Amazing apex court
by Sandhya Jain on 18 Aug 2009 25 Comments

The Supreme Court’s startling decision to award a staggering Rs. 10 lakh as compensation to the family of underworld character Sohrabuddin Sheikh bodes ill for India’s battle against jihadi terror and its native accomplices. Sohrabuddin and his wife, Kausar Bi, were killed by Gujarat Police in November 2005.

On August 11, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Aftab Alam ordered this ex-gratia payment to Sohrabuddin’s mother and three brothers. It deferred the issue of transferring the case for further investigation to a special panel headed by former CBI director R.K. Raghavan to September 2.

Some immediate questions arise – should compensation be awarded for known criminals when the State has the legitimate right to use force for public good? Should compensation be given before relevant cases are disposed off by the courts? Is the quantum of compensation determined by the ‘earning capacity’ of the criminal, and his family’s addiction to the wages of sin? Have the victims of such criminals received comparable compensation? If victims are invisible to the judiciary, what quality of justice can citizens expect from the honourable courts?

Sohrabuddin hailed from a village near Ujjain, and was an ordinary truck driver who shuttled between Indore and Kandla when contacted by underworld gangs from the Kutch. He began carrying smuggled goods from Kutch to the Indian interiors, and soon rose to taking orders from Dawood Ibrahim for kidnapping, extortions and killings in the Gujarat-Rajasthan border area. His targets were marble mine owners in both States, remote from urban centres and easy targets. He evaded the Rajasthan and Gujarat governments and spread the tentacles of the Dawood kidnap industry to Andhra Pradesh.

As expected, the Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Police cooperated to trap him. Hyderabad Police tipped Gujarat and Rajasthan counterparts that Sohrabuddin and his wife were travelling by luxury bus to Pune. They were intercepted on the highway and taken to Gujarat for questioning. Both were killed under circumstances being established in court.

When Sohrabuddin’s body reached his home village, it was received by hundreds of followers, several wielding AK-47s, and firing openly. This is the man for whom the apex court has gifted Rs. 10 lakhs of public money.

The Supreme Court has created an unwarranted and obnoxious precedent, and one can only shudder at the inevitable repercussions. The family of a criminal with trans-national links to designated enemies of the Indian State – Dawood Ibrahim tops the list of wanted persons India is seeking from Pakistan – is compensated grandiosely; his victims are thus  dishonoured by none other than the apex court; the nation’s taxpayers are abused by this gross abuse of their money; and the Police officers who risked their lives to capture the crook and maintain law and order, prevent gun-running and smuggling for the D Company, are jailed and hounded by the Indian judiciary. There cannot be a graver travesty of justice.

In an era when the Indian nation and society are constantly exposed to jihadi terror, it is perverse to argue that diehard terrorists can or must be captured alive, or treated like ordinary criminals, much less as respectable citizens! The Batla House encounter, where two brave policemen died trying to capture jihadis, shows the extent to which the lives of our policemen are constantly in danger, and how little we are conscious of this truth. There is a limit to how many trained officers we can sacrifice to criminals and the foreign-funded human rights industry. India should take a leaf from the Chinese book and force all NGOs to re-register as companies, open to governmental scrutiny in the matter of funding and mentoring.

As things stand today, a man caught planting bombs and killed while trying to escape, can be dubbed the sole breadwinner of his family, and compensated to the tune of a million rupees! It is pertinent that the notorious bootlegger and Dawood associate, Abdul Latif, who made extortion money from builders even when lodged in Sabarmati Jail, through readily accessible mobile phones, was shot down while trying to escape “after midnight” from a police jeep.

There is, it seems, no other way to eradicate such menaces, and instead of hounding police officers, we must quickly legitimise the ‘licensed to kill’ regime for all those with established underworld, and especially jihadi, connections. Compensation must be given only for wrongful killing – that is, mistaken identity leading to the death of innocents, as in the Connaught Place killing in Delhi some years ago.

At Batla House, some LeT terrorists of Azamgarh were reportedly hiding there, and Gujarat intelligence tipped off the Delhi Police. Inspector M.C. Sharma was shot at point blank range from an AK-47; one criminal escaped in the melee. Many shameless politicians and professional human rights-wallahs called it a fake encounter, even when the officer lost his life. No apology is forthcoming even when the National Human Rights Commission (an otherwise derelict body that maintained resolute silence in the face of the lawless treatment meted out to Sadhvi Pragya) exonerated the Police. Now some Muslims are communalizing the issue by demanding a CBI probe. And if that also goes against their desired outcome, they may want a UN Mandate over India!

What has the ruling UPA, the NHRC, Supreme Court and Jholawallah Brigade given to the security personnel who died defending the Indian Parliament? Sadly, the Judiciary has become so aligned as to be almost indistinguishable from the NHRC-Jholawallah Brigade.

This was glaringly established when the Supreme Court accepted unsigned papers forwarded by the NHRC at the behest of Teesta Setalvad and transferred Gujarat riot cases to Mumbai, where Setalvad & Co. could personally mentor the witnesses and monitor the cases. If such is to be the face of Justice in this country, just give me potassium cyanide.

Nor is this the end of judicial absurdity. On 13 August, the Gujarat High Court formed a panel to probe the killing of Mumbai girl, Ishrat Jehan. This 18-year old became involved with terrorists and was killed by Gujarat Police in 2004, while accompanying three male accomplices on a mission to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi! All were linked to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba and were hailed as martyrs on its website, which established police claims about their identity and associations.

The author is Editor,

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