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Teesta Setalvad inspires art from behind bars

Digital media activists and artists creatively express solidarity, demand Teesta Setalvad’s immediate release

27 Jun 2022

Digital Media
Image Courtesy:deccanherald.com

News of activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad’s remand to police custody till July 1, 2022 has not dampened the spirits of Indian youth, especially digital artists and activists who are voicing their dissent using their art that is taking social media, especially Instagram by storm!

Alongside statements by international rights leaders and politicians, the artwork highlights how civil dissent strengthens, even when prominent leaders are put behind bars.

On June 24, the Supreme Court dismissed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by Congress MP Ehsan Jafri’s widow Zakia Jafri. Her husband was brutally killed during the communal violence that broke out in Gulberg Society in 2002. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) through Secretary Setalvad was the second petitioner. Setalvad was picked up from her Mumbai home by the Gujarat ATS on June 25, and this sparked a creative protest by artists.

On June 26, 2022 artist Ashish Bagchi posted a severe artwork criticising the judiciary. The hashtags also mentioned Teesta Setalvad after the news of her arrest went public.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ashish Bagchi (@ash.bagchi)

When asked about his views on the incident, the artist said, “Undeclared emergency is more dangerous than the actual one. [This is the] worst period of Indian judiciary after independence.”

His post has received around 350 likes so far.

Another youth artist Bhawna (Nabhawna) posted an artwork with the slogans “Humne suna Hai ki jinko chuna hai who kehne lage hain poochna mana hai” (We heard that those chosen to power say you cannot ask questions) and “Free Teesta Setalvad” around the activist. The former is a quote scrawled across the Delhi Bus Rapid Transit area’s walls in the national capital.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bhawna. (@nabhawna)

In the caption Bhawna says, “Detention of human rights activist Teesta Setalvad of CJP India is a direct attack on dissent and those who dare to question the authorities.”

Further, speaking to SabrangIndia about the sudden arrest, the enraged artist says, "To see the government targeting the human rights activists so ruthlessly, makes one question how much space is left for dissent in this country. The arrest is vile and ridiculous on so many grounds that it has left me speechless... This move is only to plant fear in the minds of people who are doing human rights work and trying to save whatever semblance of democracy we have left. They want us to be silent so they can do their work seamlessly."

Another simple yet hard-hitting artwork came from Siddhesh Gautam also known as Bakeryprasad on Instagram. The picture shows Setalvad smiling, standing in front of a background flooded with the words “Free Teesta Setalvad” with a caption demanding the same. Within 19 hours, the artwork garnered 1,071 likes.

Earlier, Gautam had conversed with the 60-year-old on CJP India’s Instagram Live about interfaith/ intercaste unions, Special Marriage Act and anti-conversion laws in different Indian states.

Aside from known artists, Marxist meme pages are also voicing support for the veteran rights leader using the hashtag “Stand With Teesta Setalvad”. With 68 likes, the ‘Anilmarxistsangam’ page on Instagram quotes Gujarat Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani’s tweet condemning Setalvad’s arrest.

 

There’s a political digital artist ‘Deemuk’ who as per their bio is a “Chronicler of social, cultural and political events”. Their posts dipped in red express their strong political opinions on various socio-political instances, more recently specific to India. The latest post is a headshot of Setalvad with the words “The Free Voice” in block letters across the bottom.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by DEEMUK (@d.e.e.m.u.k)

Many such creations are flooding social media. Hours after the arrest, Smish Designs and artist Saman posted artworks for Setalvad. Both artists talked about how their interaction with the Teesta Setalvad, recalling how the 60-year-old activist had influenced their life.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by smish (@smishdesigns)

 

Related:

Ahmedabad court remands Teesta Setalvad to police custody till July 1
Support pours in for Teesta Setalvad
Release Teesta Setalvad: Indian Human Rights groups and activists
PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home
I fear for my life: Teesta Setalvad allegedly roughed up by Gujarat ATS personnel

Teesta Setalvad inspires art from behind bars

Digital media activists and artists creatively express solidarity, demand Teesta Setalvad’s immediate release

Digital Media
Image Courtesy:deccanherald.com

News of activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad’s remand to police custody till July 1, 2022 has not dampened the spirits of Indian youth, especially digital artists and activists who are voicing their dissent using their art that is taking social media, especially Instagram by storm!

Alongside statements by international rights leaders and politicians, the artwork highlights how civil dissent strengthens, even when prominent leaders are put behind bars.

On June 24, the Supreme Court dismissed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by Congress MP Ehsan Jafri’s widow Zakia Jafri. Her husband was brutally killed during the communal violence that broke out in Gulberg Society in 2002. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) through Secretary Setalvad was the second petitioner. Setalvad was picked up from her Mumbai home by the Gujarat ATS on June 25, and this sparked a creative protest by artists.

On June 26, 2022 artist Ashish Bagchi posted a severe artwork criticising the judiciary. The hashtags also mentioned Teesta Setalvad after the news of her arrest went public.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ashish Bagchi (@ash.bagchi)

When asked about his views on the incident, the artist said, “Undeclared emergency is more dangerous than the actual one. [This is the] worst period of Indian judiciary after independence.”

His post has received around 350 likes so far.

