Una Case: Special Public Prosecutor Withdraws, Cites Lack of Time
The Una incident in Gujarat where seven Dalit men were brutally beaten up for skinning a dead cow.
The Una incident in Gujarat where seven Dalit men were brutally beaten up for skinning a dead cow. (Photo: ANI screengrab/ Altered by The Quint)

Una Case: Special Public Prosecutor Withdraws, Cites Lack of Time

It’s been three years since the infamous Una Dalit flogging incident caught the nation’s attention, but justice continues to elude the victims. On 2 July, the District and Sessions Court of Veraval in Gir Somnath District ordered that the hearing in the matter will be held on a daily basis from Monday, 29 July.

However, the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) assigned to the case, Advocate Dipendra Yadav, withdrew from the case last week. He had requested the government for an office at Veraval court and police protection which were not granted to him.

On 11 July, 2016, Balubhai Sarvaiya, his wife, sons, nephews and neighbours were attacked by upper caste gau rakshaks in Una. Videos showing four half naked youths tied to a vehicle, viciously attacked by armed men, sparked an outrage.

Also Read : We Received No Land, Dues: Una Victim Refutes Gujarat Govt’s Claim

The incident led to the creation of a special atrocity court in Veraval which was meant to fast-track the hearing and deliver a verdict as early as possible. However, the trial only began on 3 August 2018 and only 11 hearings were held since then.

‘Daily Hearing Will Not Ensure Justice’

The Quint spoke with the former SPP Dipendra Yadav on his reasons for walking away. Yadav said that he has already written a confidential letter to the government explaining his situation and didn’t want to create difficulties for the judiciary, the government and the police force by discussing it further.

However, he later relented and said, “The proceeding of the case wasn’t slow, it’s just the proceedings in such cases are bogged down by several other cases that the court has to look at. Every atrocity case is a special case. But there are several civil and criminal cases that are to be heard. In the other cases too, the accused and the victims demand that they should get justice as soon as possible.”

Although the case is being heard in a special court, Yadav insisted that the matter is being heard under general category.

“If it was a specific atrocity court then only one hearing would have been held throughout the day. This case is being heard under the general category. Apart from that, rape and murder cases also get an SPP. There is no such provision that only a special court will have an SPP.”
Advocate Dipendra Yadav, Former Special Public Prosecutor, Una Dalit Atrocity Case

Also Read : Una Flogging: Dalit Victim Writes to President Seeking Mercy Plea

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Yadav told The Quint that hearing the case daily will only ensure a hasty trial instead of speedy justice.

“If the case is heard everyday, will it ensure justice to the victim or the accused? Winding up the proceedings and delivering justice are two different matters altogether. We must go through all evidences and if we work hastily, we won’t be able to give time to each and every piece of evidence. The trial gets damaged by day to day hearing and in the worse case scenario the accused will get acquitted. If an SPP is appointed to ensure that good work is done then he should be given time.”
Advocate Dipendra Yadav, Former Special Public Prosecutor, Una Dalit Atrocity Case

‘Of the 300 Witnesses Only 36 Examined’

On 21 June, Balubhai’s son Vashram Sarvaiya through his lawyer Govind Parmar appealed to the court for daily hearings in the case which was granted on 2 July. The Quint spoke with Advocate Parmar who said that only 36 witnesses were produced before court.

“The hearing was held every Friday. The SPP comes from Junagadh and the trial is held at Veraval which is almost 90 km away. In fact, it was at the SPP’s request the hearings were held on Friday, i.e. once in a week. Unfortunately, the witnesses who are summoned for the hearing don’t show up and there is no follow up on why they don’t turn up.”
Advocate Govind Parmar, Counsel for Una Atrocity Victims
Parmar further added, “I told the court that at this rate the trial will take more than five years to complete. There are more than 300 witnesses and only 36 witnesses have been examined so far. So we filed a plea before court requesting a daily hearing.”

Parmar also added that unlike the SPP who didn’t get police protection, the victims did get protection but it doesn’t extend all the way to the court.

“Yes there are guards stationed outside Sarvaiya’s home, but they do not accompany them to the court for hearings unless a vehicle is assigned to them. Many times Vashram has taken a cop on his bike for the hearings. What was promised by the government is yet to be delivered.”

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