The Delhi High Court, in a crucial verdict on Friday, convicted 33 out of which 12 were sentenced to life imprisonment in connection with the burning of a 60-year-old Dalit man and his physically challenged daughter alive in Mirchpur village in Haryana's Hisar district in 2010. The verdict was pronounced for the offences under the SC/ST (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act.
Stressing that the instances of atrocities against the Scheduled Castes (SCs) have not abated even after 71 years of Independence, the Delhi High Court on Friday reversed the acquittal of 20 persons in the 2010 Mirchpur Dalit killing case. The Delhi high court also upheld the conviction of 13 persons by the trial court and enhanced the punishment of some of the convicts.
Notably, the 60-year-old Dalit man and his physically challenged daughter was burnt alive in Mirchpur village by the members of the Jat community.
In its 209-page verdict, the bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta said that even after 71 years of India’s Independence instances of "atrocities" against Scheduled Castes by those belonging to dominant castes have shown "no sign of abating". The incidents that took place in Mirchpur between April 19 and 21, 2010 serve as yet another grim reminder of 'the complete absence of two things in Indian society' as noted by Dr B R Ambedkar when he tabled the final draft of the Constitution of India before the Constituent Assembly on November 25, 1949. One was 'equality' and the other 'fraternity', the bench said.
Stating that there was deliberate targeting of houses of members of Balmiki community by members of the Jat community and common object in the case was to "teach members of the Balmiki community a lesson, the court further held, “this has been fully achieved by the accused persons."
Notably, the court said that the fine amounts collected from the convicts shall be utilised by the Haryana Government as part of the provision of financial relief and rehabilitation to the victims.
The verdict was pronounced by the high court following the appeal of 13 persons challenging their conviction and sentence by a trial court in the case. However, in the meantime, the victims and the police had also appealed in the high court seeking enhancement of punishment awarded to the convicts and acquittal of others.
On September 24, 2011, the trial court had convicted 15 out of 97 persons belonging to the Jat community. Contrary, 2 convicted died during the pendency of appeals. In October 2012, the 98th accused, who was earlier absconding, was tried and acquitted by the trial court.
On April 21, 2010, following a dispute between the Jat and Dalit community of the village, the house of Tara Chand was set on fire resulting in burning alive of the father and daughter. Accordingly, on October 31, 2011, the trial court had sentenced Kulwinder, Dharambir and Ramphal to life imprisonment for committing unintentional killing under Section 304 of the IPC.
Later, the high court modified the provision and convicted the trio for the offence of murder under Section 302 IPC. Five others -- Baljeet, Karamveer, Karampal, Dharambir and Bobal -- were handed down jail term of five years for their offences including rioting, voluntarily causing hurt, mischief and putting ablaze victims' houses and provisions of SC/ST (POA) Act while seven others, convicted under milder penal provisions, were released on probation by the trial court, which had earlier acquitted 82 out of 97 accused in the case.