Another youth artist Bhawna (Nabhawna) posted an artwork with the slogans “Humne suna Hai ki jinko chuna hai who kehne lage hain poochna mana hai” (We heard that those chosen to power say you cannot ask questions) and “Free Teesta Setalvad” around the activist. The former is a quote scrawled across the Delhi Bus Rapid Transit area’s walls in the national capital.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bhawna. (@nabhawna)

In the caption Bhawna says, “Detention of human rights activist Teesta Setalvad of CJP India is a direct attack on dissent and those who dare to question the authorities.”

Further, speaking to SabrangIndia about the sudden arrest, the enraged artist says, "To see the government targeting the human rights activists so ruthlessly, makes one question how much space is left for dissent in this country. The arrest is vile and ridiculous on so many grounds that it has left me speechless... This move is only to plant fear in the minds of people who are doing human rights work and trying to save whatever semblance of democracy we have left. They want us to be silent so they can do their work seamlessly."

Another simple yet hard-hitting artwork came from Siddhesh Gautam also known as Bakeryprasad on Instagram. The picture shows Setalvad smiling, standing in front of a background flooded with the words “Free Teesta Setalvad” with a caption demanding the same. Within 19 hours, the artwork garnered 1,071 likes.

Earlier, Gautam had conversed with the 60-year-old on CJP India’s Instagram Live about interfaith/ intercaste unions, Special Marriage Act and anti-conversion laws in different Indian states.

Aside from known artists, Marxist meme pages are also voicing support for the veteran rights leader using the hashtag “Stand With Teesta Setalvad”. With 68 likes, the ‘Anilmarxistsangam’ page on Instagram quotes Gujarat Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani’s tweet condemning Setalvad’s arrest.

 

There’s a political digital artist ‘Deemuk’ who as per their bio is a “Chronicler of social, cultural and political events”. Their posts dipped in red express their strong political opinions on various socio-political instances, more recently specific to India. The latest post is a headshot of Setalvad with the words “The Free Voice” in block letters across the bottom.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by DEEMUK (@d.e.e.m.u.k)

Many such creations are flooding social media. Hours after the arrest, Smish Designs and artist Saman posted artworks for Setalvad. Both artists talked about how their interaction with the Teesta Setalvad, recalling how the 60-year-old activist had influenced their life.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by smish (@smishdesigns)

 

Related:

Ahmedabad court remands Teesta Setalvad to police custody till July 1
Support pours in for Teesta Setalvad
Release Teesta Setalvad: Indian Human Rights groups and activists
PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home
I fear for my life: Teesta Setalvad allegedly roughed up by Gujarat ATS personnel

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Chorus demanding justice for Teesta Setalvad grows louder!

More activists, journalists and civil society members are stepping out to express solidarity with the human rights defender

27 Jun 2022

Teesta Setalvad

It’s not even been 48 hours since journalist, activist and educationist Teesta Setalvad was picked up from her ancestral home in Mumbai, and already there is huge support from across the world as well as India for her.

Elaine Pearson, the Acting Asia Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) has now urged governments at the G-7 summit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attending at present to raise questions about Setalvad’s arrest.

 

 

This is yet another example of international support for Setalvad after Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders demanded Setalvad’s release saying, “Teesta is a strong voice against hatred and discrimination. Defending human rights is not a crime.”

 

 

Similarly, international humanitarian organisation Amnesty’s India unit, that has itself faced persecution on trumped up pertaining to obtaining foreign funds, had also called Setalvad’s arrest “a direct reprisal against those who dare to question their human rights record,” and said, “It sends a chilling message to the civil society & further shrinks the space for dissent in the country.”

 

 

Closer home, the Mumbai Press Club has condemned the human rights defender’s arrest saying that she has been made a scapegoat “in a chilling process of vendetta unleashed by the executive and the judiciary.” They have further said, “It is unacceptable that a person who has been fighting for civil justice should be accused of fabricating evidence and misleading the Special Investigation Team.” Calling for an end to the “politics of vengeance”, they have also demanded that all charges be dropped against Setalvad and she be released immediately.

 

 

Among politicians, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has called out the regime’s “habit of targeting opponents and infringing on civil liberties”.

 

 

Similarly, CPI (M) Politburo member Brinda Karat also came out in support of Setalvad and called her arrest a “very vindictive action” by the regime. She warns that such actions are an “ominous threat to all democratic citizens” who dare to question the role of authorities in the spread of communal violence.

 

 

Meanwhile public meetings and peaceful protests are being organized across India. A meeting of socio-political organisations has been called at Shastri Ghat in Varanasi at noon today by an organization called Nagrik Samaj.

varanasi

A similar meeting has been called at 4 P.M in Patna at the Buddha Smriti Park by women’s rights groups.

Then at 5 P.M, a protest has been planned near the Hanuman Mandir outside Dadar railway station (East) by various activists and civil society members such as Prakash Reddy, Vidya Chawan, Adv. Mihir Desai, Vivek Monteiro, Milind Ranade, FerozeMithiborwala, Dolphy D’Souza, Varsha Vidya Vilas, Lara Jesani, Guddi, M A Khalid, Vishal Hiwale, Nuruddin Naik among others.

dadar

The Joint Forum against NRC has also issued a statement condemning the arrest calling it a “naked act of political vendetta” and condemned how “the complainants are now being accused of conspiracy and being persecuted.” Hailing Teesta Setalvad for her “relentless crusade against perpetrators of the Gujarat pogrom of 2002”, they also praised “her role in defence of those incarcerated in detention centres and the vulnerable NRC-excluded people in Assam” calling it “inspiring”.

