October 3rd, 2011
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Law – A war horse for justice or handy ass to rationalize injustice

Article / R B Sreekumar, Former DGP, Gujarat 


Will the SIT maneuver the Apex Court orders for exonerating culprits of 2002 Gujarat riots or endeavor towards justice for riot victims?

The unambiguous order by the Supreme Court on 12th Sept, 2011 “to forward a final report, along with the entire material collected by the SIT” to the relevant Court, has re-kindled great hope and deep longing for getting justice among the riot victim survivors.  The mood of optimistic anticipation in April, 2009, when the Apex Court directed the SIT “to take steps as required in law” in the FIR by Mrs Zakia Jafri, widow of the late Ahsan Zafri, the former Congress MP, brutally murdered during riots in Ahmedabad city, was recreated.

In fact, the performance of SIT in achieving the laudable objective of delivery of long pending justice to the victims, was adjudged to be dismal and much below the lowest levels of expectation.  For the protracted riots that left an inerasable blot on the integrity, service delivery and sense of justice of India’s Criminal Justice System (CJS), SIT could arrest only an Inspector from the executive structure of the State Administration, which was criticized by the Apex Court(April, 2004) for acting as “modern Neros”.  The conspirators of extensive violence; organizers of mobocratic depredations on unarmed hapless public, in the peripheral locations of minority settlements; and those collaborators in Police from Dy SP to the Home Minister and the Executive Magistracy from Mamlatdar to the Chief Minister were left in the comfort zone of immunity and blanket protection from accountability and culpability. Did the senior officers constitute a sheer decorative ornamental appendix in the Government, whose writ will not run on Inspectors and below? Satirical expansion of IAS as “I am Always Safe” and IPS as “I am Permanently Safe”, has  been vindicated.

This writer in an article in DNA (Ahmedabad, June 6, 2009) captioned “Will SIT bring hope”, raised a question, “Will the order of the SC (April, 2009) result in delivery of justice or end up as an exercise to cause the least damage to those who conceived and perpetrated the bloodbath under the patronage of the State machinery?”  SIT by traveling religiously on the road map provided by the Gujarat Police, in the probe of nine major carnage cases like Gulberg Society, Naroda Patia, Sardarpura etc and complaint by Mrs Zafri, had unfortunately confirmed the dismal part of my prognosis.

Quite unusually SIT avoided doing normal procedural and professional exercises in the investigation like holding of Narco test of main accused and witnesses; re-creation of major crimes scene like Godhra train fire incident; procurement and cross verification of records on distress- calls from victims and quality of response from the empowered functionaries; motivated acts of omission and commission by District and Commissionerate level officers, in flagrant violation of codified wisdom in Gujarat Police Manual, numerous regulations, booklets delineating imperative actions as Standard Operating Procedure (SOP); etc for the best reasons known to them.

Handing over of dead bodies of Godhra train fire victims to office bearers of VHP for parading them through the most volatile communal city in India – Ahmedabad; non-compliance of specific recommendations of the State Intelligence Bureau to effectively counter the subversion of the CJS by the executive Police, at the instance of political masters, who arranged their choicest postings; conspicuous absence of preventive action against communal minded persons, as envisaged in well-designed statutory riot control schemes; non-maintenance of minutes in review meetings chaired by CM to the Commissioner of Police/Supdt of Police; failure to videograph riot situation lively to identify members of marauding mobs (how could media do it?),  etc are deemed by SIT as permissible administrative lapses without any criminal liability, irrespective of the abysmal loss of human lives, destruction of property, migration of population, intensification of communal divide telling upon the stability, unity and integrity of our motherland.

SIT did not find any wisdom in drawing any inference about low causality in Surat city (second populous city in Gujarat) – seven deaths in 2002 riots with only 11 persons injured (10 Hindus) in police firing, in contrast to the statistics   of violence of Baroda, Ahmedabad city and even rural districts of Mehsana, Ahmedabad Rural, Godhra, Saberkantha etc.  Strangely, in many places 80% of deaths in police firing was from minorities and so was the casualty level in mob attacks.  Why did not SIT draw any inference from these facts?  The effective containment of violence in many districts like Amreli, Narmada, Jamnagar, Surat Rural, Valsad, Bhavnagar, Surendranagar, Rajkot City etc and shabby treatment to Police officers, in-charge of these places, by the Govt did not indicate anything adverse about those responsible for law and order where high-voltage atrocities on minorities took place.

Evidence about illegal verbal instructions by the CM and other senior officers had not been probed deeper.  Unchallengeable evidence on illegal actions by Home Deptt officials to tutor Govt officers deposing before Judicial Commission was bypassed.  Similarly, the rewards and special placements to nearly 30 IAS and IPS officers who played culpable role  during riots and subsequent period of denial of justice to riot victims, by tampering with the due process of law were ignored.  Why did SIT not find anything amiss in punishment imposed on about 10 senior officers, for their going against the hidden anti-minority agenda of the Govt and marshalling evidence on this in judicial bodies.?  This is in contrast to failure of Govt to initiate any action against any senior functionary for their dereliction of duties during riots.

