'Final hearing' of the salwa judum matter started on 11 October 2018 - or perhaps I should more accurately say first hearing under this bench. This is the first time the new set of judges we have had since 2015 have actually had the matter explained. There has never been time earlier; and CG counsel/UOI lawyers have always heckled and interrupted. Its only because it was listed as final hearing that our counsel got time to speak uninterrupted.
At the beginning, the State of CG and UOI tried to get it adjourned as usual - they want the current judge to retire so matter has to be heard all over again and goes into cold storage. They argued that elections precluded court hearings. Fortunately the judges proceeded, but alas, the next date is only November 27...and Justice Lokur retires in December. The bench consists of Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta.
Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan argued for 3.5 hours -brilliantly laying out the horror of what has been happening over the last decade and the complete impunity. First she started by reading the 2011 judgment, then showing how the same SPOs had been absorbed lock stock and barrel into the auxiliary forces with effect from the date of the order saying they should be disbanded and disarmed, then she showed how these very same people had attacked the CBI a year later in 2012. Then she shifted attention to the huge scale of violations since 2005; and read from the NCPCR report prepared by Shanta Sinha, JM Lyngdoh and MV, and the horrible tale of abuse it told; read from the NHRC report, and emphasised again and again that in the face of this huge scale of violations the state had filed only 8 FIRs, 7 of which have been closed. She had prepared a compilation of 7 volumes through which she was taking the judges. (The state had not bothered to file its compilation despite directions saying they should file a week in advance). The Judges asked good questions.
To think that so many deaths, rapes and arson have occurred; there have been over 60 hearings/100 listings of this matter... and no compensation, no prosecution. This is what IMPUNITY looks like.
People are often surprised that this case is still on - because they think it finished with our 2011 judgement banning Salwa Judum and the use of SPOs in counterinsurgency. But after that we filed contempt... and also continued to push on other aspects which were not covered by the 2011 judgement - such as a monitoring committee without which all the directions to file FIRs and compensate people are meaningless, because the CG government never implements the Court's directions.