Thursday 23 June 2016

People's Tribunals

The time has now come in our country for the people to form People's Tribunals in respect of massacres or attacks by the state authorities, or organized by the state authorities, overtly or covertly, or by the ruling party members, or a majority group, on a religious, ethnic, lingual or other group or minority, as, for instance, in 1984 and 2002.

Horrible atrocities were committed on Sikhs in 1984 in Delhi and other places in India after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Over 5000 of them were killed, many by being burnt alive by Congress organized goons who poured petrol on them and set them on fire. Since then, 32 years have expired, but justice has not yet been done in respect of this mini Holocaust. Almost all the organizers and perpetrators of this horrible crime are still at large and have not been punished, and in all likelihood will never be punished.

The main organizers of the 2002 massacres have not been punished yet, and only relatively smaller fries have been, and that too after 14 long years.

So in my opinion it is time for the people to set up People's Tribunals, and not seek justice from the state tribunals, which take an inordinate amount of time, and are often biased in favour of the perpetrators of the crimes.

When I mentioned my idea of People's Tribunals in a function ' Insaaf Justice 84 ' organized by Amnesty International in respect of the massacre of Sikhs in 1984 at the Habitat Centre, New Delhi on 23rd June, one person said that this was a dangerous idea and had risks, as it may lead to vigilante justice.

I replied that every new initiative had risks, and if you are not willing to take risks it is better to sit at home and do bhajan kirtan.

We should certainly do whatever can be done to avoid vigilante justice, but the people now have to use their creativity and set up new organs, as the established organs of the state are often not rendering justice. The persons in power often issue oral illegal orders, and the administrative and police authorities carry out these orders to please their political masters as happened during the Nazi rule. So where should the people go to get justice ?

In 1984 most of the police were collaborating with the murderers instead of protecting the people. The Courts are too slow, as is evident from the fact that even after 32 years justice has not been done in respect of the horrible events of 1984. The Govt. of India appointed a fact finding Commission , but the head of the Commission, Justice Ranganath Mishra, former CJI, was known to be close to the ruling Congress party, and he did a cover up in his report.

So the people should not expect justice from the state authorities but set up their own Tribunals.
Details about these People's Tribunals have no doubt to be worked out, but the time has now come in India to accept the idea in principle.

I may refer to a People's Commission set up jointly by 3 organizations, the Sikhs for Human Rights, Lawyers for Human Rights International, and Punjab Human Rights Organization. I was the Chairman of the Commission, and Mr. Shashikant, former DGP, Punjab the General Secretary. This was not a government or court appointed body, but one appointed by the people. Its purpose was to investigate the police firings in Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura ( near Bathinda in Punjab ) on 14.10. 2015, in which 2 persons were killed and many injured. We went to the spot where the incident took place and recorded the statements of many witnesses. We also wanted to get the version of the police and issued notice to them, but none appeared before us from their side. We then carefully examined the statements and recorded our findings, which we released in a public function. We found the police guilty and recommended compensation to the victims.

Some people asked in the function in which we released our report what can be its utility and effect ? I replied that a PIL can be filed now in the Punjab High Court annexing a copy of the report, and seeking a direction for compensation to the victims as recommended by the Commission, and action against the delinquent policemen. Other action can also be thought out.

The important thing which must be ensured, however, is the credibility of such People's Tribunals and People's Commissions. They must be headed by persons who are regarded by the people as fair and trustworthy, and must function in a totally transparent manner

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