In what must be a judicial record anywhere, courts across India on a single day, October 24, handed out life sentences to 60 people in four different cases – although there is no sign that any of them will go to jail anytime soon. Two of the cases relate to murder, one to planning the assassination of a prominent opposition politician and a fourth to plotting communal riots. The initial reaction to the sentences was an impromptu pat on the back for the judiciary and all-around praise for democracy. Nobody was above the law, wrote pundits, be they policemen, former ministers or fundamentalist leaders. The judgments, some observers noted, had once again affirmed the faith of the common man in the judiciary.