She had never watched Judge Judy or any other international reality-based court show on television before she took on the role of the people’s judge in Star Plus’ Aap Ki Kachehri, Kiran Ke Saath. But then Kiran Bedi needs no training—when in doubt, the ex-cop simply relies on her experience with criminals and liars to figure out what the truth is. With season 2 of the popular show set to begin, Bedi hopes Aap Ki Kachehri will help spread greater awareness of the law. Edited excerpts from an interview:
Have you seen Sach Ka Saamna, which currently airs at 10.30pm, a time slot Aap Ki Kachehri had last season?
I have caught a few episodes. Though both shows deal with the truth, the reasons why people come on them are different. The motivation to be on Sach Ka Saamna is to offload guilt, and of course win money, while on Aap Ki Kachehri they are coming to seek a resolution, a way to deal with a problem. We are solving problems, they (Sach Ka Saamna) are creating them (laughs).
Are you happy with the new time slot of 8pm?
For me, 10.30pm was slightly late. I am happier with 8pm because it will mean families will watch this show together.
The judge: Bedi says Aap Ki Kachehri is not a parallel justice system. Madhu Kapparath / Mint
At 8pm, children can watch the show. Given the content, do you think that’s okay?
I see no harm in children watching Aap Ki Kachehri. The show provides awareness and education about the law, about our legal rights. Most children are not strangers to problems such as domestic violence, property disputes.
Will there be any changes from season 1—in format or content?
Most cases picked will have something unique to offer, aspects of law that have not been touched upon before. Season 2 will see many people who have come to Aap Ki Kachehri because they have watched the show in season 1. There is a heightened faith in the show this time around. Also, people have come better prepared. They are coming with evidence, with legal documents, with witnesses, but the understanding of law is still poor.
Do you meet the people before the show is taped?
No, I do not. I am told about the case; I discuss it with the legal team, and research is done on all aspects. Usually, I am clued in on what are the main issues of the case, and what the petitioner wants.
How do you know who is speaking the truth and who is lying?
Eye contact helps a lot to figure out who is lying when. I can judge from listening to them and from the way a person swallows, to know if they are lying or not. That’s when my training and experience as a cop kicks in. The show is investigation and bringing out the truth too. When a person keeps dodging a direct question, they have something to hide. That’s when I move in to trap the person.
What is the toughest aspect of the show?
Figuring out who is really the victim and who the perpetrator. There are many layers. Often, the victim in one situation is the perpetrator in another. I have to keep the balance and concentrate on the issue that has been presented.
What makes a case strong in your opinion?
When either party is able to produce a witness. In fact, it clinches the deal. But they have to be authentic witnesses, not only relatives—a neighbour or a friend as a witness works.
What makes you angry during the show?
When I come across people with closed minds. Also, many of them don’t want to understand the law when it does not seem to favour their cause. They become stubborn, and I have to keep repeating what the law says before I go ahead.
What is the turning point in any case?
Everyone who comes on the show believes they are in the right and they deserve it all. Once the legalities of their case register, when they understand what they are really entitled to, that’s when all their preconceived notions vanish, all the preparations go out of the window. That is the breakthrough I look for.
Would you ever participate in a reality-based show?
That would depend on how much time I want to give to what at that point.
Aap Ki Kachehri, Kiran Ke Saath, season 2, is scheduled to start 5 August at 8pm on Star TV. It will air Monday through Friday.