Teesta

 

Meanwhile, Delhi University professor Apoorvanad has written a scathing piece about the entire sordid matter in The Wire, saying, “Between the outrage by the court against the trouble-makers and the arrest was an interview in which the home minister of the Union government of India names the organisation of Teesta Setalvad and indicates that some officials of the state worked to defame the then state government and the chief minister.” He further wrote, “It seems that the interview and the work on the first information report (FIR) by an officer of the Gujarat police naming Teesta, Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt were going on simultaneously. What else explains the knock on the doors of Teesta and Sreekumar within hours of the airing of the interview.”

Related:

Ahmedabad court remands Teesta Setalvad to police custody till July 1

Support pours in for Teesta Setalvad

Release Teesta Setalvad: Indian Human Rights groups and activists

PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home

Chorus demanding justice for Teesta Setalvad grows louder!

More activists, journalists and civil society members are stepping out to express solidarity with the human rights defender

Teesta Setalvad

It’s not even been 48 hours since journalist, activist and educationist Teesta Setalvad was picked up from her ancestral home in Mumbai, and already there is huge support from across the world as well as India for her.

Elaine Pearson, the Acting Asia Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) has now urged governments at the G-7 summit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attending at present to raise questions about Setalvad’s arrest.

 

 

This is yet another example of international support for Setalvad after Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders demanded Setalvad’s release saying, “Teesta is a strong voice against hatred and discrimination. Defending human rights is not a crime.”

 

 

Similarly, international humanitarian organisation Amnesty’s India unit, that has itself faced persecution on trumped up pertaining to obtaining foreign funds, had also called Setalvad’s arrest “a direct reprisal against those who dare to question their human rights record,” and said, “It sends a chilling message to the civil society & further shrinks the space for dissent in the country.”

 

 

Closer home, the Mumbai Press Club has condemned the human rights defender’s arrest saying that she has been made a scapegoat “in a chilling process of vendetta unleashed by the executive and the judiciary.” They have further said, “It is unacceptable that a person who has been fighting for civil justice should be accused of fabricating evidence and misleading the Special Investigation Team.” Calling for an end to the “politics of vengeance”, they have also demanded that all charges be dropped against Setalvad and she be released immediately.

 

 

Among politicians, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has called out the regime’s “habit of targeting opponents and infringing on civil liberties”.

 

 

Similarly, CPI (M) Politburo member Brinda Karat also came out in support of Setalvad and called her arrest a “very vindictive action” by the regime. She warns that such actions are an “ominous threat to all democratic citizens” who dare to question the role of authorities in the spread of communal violence.

 

 

Meanwhile public meetings and peaceful protests are being organized across India. A meeting of socio-political organisations has been called at Shastri Ghat in Varanasi at noon today by an organization called Nagrik Samaj.

varanasi

A similar meeting has been called at 4 P.M in Patna at the Buddha Smriti Park by women’s rights groups.

Then at 5 P.M, a protest has been planned near the Hanuman Mandir outside Dadar railway station (East) by various activists and civil society members such as Prakash Reddy, Vidya Chawan, Adv. Mihir Desai, Vivek Monteiro, Milind Ranade, FerozeMithiborwala, Dolphy D’Souza, Varsha Vidya Vilas, Lara Jesani, Guddi, M A Khalid, Vishal Hiwale, Nuruddin Naik among others.

dadar

The Joint Forum against NRC has also issued a statement condemning the arrest calling it a “naked act of political vendetta” and condemned how “the complainants are now being accused of conspiracy and being persecuted.” Hailing Teesta Setalvad for her “relentless crusade against perpetrators of the Gujarat pogrom of 2002”, they also praised “her role in defence of those incarcerated in detention centres and the vulnerable NRC-excluded people in Assam” calling it “inspiring”.

Teesta

 

Meanwhile, Delhi University professor Apoorvanad has written a scathing piece about the entire sordid matter in The Wire, saying, “Between the outrage by the court against the trouble-makers and the arrest was an interview in which the home minister of the Union government of India names the organisation of Teesta Setalvad and indicates that some officials of the state worked to defame the then state government and the chief minister.” He further wrote, “It seems that the interview and the work on the first information report (FIR) by an officer of the Gujarat police naming Teesta, Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt were going on simultaneously. What else explains the knock on the doors of Teesta and Sreekumar within hours of the airing of the interview.”

Related:

Ahmedabad court remands Teesta Setalvad to police custody till July 1

Support pours in for Teesta Setalvad

Release Teesta Setalvad: Indian Human Rights groups and activists

PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home

Related Articles


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Ahmedabad court remands Teesta Setalvad to police custody till July 1

The human rights defender will be next produced in court on July 2

26 Jun 2022

Teesta

The court of a Metropolitan Magistrate has remanded activist Testa Setalvad to police custody till July 1. Setalvad had been picked up from her Mumbai home by a unit of the Gujarat Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Saturday afternoon and taken to Ahmedabad, where she was formally arrested this morning.

