Oppose Death Penalty Confirmed by Supreme Court to the Peasants of Bihar, India


Dear Friends,

Indian judiciary is said to be an `independent` and `impartial` institution of Indian democracy. But it acts in such a manner which proves the supremacy of legislative, executive and police over the judiciary. And since all these institutions of the system mainly serve the interests of the exploitative ruling classes, the people of the country should not expect much from the Indian judiciary. It provides relief to the rulers of the country but suppresses all the desires and aspirations of the masses in general.

The above class biasness is very much evident even in awarding death sentences by different courts. Let us examine some of the cases of Bihar-Jharkhand, in which death sentences have been awarded under different sections of different acts.

Bihar-Jharkhand Experience

On 8/6/2001 the Session Judge cum Designated TADA Court of Gaya (Bihar) awarded death punishments to Veer Kumar Paswan, Krishna Mochi, Dharu Singh@ Dharmendra Singh and Nanhe Lal Mochi, in the case related with Bara occurrence. In this incident members and supporters of a notorious private army Swarn Liberation Front were killed by a crowd of hundreds of people. The feudal army had organised heinous massacres in Sawan Bigha (Jehanabad), Rampurchai (Jehanabad), Mein Barsimha (Gaya) and other places, killing several dozens of dalits and oppressed people. Since the Bihar Police directly or indirectly supported the landlord army, the affected people took their own course of action , and the result was the Bara incident.

Similar was the story of Beltu (Hazaribagh) case of Jharkhand, in which a Hazaribagh District and Session Judge awarded death punishment to Suresh Sao, Heeraman Sao, and Hani Miyan on 16/6/2003. In this occurrence murderers and rapists , belonging to a criminal gang Gram Raksha Dal, were killed by a mob of more than a hundred people. These criminals had organised many loots, rapes and murders in Garhwa district and were getting police patronage. In another case of Durgawati (Bhabhua district, Bihar) Shobhit Chamar was awarded death sentence by the District and Session Judge of Rohtas on 23/2/1996.

Confirmation by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has confirmed the death sentences of Shobhit Chamar and the four convicts of Bara Case. According to a newspaper report, the process of issuing Black Warrants to hang those five landless/ poor people till death is on. So, they are terribly waiting for the gallows for months on end. Altogether, about 50 convicts awarded with the death penalty are languishing in Bhagalpur Central Jail of Bihar. They may get the same confirmations from the Supreme Court of India. Similar reports are available from many States ,like A P, Tamilnadu, Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat, M P and J&K.

Biasness of Judiciary

The awarding of death sentences by Trial Courts and the confirmation of this severe and `rarest of the rare` punishment by the Supreme Court clearly appear to be a serious miscarriage of justice to the downtrodden people of India,Especially in Bihar-Jharkhand, where around 200 gruesome massacres, killing more than 1000 oppressed and struggling people, were organised by private armies like Swarn Liberation Front, Sunlight Sena and Ranvir Sena . The biased role of the judiciary is so thoroughly clear. Ironically, none of the killers of these private armies, which are run by upper caste landlords, got death punishment from any court in Bihar and Jharkhand. Several cases of massacres were not being tried even. The notorious Brahmeshwer Singh, head of the Ranvir Sena, which organised about 3 dozen massacres of oppressed people, including 58 people in Lakshmanpur Bathe, is at present a candidate for Ara Loksabha constituency. Ramadhar Singh @ Diamond, the head of Swarn Liberation Front, and other leaders of private armies are also enjoying political patronage from different parties. In most of the cases of massacres they got acquittal from courts. In some cases, these bloody assassins were given ordinary punishments , like jail custody for some years. Many of them came out on bail and again took very active part in organising massacres of dalits and poor people.

But it is to note that the Indian judiciary is awarding death punishments to dalits, backwards, oppressed and minorities even without fulfilling the legal and judicial process of judgement. In the case of Bara such lacunae are very much apparent. Let us see some of the glaring facts of this case and about its trial process.

Some Facts about Bara Case

1.Bara incident (occurred on 12th Feb, 1992) was a retaliatory mass action, in which more than 1000 people took part. In this situation, it was impossible to locate the actual killers.

