuine Aras. Perhaps, a case in point that karma has a way of eventually getting to those who conceitedly think they have lasting hermitage and immunity in the tentacles of power.

Secondly, it is one thing to be crucified for one's belief, but to become the corpus for someone else's resurrection is an abomination of the human spirit. While the protracted trial turned my career into a rungless ladder, it became a fortuitous ladder for those who came in close association with the matter.
As for the malice in the subject libel, my earlier perception was that it was no more than an isolated bout of Goanism. In the subsequent years, its conpiratorial brotherhood became more manifest. Some from that brotherhood have already been dispersed into the undefined corridors of eternity. As for the remainder, they know unblessedly well that I need no introduction to them. May they find peace and contentment when condescending guilt finally becomes the pendulum in the dark sky of their conscience.
Lastly, since no legal matter can sustain a reader's interest like a provocative story or novel might, the historical account of the trial has been presented in a lighter vein through two articles listed below, with appropriate links for the benefit of those who wish to delve even further.
Deman Tujer Poddom
Deman Tujer Poddom - The Requiem