She will now be produced in court on July 2 along with her alleged co-conspirator RB Sreekumar who is a retired IPS officer and former Director General of Police (DGP) Gujarat. After the arrest, she was taken to SV Hospital in Ahmedabad for a routine medical check-up before being produced before a judge.

Readers would recall that Setalvad had said that she had been physically assaulted in her home by police personnel yesterday, and had sustained bruises to her left hand. She had also expressed concerns about her safety in a written complaint filed with the Santacruz Police Station where she was taken by the Gujarat ATS team, before she was whisked away to Ahmedabad.

Setalvad has maintained that the manner in which she was arrested was illegal – that she wasn’t even shown the warrant or First Information Report (FIR) till her lawyer arrived. Also curious is how the conspiracy charges materialized just a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of slain Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Ehsan Jafri who had been brutally killed during the communal violence that broke out in Gulberg Society in 2002. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) through its secretary Teesta Setalvad was the second petitioner in the case.

However, in a shocking turn of events, the court, deeming Setalvad’s involvement to be malicious, observed in its judgment, “As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.

The above extract was also quoted in a complaint filed on behalf of the State by Darshansinh B Barad, Police Inspector, Detection of Crime Branch, Ahmedabad City. In the complaint dated June 25, 2022, Barad asks for an FIR to be registered against Setalvad, former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) R.B Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC):

194 (Giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence)

211 (False charge of offence made with intent to injure)

218 (Public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfei­ture)

468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating)

471 (Using as genuine a forged document or electronic record)

Read with 120 B (Criminal Conspiracy) 

The State’s complaint says that Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt conspired to malign the reputation of senior Gujarat government officials as well as the Special investigation Team (SIT) formed to investigate the communal violence of 2002. The trumped-up charges against Setalvad include conspiracy to fabricate facts and documents, tutor witnesses and bring about a malicious prosecution against the alleged perpetrators of the conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat communal violence.

The clearly trumped-up charges have not gone unnoticed by civil society members, with new voices joining the chorus to demand justice for Teesta Setalvad every hour.

 

 

 

Many peaceful protests have been planned by activists, youth groups, trade unions and others in the upcoming days. In fact, one protest was held in Kolkata on the evening of June 26, by members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI (M). Politburo member Brinda Karat has come out in support of Setalvad and called her arrest a “very vindictive action” by the regime. She warns that such actions are an “ominous threat to all democratic citizens” who dare to question the role of authorities in the spread of communal violence. Her entire video statement may be viewed here:

 

 

In fact, members of another Left Front party, the CPI (ML) Liberation, burnt an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a protest in Jadhavpur in West Bengal.

 

 

 

Related:

Support pours in for Teesta Setalvad

Release Teesta Setalvad: Indian Human Rights groups and activists

PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home

Ahmedabad court remands Teesta Setalvad to police custody till July 1

The human rights defender will be next produced in court on July 2

Teesta

The court of a Metropolitan Magistrate has remanded activist Testa Setalvad to police custody till July 1. Setalvad had been picked up from her Mumbai home by a unit of the Gujarat Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Saturday afternoon and taken to Ahmedabad, where she was formally arrested this morning.

She will now be produced in court on July 2 along with her alleged co-conspirator RB Sreekumar who is a retired IPS officer and former Director General of Police (DGP) Gujarat. After the arrest, she was taken to SV Hospital in Ahmedabad for a routine medical check-up before being produced before a judge.

Readers would recall that Setalvad had said that she had been physically assaulted in her home by police personnel yesterday, and had sustained bruises to her left hand. She had also expressed concerns about her safety in a written complaint filed with the Santacruz Police Station where she was taken by the Gujarat ATS team, before she was whisked away to Ahmedabad.

Setalvad has maintained that the manner in which she was arrested was illegal – that she wasn’t even shown the warrant or First Information Report (FIR) till her lawyer arrived. Also curious is how the conspiracy charges materialized just a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of slain Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Ehsan Jafri who had been brutally killed during the communal violence that broke out in Gulberg Society in 2002. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) through its secretary Teesta Setalvad was the second petitioner in the case.

However, in a shocking turn of events, the court, deeming Setalvad’s involvement to be malicious, observed in its judgment, “As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.

The above extract was also quoted in a complaint filed on behalf of the State by Darshansinh B Barad, Police Inspector, Detection of Crime Branch, Ahmedabad City. In the complaint dated June 25, 2022, Barad asks for an FIR to be registered against Setalvad, former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) R.B Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC):

194 (Giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence)

211 (False charge of offence made with intent to injure)

218 (Public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfei­ture)

468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating)

471 (Using as genuine a forged document or electronic record)

Read with 120 B (Criminal Conspiracy) 

The State’s complaint says that Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt conspired to malign the reputation of senior Gujarat government officials as well as the Special investigation Team (SIT) formed to investigate the communal violence of 2002. The trumped-up charges against Setalvad include conspiracy to fabricate facts and documents, tutor witnesses and bring about a malicious prosecution against the alleged perpetrators of the conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat communal violence.

The clearly trumped-up charges have not gone unnoticed by civil society members, with new voices joining the chorus to demand justice for Teesta Setalvad every hour.

