Thursday, November 22, 2012

Govt’s ‘indifference’ in 2002 riots cases questioned in SC

Gujarat EDN

DNA 28AUG2012


Ahmedabad: Gujarat government is in the dock for not questioning acquittals in 2002 riot cases. An appeal with regard to this “inaction” has been filed in the Supreme Court.
    Social activist and former Gujarat cadre IAS officer Harsh Mander on Monday filed the compliance petition in the apex court contending that inaction and indifference on part of the state government in questioning the acquittals are nothing but noncompliance of the court directions that were issued on August 23, 2004.
    In a judgment in 2004, by which the Supreme Court had directed Gujarat government to reopen more than 2,000 cases of the 2002 riots, in which the state police had filed summary reports. The apex court had also asked the state government to actively pursue the litigation by way of filing appeals in higher courts against the acquittals. The SC had not issued express directions to file appeal against acquittal in all cases though.
    Mander told TOI, “Filing an appeal against acquittal is not primarily the victim’s responsibility. When the state is a prosecuting agency, it is incumbent upon it to challenge the acquittal. The system collapses when the state functions against the victim and in favour of the accused.” Mander cited various cases to substantiate his argument that the acquittals should not attain finality merely because the state government’s apathy.
    On Monday, a division bench of Gujarat HC admitted an appeal in a 2002 riots case that took place in Balol-Ruppur village of Kheda. The court pardoned a delay of 1,295 days when one of the victims filed an appeal against acquittal of 37 persons, who allegedly burned a maulvi, Mansur Alam, in the village mosque on February 28, 2002.
    All 37 accused belong to Patel community, and the state government did not file an appeal for nearly four years after they were acquitted on May 31, 2008, said witnesses’ counsel Rajesh Shah.
    In April this year, the high court acquitted 12 persons who were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2003 in connection with killing of 14 Muslims near Ghodasar village. In this case, total 51 persons were acquitted.
    While the state government moved concerned courts ahead of prosecuting agencies like the CBI in the Haren Pandya murder case or the Supreme Courtappointed SIT in the Godhra carnage case, it is yet to file an appeal in the Ode massacre cases though three months has lapsed, said advocate Irshad Mansuri who represents victims.