Guest Post by Dipankar Bhattacharya
Predictably enough, the Patna High Court has acquitted all the 26 persons convicted by the trial court in the Laxmanpur-Bathe massacre case. This is the fourth successive instance of wholesale acquittal of convicts by the Patna High Court in cases of massacre of the oppressed rural poor in Bihar. Once again eye witness accounts have been dismissed as being not fully credible and convicts granted acquittal on ‘benefit of doubt’. The judges could not however disprove the fact that 58 people had been killed and post-mortems done, and hence they asked the trial court to calculate the compensation payable to the nearest kin of the victims as per relevant provisions the Motor Vehicles Act on the basis of the minimum wage prevalent in the area at the time of the massacre. They of course did not forget to add that any ex gratia paid after the massacre should be deducted from the amount of compensation!