SC issues notice on Kandhamal retrial

The apex court issued the notice on a petition from the survivors of the 2008 anti-Christian violence and human rights activists.

Posted on October 20, 2012, 7:31 AM

A ruined and deserted house in Bodimunda

By John Dayal
New Delhi:The Supreme Court has asked the Odisha government and the Central Bureau of Investigation to respond within eight weeks to a petition seeking fresh probe and retrials into some cases related to the Kandhamal violence.

The apex court issued the notice on Friday on a petition from the survivors of the 2008 anti-Christian violence and human rights activists.

The petitioners under the “Initiative to Justice, Peace and Human Rights” had approached the court after two Fast Track courts set up for the speedy trial acquitted all accused in 29 of 30 cases.

The Initiative’s writ petition also sought retrials of the cases outside Odisha, besides fresh investigations into them.

The bench comprising Justices R M Lodha and Anil R Dave also wanted the Odisha police department to respond.

According to the petitioners, faulty and defective investigation by the police, coupled with a perfunctory trial, has left victims with no hope of justice. Out of the more than 2,500 criminal complaints, the police had registered only 828 first information records.

After investigation, the police filed charge sheet in 512 cases and the final report only in about 315 cases. Conviction was given in only one case for murder.

The petitioners had prayed for reinvestigation of the cases by Central Bureau of Investigations, the institution of a commission of inquiry, and transfer of cases to any other state.

Odisha witnessed a wave of violence lasting several weeks against Christian dalit and tribal communities of Kandhamal district following the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati on August 23, 2008.

According to human rights activists, the violence displaced more than 56,000 people, among whom 10,000 are still in shelter homes. Over 5,600 houses and more than 295 churches and institutions were burnt during the violence. Christian groups have alleged that 100 murders and several rapes had also taken place.

The state government has acknowledged less than 40 murders. Several persons are also being tried on charges of gang raping a Catholic nun during the violence.

Christian groups in the past had approached the Supreme Court on matters of relief and rehabilitation alleging inadequate relief and rehabilitation by the state government for the survivors and the other victims of the violence.

Supreme Court , Kandhamal Violence , Fast Track Courts ,

 

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