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Delhi High Court convicts 33 accused persons in Mirchpur caste atrocity case

Date : 24/08/2018

The Delhi High Court on 24.08.2018 passed Final Order & Judgment in an Criminal Appeal filed by Advocate Shreeji Bhavsar and Anubha Rastogi of Human Rights Law Network on behalf of the Victims of Caste Atrocity of Mirchpur (CRL.A. 139/2012) and State of NCT of Delhi (CRL.A. 129/2012) challenging the Order of the Trail Court acquitting 82 accused persons and for enhancement of the punishment for 15 accused persons.

Through its Final Order & Judgment the High Court of Delhi has convicted 12 accused for Life Imprisonment, 12 accused for 2 years imprisonment and 9 accused for 1 year imprisonment and thereby out of 57 accused persons against whom Criminal Appeal was filed, the High Court convicted total 33 accused persons under different provisions of the Indian Penal Code and SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

In April 2010, a mob of nearly 1,000 people from the Jat community in Mirchpur village burnt 18 homes in a colony of the Dalit community after a dispute. Tara Chand and his teenage daughter, who suffered from polio and could not walk without aid, were burnt to death in the incident.Over 200 Balmiki families fled Mirchpur in the aftermath and sought shelter in a farm house of one Ved Pal Tanwar. More than eight years later, many of those who fled are yet to return to Mirchpur. The trigger for this crime was a seemingly trivial incident that took place on the evening of 19th June 2010 when a dog which belonged to a Balmiki resident barked at a group of Jat youth returning to their dwelling places through the main thoroughfare of the village.

The criminal case against 98 accused was before the ASJ at Hissar. In fact, the learned ASJ at Hissar had also framed charges against the 98 accused persons by an order dated 6th September, 2010. However, pursuant to the order dated 8th December 2010 passed by the Supreme Court of India in W.P.(C) 211/2010 (filed by Human Rights Law Network on behalf of the Victims), SC No.3-SC/ST pending before the Court of the ASJ at Hissar was transferred to the Court of the ASJ at Delhi which was notified as a Special Court under the POA Act and the trial was directed to commence de novo.

The Trial Court through its Final Order on sentence dated 31st October 2011 out of 97 accused persons the trial Court convicted 15 of them while acquitting the remaining 82 of all charges.

The Victims/Complainants of Caste Atrocity of Mirchpur filed Criminal Appeal (CRL.A. 139/2012) challenging the Order of the Trail Court acquitting 82 accused persons and also for enhancement of the punishment for 15 accused persons. In an Appeal filed by the Victim/Complainant, the High Court through its Order dated 24th February, 2012 issued Notice to 57 Accused persons.

15 accused persons who were convicted by the Trial Court also filed Criminal Appeal before the High Court challenging the Order of Conviction.

After 4 months of the issuance of Notice to the 57 accused persons in Criminal Appeal (CRL.A. 139/2012) filed by HRLN on behalf of the Victim/Complainants the State of NCT of Delhi also filed Criminal Appeal (CRL.A. 129/2012) challenging the Final Order & Judgment of the Trial Court, on this the High Court issued Notice on 6th September, 2012.

In the appeals, the High Court was concerned with the question of the correctness of the judgment of the trial Court dated 24th September 2011 whereby 15 accused persons were convicted while the remaining 82 accused persons were acquitted of all charges.

In all the Criminal Appeals, the High Court heard the final arguments at length and reserved its Final Order on 16th May, 2018.

Today on 24th August, 2018 the bench of J. S. Murlidhar & J. I.S. Mehta pronounced the Final Order & Judgment. Whereby the High Court had dismissed all 15 appeals filed by the accused persons challenging the Order of the conviction and passed an Order in Criminal Appeal filed by the Victim/Complainant and State of NCT of Delhi. Whereby the High Court has reversed the Order of the Trial Court and convicted 20 accused persons previously acquitted by the Trial Court for various offences under IPC and the POA Act while 21 acquittals have been upheld. The conviction of 13 convicted accused persons have been upheld and, in certain aspects, enhanced.

A bench of Justices S. Muralidhar and I.S. Mehta has also taken note and made observation on the issue of the Caste Atrocity and regarding the Rehabilitation of 254 families of the Balmiki (Dalit) Community who has to flee Mirchpur as a result of the violence which they were subjected to at the hands of the Jat community and stated as under:

“349. The unstated footnote to the above facts is that those who had decided to stay back at Mirchpur village did not support the prosecution in the present criminal trial while those who decided not to return are the ones who did. This in itself is a telling commentary on the fear and intimidation that the Dalits must still experience in Mirchpur as a result of the incidents of 19th, 20th and 21st April 2010. Also, it is a sobering fact that the Government of Haryana has sought to rehabilitate the displaced families not in Mirchpur but in a separate township. The question is whether this accords with the constitutional promise of equality, social justice and fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual.

350. 71 years after Independence, instances of atrocities against Scheduled Castes by those belonging to dominant castes have shown no sign of abating. The incidents that took place in Mirchpur between 19th and 21st April 2010 serve as yet another grim reminder of “the complete absence of two things in Indian society” as noted by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar when he tabled the final draft of the Constitution of India before the Constituent Assembly on 25th November 1949. One was “equality” and the other “fraternity”.

351. Dr. Ambedkar highlighted the “life of contradictions” the nation would be entering into on 26th January 1950 when he said, “In politics, we will be recognising the principles of „one man-one vote? and „one vote-one value”. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of “one man-one value”. “He asked then, as millions of dalits including the Balmikis of Mirchpur ask even now: “How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions?”

Read the Final order and judgment of 24 August here

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