This is the statement issued today by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.
On 12 September 2012, a little less than five months after the son of one of the victims of the infamous Bhaderwah triple murder case filed a complaint before the State Human Rights Commission [SHRC], the SHRC dismissed the case implicating Kuldeep Khoda, ex-Director General of Police, Jammu and Kashmir [retired from service on 31 May 2012]. No notice was given to the complainant or his advocate to appear for the hearing. On 13 August 2012, the advocate for the complainant had sought an opportunity to advance further arguments on 22 August 2012. While this request was granted, no hearing was held on 22 August 2012. Instead of providing notice for the subsequent hearing on 12 September 2012, the SHRC chose to dismiss the case.
The families of the victims of the killings had waited 16 years for justice. Through their struggles for justice, the families have received one continuous, consistent message: the systems of justice in Jammu and Kashmir will ensure impunity for perpetrators of crimes. The SHRC by its decision has affirmed its unwillingness to look closely at the facts of the case and instead follow the Trial Court, High Court and National Human Rights Commission [NHRC] decisions. The SHRC rationale for dismissing the complaint was that the case had been litigated before the High Court and findings had already been returned on 29 May 2012. While recognizing its powers to consider the complaint notwithstanding the High Court order, the SHRC chose to dismiss the complaint by refusing to appreciate the facts of the case and thereby affirmed its disinterest in ensuring justice, particularly in a serious case of human rights violations that was perpetrated by a senior police official.
The crux of the case of the complainant before the SHRC was that the parallel Crime Branch investigation ordered into the case that implicated Kuldeep Khoda was never considered by the Trial Court, the NHRC or the High Court. The SHRC was the first forum to have the opportunity to consider the Crime Branch investigations.
The Trial Court was never apprised of the parallel Crime Branch investigations. This was of no concern to the SHRC.
The NHRC was never apprised of the findings of the Crime Branch investigations. The NHRC had ordered that the results of the investigations were to be placed before the Commission. This was never done. On 4 April 2000, the NHRC closed the matter on the basis that a charge sheet had been filed. The NHRC was not made aware that the charge sheet filed before the Trial Court was not based on the parallel Crime Branch investigations. This was of no concern to the SHRC.
The High Court first ordered for the Crime Branch investigations but then subsequently in its haste to dismiss the case did not consider that these documents were never submitted. This was of no concern to the SHRC.
The SHRC had a unique opportunity to critically study the Crime Branch investigations but instead chose to mechanically understand the import of these documents. Despite an order from the SHRC to provide the final Crime Branch report, a so called “final” report of 4 December 1999 was provided. This was not a final or comprehensive report and did not provide cogent reasons to negate the earlier findings implicating Kuldeep Khoda. More crucially, this report was written when the accused Kuldeep Khoda was the Inspector General, Crime Branch. Therefore, the SHRC chose to rely on a document whose contents were directly under the control of an accused.
Finally, for little less than five months, the SHRC delayed the proceedings and this delay has resulted in influencing the complainant to become disillusioned with the proceedings and not pursue the matter further. The SHRC’s actions, including by dismissing the case, have provided further evidence that the systems of justice in Jammu and Kashmir routinely aid and protect the perpetrators of human rights violations. The victims of these crimes are forgotten, and their families are left to continue to hope.
The manner in which the High Court, the SHRC and the government of Jammu and Kashmir have acted and have shut their eyes to incriminating facts against Kuldeep Khoda and the other accused is indicative of the unwillingness to consider violations by the influential ex-DGP of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, interested in the post of Chief Vigilance Commissioner. Pro-freedom activists, various government officials and other representatives of Kuldeep Khoda have used various opportunities to persuade us and the family members of the victims to withdraw the case. This denial of justice has only deepened the understanding of the victim families that for the crimes perpetrated on them justice is impossible under the existing judicial and governmental mechanisms.