The rationale behind SIT’s remissness of not getting version of UP Police, who witnessed Godhra train fire incident, as they were deputed to accompany the Gujarat team of Karsevaks on 27.02.2002; not getting inputs from the Central IB, whose sources were also moving with Karsevaks; non-examination of the Centre-State correspondence in the days of the genocide; omission of study of documents of Central Paramilitary Forces (CPFs) and the Army, who assisted State Police during riots; etc, despite pin-pointed suggestions by witnesses are strangely inexplicable.  Allowing an accused State Minister, protected by two dozens of policemen, to  go underground and seek anticipatory bail; negligence in collecting sound evidence  during the remand period of any of the riot accused; etc have debilitating impact on the legal architecture of riot cases.  Significantly, non-implementation of explicit proposals by witnesses resulted in trial court passing strictures about professional competence of SIT(DNA-08.09.2009).

Well-informed citizens concerned with the inner strength and health of the Rule of Law in Gujarat feel that SIT acted like the proverbial monkeys of Mahatma Gandhi, by avoiding to see or hear anything against the Modi Government in the course of its investigation.  Did SIT keep complicity level of Govt officials for prolonged riots, as low as a level possible, to surely and safely insulate the elite bureaucracy and ruling political hierarchy from the clutches of Law?

SIT has now two options at this juncture. Go for collection of more evidence against senior Govt officials and politicians by taking a clue from Mrs Zafri complaint and simultaneously rectifying the defects in the probe done so far and thereafter file charge sheet against the accused persons.  Besides, fresh offences have to be registered and the culprits prosecuted for destruction of evidence u/s 201 IPC, obstructing public servant from discharge of duties u/s 186 IPC, cajoling and pressurising Govt witnesses from speaking truth before judicial bodies and forwarding “ the entire evidence” to the relevant courts and so on.  Such a course of SIT will be a reversal of direction and road traveled by it so far.  Can one hope that SIT will get liberated from the narcissistic infallibility syndrome of Indian Bureaucracy, admit its professional indiscretion, so far, and aviate towards the heights of probity and quick justice delivery?

The other lugubriously dolorous choice of SIT is to avoid arrest and prosecution of those in senior echelons of the Establishment on the technical ground of inadequate prosecutable evidence, system failure, non-cooperation of citizens in the process of the Rule of Law, and erosion of moral values and empathy to the distressed. Instead of forwarding the entire evidence gathered by SIT, only those material which could testify to the conclusions drawn by SIT so far could be provided to the Court. This can be achieved by getting legal opinion from self-proposed advocates. This approach will be music to the Corporate Moguls of the country.

At the end of the day, under this option the real planners and covert organizers of mass violence get anointed with an ablution of innocence, enabling them to vigorously pursue their careers in politics and administration.  Victims will be forced to plunge into the rigmarole of endless litigations and appeals without substantial results, except political gimmicks and activists getting their pound of flesh.  Of course, one can be blind to posterity and world public opinion looking down upon our polity and judicial system. In addition, the practitioners of mobocracy, for creation of political capital in India, can pursue their unholy strategy unhindered, which in effect would unroll red carpet for future rioters. Internationally organized enemies of India, engaged in vicious propaganda about ill-treatment of minorities, will re-double their efforts to get more recruits into their fold for indoctrinating them for anti-Indian activities.

Will SIT move towards a safe and slow burial of riot cases, at the cost of the national interests, or teach a long lasting lesson to brigands responsible for 2002 genocide, subsequent negation of justice and sustainable constructive relief, reconciliation, rehabilitation and resettlement to the riot victims.  Let us sincerely hope that SIT will enliven and actualize our ancient dictum – “Righteous (Dharma) protect those who protect it and those who destroy the Righteous get destroyed” 

Dharmo Rakdhathi Rakshith ι

Dharm Eva Hatho Hanthi ιι


former DGP, SreekumarR.B. Sreekumar: R B Sreekumar is a  former Gujarat state Director-General of Police. He came into the limelight by exposing the alleged role of Gujarat government and its Chief Minister Narendra Modi in Gujarat Violence 2002. Sreekumar was awarded the Medal for Meritorious Service in 1990 and a Medal for Distinguished Service in 1998 by the Government of India. BBC news once mentioned him as TIRLESS CRUSADER OF SOCIAL JUSITCE. He is a native of Ooruttapakam, Trivandrum, Kerala. A 1971 batch IPS officer, Sreekumar joined in Gujarat police force in 1972 and continued till his retirement in 2007 as additional director general of Police. He is the grand son of famous revolutionary freedom fighter and nationalist Balaramapuram g raman pilla who foughted against British for independence and started a news paper called navashakti and was a famous journalist and writer. Due to his affidivites and petitions Gujrat chief minister Narendra modi was denied of  Visa to visit United States by UNO.



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