2.According to the provision of TADA the authorised District Magistrate or First Class Magistrate of same stature should take up the whole process of the trial of the case and write down the judgement. But Bara case was tried by Smt. Shakuntla Sinha (1st Class Magistrate) and the judgement was given by Jawahar Lal Chaudhry (1st Class Magistrate). He had been brought from Bhagalpur Court for this purpose because he belongs to Bhumihar Caste. We know that all those killed in Bara incident also belonged to the same caste.

3.According to the Police Diary of this case, Tekari Police Station incharge got the news of Bara incident by 9 pm but the police reached the spot of occurrence at 1.00 am (after 4 hours). They first met Shrawan Kumar, whose hands were tied. They also noted down his statement as FIR. But later on, this FIR was burnt and another version was made in the name of Satyndra Kumar Sharma to implicate many people, not involved in the incident. But this new informant never turned up in the court to verify his report.

4.The police started to write down the diary of this case since 13/2/1992 and they completed 222 paragraphs up till 23/2/1992. But they did not mention the name of any independent witness. In search of some witness, they raided the house of Ravindra Singh, village Gafa in the night of 17/2/1992. That night Bihari Manjhi was also sleeping there. Both were arrested and made non-FIR accused of Bara Case. The …‘Confessional Statement` of Bihari Manjhi was recorded and placed as the main evidence of this case before the Trial Court.

5.Under the provision of TADA, only SP is authorised to register the Confessional Statement of the accused in his own hand writing. But the Confessional Statement of Bihar Manjhi was recorded by a sub-inspector. According to the provision this statement was to be sent as soon as possible to the Chief Judicial Magistrate. But it was not done so for 5 years. After 5 years it was directly sent to the Special TADA Court with a certifying note of the SP of Gaya.

6.The Confessional Statement, which was made the main basis of the Judgement, has been recorded in 10 pages altogether. Only 5 pages have the signatures of Bihari Manjhi, even which were denied by him in the Trial Court. The Trial Court did not order to verify the signatures by experts.

7.S.P. of Gaya District sat for hours before Bihari Manjhi for taking his Confessional Statement but he failed to recognise him in the trial Court.

8.The Supreme Court has given an instruction in the case-Kartar Singh vs. the State of Punjab that investigation charge of a TADA case should be handed over to a DSP rank officer. But in the case of Bara incident, this charge was handed over to an officer of Inspector rank only.

9.The Supreme Court has confirmed the punishment of death sentences in Bara Case by a majority of 2:1. Justice Shah differing from the majority view has taken into account many of the above mentioned facts.. He questioned the awarding of death sentences on the basis of the "quality of evidence" of a single public witness No.21.

With the above facts, no one having impartial thinking and wisdom would agree with the order of the confirmation of death punishments to five oppressed people of Bihar by the highest court of Indian Judiciary. If they are hanged, it will add a new dimension in the functioning of Indian judiciary.

Therefore, we call upon all the progressive, democratic and justice loving people to rise and resist against the hanging order of these five peasants of Bihar. We also appeal to organise continuous movement against the order of death punishments by different courts of Bihar-Jharkhand and everywhere else. We also suggest to take all necessary actions in order to force the government of India to initiate the process for the abolition of capital punishment from the Indian Judiciary System.

Our Tasks

We put up the following tasks before all of you to take up immediately:

--Write to the president of India to consider mercy petition of the five peasants of Bihar, waiting for the gallows.

--Organise protest programmes such as public meeting, hall meeting, demonstration, etc. in your respective areas for the removal of capital punishment.

--Publish leaflets, pamphlets, posters, booklets and other propaganda material against death sentences.

-- Take up signature campaign all over the country and send all these to the President of India.

--Sign on the electronic petition to the President of India.

All India Peoples Resistance Forum (AIPRF)
Strugging Forum For Peoples Resistance (SFPR)

Contact: 67A, Rameshwar Nagar, Azadpur, Delhi-110033. Ph. 011-27675001, e-mail: aiprf@rediffmail.com