Amid a row over arrest of some Muslim youths on terror charges, Union Home Ministry on 23 March backed a proposal to set up special courts for expeditious trial of terror cases and promised action against officers responsible for “knowingly” holding innocent persons in custody.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs strongly supports the proposal of special courts so that expedtious trial is possible….I am also of the view that arresting and keeping innocent persons in custody knowingly is indeed a serious offence and the government is committed to ensuring strong action against the officers responsible in all such cases.
“You have my assurance that this will happen,” Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said on Friday in a letter to Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan.
The Home Minister was responding to a letter written by Khan to him on February 6 in which, citing representations by Muslims and bodies and his meeting with stake-holders, the Minority Affairs minister had expressed concern over “wrong arrests” of Muslim youths in different parts of the country in terror cases.
Apprising the Home Ministry of the concerns expressed by Muslim bodies that the “draconian” provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act can be misused against minorities, Khan has proposed setting up of special courts to ensure speedy trial of all terror cases.
Khan had also flagged the issue of compensation to those youths who were arrested and then let off after courts found them not to be involved in the cases.
A delegation of national Muslim bodies had earlier met Khan in this regard on February 2.
Addressing the National Editors’ Conference here, Khan said the Home Ministry’s “postive” view on the issue has now come. “We will follow it up,” he said.
In his letter, Shinde assured Khan that although law and order is a state subject “we will take up any case which may be brought to our notice where innocent persons have been charged.”
In the letter, the Home Minister brought to the notice of Khan that each cases regarding payment of compensation to those acquitted will need to be examined.
He also said acquittal may also be the result of lack of enough evidence to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt or because of improper investigation.
“Where the prosecution is false and malicious, the persons responsbile for the prosecution can be charged under section 211 of the IPC,” Shinde said in the letter.
“An acquittal may also be the result of lack of enough evidence to prove the charges beyond reasonable doubt or because of improper investigation. It is usually for courts to pronounce its verdict in appropriate cases regarding the compensation to be given,” he added.
Shinde also pointed out that in fact with respect to the terror cases investigated and prosecuted by NIA, special courts are created under the statute all over the country.
“As on date, 49 special courts all over India have already been designated for NIA cases. These courts are dedicated for trial of NIA cases on priority basis so that the speedy trial and disposal of terror cases can take place,” Shinde said in the letter.
At the conference, the Minority Affairs inister, faced with a volley of questions regarding the arrest and subsequent of innocent Muslim youths in terror cases including the recent one of a journalist in Bangalore, said his ministry will work to address as soon as a complaint is received.