Siddharth Varadarajan

Journalist | Writer | Analyst

When justice becomes the victim

cover-gujModi challenged Arnab Goswami on riot conviction statistics in his interview on Times Now, saying Gujarat had done better than other states in delivering justice.

But a recently released study by the Stanford Law School  shows that the conviction rate for crimes arising from the the 2002 riots is 15-times less than the national average for all riot-related charges:

“Estimates of the percentage of criminal cases registered in response to the 2002 communal violence that resulted in a criminal conviction of any sort range between 0.21% and 1.18%. Even at the high end of this range (1.18%), the percentages are well below levels for similar criminal prosecutions in Gujarat. Thus, for example, the conviction rate is 9.6% in cases involving riot related charges in general in Gujarat. This figure (9.6%) is based on both 2002 communal violence related and other riots in the aggregate that ended in 2012 (83 convictions out of a total 863 such cases completed in 2012). The figure for riot related cases ending in conviction across India as a whole is higher still — 18.5% (7,281 convictions out of a total 39,415 such cases completed in 2012).”

(From: When Justice Becomes the Victim: The Quest for Justice After the 2002 Violence in Gujarat. International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, Stanford Law School, May 2014)

As a matter of fact, most 2002 convictions are themselves the result of the Supreme Court’s intervention in first transferring two high profile cases outside Gujarat and then in setting up an SIT to investigate the major cases, or in getting prosecutors and judges changed.

Read the PDF of the full Stanford report here.

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12 comments on “When justice becomes the victim

  1. Pingback: RT @nanditadas: Stanford Law School Report on riot... - Thej Live

  2. Rupchand Garmari
    May 18, 2014

    So, the argument goes like this:

    SV – The Stanford report clearly shows that the 2002 riot convictions were surprisingly low.

    Others – Why do you not talk about other riots. The Stanford report is flawed. I read all about it on the intertubes (wikipedia etc).

    SV – I agree other riots were also underinvestigated, however that does not justify the travesty of the 2002 riot investigation/conviction rates.

    Others – Waah, Western conspiracy. You are conspiring to bring the right honorable Modiji down. You ignore justice for others. EOM.

    I can’t blame Mr. Varadarajan for not trying, but in reality, one cannot argue with simians more interested in testing the projectile properties of their own feces rather than a cogent discussion/debate.

    Thus ends all argument, while the great Indian roadshow goes on.

  3. RD
    May 13, 2014

    MV, all right, if indeed no other riot has been as extensively covered by the media as 2002 does that justify making the man who presided over Gujarat’s violence being supported as prime minister? If we failed to protest against Rajiv Gandhi over 1984, why repeat our mistake again – let us protest against Narendra Modi so that we send out a strong signal against all those horrid politicians who gain power, nourished by the blood of voters.

    By the way, you ignore one interesting difference between 1984 and 2002: despite zero convictions post-1984, neither were Tytler or HKL Bhagat politically lauded; Sonia went around gurudwaras in 1998 to apologise to Sikhs; to top it, a Sikh became prime minister of India. Cut to Modi’s Gujarat. No apology; puppy analogy (just to rub it in); and taking credit for things that he never did. Believe me, as someone who’s lived in Gujarat, it was always safe for women; economically progressive; had electricity without cuts. If Modi can take credit for things that he simply presided over, about time he took discredit also for things he simply presided over (e.g. the riots).

  4. Ram
    May 11, 2014

    Your articles seem to be fact based and logical – be it Modi’s performance in Gujarat or 2002 riots… However, this is not what I am seeing in the popular English TV media. They are not asking the questions you are asking and in general pretty upbeat about Modi. Enlighten us on what is going on with the English press and TV.

