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Witnesses' fears about returning to Mirchpur unfounded: Court

Staff Reporter


Para-military forces deployed in Mirchpur

Returnees satisfied with security arrangement: Judge


NEW DELHI: Nearly 70 of the witnesses in the Mirchpur violence case against Dalits, who had moved an application seeking various compensation measures and rehabilitation in Delhi during the course of the trial, have been told by the designated court here that with the victim/witness protection programme for the case coming into effect, their fears about returning to Mirchpur in neighbouring Haryana were unfounded.

Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau said she could find “no palpable reason” why some of the victims/witnesses refused to join others of their community who had returned to Mirchpur after para-military forces were deployed there. She that those who returned were satisfied with the security arrangements.

The victims in their application had sought establishment of a camp in Delhi for them to reside during the trial citing security fears; mattresses, food, drinking water, medical facilities, toilet facilities; admission of their children to Delhi schools — all free of cost during the period of trial. The victims also sought reimbursement of travel expenses or to make travel arrangements, payment of daily maintenance expenses at rates not less than minimum wages during the trial in accordance with various provisions of the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Dr. Lau also took note of a writ petition filed by the victims on the same demands in the Supreme Court. She said the travel, food and accommodation expenses would be met by the Delhi and Haryana governments based on agreements reached between them. Dr. Lau said her court had no jurisdiction to grant travel allowance, daily allowance and maintenance expenses, but would call for status reports to see if the payments made were adequate.

Regarding the applicants' demand for compensation, the judge said this could not be made an incentive to secure the presence of the witnesses in the court. “Compensation is only to secure rehabilitation of the victims whereas their presence in the court is to assist in ensuring that the guilty are brought to book. No doubt the victims of atrocities have certain rights, but lest they may forget that they also have certain obligations and that is to assist the justice delivery system by ensuring that they appear and depose truthfully before the court. The onus of ensuring that the guilty are taken to task is not entirely upon the State but equally upon the victims and the witnesses without whose assistance it would not be possible,” the order noted.

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