HYDERABAD: Supreme Court lawyer and rights activist Prashant Bhushan on Saturday called the killing of alleged Tehreek-Ghalba-e-Islam (TGI) activist Viqaruddin Ahmed and four others in the Alair encounter a “custodial death” and demanded a judicial probe into it. He questioned why the courts were not taking time to hear this case or help the families of the victims get post-mortem reports.
Addressing a press conference organised by the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee India (CLMCI), Prashant Bhushan said both police and the judiciary look at the Muslim community with prejudice.
“As a result, there is disenchantment among the largest minority community.” He made these comments based on the 2009-People’s Tribunal findings, following the Mecca Masjid blast. “The Alair incident, dubbed an encounter, is a straight case of cold-blooded custodial killing of five presumed innocent young Muslims. There was inaction on the part of the judge concerned that despite Viqar informing the court, a day before his death, that he might be killed. The judge did not take any measures. Is it not the responsibility of the judiciary to take action when informed about it?” the advocate questioned. “It shows insensitivity on the part of the judiciary. How come the post-mortem report was not given to the families of the victims? Why no re-post-mortem was conducted when the families wanted it? What kind of system and what kind of justice is this? As per section 176 of the CrPC, if a death happens in police custody, it mandates judicial magistrate inquiry and it was not done. It has been over four months since the encounter took place and how come the courts did not hear this case. This is very unfortunate,” Prashant Bhushan said.
He said that unbiased probe cannot be carried out by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which is presently investigating the incident.
“In this episode, primary responsibility should be fixed on police, next on the judiciary followed by the government. The responsibility also lies with the High Court as the case has been going on for such a long time and they don’t have time to hear the matter. How can they become so insensitive that they did not give post-mortem report?” he asked.
When questioned why he linked religion with the Alair encounter, the Supreme Court lawyer cited the findings of the People’s Tribunal report on terror cases as his justification, as a large section of people picked up in terror cases were found to be Muslims. CLMCI president Lateef Mohammed Khan criticized the MIM and questioned why its chief Asaduddin Owaisi was silent on the issue. Earlier, addressing the legal fraternity at a seminar on judicial reforms organized by the Nampally Bar association, Prashant Bhushan said the only way left before society to make judiciary relevant and accessible to 80% people, who were unable to reach it owing to economic reasons, was to take it to them. He called upon the advocates to fight for a legal system that is “competent, responsive and free from corruption”.
Persons with reasonable intelligence, sound commonsense and honesty could be straight away taken in as judges and they can be trained through judicial academies for a year, the top lawyer suggested.
He also opined that a massive people’s movement alone could bring in changes in the judicial system. “A credible National Judicial Appointments Commission for selecting good persons as judges and a national judicial service for taking competent judges for the subordinate judiciary and a judicial complaints commission to deal with corruption in judiciary is the need of the hour,” he said.