Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) was formed on April 1, 2002. It is registered as a Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and as a Trust under the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950.
Donations to CJP are exempt under section 80(G) of the Income Tax Act.
The objects of CJP include:
l To check threats to Indian democracy and the Rule of Law, whether by governments or political parties or other organisations, groups or individuals.
l To combat all kinds of bigotry and intolerance which create inter-religious strife and differences among people.
l To make legal interventions in the Courts of Law through Public Interest Petitions or otherwise, to prosecute all those guilty of killing or maiming innocent citizens; and to assist others petitioning before the courts for the redressal of grievances.
l To set up or assist in setting up any lawyer/team of lawyers to effectively intervene in government appointed commissions of inquiry probing the causes of communal conflict or to identify the role of different agencies, in particular, government, police, political parties, leaders, non-party organisations, the media, and the like, in prevention or promotion of violence.
Board of Directors
The affairs of CJP are managed by a Board of Directors. The present members of the Board:
Alyque Padamsee (Communications/Advertising)
Anil Dharkar (Columnist)
Cyrus Guzder (Chairman, Airfreight)
Gulam Mohammed (Businessman, philanthropist)
Nandan Maluste (Finance, Kotak Mahindra)
IM Kadri (Senior architect)
Javed Akhtar (Poet, lyricist)
Javed Anand (Communalism Combat)
Teesta Setalvad (KHOJ, Communalism Combat)
Titoo Ahluwalia (ORG-Marg)
Vijay Tendulkar (Playwright)
Arvind Krishnaswamy (DGM, Bharat Petroleum)
President: Vijay Tendulkar
Vice-president: Iftikhar M Kadri
Secretary: Teesta Setalvad
Treasurer: Arvind Krishnaswamy
Report of Activities (April 2002-April 2004):
1. Relief and Rehabilitation: Compared to most NGOs engaged in Relief and Rehabilitation work after the Gujarat violence, CJP’s own contribution can be said to be quite modest: approximately Rs. 11 lakh so far . But we are happy that because we dragged the Narendra Modi Government to the Gujarat high court on this issue, the Gujarat government was compelled, as a result of the court orders, to spend at least an additional Rs. 10 crore on providing for food and other supplies to relief camps, something that the Modi government was adamant it would not do.
2. Concerned Citizens Tribunal: CJP took the initiative in setting up a citizens’ tribunal headed by Justice VR Krishna Iyer, (retd., Supreme Court) and two other retired judges – one each of the Supreme Court and high court — to conduct an independent probe into the violence in Godhra and the rest of Gujarat. Their 3-volume report, Crime Against Humanity, continues to be the most potent document till date on the Gujarat violence nationally and internationally. On its release from Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad, the findings and recommendations of the tribunal received extensive print and electronic media coverage.
3. Legal Action:
Best Bakery case: If the question of justice and peace in the context of the horrors of Gujarat has been brought centre-stage in the last three months, (though several legal initiatives were taken earlier), it has been due to the intervention of the Supreme Court of India in the Best Bakery case. For this, CJP can justly claim most of the credit.
It was on the CJP’s assurance of support that Zahira Sheikh and her family moved to Mumbai (CJP has since been looking after all their financial and security needs) and in early July 2003, she told a packed press conference why they were forced to lie before the court earlier and why they wanted a re-trial of the Best Bakery case outside Gujarat. The CJP secretary personally escorted Zahira Sheikh to Delhi for a full-bench hearing before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). It was thereafter that the NHRC decided on its rare step of filing an appeal in the Supreme Court endorsing Zahira’s plea for a re-trial outside Gujarat.
Besides the NHRC, CJP and Zahira also filed a separate appeal in the SC, which has now been clubbed together with the NHRC petition. CJP’s two earlier petitions pending in the SC, on hate speech and need for transfer of investigation of the massacres to an independent agency are also to be heard now. The CJP has the moral and physical responsibility of taking care of the Sheikh family.
Godhra Families come to CJP: On Dussera Day (October 5, 2003), 14 members from four Hindu families, each of whom had lost a woman from their family in the fire that consumed coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra last year, addressed a press conference in Mumbai. They, too, sought the CJP’s help in their struggle for justice, as they felt totally cheated and betrayed by the very people in Gujarat who claim to be their protectors and who have raised huge amounts of money in their name. These Hindu families have also filed an impleadment application before the SC pleading that the Godhra case too must be heard outside Gujarat. Schooling and other needs of these families are also being borne by the CJP.
