The Supreme Court today castigated the Madhya Pradesh police for not getting a video pertaining to the 2013 communal riots over rumours of cow slaughter and producing them as crucial evidence before a trial court, warning the officials of action. “You (Deputy Superintendent of SIB) are in for a serious trouble, sir! Why have you not got the VCD examined,” asked a a bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud, while taking strong note of the acquittal of nine of the 12 accused persons in one of the 12 rioting cases in which FIRs have been lodged.
The bench warned that it would “fix accountability” of the concerned police officers. “Nine persons, out of 12, have been acquitted. Three have been absconding,” it said, asking why no action has been taken and was it because the accused belonged to “a political party”.
The bench then granted two weeks to activist Anurag Modi, who had filed the plea through advocate Pyoli, to peruse the judgement of a district court acquitting nine persons in a rioting case. Modi had filed the appeal against an order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in the case. It also asked the police officials to respond why they did not get the VCD of the crime authenticated by a forensic laboratory and produce it as evidence before the trial court.
Initially, the court was convinced that the police had annexed the VCD in their charge sheet and a social activist was not supposed to interfere with the probe and the police reports. Later, the bench got irked when it was informed that the VCD was not used as evidence in the lower court and nine accused have been acquitted in a case.
Earlier, the apex court had taken the state police to task, saying it seemed it had not examined the videos and photographs pertaining to the riots which had been triggered by an alleged rumour that a cow had been slaughtered. It had directed the Investigating Officer (IO), who had probed the 12 FIRs lodged in connection with the riots that had taken place on September 9, 2013 in Kheda and Pahatgaon villages of Harda district, to appear before it today.
In the riots, 54 persons had lost their houses and businesses. Twelve FIRs were registered by police naming Surendra Singh Rajput alias Tiger as the main accused in all the cases.
The apex court, on February 17, had directed the state police “to place the concerned charge sheet, along with the translated version thereof, on the record of the case” within four weeks.
On perusal of the charge sheets, the court had pointed out that they had not identified the culprits. Modi had sought a probe against local BJP leader and former minister Kamal Patel and his son alleging they had instigated the riots with an eye on the assembly elections slated three months later.
The High Court had rejected the plea saying that the probe in the case was complete. The petitioner had alleged that the riots were orchestrated by the Bajrang Dal, VHP and Goraksha Commando Force and that the then District Magistrate had named these organisations in his letter to Assistant Chief Secretary (Home) on September 20, 2013.
However, these organisations were not named in any of the charge sheets filed in the case, it alleged. “The entire incident was stage managed and well-planned, attempted to be portrayed as one of communal nature. “In fact, the cow had died of choking of respiratory pipe and asphyxia caused by large amount polythene consumption … and 12 FIRs were registered initially, yet none included the names” of the BJP members “who were main conspirators and instigators,” the plea alleged.
The petition has sought a CBI probe in the matter on the ground that the local police was hand-in-glove with the leader. It has also alleged that Surendra Singh Rajput, the key accused named in all 12 FIRs, was still absconding.