 

 

 

Many peaceful protests have been planned by activists, youth groups, trade unions and others in the upcoming days. In fact, one protest was held in Kolkata on the evening of June 26, by members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI (M). Politburo member Brinda Karat has come out in support of Setalvad and called her arrest a “very vindictive action” by the regime. She warns that such actions are an “ominous threat to all democratic citizens” who dare to question the role of authorities in the spread of communal violence. Her entire video statement may be viewed here:

 

 

In fact, members of another Left Front party, the CPI (ML) Liberation, burnt an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a protest in Jadhavpur in West Bengal.

 

 

 

Related:

Support pours in for Teesta Setalvad

Release Teesta Setalvad: Indian Human Rights groups and activists

PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home

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Release Teesta Setalvad: Indian Human Rights groups and activists

Youths, trade unions and rights groups stand with Teesta Setalvad, demand her immediate release

26 Jun 2022

Release Teesta

Barely 24 hours have passed since activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad was forcibly taken away by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, and support for the 60-year-old is flooding every social media platform.

On June 25, the ATS unit barged into the ancestral bungalowof the human rights defender who is the secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP). They detained her on trumped up charges, that appear to have materialised just a day after the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Zakia Jafri case.

However, impressed and inspired by her work over the years, young digital activists have taken up the mantel of spreading news of her ordeal across the internet. Teesta Stalvad is thus inspiring young India even from behind bars!

On Instagram, digital activists are posting artwork in honour of the veteran journalist and her work in the field of human rights.

Smish Designs is one such young artist who talked about Setalvad's resolve in the field of human rights.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by smish (@smishdesigns)

"This was so painful to draw. I've had the honour to work with Teesta, her passion and determination to fight hate in the society left a mark on me. I wish for her security and safety back home," said Smish.

Another artist concerned by her ordeal is Djinnmakesart. Recollecting a meeting with Setalvad as a young child, she writes how the activist's words have stated with her till adulthood.

Djinn talked about how she first met Setalvad when she was eight years old. On asking for her autograph, Setalvad wrote, "Love courage and move."

Regarding this message, Djinn said, “Those words didn't mean a thing to me back then. But somehow, they have stuck with me. Perhaps a part of me knew that I would need to revisit these words over and over again over the entire course of my life. These words have brought me back to life in the darkest of days when I was left hopeless and helpless.” Djinn further said, “And today when I see her name in the news again for her relentless pursuit of social justice, I am secretly hoping that she is living by these same words that she wrote for my 8 year old self. I hope she does.”

On Saturday, Setalvad accused the personnel of assaulting her and taking away her phone. She was roughed up and taken to the Santacruz Police Station, where she was placed under arrest.Setalvad had filed a hand written complaint with the Santacruz Police Station saying Police Inspector JH Patel of the ATS Ahmedabad and a lady officer in civil clothes came into her bedroom and assaulted her when she demanded to speak to her lawyer. Setalvad says that she was not shown the First Information Report (FIR) or a warrant till her lawyer arrived.

Students Federation of India (SFI) has also thrown their support behind Teesta Setalvad solidifying her fan base among the youth:

 

 

Protests have been planned in all major cities to demand justice for Teesta Setalvad. Some have sought endorsements online:

 

Indeed #FreeTeesta is trending on Twitter

 

Condemning this abuse of human rights, Kolkata's CPI(M) unit is observing at 5 P.M in the West Bengal capital.

Release Teesta

At 4 P.M on June 27, a protest is planned to be held at Jantar Mantar, Delhi to condemn "Modi's undeclared emergency and war on progressive groups."

Release Teesta

Release Teesta

There is another call for a solidarity protest at 5PM on June 27 at Dadar Station (East), outside Hanuman Mandir.Organisers include noted activists, lawyers and academics such as Prakash Reddy, Vidya Chawan, Adv. Mihir Desai, Vivek Monteiro, Milind Ranade, FerozeMithiborwala, Dolphy D’Souza, Varsha Vidya Vilas, Lara Jesani, Guddi, M A Khalid, Vishal Hiwale, Nuruddin Naik among others.

Release Teesta

Support is also pouring in from students’ organisations like the All India Students Federation in Sri Sankaracharya University and the All India Students Association.

 

Further the All India Lawyers Union(AILU) has also condemned Setalvad's arrest and demanded her immediate release and withdrawal of charges. “Arrest of Teesta Setalvad, human rights activist, by the Gujarat ATS is the latest illustrative incident of oppressive and vindictive action of the state against dissent... to terrorize the activists and the civil society... to mute and silence the voice of dissent... voice against white terrorism. An action undermining the Constitution and the Constitutional ethos,” said AILU General Secretary P. V. Surendranath.

Related:

PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home
Support pours in for Teesta Setalvad
I fear for my life: Teesta Setalvad allegedly roughed up by Gujarat ATS personnel

Release Teesta Setalvad: Indian Human Rights groups and activists

Youths, trade unions and rights groups stand with Teesta Setalvad, demand her immediate release

Release Teesta

Barely 24 hours have passed since activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad was forcibly taken away by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, and support for the 60-year-old is flooding every social media platform.

On June 25, the ATS unit barged into the ancestral bungalowof the human rights defender who is the secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP). They detained her on trumped up charges, that appear to have materialised just a day after the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Zakia Jafri case.

However, impressed and inspired by her work over the years, young digital activists have taken up the mantel of spreading news of her ordeal across the internet. Teesta Stalvad is thus inspiring young India even from behind bars!

