Hashimpura: Close on the heels of the acquittal by a sessions court of 16 Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel on charges related to the killing of 42 Muslims, who were picked up from Hashimpura in Uttar Pradesh in 1987 following communal riots in Meerut has come the Supreme Court intervention seeking to re-open the conspiracy charge hearings against BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani and 19 others in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
While Hashimpura happened 28 years ago, the Babri demolition took place in 1992. These are examples of how long it takes for the judicial process in this country which only draws attention to the dictum ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’
As the judgement in the Hashimpura massacre case pointed out, the accused were acquitted giving them the benefit of doubt for want of evidence. This is not unusual because when nearly three decades elapse after the commission of a heinous crime, some evidence is wilfully destroyed and some witnesses pass away, making the case so weak that it fails to lead to convictions.
In the Hashimpura case, some of the relatives of the victims are pleading with the U.P. government to go in appeal to the higher court but even if that happens, exhausting all remedies including the High Court and the Supreme Court will take several more years.
In the Babri case where notices have been issued to BJP veterans L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati and Kalyan Singh (presently Governor of Himachal) and their replies have been sought, they had been discharged by a lower court of the conspiracy charge and that decision had been upheld by the Allahabad High Court in 2010.
Five years have passed since the High Court judgement. How fair is it for the court to dangle a virtual sword over the heads of the accused for such a long period before the apex court takes up the conspiracy charge for re-consideration?
Time and again, the question of delayed justice comes up in various forums but precious little has been done to devise a system in which the huge backlog of cases in various courts is dealt with. It is indeed time some solution is found so that serious offences do not go unpunished forever or over long periods for no fault of the victims.