Jawahar Bag Massacre: Legal Angle

Reading time: 8-10 minutes.

A petition has been filed in the Hon’ble Supreme Court regarding the 2016 Jawahar Bagh Massacre, by the wife of the Late Sh. Mukul Dwivedi (the then Superintendent of Police, Mathura) in which he and twenty-nine others were killed. The Petitioner has demanded an expeditious investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (hereinafter referred to as “CBI”) in the present case, which has not made much progress since it was transferred to it, due to the political strings involved in the case. The incident sheds light on the nexus between politicians and gangsters, raising issues of criminal conspiracy while showcasing the apathy of the authorities towards their profession. The author will also discuss the scope of right to speedy justice enshrined under Article 21, on which the case is based.

Facts of the Issue

The facts relate to the Jawahar Bagh Massacre of 2016, in which 30 persons had died and several others injured. The Petitioner’s husband and other police officers were instructed to break the boundary wall surrounding the Bagh, one day before the eviction of Ram Briksh Yadav and his associates. The confederate was occupying the Bagh for over two years and the authorities were compelled to evict them after the High Court at Allahabad issued a contempt Notice. This resulted in the authorities making plans to evict Ram Briksh Yadav and his men, however, their strong political ties with the ruling political party resulted in the plans being stifled. The politicians exercised their influence over the District Magistrate and Senior Superintendent of Police, Mathura, who ordered the Petitioner’s husband and other police officers to visit the site and gauge the implication of breaking the boundary walls. In the ensuing clash, the Petitioner’s husband and twenty-nine others lost their lives.

The Petitioner contends that the political ties of the accused men have hampered the investigation. She claims that even after the order of the High Court at Allahabad, to complete the investigation within two months in 2017 was made, the investigation has not been completed even after the expiry of forty months. She further alleges that the CBI has not even interrogated the politicians connected with the matter, nor has any punitive action been taken against the then District Magistrate and Senior Superintendent of Police of Mathura. Also, she states that her husband’s killing is part of a larger criminal conspiracy. Among other allegations of foul play, the Petitioner stated that her husband had not been eating properly and was stressed as he was not allowed to take any strict action against the miscreants. On the eventful day, her husband and other police officers were not allowed to carry any arms on the pretext that some of the policemen were new recruits. 

Hence, she moved the Hon’ble Supreme Court under Article 32, demanding the completion of the investigation within two months, stating that her right to speedy justice, guaranteed by Article 21 was being violated due to the non-completion of the investigation by CBI. She has prayed that two investigative teams of CBI be formed so as to look into the incident at Jawahar Bagh and to investigate the State Government for its inaction in the said matter. 

Legal Provisions Involved

Article 21 casts a negative obligation on the State to not deprive any person of his life or personal liberty, except according to the procedure established by law. The import of Article 21 has been expanded by judicial review, to encompass the right to speedy justice. In the present case, undue delay in the investigation of the case has resulted in the violation of the said fundamental right. It is a settled principle of law that speedy trial and time bound disposal of criminal cases is not only the right of the accused, but also the right of the victim under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, as recognised by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Mangal Singh v. Kishan Singhand continuously reiterated in other cases.

Another vital aspect of Article 21 highlighted in the present case is the demand for a proper investigation by the CBI. It is trite law that no one can claim investigation by an investigative agency of one’s choice instead for proper investigation as decided by the Hon’ble Supreme Court [Sakiri Vasu v. State of UP: (2008) 2 SCC 409]. In the present case, the Petitioner has invoked the jurisdiction of the Hon’ble Apex Court, to get an impartial and proper investigation into the Jawahar Bagh Massacre, in which her husband and twenty-nine others were killed.

Critical Analysis

The case brings back the focus on the issue of delay in justice delivery in the country. A thorough and proper investigation must be carried out in the said matter so that the Petitioner can feel a sense of justice. Only when justice prevails in the true sense, can one claim that the rights conferred under Article 21 are being upheld. In the author’s opinion, a Court monitored investigation must be undertaken as grave issues of corruption, violence and support of political parties to the gangsters seem to be at play in the facts of the present case. In such a scenario, the investigation team must conduct a thorough and fair investigation.

In case, the CBI is not able to complete the investigation in two months, then the Court could grant some amount of extension. If not, the Court can initiate contempt proceedings against the Investigating Officer. This will act as a deterrent if the CBI decides to slack off during the investigation. Thus, these two measures could go a long way in ensuring a proper investigation in the Jawahar Bagh Massacre.

Conclusion

It is quite appalling to see that public authorities entrusted with the task of keeping the public safe, buckle under political influence. If not for such inaction, such an incident would have been avoided and one less petition would have been filed in the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Similar has been the case with the State police which also failed to conduct a proper investigation. Thus, the onus is now on the CBI to conduct a fair investigation and bring the accused persons to light. It is imperative that the people’s representatives must not use their influence to help their allies gain undue benefits. 

Author: Sreyas T. Manoj from The National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi.

Editor: Astha Garg, Junior Editor, Lexlife India

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