A day after Supreme Court directed a Special Investigation Team probe into the alleged role of chief minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 post-Godhra communal carnage, a PIL sought to draw a parallel between the Gujarat riots and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots seeking parallel treatment by the judiciary.
The petition … said the Supreme Court has handled the Gujarat riot cases with singular motive to bring to book the alleged perpetrators of the mayhem and requested it to take up the hundreds of anti-Sikh riots cases pending in various courts for 25 years without there being any justice to the victims and their families.
The PIL, … was also categoric that pendency of the anti-Sikh riot cases for 25 years made a mockery of the criminal justice system that should equally protect the victims and the right of the accused for a speedy trial. (via Apply Gujarat riot case principle to Sikh riots case: PIL in SC – India – The Times of India ellipsis mine).
This PIL does raise some interesting questions in the minds of people I know (and dont know too!), Your Honour!
- Are Muslims ‘more equal’ than Sikhs?
- Is killing of Muslims by Hindus more heinous than Hindu killing of Sikhs? I am not raising the question of Sikhs and Muslims killing Hindus – for instance in Punjab and Kashmir!
- Does the fact that the 1984 killings happened under the very nose of the Supreme Court make it a ‘more understandable’ case?
- Is there a greater need to prove to the Muslim (world) that India cares – than to deliver justice to the Sikh population?
- The Muslims have many spokesmen in the international world – but the Sikhs have no one except (maybe) fellow Indians? Is the Honourable Supreme Court worried about international opinion more than the due process of law – which will dis-favour the Sikhs?
- Older cases should usually occupy the Honourable Court’s attention – rather than newer ones? The Honourable Court may need to explain why a newer case has been more favoured than the older one?
- Does the ‘noise’ level of a case create pressure on the Honourable Court?
- Does the size of the Muslim electorate have anything to do with this ‘activism’ – compared to the lesser Sikh Voters, leading to ‘passive’ justice?
The Indian Supreme Court is untainted by dubious legal precedents of the American Supreme Court.
The much vaunted ‘Western principle of equal in the eyes of law’ was given short shrift by the US Supreme Court in the Dredd Scott case – by which the slave forefathers of the modern African-Americans were barred from approaching American Courts. Similarly, in its wisdom, the US Supreme Court rubber stamped segregation between Whites and the African Americans by the Plessy vs. Ferguson verdict (1892). In yet landmark case, the US Supreme Court decided, (Myner v. Happerstett) that being a US citizen did not give women the right to vote. Finally, after more than 100 years of Women’s Suffrage Movement, the right to vote was given to the women in the US in 1924.
Such ‘differences’ in judicial treatment of similar cases dilutes the high standards of that the Indian Supreme Court has set for itself.