Mumbai: Raising serious questions over the punishment awarded by the Ahmedabad Court to Gulberg Society massacre convicts, columnist Shoaib Daniyal in his latest article said bias against minorities in India’s legal system is pervasive and endemic, and is heavily loaded against disempowered groups.
"The bias against minorities in India’s legal system is pervasive and endemic: an astonishing 94% of Indians on death row for terror offences are either Muslim or Dalit", Shoaib wrote in scroll.in.
Comparing the rulings in Godhra train burning and Gulberg Society massacre cases, Shoaib wondered how judges can use two different paramaters while awarding punishments in cases that appear similar in brutality.
"Although India’s legal system did not hold up Jaafri’s slow torture and death to be a “rarest of the rare” case fit for the death penalty, it did sentence 11 Muslims to death in the Godhra train burning case. That tragedy occurred the day before the Gulberg massacre, and left 59 Hindus dead", he wrote.
"The sentence was passed even as the man alleged by the prosecution to be the mastermind of the train burning was actually acquitted by the courts for want of any evidence – sowing deep doubts about the prosecution’s entire case", he added.
"These sentences make it clear that when it comes to navigating the Indian legal system, the dice is heavily loaded against disempowered minorities. This isn't the case only in Gujarat. Take, for example, the violence that convulsed Mumbai in 1992-’93 in the wake of the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
"The bomb blasts of March 1993, which left 257 people dead, resulted in 100 Muslims being convicted. Ten people were sentenced to death, though the Supreme Court later commuted the sentences of all but one of them to life", Shoaib wrote.
Shoaib further gave the example of 2006 Khairlanji massacre in Maharashtra, where a mob of the dominant Kunbi caste killed four members of a Mahar family, to prove his points.
"In spite of this terrible brutality, the anti-Dalit violence of Khairlanj did not qualify as a “rarest of the rare” case. In 2010, the Bombay High Court commuted a trial court’s death-penalty to life imprisonment", he wrote.
"These sentences make it clear that when it comes to navigating the Indian legal system, the dice is heavily loaded against disempowered minorities", he wrote.
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