Mass killing cases remained a challenge: Delhi HC

Mass killing cases remained a challenge: Delhi HC

People burn placards and effigies of India's main opposition Congress party's leaders Sajjan Kumar and Kamal Nath during a protest near Congress party's headquarters in New Delhi, India, December 17, 2018. REUTERS

The Delhi High Court on Monday said the cases arising out of mass killings of people and targetting of minorities with political patronage and facilitation of the law enforcement agencies required strengthening of our legal system.

“Neither 'crimes against humanity' nor 'genocide' is part of our domestic law of crime. This loophole needs to be addressed urgently,” a bench of Justice S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel said while awarding life term to former Congress MP Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

In India, the riots in early November 1984 in which in Delhi alone 2,733 Sikhs and nearly 3,350 all over the country were brutally murdered, this was neither the first instance of a mass crime nor, tragically, the last, it said.

The mass killings in Punjab, Delhi and elsewhere during the country's partition remains a collective painful memory as is the killings of innocent Sikhs in November 1984 following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31 by two of her Sikh bodyguards.

“There has been a familiar pattern of mass killings in Mumbai in 1993, in Gujarat in 2002, in Kandhamal, Odisha in 2008, in Muzaffarnagar in UP in 2013 to name a few,” the bench said.

“Common to these mass crimes were the targeting of minorities and the attacks spearheaded by the dominant political actors being facilitated by the law enforcement agencies.

The criminals responsible for the mass crimes have enjoyed political patronage and managed to evade prosecution and punishment. Bringing such criminals to justice poses a serious challenge to our legal system.

As these appeals themselves demonstrate, decades pass by before they can be made answerable. This calls for strengthening the legal system,” the high court added.

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