Amid public rage against the increasing rape incidents in India, a public interest litigation [PIL] filed by 50 Kashmiri women seeking action on the horrific gang rape in Kunan Poshpora in 1991 came up for hearing in High Court on Monday.
“We, through this PIL, sought the immediate reopening and reinvestigation of a case where more than 40 Kashmiri women were brutally raped. We sought accountability for a case which the government has sought to ignore and bury. There have been consistent efforts to ensure impunity for the 4th Rajputana Rifles personnel responsible for the crime”, the litigants said in statement.
They added, “The victims of this crime have for all these years felt hopelessness, particularly as they have been on the receiving end of a callous and repressive State. In October 2011, the State Human Rights Commission [SHRC], confirmed the crime, passed necessary recommendations including the re-opening and re-investigation of the case, and institution of criminal proceedings against the then Director of Prosecutions for closing the case.”
“As usual, the State refused to act. One and a half years have passed and the State has displayed a cruel disregard for a crime whose consequences continue to date. We believe we have a responsibility to ensure that the impunity for this crime ends. Therefore, we approached the High Court”, they claimed in the statement.
In today’s hearing, before passing any order on admission, questions were posed by the Division Bench comprised of Justice AM Magray and Justice Mansoor: “How can a PIL be a remedy for a 22 year old case? Further, can a PIL be a remedy for the implementation of a SHRC decision?”
“Our counsel, Advocate Parvez Imroz, has been asked to provide legal references to these questions in further submissions scheduled for next week. Despite the widely reported information on this case, the numerous arguments on record before the Court, the consistent and criminal role of the State in this case, and that suo motto cognizance of this case should have been taken years ago [as recently done in the LPG matter], it appears these questions have to still be answered. We are hopeful that in the hearing next week the Judges of the High Court would take a conscientious and legally sound decision of admitting the PIL and issuing notices against all the respondents”, the litigants added.