Patna: The trial of the re-opened cases relating to the 1989 Bhagalpur communal riots in Bihar has been hit by an acute paucity of judges, a senior lawyer said Wednesday.
"Trial of Bhagalpur riots cases has been badly hit as many posts of judges have been lying vacant for more than a year," Additional Special Public Prosecutor Atiullah said in a letter addressed to the Patna High Court chief justice.
Atiullah said that vacant posts of judicial officers were delaying justice to hundreds of victims of the Bhagalpur riots.
Over 1,000 people, a majority of them Muslims, were killed in the month-long riots in Bhagalpur city in October 1989.
"The posts of third, fifth and seventh additional district and sessions judges, earmarked for trial of Bhagalpur riot cases by the high court have been vacant for more than one year. While post of second additional district and session judge fell vacant after the incumbent judicial officer took over as first additional district and session judge in June 2013," he said.
Atiullah said that it was not first time trial of Bhagalpur riots cases has come to a halt.
A similar situation cropped up due to vacant posts of judges in the past.
"It is bound to affect and delay proceedings of the courts for trial of riot cases," he said.
A total of 876 cases were registered by police of which chargesheets were filed in 293. The remaining 583 cases were closed by police citing lack of evidence for investigation.
However, 39 riot cases were reopened between 2006 and 2009 on recommendation of a judicial committee appointed by the Nitish Kumar government.
In 2006, Nitish Kumar instituted a fresh probe to re-investigate the riot cases that were closed by the police for lack of evidence.
The commission, headed by Justice (retd) N.N. Singh, submitted an interim report in 2007.
Till date, police have filed chargesheeted in 29 of 39 re-opened cases and 10 cases were again closed.
Atiullah said a total of 346 accused have been convicted. As many as 107 have been awarded life term.