PUCL, August 2004

Rajasthan High Court admits PILs in Sati glorification matters

See also, Fund raising for legal battle in sati cases , -- By Kavita Srivastava

7 August 2004

The Rajasthan High Court bench of Justices SK Keshote and AC Goyal today admitted four public interest writ petitions relating to the 1987 cases of Glorification of Sati filed by women and social organisations of Rajasthan. The court also issued notices to the accused which include Rajendra Singh Rathore, minister of PWD in the present Government, Narendra Singh Rathore, President of the Rajput Maha Sabha, Pratap Singh Kachriyawas nephew of the VP of India,
Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in all to thirteen respondents along with the Rajasthan Government and the judge of the Special Sati Court which these orders in January.

On the 31st of January after 16 years the Special Sati court Additional District Judge Shiv Singh Chauhan had acquitted all the accused in four out of twenty two cases that were under going trial in the Sati glorification matters that were filed after the immolation of Roop Kanwar of Deorala in 1987. After
the acquittal the Government of Rajasthan did not file an appeal in the High Court which is the normal course in criminal cases. Women's groups raised their voice and tried to put pressure on the Government but it refused to go in for
appeal. It was clear that the Government of Rajasthan was pandering to a paqrticular caste lobby which would have been annoyed if the newly elected BJP Government would have taken action in this matter. Since the lok sabha elections
were round the corner they did not wish to jeopardise their chances in the election.

After the limitation period of appeal had lapsed women's groups were left with no other course but to file writ petitions and ask the High Court to intervene. In the four writ petitions the women's groups have prayed that the court

a) By an appropriate writ/order or direction quash and set aside the judgment of acquittal passed by the learned trial court on 31/01/2004 in the four cases

b) By an appropriate order or directions order retrial of the case ;

c) By an appropriate order or directions direct the state government to appoint special prosecutor in consultation with the petitioners and;

d) By an appropriate writ order or directions direct the state government to take action against the officials and police personnel who either turned hostile or retracted their earlier statements and thus committed gross abuse of the process of law.

The 12 petitioner organisations are : All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), Women's Rehabilitation Group (WRG), Rajasthan University Women's Association (RUWA), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), Vividha: Women's Documentation and Resource Center, National Muslim Women's Welfare Society (NMWS), Women's Cell, All India State Employees Federation, All India
Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA), Vishakha: Women's Education and Resource Group (VWERG), Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Rajasthan (BGVS), Academy of
Socio Legal Studies, Jaipur (ASLS), People's Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan (PUCL).

The lawyers for the case were Prem Krishna Sharma and Snehlata.

Kavita Srivastava, Laad kumari Jain, Nisha Sidhu, Manju Sharma, Mamta Jaitly, Sumitra Chopra, Asha Kalra, Komal Srivastava, Bharat, Nishat Hussein, Mewa Bharti, Archana and others.


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