Delhi HC dismisses PIL to investigate lapses by Centre in saving 39 Indians killed by Islamic State in Iraq

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed a lawyer's PIL seeking a probe into alleged lapses by the Centre in saving 39 Indians killed by Islamic State in Iraq in 2014. The high court observed that there is no public interest in the plea, while imposing a Rs 1 lakh fine on the lawyer for wasting the judiciary's time.

The court had on 31 May reserved its order on the PIL, which sought a "detailed investigation" into the matter. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar were hearing the matter.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The petitioner — advocate Mehmood Pracha — contended that the Centre was aware long back that the abducted Indians had been killed by the terror outfit, but had chosen not to disclose it and kept taking the stand that they were alive. He claimed that there were glaring anomalies in the statement made by the External Affairs Minister on the floor of Parliament.

Advocate Manik Dogra, appearing for the Centre and the Intelligence Bureau, argued that there was no public interest in this petition which should be dismissed with cost. He highlighted the efforts made by the government to rescue the Indians, who were taken hostage at Mosul and said helplines were also set up by the Indian embassy.

During the hearing, the bench asked Pracha whether he could tell who had killed those Indians. The petitioner said he was seeking an investigation for this purpose only as he wanted to know when and how the Indians were killed. He had earlier said when the bodies were brought back to India in March this year, the government did not allow the families of the victims to open the caskets.

The Centre's counsel had earlier said that the government does not say "missing, presumed dead". He had added that "till 100 percent confirmation of death, we continue to believe they are alive." Pracha had in 2015 moved the court challenging a look-out circular issued against him to prevent him and his delegation from going to Iraq.

In his PIL, he has claimed that the reason he was stopped from travelling to Iraq was to ensure that his delegation did not find out about the fate of the 39 Indians, whose bodies were recently exhumed from a mass grave in Badosh, a village near Mosul, and brought back.

As many as 40 Indians, who had gone to Iraq to earn their livelihood, had been missing since 2014. The group of labourers, mostly from Punjab, was taken hostage by the Islamic State when it overran Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, in 2014. The workers were reportedly trying to leave Mosul when they were intercepted. Later, one of them escaped posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh. Swaraj declared the remaining 39 dead on 20 March on the floor of the House, after their bodies were exhumed from Badoosh.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jun 06, 2018 15:46:22 IST

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