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Judiciary and Double standards of Law in India

January 20, 2011 | By

– Author: Amandeep Singh

It is often claimed by various minorities and struggling nations that there are double standards of law that are implemented by judiciary in India. The position is such that the statement of former chief Justice of Supreme Court of India, M.N. Venkatachaliah, as regards attitude of State that: “Show me the man; I will show you the Law” also depicts the scenario dominating the functioning of judiciary. Cases of Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler, Kamal Nath, Naridra Modi, K.P.S Gill and Sumedh Saini, on the one hand, and the cases of Bhai Kehar Singh, Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, Binayak Sen (and other like cases), on the other hand, narrates the story of dual standards of law.

These claims are countered by the State. It maintains that the constitution of India provides for separation of powers among various organs of the Government; and moreover that Indian Judiciary is independent and impartial. Still, such serious allegations concerning the judicial system of the largest democracy can not be rejected easily, even at their face value. Sikhs of Punjab often allege that the Indian courts consider the cases related to nationalist Sikh leaders in an entirely different way. The cases of Bhai Daljeet Singh Bittu present a recent example of this phenomena. Here two cases are discussed that how an Hon’ble Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court took two entirely different views with in two weeks.

Recently, a bench headed by Justice Alok Singh has given his valuable views in a murder case registered by District Amritsar (Dehati) police in 2000. In this case Justice Alok Singh, while hearing an appeal against the acquittal of the alleged accused persons, appreciated the lower courts for not relying entirely on the police story. Justice Alok Singh besides approving the acquittal of three accused persons directed the State of Punjab to pay compensation of Rupees one lakh each. He declared, that if there is any scope for doubt in a criminal case, the benefit of it should be awarded to the accused person/s and lower court was right in not accepting all the police claims as true.

In this case three persons namely Joginder Singh (70), Ravel Singh (70) and Gurmej Singh (65) were charged under sections 302, 148, 149 IPC for murder. As per police case all three accused persons, equipped with sharp-edged weapons, were chasing the deceased Daljeet Singh Ladha (21). While attempting to escape Daljeet Singh Ladha fell down and died. He court had acquitted the accused persons as the police case was dubious.

But, few days back Justice Akol Singh had behaved in an entirely different way. He himself accepted all the police claims as true, without evaluating their validity, while he was hearing bail plea of Bhai Daljeet Singh Bittu, Chairman of Sikh Nationalist Political party, SAD (Panch Pardhani). The bail application was moved by Bhai Daljeet Singh and others who claimed to have been falsely implicated in a murder case due to political reasons. The police opposed the bail application on the basis of quantity of cases that Bhai Daljeet Singh had faced. Justice Alok Singh ignored that fact that Bhai Daljeet Singh has already been acquitted in majority of old cases and new cases are still pending in various courts and lacks solid evidence.

The facts of the case, in which bail was applied for, reveals that the deceased Lilli Kumar (Resident of Mandran Village, Mansa) was a follower of Dera Sacha Suada (Sirsa), and was a Patwari, (Revenue Officer). As per FIR filed on the basis of complaint filed by Bali Singh, brother of Lilli Kumar and eyewitness to the murder of the deceased, on 28 July, 2008; Dr. Chhinda, Daljeet Taini and Mithu Singh (all of Mandran Village), along with one unidentified person, killed his brother in front of his eyes while he and the deceased were returning from the Mansa court. As per FIR there was enmity between the named accused persons and the deceased and the deceased had filed a complaint under section 307 IPC (attempt to murder). It is interesting to note that the police after making arrest of all the three named persons, got them discharged from the court, and made additions to the FIR on the basis of its’ “investigations”. It arrested some workers of SAD (Panch Pardhani) and on their alleged disclosure statements, made in police custody, arrested Prof. Gurbir Singh (Gen. Sec. of Panch Pardhani); and upon his alleged disclosure statement made in police custody arrested Bhai Daljeet Singh Bittu, Chairman of SAD (Panch Pardhani). It first registered the case under 302 IPC and 24/54/59 of Arms Act but latter added 120-B IPC (Criminal Conspiracy) to link Professor Gurbir Singh and Bhai Daljeet Singh to this case. Later another addition was made, and various sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 were inserted, as the police claimed that Daljeet Singh Bittu and others had hatched a conspiracy to kill Lilli Kumar, and by doing so they wanted to threaten the security and integrity of the country.

When case went for trial Bali Singh stood by his first statement, on the basis of which FIR was registered, and deposed in the court that police was pressurising him to falsely depose against Bhai Daljeet Singh Bittu and others.

Under these circumstances the bail application of Bhai Daljeet Singh went for hearing before Justice Alok Singh on 10 January, 2011. After the defence lawyer introduced his case, the Government lawyers presented some papers to Justice Alok Singh. These papers comprised a list of all cases registered against Bhai Daljeet Singh Bittu since 1985. They maintained that Bhai Daljeet Singh is a threat to the security and unity and integrity of the country. Defence Lawyer, Advocate Navkiran Singh, informed the court that Bhai Daljeet Singh was never convicted by any court. He was acquitted in all old cases registered against, except one which is still pending in Ludhiana Court. Moreover two of the sedition cases registered by the Punjab Police at Barnala (2006) and Amritsar (2007) were found baseless by the concerned courts. Defence lawyer further contended that all cases registered against Daljeet Singh Bittu since August 2009 are pending and lacks anything incriminating. He alleged that political considerations lie behind these cases and Bhai Daljeet Singh was arrested just for holding dissenting political ideology.
But Justice Alok Singh questioned the acquittal Bhai Daljeet Singh in a very strange way. Taking the police claims as granted he declared that the acquittal of Bhai Daljeet Singh values nothing for him. He said that these persons never leave any proof behind them or they pressurize judges and witnesses to evade conviction. He further declared that ‘Government’s rest house is best place for them, so let them spent their time over there’.

The defence lawyer while maintaining that there is lack of valuable evidence against Bhai Daljeet Singh in the present case urged the Court to take statement of Government’s Lawyer on record that another supplementary challan would be presented in the trial court against Bhai Daljeet Singh Bittu, Justice Alok Singh declared that he is not interested in knowing the allegations to be made or proofs to be presented in the trial court. As he was going to dismiss the application, the defence lawyer withdrew it.

These instances raise large question mark on independence and impartiality of judiciary in India.

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