Gulberg Society, Chamanpura: This was one of the worst carnages where the former member of parliament, Ehsan Jaffri was brutally killed along with many others. CJP has been handling the criminal trial from the very start and it is because of CJP’s consistent support that witnesses have not been cowed down, intimidated and broken down despite numerous attempts.
The public prosecutor appointed for this trial by the Gujarat government was a man who had himself been charge-sheeted for burning alive nine Muslims in the mid-‘80s! We are pressing for a transfer of this case outside Gujarat, too.
Other Criminal Trials: Due to CJP’s sheer doggedness, tenacity and constant communication with and support to the victims in their struggle for justice, many eye-witnesses in cases that have either ruinously culminated in Best Bakery-type acquittals, or where trials have been stayed by the Supreme Court, have now approached the CJP for legal assistance. These include witnesses to the worst massacres during the Gujarat genocide: Naroda Patiya, Kidiad, Pandharwada.
Compensation claim: In response to CJP’s Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Gujarat high court, the court has asked the Gujarat government to give a full and proper account of the Rs. 150 crore that was promised from the PM’s fund for the relief of Gujarat’s victims of violence. The chief secretary of Gujarat and three other secretaries of the Gujarat government have already held three meetings with the CJP secretary (Teesta Setalvad) following the court’s direction. Over the past month, a team of volunteers has been verifying our claims versus the district collector’s records.
Transfer Petition(s) Supreme Court: Following CJP’s initiative in the Best Bakery case and Zahira Sheikh’s appearance before the NHRC, the NHRC also filed a Transfer Petition in the SC praying for a transfer of 14 Major Carnage Trials out of Gujarat. This was in keeping with the NHRC’s findings in its path-breaking report released in 2002.
The CJP has also impleaded itself in this Transfer Petition and filed, directly in the SC, affidavits of major complainants, eye-witnesses that reveal starkly the state of subverted investigation and trials in Gujarat. The CJP has also filed along with Hindu victims of the S-6 coach burning and the relatives of illegal accused, a transfer petition in the Godhra matter.
Hate Speech and Hate Writing: The CJP has filed a petition under section 153a and 153 b of the IPC against the hate filled speeches of Gujarat CM, Mr. Narendra Modi and VHP president. Mr. Ashok Singhal. (The former had stated in August 2002, "Relief Camps are Baby Making Factories;" and Singhal said, "Gujarat was a successful experiment… I am proud that entire villages were purged of Islam."
Petition against Pandey’s appointment to CBI: Even as several matters are pending in the SC, praying for independent investigations by the CBI into the Gujarat massacres, the Central Government has appointed none other that PC Pandey, former Ahmedabad police commissioner, to the post of additional director, CBI. Pandey has been seriously indicted for dereliction of duty and failure to protect lives and property in Ahmedabad, post-Godhra.
Legal Support/Legal Aid: The CJP is also supporting a team of local lawyers in Gujarat in an effort to make sure that information is collected in time for the SC and HC cases and also to ensure that none of the local legal processes within Gujarat are subverted.
CJP Internships: Due to the respect that the CJP has earned for its work, international students of law and human rights have offered themselves for 8-week internships in Mumbai and Gujarat. A student of the New York Law School is working with the secretary, CJP on a research paper on the ‘Role of the public prosecutor in India’ and a memo on Witness Protection. All this will feed back into the litigation process that the CJP is spearheading in the SC.
Team of Lawyers: CJP is extremely grateful to the highly accomplished team of lawyers who have handled different cases for CJP pro bono (free of cost):
Gujarat high court:
Aspi Chinoi – Relief Camp case, 2002, Gujarat high court.
Mahesh Jethmalani – POTA case, Gujarat special court.
Ram Jethmalani – Advice to file SLP in Best Bakery case and for transfer
of 4 trials out of Gujarat.
Kapil Sibal – Appeal in Best Bakery acquittal case.
Shanti Bhushan – Best Bakery case.
Anil Divan – CBI Inquiry plus Godhra transfer petition.
CJP’s Achievements on the Legal Front so far:
Punish the guilty: Supreme Court order directing a reinvestigation and re-trial of the Best Bakery massacre case outside Maharashtra.
State’s duty to provide relief to victims of carnage: Gujarat high court judgements, directing the Gujarat government to provide adequate relief, medical care and sanitary facilities to the relief camps; also directing the government not to close the camps till the victims felt secure enough to leave the camps. Thanks to these judgements, the Narendra Modi government was forced to spend at least Rs. 10 crore more on the relief camps than it would have liked to do.
Archived from Communalism Combat, April-May 2004 Year 10 No. 97, Citizens for Justice and Peace