NEARLY A year after then Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel had announced that a special court would be set up for speedy trial of the case of flogging of people from a Dalit family for allegedly skinning a dead cow, the special public prosecutor appointed by the government says that no such court has been set up yet.
Patel had made the announcement on July 18, 2016. Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja, asked about the absence of such a court, said there is nothing amiss and pointed at the court presently hearing the matter.
Advocate Dipendra Yadav, appointed special public prosecutor in the case, said: “There is a provision for having an exclusive court for conducting proceedings of only atrocity cases (against people from SC and ST communities) under the Atrocities Act (SC, ST Prevention of Atrocities Act). The State has to establish such courts in each district, which was not done until the Una flogging incident (of July 11, 2016). The chief minister had announced formation of a special court, but so far there is no special court for the case.”
In the interim, the case is being tried in the court of Additional Sessions Judge S P Tamang in Una town of Gir Somnath district.
MoS Jadeja said, “A special court means it was an announcement regarding having an exclusive court in the district. Gir Somnath district now has an exclusive court (hearing the case).”
After the Una incident, the Gujarat government had also announced that 16 such exclusive courts would be set up across the state. For Gir Somnath district, the exclusive court was set up at district headquarter Veraval.
Yadav said the exclusive court for the district is not conducting the trial since it has vested its powers in the court of ASJ Tamang in Una. This, he said, is because most cases of atrocities against people from SC communities are reported in Una.
As magistrate in a metropolitan court, Tamang had indicted the Gujarat Police in his inquiry into the 2004 encounter of Ishrat Jahan and three others. He had concluded it was a staged encounter.