Gujarat-Police-Desh-Ka-GauravRecently, Gujarat Police is having a very hard time with the Supreme Court. Judgements after judgements in various ‘terror cases’ are shredding apart the integrity of Gujarat Police and putting a big question mark on their capabilities. On July 17, 2014, the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgement, has acquitted all the eleven persons who were convicted and sentenced by a TADA Court in October 2008 for alleged involvement in the ‘twin blasts’ Surat bomb blasts case of 1993. The Supreme Court ruling has come as a shock to the Gujarat government as they looking for enhanced punishment for those in jail.

The eleven persons, including former Congress minister Mohammad Surti have been in jail for 20 years now for a crime that the apex court has found them innocent of. They had been convicted by a TADA court for jail terms ranging from ten to 20 years. The Gujarat police claimed that the genesis of Surat Bomb blast case lay in the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 6th December, 1992, at Ayodhaya which had led to wide-spread communal riots in several parts of the country including Surat. The eleven accused will now be released after twenty long years. The apex court was convinced that it was a misuse of TADA by investing agencies to trap innocent people. The apex court observed how Gujarat Police had failed to follow the mandatory provision of TADA which required approval from DSP. Quoting from the judgement:

Trial and conviction of the appellants for offences with which they were charged is vitiated for breach of the mandatory provisions of Section 20-A (1) of The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA). That provision it was contended required approval of the District Superintendent of Police for recording of any information about the commission of an offence punishable under the said Act. Approval for recording of the information was instead obtained from the Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, Government of Gujarat who had no power to grant the same so also the purported approval from the Additional Police Commissioner, Surat was of no legal effect

Even otherwise the recovery of the weapons is also not satisfactorily proved by cogent and reliable evidence. Such being the position, we have no manner of doubt left that the conviction of the appellants cannot be sustained.

Not too long back, Supreme Court has passed a similar damning judgement ripping apart Gujarat Police in the 2002 Akshardham terror case. The investigation in Akshardham was conducted by (fake) encounter specialist team of DG Vanzara and GL Singhal. On May 16, 2014, while acquitting all the six accused including three who were sentenced to death in the Akshardham case, the Supreme Court slammed the Gujarat Police for the incompetence with which it conducted the investigation of the Akshardham case. The bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice V. Gopala Gowda said that there was:

perversity in conducting this case at various stages, right from the investigation level to the granting of sanction by the state government to prosecute the accused persons under POTA, the conviction and awarding of sentence to the accused persons by the Special Court (POTA) and confirmation of the same by the High Court. We, being the apex court cannot afford to sit with folded hands when such gross violation of fundamental rights and basic human rights of the citizens of this country were presented before us.

Before parting with the judgment, we intend to express our anguish about the incompetence with which the investigating agencies conducted the investigation
of the case of such a grievous nature, involving the integrity and security of the Nation. Instead of booking the real culprits responsible for taking so many precious lives, the police caught innocent people and got imposed the grievous charges against them which resulted in their conviction and subsequent sentencing

The acquittal in the Surat blasts case and Akshardham cases show how Gujarat police has abused the so-called ‘terror laws’ like TADA and POTA to trap innocent people over the years. The Congress and its allies had opposed the enactment of POTA in 2002 and the BJP led NDA Government was forced to hold a joint session of the Parliament to get the law passed. All democratic forces had appreciated the efforts of Congress to stop the enactment of a most undemocratic piece of law though it should be remembered that it was Congress who had earlier enacted TADA, which was as bad as POTA. Draconian Laws like TADA and POTA can only be misused, since “terrorism” has never been curbed by “laws”! TADA was grossly misused and thousands of innocent persons, workers, farmers went behind bars under TADA and at that time in 1989, it was BJP, which led the campaign to end TADA.

But after coming to power, the same BJP led NDA enacted POTA and used it against hundreds of innocent Muslims in Gujarat and divided the two communities. In other states like Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu etc, the poor Adivasis, political activists and even people like Viako, who were part of the ruling party were booked under POTA! It was therefore the turn of the Congress to oppose POTA and wear the cloak of democracy.

It must be noted that TADA and POTA both were repealed prospectively and not retrospectively. We from Jan Sangharsh Manch had fought against POTA and demonstrations were held in six cities. We had also written a letter to Sonia Gandhi requesting her to withdraw the law retrospectively but POTA was not withdrawn retrospectively even after repeated protests and requests. This is the reasons why many innocent people are still languishing in jails across the country.


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