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J&K Militrancy: 20,000 TADA cases, not a single conviction

Not a single accused in over 20,000 Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act (TADA) cases has been convicted in the troubled state of Jammu & Kashmir. Most of these cases involved ‘militants.’

20,000 cases were filed in the state since TADA’s inception. Out of these 20,000 cases 11,000 were dropped after preliminary investigations, 2,000 were dropped under section 109 of the CrPC due to lack of evidence, 1,400 accused were freed on parole and 1,500 were bailed out. In the Srinagar TADA court, 778 cases involving 1,504 militants are still pending. Most of these cases involve murder and rape charges.

The designate TADA court judge, Ghulam Rasool Bodha, said the judiciary was not afraid of militants facing TADA trials. ‘We are not afraid because we strictly observe the provision of the law. We do not go beyond the law,’ he added.

However, a perusal of a large number of files relating to TADA cases revealed that the government was not serious about following the cases. Direct or indirect circumstantial or documentary evidence could not be presented before the court. The state government has also not gone in appeal to the Supreme Court’s orders, reflecting its indifferent approach to deal with the militants, according to a senior high court lawyer here. In many cases, the witnesses of the government either do not turn up or if they appear, they turn hostile. Those who have turned hostile include some senior officials, including two deputy commissioners of districts, senior SPs an inspector-general of police and even a lt. gen. of the Army, according to court records. The DCs and SPs had refused to attest documents against the militants. They had deposed before the court that they were made to sign on the dotted line by agencies detaining the militants.

According to IG, Kashmir police, AK Khan, no fresh TADA case is being registered as the Act has been scrapped and is being extended after every two years. The government is now invoking provisions of the Public Safety Act, under which a person can be detained for two years. The militants are not being tried under the normal laws like the Ranbir Penal Code following a Union government circular. Over 250 persons are currently detained under the PSA in the Kashmir zone.

The prosecution agencies say that there was no cooperation from the government in TADA cases. The cases are expected to be investigated by a police officer above the rank of a deputy SP, but they had been investigated by constables. Even documentary evidence is not produced in many cases. The court and the prosecution agencies have written many letters to the government, but there is no follow up action. In one case, State versus Qazi Nisar involving 23 accused, none of the accused has been produced before the court since 1991. Even the warrants were neither executed nor returned to the court. The main accused is dead, but the court has not been informed officially about this so far.

In a case relating to Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, one of the militants released after the Indian Airlines hijacking episode, the Army and the BSF did not follow the fundamental procedure of seizing the arms, according to court records. On a single day, the TADA court dropped four cases due to lack of evidence and non-production of the accused and witnesses within the stipulated three years of framing of changes.
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