The Supreme Court today slammed Haryana government for refusing to accept that the killing of an old Dalit man and his physically-challenged daughter at a village in Rohtak district by a dominant community in 2010 was a murder.
The apex court, which dubbed the incident as "scar on the society", expressed its anguish after the state government said the 70-year-old man and his handicap daughter were "trapped" in the house after it was set on fire and the trial court has not held their death as murder.
"What a tragedy that a physically handicap girl is trapped and dies in the house set on fire and the state can't protect. What a huge tragedy. What were state government officials doing at that time?" a bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and C Nagappan said.
"Particular caste has liberty to take law in its hand and kill people," the bench said and took strong exception to Haryana government's stand that the victims cannot be rehabilitated in any village other than Mirchpur.
"They (Dalit victims) can't go there in the atmosphere of terror," the bench said when state government counsel repeatedly submitted their resettlement elsewhere is not accepted.
The bench told senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, who was appearing for the victims, that "your clients are at fault because they are poor and secondly they belong to a particular community and that is again their fault".
It said "it will not be accepted that somebody will kill human beings, particularly handicapped, because of being belonging to a particular caste".
The bench was hearing the issue of relief and rehabilitation for which it had set up a committee.
The court posted the matter for hearing on October 21.
A total of 15 people were convicted in the case by a trial court on September 24, 2011.
Three persons were sentenced to life imprisonment by a Delhi court on October 31, 2011 for their involvements in the April 2010 killings of a 70-year-old Dalit and his physically-challenged daughter at Haryana's Mirchpur village.