ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Whither Justice?

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On 24 July 2017, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by a non-governmental organisation reportedly seeking investigations into the killings of Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). The order appears to be based only on the reason that 27 years have passed since the crimes in question were committed and “no fruitful purpose would emerge, as evidence is unlikely to be available at this late juncture.”

The Supreme Court order is a complete departure from established law that “crime never dies” and there exists no time limitation for justice under Indian and international laws with regard to serious crimes, such as murder. Killings of Kashmiri Pandits, other minorities and all the violence in J&K have never been fairly and credibly investigated. Thus far, J&K has faced widespread, systematic and systemic violence, largely at the hands of the Indian state, that has resulted in an estimated 70,000 killings, 8,000-plus enforced disappearances, and numerous cases of torture and sexual violence, resulting in 7,000-plus unmarked and mass graves. To date, despite the presence of evidence, virtually no prosecutions have been conducted against armed forces’ personnel in civilian courts. This deep and pervasive impunity will be further strengthened and supported by the above-mentioned order. Crucially, the order exonerates the state and its agencies that have chosen to protect the perpetrators of crime and have not allowed fair and credible investigations, thereby, creating deterrence to families approaching the courts. The delay is not attributable to victim families, many of whom, have consistently sought to use all available forums to struggle for justice. Some victim families have not pursued cases due to the real fear and danger that seeking justice involves.

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Updated On : 4th Aug, 2017

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