Mumbai: A Pune-based rights activist has sought a probe into the circumstances surrounding the death of actor Salman Khan’s bodyguard Ravindra Patil, who was also a witness in the 2002 accident in which the actor was convicted in May.
The demand for a probe by the state government was made in a public interest litigation (PIL) filed before the Bombay High Court on Thursday.
Petitioner-activist Hemant Patil has contended that legal action must be initiated against Salman who allegedly pressurised the witness not to reveal the facts of the accident during the trial.
The petition is likely to come up for hearing before the court sometime next week, Hemant Patil’s lawyer R.N. Kachave said.
The petitioner claimed that during the trial, it was revealed that Salman and other unknown people used undue influence upon the late bodyguard.
Attempts were also made to prevent Ravindra Patil from giving the true version and correct statements pertaining to the accident, it was claimed.
Quoting some media reports, Kachave said Ravindra Patil had disappeared for some time and was later found dead under mysterious circumstances, which need to be probed.
He said Ravindra Patil even did not appear before the court which issued a non-bailable warrant against him, as he feared Salman and his associates, but instead of giving him protection, he was hounded and jailed.
It was after his release from jail that Ravindra Patil disappeared and was later traced to a hotel in the Mahabaleshwar hill station by a police team.
Subsequently, it transpired that he was suffering from tuberculosis and breathed his last on October 4, 2007.
“A probe into all this could throw more light into the entire accident case involving the actor and the truth can come out,” Kachave said.
Salman was found guilty and sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment by a Mumbai session court last month in the September 28, 2002 accident in Bandra which left one dead and four others injured.
His plea challenging the conviction will come up before the high court on July 1. (IANS)
Human rights organizations have voiced “grave concerns” over the rise in summary court convictions in Afghanistan after a video of one such trial was posted on social media last week.
In the video, which was filmed outside the capital, Kabul, a group of four men and a woman were convicted of adultery by men who called themselves “mujahidin,” a title the Taliban always uses to identify its fighters.
The men in the video, who appeared to have been beaten up, confessed to having been involved in the act of adultery, an offense that carries severe punishments under both Afghan and Islamic Sharia law, if proved.
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission said summary court convictions are grave sources of concern, “especially when it happens in areas under the control of the Afghan government.”
“Lashing, beheading, killing and stoning are among the verdicts of the summary court trials conducted in Afghanistan,” Bilal Sidiqi, Afghan AIHRC spokesperson, told VOA.
During the past three months, AIHRC has recorded at least three cases of summary court convictions, while the number of such incidents reached eight last year.
United Nation Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the conduct of such trials and criticized what it called “traditional dispute-resolution mechanisms.”
Responding to a VOA query, UNAMA stated: “The handling of criminal cases outside Afghanistan’s court system can hinder justice and the realization of human rights. Afghanistan’s laws and penal code do not include any legal provision allowing for the mediation of criminal cases. Traditional dispute-resolution mechanisms should not be used in criminal cases to replace the existing legal framework or court adjudication processes of the government of Afghanistan.”
Human rights organizations also criticized the Afghan government for failing to prosecute the perpetrators.
“We call on the Afghan government to take serious measures to prevent such inhumane incidents,” Siddiqi said.
The Afghan government is striving to expand its control all over the country’s territories so everyone has access to the justice system, the Afghan presidential palace told VOA.
“The acts [summary trials] carried out by the Taliban and other terrorist groups against the people are criminal offenses,” Afghan presidential spokesperson Shah Hussain Murtazawi told VOA.
Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan are being widely accused of conducting summary trials in the country.
“We have recorded a number of summary convictions in restive areas and frequently the areas under Taliban control. Efforts were made to investigate and prosecute those who conduct summary trials,” Najib Danish, spokesperson for the Afghan interior minister, told VOA.
Against the law
Summary court convictions by the Taliban and other radical groups contradict the Afghan constitution and Islamic law, said Behrooz Jahanyar, a Kabul-based lawyer.
“What the Taliban is doing is absolutely against the Islamic law. Summary trials have no place in Afghan laws, either. No one can be convicted or punished without going through all court proceedings and access to appeal in a higher court,” Jahanyar told VOA.
Members of civil society organizations in Afghanistan allege that the issue of summary trials is more severe than it appears to be.
“Summary trials are conducted more in remote and hard-to-reach areas, where fear of retaliation prevents people from reporting such incidents,” Kabul-based civil activist Abdul Wodood Pedram, told VOA.
Although the authenticity of the videos posted on social media cannot be confirmed, disturbing footage is being posted periodically by militant groups in Afghanistan of women being stoned and beaten with batons, men being slashed, and Afghan soldiers captured by militants being shot to death. (VOA)