  5. M Pl
    May 11, 2014

    I just clicked on Stanford link and Title Quote starred at me:
    “Indian Supreme Court Judgement in the ‘Best Bakery’ Case: (‘When the investigating agency helps the accused, the witnesses are threatened….there is no fair trail….’)”
    ‘Title Quote’ is from an extremely flawed supreme court judgement ordering retrial and moving case to mumbai. This judgement was based on affidavit and testimony of ‘star witness’ Zahira Sheikh. Subsequent to this judgement following fact came out:
    Star witness’s testimony and affidavit was false. Zahira Sheikh confessed that she was tutored by Ms. Teesta Setalvad. An inquiry was ordered by the Supreme Court, proceedings were initiated against Zahira Sheikh and she was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment but Judgement, which is based on false affidavit, was not reviewed. Can a judgement based upon fake affidavit pass “fundamental fairness” test?
    Further looking at Stanford report. It seems that report is based on stories, and conspiracy theories, spinned by controversial Ms. Teesta Setalvad & her husband Javed Khan. There are some very serious charges of witness tempering/tutoring, fake testimonies, misappropriation of funds, cooking up macabre tales of killings etc. against Teesta. Check wikipedia for details.
    Found some time to look at Stanford’s conviction rate graph, footnotes and sources. Problem area:
    1. * Conviction rate in Uttar Pradesh is extremely high compared to rest of India. Remove mammoth UP from data and there is no statistical difference between Gujarat and rest of India. The real red flags, with extremely low conviction rate, is Northeastern states ex Assam, and West Bengal but author failed to mention it.
    2. * Study mixes half a dozen IPC (Indian Penal Codes) from IPC targeting unlawful assembly to murder. A fair comparison would be riots only data, with same IPC, for all states.
    3. * The other problem is study’s multiple source of data. Some sources, like Govt. of India, are genuine but others are dubious.

  6. mv
    May 10, 2014

    This is the only riot that has seem ANY convictions at all. But we have a problem with ONLY this. The Mumbai. Riots, the anti Sikh riots and Assam riots have seen NO convictions but we are ok with that. Because after all this is not about justice or victims its about politics.

    • Siddharth Varadarajan
      May 10, 2014

      MV, please note: (1) Gujarat has seen convictions INSPITE of the constant acts of investigative and judicial sabotage by the Modi government that were so pervasive that they forced the NHRC and Supreme Court to intervene. (2) The data in the study gives the average picture. (3) I agree with you on the no/low conviction rate for 1984, Assam etc but two wrongs don’t make a right.

      • MV
        May 10, 2014

        Two wrongs may not make a right but insisting that only one wrong is worth bothering about is worrying. How hypocritical we should be that out hearts can bleed selectively for selective victims? You must admit that a disproportionate amount of interest has been shown on only this riot completely ignoring the victims of every other riot that had ever happened and is continuing to happen. All attention and resources being spent on getting justice for one set of victims alone is unfair. It almost appears as if the other victims, having been unfortunate enough to have been victimized in other states deserve not even one hundredth of the attention as the Gujarat victims. Does anyone even bother to know who the Chief minister was when the Mumbai Riots happened? Does anyone care? Does anyone bother to find out whether he “let” it happen or “made” it happen? Does anyone wonder why he was twiddling his thumbs for days when the city burnt and people of the minority community were being butchered? Does any one write reports about why, not a SINGLE conviction happened in this riot? are there any panel discussions on TV about this? Does any news paper follow up on these victims? Does any blog writer write outraged pieces on this or any of the hundreds of riots that have happened all over the country in the last ten years? It would appear to a casual reader/viewer that ONLY ONE riot ever happened in India. It is evident that this is not about the victims or not even about justice it is ONLY about politics. No one cares who gets justice they only care who can be brought down using this as an excuse.

      • bmniac
        May 10, 2014

        You are right in that 2 wrongs do not make one right. But Assam and 1984(no riot that was a genocide) have generally been ignored by the westernized press while Gujarat comes up repeatedly. Why is it that the killing of the Indian soldiers and the Tamils by Indian soldiers engineered by Rajiv Gandhi to help the genocide is never an issue. The attitude of the Indian elite in ignoring this matter is again something which is difficult to comprehend.Different standards for different people?

      • MV
        May 11, 2014

        I can see you dont have a reply and therefore refuse to let my comment appear!!!

    • Lal (@lalravna)
      May 11, 2014

      We have problem on this, because the person who was the CM at the time of riot is now aspiring to be the PM.That’s why this is discussed and not others.We’re not ok with any other riots also.

      • MV
        May 11, 2014

        so if the other CMs don’t aspire to be PM the victims of such riots do not need our attention or justice. Basically we can conclude that this issue gets prominence as it is a powerful weapon in the political game of musical chairs nothing more

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This entry was posted on May 9, 2014 by in Communal Violence, Gujarat, Narendra Modi.

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