On Instagram, digital activists are posting artwork in honour of the veteran journalist and her work in the field of human rights.

Smish Designs is one such young artist who talked about Setalvad's resolve in the field of human rights.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by smish (@smishdesigns)

"This was so painful to draw. I've had the honour to work with Teesta, her passion and determination to fight hate in the society left a mark on me. I wish for her security and safety back home," said Smish.

Another artist concerned by her ordeal is Djinnmakesart. Recollecting a meeting with Setalvad as a young child, she writes how the activist's words have stated with her till adulthood.

Djinn talked about how she first met Setalvad when she was eight years old. On asking for her autograph, Setalvad wrote, "Love courage and move."

Regarding this message, Djinn said, “Those words didn't mean a thing to me back then. But somehow, they have stuck with me. Perhaps a part of me knew that I would need to revisit these words over and over again over the entire course of my life. These words have brought me back to life in the darkest of days when I was left hopeless and helpless.” Djinn further said, “And today when I see her name in the news again for her relentless pursuit of social justice, I am secretly hoping that she is living by these same words that she wrote for my 8 year old self. I hope she does.”

On Saturday, Setalvad accused the personnel of assaulting her and taking away her phone. She was roughed up and taken to the Santacruz Police Station, where she was placed under arrest.Setalvad had filed a hand written complaint with the Santacruz Police Station saying Police Inspector JH Patel of the ATS Ahmedabad and a lady officer in civil clothes came into her bedroom and assaulted her when she demanded to speak to her lawyer. Setalvad says that she was not shown the First Information Report (FIR) or a warrant till her lawyer arrived.

Students Federation of India (SFI) has also thrown their support behind Teesta Setalvad solidifying her fan base among the youth:

 

 

Protests have been planned in all major cities to demand justice for Teesta Setalvad. Some have sought endorsements online:

 

Indeed #FreeTeesta is trending on Twitter

 

Condemning this abuse of human rights, Kolkata's CPI(M) unit is observing at 5 P.M in the West Bengal capital.

Release Teesta

At 4 P.M on June 27, a protest is planned to be held at Jantar Mantar, Delhi to condemn "Modi's undeclared emergency and war on progressive groups."

Release Teesta

Release Teesta

There is another call for a solidarity protest at 5PM on June 27 at Dadar Station (East), outside Hanuman Mandir.Organisers include noted activists, lawyers and academics such as Prakash Reddy, Vidya Chawan, Adv. Mihir Desai, Vivek Monteiro, Milind Ranade, FerozeMithiborwala, Dolphy D’Souza, Varsha Vidya Vilas, Lara Jesani, Guddi, M A Khalid, Vishal Hiwale, Nuruddin Naik among others.

Release Teesta

Support is also pouring in from students’ organisations like the All India Students Federation in Sri Sankaracharya University and the All India Students Association.

 

Further the All India Lawyers Union(AILU) has also condemned Setalvad's arrest and demanded her immediate release and withdrawal of charges. “Arrest of Teesta Setalvad, human rights activist, by the Gujarat ATS is the latest illustrative incident of oppressive and vindictive action of the state against dissent... to terrorize the activists and the civil society... to mute and silence the voice of dissent... voice against white terrorism. An action undermining the Constitution and the Constitutional ethos,” said AILU General Secretary P. V. Surendranath.

Related:

PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home
Support pours in for Teesta Setalvad
I fear for my life: Teesta Setalvad allegedly roughed up by Gujarat ATS personnel

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Support pours in for Teesta Setalvad

Civil society, socio-political activists and journalists demand justice for the human rights defender

26 Jun 2022

Teesta

At the time of filing this update, human rights defender Teesta Setalvad remains in the custody of the Ahmedabad police, after being arrested in Mumbai yesterday. The 60-year-old journalist and activist is likely to be produced before a magistrate today.

After Setalvad’s arrest, former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) RB Sreekumar was also arrested in Ahmedabad, while former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt is already behind bars under trumped up charges in a custodial death case.

But support has been pouring in for the fearless human rights defender who did not give up her quest for justice even when the present regime came to power. Indeed, many are openly criticizing a vindictive regime for targeting Setalvad.

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders has now demanded Setalvad’s release saying, “Teesta is a strong voice against hatred and discrimination. Defending human rights is not a crime.”

 

 

International humanitarian organization Amnesty’s India unit, that has itself faced persecution on trumped up pertaining to obtaining foreign funds, has called Setalvad’s arrest “a direct reprisal against those who dare to question their human rights record,” and said, “It sends a chilling message to the civil society & further shrinks the space for dissent in the country.”

 

 

The All India Democratic Women’s Association has also issued a formal statement saying that it “strongly condemns the arrest of activist and human rights fighter, Teesta Setalvad, by the Gujarat ATS. After the unfortunate SC decision to throw out the appeal filed by Zakia Jafri whose husband, Ehsan Jafri was brutally killed in the Gujarat pogrom, the Gujarat police has lost no time in arresting Teesta Setalvad who has stood with Ms Jafri like a rock. It is this and her other acts of exemplary courage for which she is being victimised. AIDWA demands that the false case against her be immediately withdrawn and harassment stopped.”

