Wednesday, June 24, 2015

"Since this new govt came, I have been told to go soft on accused": Special Public Prosecutor // Indian justice system undergoing death by a thousand cuts as we watch

NB - Yet more proof, if it were necessary, that India's justice system is undergoing death by a thousand cuts - in broad daylight. Communalism is a direct instance of criminalisation of the state. Everyone who celebrates this in a spirit of revenge, or who remains silent, will have cause to regret it. This government is shameless - as is becoming evident in its attitude to the whole IPL scandal. But then a large section of Indian public opinion still considers the theft of money to be a greater crime than mass murder. What is happening to our justice system is also corruption - because corruption means perversion from fidelity. The elected (and unelected) persons controlling the reins of power and who pervert our institutions are corrupt. We shall live and learn. Hopefully it will not be too late. DS

Rohini Salian, Special Public Prosecutor in the case related to the Malegaon 2008 blasts in which four Muslims were killed during Ramzan and in which Hindu extremists are the accused, has said that over the past one year, since “the new government came to power,” she has been under pressure from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to go “soft” in the case. Soon after the NDA government came to power last year, she said, she got a call from one of  the officers of the NIA — the agency investigating all the alleged Hindu extremist cases — asking to come over to speak with her. “He didn’t want to talk over the phone. He came and said to me that there is a message that I should go soft,” Salian told The Indian Express

The Broken Middle (on the 30th anniversary of 1984)

Matters came to a head this month, on June 12, she said, when just before one of the regular hearings in the case in the Sessions Court, she was told by the same NIA officer that “higher-ups” did not want her to appear in the court for the State of Maharashtra and that another advocate would attend the proceedings. Salian, 68, a leading prosecutor who has handled important cases like the J J shootout, Borivili double murder, the Bharat Shah case and the Mulund blasts amongst others, said: “The meaning (of that message from the officer) is very clear — don’t get us favourable orders.” She said she wants the NIA to officially denotify her from the case to which she was appointed in 2008, “so that I am free to take up other cases, against the NIA, if need be”. 

The Malegaon blast, on September 29, 2008, claimed four lives and injured 79 while another blast at the same time in Modasa in Gujarat killed one. Initially, Muslims were seen as suspects in the case but it was under Hemant Karkare of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) that investigations led to alleged Hindu extremists based in Indore, as first reported by The Indian Express on October 23, 2010.

Investigations revealed the blasts were allegedly the handiwork of extremist Hindu organisations. Twelve people were arrested in the case, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit. Of the 12, four are on bail. That probe — later given over to the NIA that was constituted after the 26/11 terror attack in which Karkare was killed — led to a relook at other cases: Malegaon blasts of 2006 (31 killed, 312 injured); 2007 Ajmer blast (3 killed, 15 injured); 2007 Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad (9 killed, 58 injured); and 2007 Samjhauta Express attack (68 killed, 13 injured).

The probe found many common accused in these cases. Salian said that the Supreme Court has now decreed that the case should be tried in a special court with a specially appointed judge to see to the matter. “So in a way it’s all back to square one,” said Salian. On April 15, the Supreme Court held that the Malegaon accused cannot be charged under MCOCA since there was no evidence as on date. Opening the doors for their release on bail, it further said that the trial court should decide their bail plea on merit and without applicability of MCOCA, preferably within one month. This, Salian said, now leaves it open for the accused to once again appeal for bail in the court under changed circumstances.

“A day before June 12, when the case came up again for regular hearing (in the trial court), the same officer who had come to my office came up to me and said there are instructions from higher-ups, someone else will appear instead of you. I said I was expecting this and, good, you have told me this, so please settle my bills…I also said that now they should now denotify me so that I can appear against the NIA in other matters — not this one — in the future. He must have conveyed it to the higher-ups and I am waiting for their action. I have not heard from anyone since then,” said Salian.

“The meaning (of the message from the government) is very clear — don’t get us favourable orders. Unfavourable orders are invited — that goes against the society,” said a perturbed Salian. When asked how she saw the case proceeding further, Salian said, “For a layman or a fresh prosecutor it’s very difficult — one cannot do anything. Maybe they want to loosen it and ultimately lose the case because they can’t withdraw it.” 

Also see
NB - The systematic degradation of criminal justice in India continues unabated, in full view of the public. I place these links here only for the record, so that the thundering silence (with some honourable exceptions) of our political leaders and commentators may be pierced by a twinge of conscience - if such exists. It is of greater consequence for the public at large, the honest police bureaucratic officials and judges who still believe in the basic structure of the Constitution and the ideal of the rule of law. As for our government, we can only ask it purely rhetorical questions: why not let the courts decide whether the evidence is prosecutable or not? why are you afraid of a trial that can establish the guilt or innocence of these officers? Why have a justice system at all? Send the police and judges on long leave and hand it all over to the Bajrang Dal. But perhaps you need to keep up appearances.. DS
'Modi had 71 BJP MP's in Uttar Pradesh to choose from for ministerial office and he chose to make Sanjeev Baliyan, the MP from Muzaffarnagar, a minister of state. Baliyan was accused of violating prohibitory orders & promoting enmity between communities in Muzaffarnagar in September 2013. Thus not only did the BJP win western UP on the back of communal rioting, one of the riot-accused is now part of Narendra Modi’s first ministry

The Broken Middle (on the 30th anniversary of 1984)

short list of examples of respect for rule of law by India's 'mainstream' 
The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi