Victims of Delhi riots must get speedy justice
The one thing that must not be denied to the Delhi riot victims is speedy justice, something that will hopefully help them put their broken lives back together. With better technology and a proactive media and civil society, gathering evidence, framing cases and initiating the prosecution process should not be as tough and time consuming as it once was. It is a blot on our criminal justice system that in the case of communal riots, justice has been allowed to slide in so many instances. Whether it is the Hashimpura massacre in 1987, the Mumbai riots of 1993, the Gujarat riots of 2002, the Sikh riots of 1984 and the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 (and countless others), there has been inordinate delay in bringing the accused to trial.
The recommendations of the Justice Srikrishna Commission report into the Mumbai riots are still to be implemented. The longer the delay in prosecuting these cases of communal violence, the greater the chance of political pressure being brought upon witnesses. This could be in the form of inducements or intimidation. In many cases, the victims have to continue living in the same vicinity as the accused, making it difficult for them to even attend hearings without fear.
Victims of Delhi riots, At the heart of the process is the efficiency of the police in framing cases and the recent conduct of the police in Delhi inspires little confidence. Riot cases must be investigated in a timebound manner by a Special Investigation Team which is under no political pressure. These cases should be tried in fast-track courts so that there is no scope for judicial delays. The delay in justice has a catastrophic effect on its survivors ranging from health problems to severe emotional trauma. Most of all, the victims, often poor and vulnerable, cannot afford to put their lives on hold and pursue court cases for years. The recent Delhi riots could have been contained much earlier had the police and the political establishment moved with greater speed and resolve. They did not. Now, the criminal justice system should move with clarity, efficiency and speed to bring closure to those who have lost their relatives, property and livelihoods.
Source: The Hindu |
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