The Rihai Manch issued a statement saying that it “strongly condemns the arrest of senior human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and former IPS officer RB Sreekumar by the Gujarat ATS.” They have demanded the immediate release of the arrested activists and that the charges against them be dropped.

In the meantime, support has been pouring in for Setalvad with several activists, journalists and other civil society members tweeting and issuing statements demanding justice for her. More people are coming out in Setalvad’s support and lauding the human rights defender for her tireless campaign to get justice for the voiceless and the disempowered.

 

 

Among political parties the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) has stood firmly by Setalvad. CPI (ML) leader Kavita Krishnan was one of the first to tweet about her detention:

 

 

Now the party has issued a formal statement condemning her “politically vindictive” arrest. Referring to the Supreme Court judgment in the Zakai Jafri case, the CPI (ML) said, “Certain observations in the Supreme Court’s judgment itself have, shamefully, paved the way for this vindictive prosecution. The judgment did not stop at dismissing the petition for lack of grounds. It named and blamed Teesta Setalvad for allegedly exploiting Zakia Jafri’s pain, asking that she as well as those public servants of Gujarat contradicted the Gujarat police’s narrative be put “in the dock” for their efforts.” It added, “It does not augur well for a democracy when the Supreme Court inexplicably criminalises this pursuit of justice and calls for every person involved need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.”

Meanwhile, the CPI (M) has planned a peaceful protest in Kolkata at 5 P.M today:

 

 

Another call for a peaceful protest on June 27 says, “The judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Zakia Jafri v State of Gujarat, dismissing the petition filed by Zakia Jafri calling for an investigation into the conspiracy to hatch the events resulting in communal violence following the Godhra train burning, deepens the sense of injustice and marks a moment of profound hurt and loss as far as all those who care about constitutional values.” It further said, “The state has now used the observations made in the judgment to falsely and vindictively prosecute those who had struggled for justice even in the face of state callousness and complicity. It is truly an Orwellian situation of the lie becoming the truth, when those who fought to establish the truth of what happened in the Gujarat genocide of 2002 are being targeted.”

The activists condemned “this naked and brazen attempt to silence and criminalize those who stand for constitutional values and who have struggled against very difficult odds to try to achieve justice for the victims of 2002,” and demanded that “this false and vindictive FIR be taken back unconditionally and Teesta Setalvad and others detained under this FIR be released immediately.” It has been endorsed by:

  • V. Suresh, General Secretary, PUCL

  • Medha Patkar, NAPM

  • Apoorvanand, Writer and Columnist

  • Rooprekha Verma, Former VC, Lucknow University

  • Aruna Roy, MKSS

  • Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad

  • Arvind Narrain, PUCL Karnataka

  • Kavita Srivastava, PUCL

  • Gauhar Raza, Poet and Activist

  • Lara Jesani, PUCL Maharashtra

  • Nikhil Dey, MKSS

 

Related:

PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home

  

Support pours in for Teesta Setalvad

Civil society, socio-political activists and journalists demand justice for the human rights defender

Teesta

At the time of filing this update, human rights defender Teesta Setalvad remains in the custody of the Ahmedabad police, after being arrested in Mumbai yesterday. The 60-year-old journalist and activist is likely to be produced before a magistrate today.

After Setalvad’s arrest, former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) RB Sreekumar was also arrested in Ahmedabad, while former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt is already behind bars under trumped up charges in a custodial death case.

But support has been pouring in for the fearless human rights defender who did not give up her quest for justice even when the present regime came to power. Indeed, many are openly criticizing a vindictive regime for targeting Setalvad.

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders has now demanded Setalvad’s release saying, “Teesta is a strong voice against hatred and discrimination. Defending human rights is not a crime.”

 

 

International humanitarian organization Amnesty’s India unit, that has itself faced persecution on trumped up pertaining to obtaining foreign funds, has called Setalvad’s arrest “a direct reprisal against those who dare to question their human rights record,” and said, “It sends a chilling message to the civil society & further shrinks the space for dissent in the country.”

 

 

The All India Democratic Women’s Association has also issued a formal statement saying that it “strongly condemns the arrest of activist and human rights fighter, Teesta Setalvad, by the Gujarat ATS. After the unfortunate SC decision to throw out the appeal filed by Zakia Jafri whose husband, Ehsan Jafri was brutally killed in the Gujarat pogrom, the Gujarat police has lost no time in arresting Teesta Setalvad who has stood with Ms Jafri like a rock. It is this and her other acts of exemplary courage for which she is being victimised. AIDWA demands that the false case against her be immediately withdrawn and harassment stopped.”

The Rihai Manch issued a statement saying that it “strongly condemns the arrest of senior human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and former IPS officer RB Sreekumar by the Gujarat ATS.” They have demanded the immediate release of the arrested activists and that the charges against them be dropped.

In the meantime, support has been pouring in for Setalvad with several activists, journalists and other civil society members tweeting and issuing statements demanding justice for her. More people are coming out in Setalvad’s support and lauding the human rights defender for her tireless campaign to get justice for the voiceless and the disempowered.

