Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Freedom World

International Scholars Plea to SC on Teesta, Sreekumar arrest

Sabrangindia 19 Aug 2022

Teesta Setalvad

We, the undersigned members of the academic community, are deeply disturbed by some of the recent judgements of the Indian Supreme Court, which have a direct bearing on the future of civil liberties and human rights in India. We wish to draw attention, in particular, to the judgement in the Zakia Jafri case, which raises three disturbing questions.

First, since the petitioners had challenged the findings of the SIT report that gave a clean chit to the Gujarat government for the riots following the Godhra incident, and asked the Supreme Court to order an independent investigation, for the Court to dismiss their appeal on the basis of the very same impugned SIT report seems to us to be unjust.

Second, while dismissing their appeal, the Court has quite gratuitously and wholly unfairly attributed ulterior motives to the petitioners. This has even emboldened the executive to arrest co-petitioner Teesta Setalvad, along with witness R.B. Sreekumar, both of whom have also been denied bail. If any patient, prolonged, peaceful, and entirely legitimate pursuit of justice through the due process, is called “keeping the pot boiling”, then this remark, quite apart from being offensive, discourages people from approaching the Court on any matter relating to excesses or dereliction on the part of the executive.

Third, the Court has passed these uncalled-for obiter dicta without even giving a hearing to those against whom these remarks are directed; this sets an unfortunate precedent in jurisprudence.

Apart from the brief period of the Emergency, the Indian Supreme Court has generally played an honourable role in defending the democratic commitments of the country, which is why we are dismayed by the recent tendency discernible in the Zakia Jafri judgement. We urge the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the fall-out of the judgement in this case, to expunge the derogatory remarks contained in it, and to dismiss the cases against those who have been arrested on the strength of these remarks.


Signed:

Bhiku Parekh, House of Lords, London, U.K.

Noam Chomsky, Professor emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Professor, University of Arizona, U.S.A.

Arjun Appadurai, Professor, Max Planck Institute, Germany.

Wendy Brown, Professor, Institute of Advanced Studies, Princeton, U.S.A.

Sheldon Pollock, Professor Emeritus, Columbia University, U.S.A.

Carol Rovane, Professor, Columbia University, U.S.A.

Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus, McGill University, Canada.

Martha Nussbaum, Professor, University of Chicago, U.S.A.

Robert Pollin, Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, U.S.A.

Akeel Bilgrami, Professor, Columbia University, U.S.A.

Gerald Epstein, Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, U.S.A.


Released by: SAHMAT

New Delhi-110001

International Scholars Plea to SC on Teesta, Sreekumar arrest

Teesta Setalvad

We, the undersigned members of the academic community, are deeply disturbed by some of the recent judgements of the Indian Supreme Court, which have a direct bearing on the future of civil liberties and human rights in India. We wish to draw attention, in particular, to the judgement in the Zakia Jafri case, which raises three disturbing questions.

First, since the petitioners had challenged the findings of the SIT report that gave a clean chit to the Gujarat government for the riots following the Godhra incident, and asked the Supreme Court to order an independent investigation, for the Court to dismiss their appeal on the basis of the very same impugned SIT report seems to us to be unjust.

Second, while dismissing their appeal, the Court has quite gratuitously and wholly unfairly attributed ulterior motives to the petitioners. This has even emboldened the executive to arrest co-petitioner Teesta Setalvad, along with witness R.B. Sreekumar, both of whom have also been denied bail. If any patient, prolonged, peaceful, and entirely legitimate pursuit of justice through the due process, is called “keeping the pot boiling”, then this remark, quite apart from being offensive, discourages people from approaching the Court on any matter relating to excesses or dereliction on the part of the executive.

Third, the Court has passed these uncalled-for obiter dicta without even giving a hearing to those against whom these remarks are directed; this sets an unfortunate precedent in jurisprudence.

Apart from the brief period of the Emergency, the Indian Supreme Court has generally played an honourable role in defending the democratic commitments of the country, which is why we are dismayed by the recent tendency discernible in the Zakia Jafri judgement. We urge the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of the fall-out of the judgement in this case, to expunge the derogatory remarks contained in it, and to dismiss the cases against those who have been arrested on the strength of these remarks.


Signed:

Bhiku Parekh, House of Lords, London, U.K.

Noam Chomsky, Professor emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Professor, University of Arizona, U.S.A.

Arjun Appadurai, Professor, Max Planck Institute, Germany.

Wendy Brown, Professor, Institute of Advanced Studies, Princeton, U.S.A.

Sheldon Pollock, Professor Emeritus, Columbia University, U.S.A.

Carol Rovane, Professor, Columbia University, U.S.A.

Charles Taylor, Professor Emeritus, McGill University, Canada.

Martha Nussbaum, Professor, University of Chicago, U.S.A.

Robert Pollin, Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, U.S.A.

Akeel Bilgrami, Professor, Columbia University, U.S.A.

Gerald Epstein, Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, U.S.A.


Released by: SAHMAT

New Delhi-110001

Related Articles

Communalism

Gandhi as “evil” (Mahiasura) is a time-tested narrative for all hues of Hindu communalists

The latest depiction of Mahatma Gandhi as ‘Mahiasura’ at the All India’s Hindu Mahasaha’s puja pandal in Kolkatta is a time-tested narrative of Hindu communalists who, as Teesta Setalvad has writen, regurgitate this narrative portraying Gandhi as different forms of “evil”

Communalism

Gandhi as “evil” (Mahiasura) is a time-tested narrative for all hues of Hindu communalists

The latest depiction of Mahatma Gandhi as ‘Mahiasura’ at the All India’s Hindu Mahasaha’s puja pandal in Kolkatta is a time-tested narrative of Hindu communalists who, as Teesta Setalvad has writen, regurgitate this narrative portraying Gandhi as different forms of “evil”


Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

IN FACT

Analysis

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Archives