Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Wheels of Indian Justice

News about the release of the Nanavati Commission report was in the Indian papers yesterday, but it wasn't until this morning that I finally saw an coherent explanation of what it means, in the Indian Express:

NEW DELHI, AUGUST 8: Twenty years after hundreds of Sikhs were massacred in the Capital, a judicial inquiry has for the first time given a finding that Congress leaders were involved in it.

The Justice G T Nanavati Commission, which was set up in 2000 to undo the "whitewash" by the Justice Ranganath Misra Commission in 1986, has indicted, among others, a minister in the Manmohan Singh Government, Jagdish Tytler, and Congress MP from the Outer Delhi constituency, Sajjan Kumar.

But, having waited till the last permissible day to table the Nanavati Commission’s report in Parliament, the Government today rejected the finding against Tytler on a ground that is bound to trigger a legal controversy.

The Commission concluded that there was "credible evidence against Jagdish Tytler to the effect that very probably he had a hand in organizing attacks on Sikhs."

In its action taken report (ATR), the Government however interpreted these carefully chosen words to mean that "the Commission itself was not absolutely sure about his involvement in such attacks."

And then, turning Indian jurisprudence on its head, the Government claimed that "in criminal cases, a person cannot be prosecuted simply on the basis of ‘probability."(link)

If you were waiting for justice, too bad: as often happens with Indian justice, all you get is bupkis.

Incidentally, some of these guys faced criminal trials earlier, but no one has ever been convicted of anything. Sajjan Kumar, most famously, was acquitted for his involvement in 2002. Both Kumar and Tytler are still in the Congress government.

More recent coverage of Nanavati here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

[Cross-posted at Sepia Mutiny]


vk said...

Sajjan Kumar and HKL Bhagat were acquitted after some of the key witnesses "reversed" their testimony. These were poor widowed ladies who were among the victims and almost certainly were put under pressure.

I am hoping this situation would be better because of the political opportunity it creates for the opposition, and hopefully would be sufficient to get them punished. This is optimistic, but one can still hope.

12:08 AM  
Anand said...

One more case of justice being denied. Justice Nanavati unfortunately took the clever and ambiguous route. At least as a tokenism the Manmohan govt should sack Jagadish Tytler. Also unfortunate that the Left isn't pressing for it.

4:32 AM  
jaideep said...

tytler resigned: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1197271.cms

1:43 PM  
Anonymous said...

Justice was always a contested and political territory, and if we expected Nanavati to strike out, we were expecting too much. Earlier, I used to think justice is subverted only in India or the "tin-pot" countries; now I realize it is virtually the same anywhere in the world. The time has surely come for a revisting and revitalization of this function.

1:05 AM  
Arvind said...

...sorry- that was not meant to be anonymous!

1:06 AM  

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