Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fast track courts likely for cases involving “innocent Muslims”

NEW DELHI, April 3, 2013

Amid charges of "innocent" Muslims being falsely implicated in terror cases, the Union government is likely to set up fast track courts to expedite their trial.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde gave the assurance to a group of MPs and civil rights activists who met him to demand a "clear-cut time frame" for setting up such courts and freeing all the accused who have been in prison for two years or more.

The delegation presented a 14-point charter of demands, seeking immediate action to end the persecution of "innocent" Muslims who were "being falsely implicated on the charges of terrorist activities with fabricated evidence."

Notably, Mr. Shinde recently wrote to Minority Affairs Minister K. Rahman Khan, backing the proposal to establish special courts for expeditious trial of terror cases involving "innocent" Muslim youths. Besides Muslims organisations and human rights groups, some political parties have demanded a mechanism to ensure that "innocent" Muslims are not held on fabricated charges.

The memorandum — signed by CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan and Rajya Sabha MPs Mani Shankar Ayyar, A.S. Malihabadi, Mohammed Addeb and Aziz Pasha — has also demanded a mechanism to secure compensation and reparation for, and rehabilitation of, those acquitted by courts. It sought a probe against police officers who had arrested "innocent" Muslims and fabricated evidence against them, and strict penal action, if they were found guilty.

Demanding an official audit of all counter-terrorism agencies to "investigate their practices in framing innocent Muslim youth," the delegation, which included members of the People's Campaign Against Politics of Terror (PCPT), sought an end to "protracted police custody" of an alleged accused person.

Significantly, in December last, answering a question in the Rajya Sabha from Janata Dal (United) member Sabir Ali about details "of innocent Muslims languishing in various jails," Mr. Shinde said data from the National Crime Records Bureau showed that as on December 2011, the total number of undertrials in prisons was more than 2.41 lakh, of whom 51,206 or 21.2 per cent of the total inmates were Muslims. Likewise, there were more than 1.28 lakh convicts lodged in various jails, including 22,943 Muslims.
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