 

 

Among political parties the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist) has stood firmly by Setalvad. CPI (ML) leader Kavita Krishnan was one of the first to tweet about her detention:

 

 

Now the party has issued a formal statement condemning her “politically vindictive” arrest. Referring to the Supreme Court judgment in the Zakai Jafri case, the CPI (ML) said, “Certain observations in the Supreme Court’s judgment itself have, shamefully, paved the way for this vindictive prosecution. The judgment did not stop at dismissing the petition for lack of grounds. It named and blamed Teesta Setalvad for allegedly exploiting Zakia Jafri’s pain, asking that she as well as those public servants of Gujarat contradicted the Gujarat police’s narrative be put “in the dock” for their efforts.” It added, “It does not augur well for a democracy when the Supreme Court inexplicably criminalises this pursuit of justice and calls for every person involved need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.”

Meanwhile, the CPI (M) has planned a peaceful protest in Kolkata at 5 P.M today:

 

 

Another call for a peaceful protest on June 27 says, “The judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Zakia Jafri v State of Gujarat, dismissing the petition filed by Zakia Jafri calling for an investigation into the conspiracy to hatch the events resulting in communal violence following the Godhra train burning, deepens the sense of injustice and marks a moment of profound hurt and loss as far as all those who care about constitutional values.” It further said, “The state has now used the observations made in the judgment to falsely and vindictively prosecute those who had struggled for justice even in the face of state callousness and complicity. It is truly an Orwellian situation of the lie becoming the truth, when those who fought to establish the truth of what happened in the Gujarat genocide of 2002 are being targeted.”

The activists condemned “this naked and brazen attempt to silence and criminalize those who stand for constitutional values and who have struggled against very difficult odds to try to achieve justice for the victims of 2002,” and demanded that “this false and vindictive FIR be taken back unconditionally and Teesta Setalvad and others detained under this FIR be released immediately.” It has been endorsed by:

  • V. Suresh, General Secretary, PUCL

  • Medha Patkar, NAPM

  • Apoorvanand, Writer and Columnist

  • Rooprekha Verma, Former VC, Lucknow University

  • Aruna Roy, MKSS

  • Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad

  • Arvind Narrain, PUCL Karnataka

  • Kavita Srivastava, PUCL

  • Gauhar Raza, Poet and Activist

  • Lara Jesani, PUCL Maharashtra

  • Nikhil Dey, MKSS

 

Related:

PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home

  

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I fear for my life: Teesta Setalvad allegedly roughed up by Gujarat ATS personnel

Police barged into her home and allegedly assaulted her; Setalvad arrested from Mumbai and taken to Ahmedabad Crime branch

25 Jun 2022

Teesta Setalvad

On Saturday afternoon, a unit of the Gujarat Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) barged into the ancestral bungalow of human rights defender and secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) Teesta Setalvad. The ATS personnel detained her on trumped up charges, that appear to have materialised just a day after the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Zakia Jafri case. 

Setalvad says she was roughed up as she was picked up from her Mumbai home and taken to the Santacruz police station, where she was placed under arrest. At present she is being taken to the Ahmedabad Crime Branch by road. 

At about 5:30 P.M, just before being whisked away to Ahmedabad, Setalvad filed a handwritten complaint with the Santacruz Police Station saying, “I fear for my life.” In her complaint, Setalvad named Police Inspector JH Patel of the ATS Ahmedabad and said that he and a lady officer in civil clothes came into her bedroom and assaulted her when she demanded to speak to her lawyer. In her complaint, Setalvad has also stated that the assault left her with a bruise on her left hand, and that she was not shown the First Information Report (FIR) or a warrant till her lawyer arrived. 

A copy of her complaint may be read here:

Teeta page1

Teesta

 The timing of Setalvad’s arrest is curious, given it comes just a day after the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea by Zakia Jafri, the widow of slain Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Ehsan Jafri. Ehsan Jafri had been killed during the communal violence in Gulberg Society during the 2002 Gujarat carnage. In the ensuing years Zakia Jafri had become the face of a mammoth litigation that pointed out lapses in the investigation carried out by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to probe the case, and asked for an investigation into an alleged larger conspiracy behind the violence. 

But the court dismissed the plea, and in its judgment delivered on June 24, 2022, observed, “As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock ad proceeded with in accordance with law. 

The above extract was also quoted in a complaint filed on behalf of the State by Darshansinh B Barad, Police Inspector, Detection of Crime Branch, Ahmedabad City. In the complaint dated June 25, 2022, Barad asks for an FIR to be registered against Setalvad, former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) R.B Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC): 

194 (Giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence) 

211 (False charge of offence made with intent to injure) 

218 (Public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfei­ture) 

468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating) 

471 (Using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) 

Read with 120 B (Criminal Conspiracy) 

The State’s complaint says that Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt conspired to malign the reputation of senior Gujarat government officials as well as the Special investigation Team (SIT) formed to investigate the communal violence of 2002. The trumped up charges against Setalvad include conspiracy to fabricate facts and documents, tutor witnesses and bring about a malicious prosecution against the alleged perpetrators of the conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat communal violence. 

It is noteworthy that even when the SLP was being heard by the Supreme Court in December 2021, an elaborate smear campaign was launched against Teesta Setalvad where several past allegations were also dug up again. Details may be read here. 

Setalvad is being targeted today as part of an elaborate witch hunt. In fact, many international publications have also vouched for her in their reports including those by New York TimesBBC as also organisations like Frontline Defenders. That aside, even courts of law have from time to time found no merit in allegations of Setalvad ‘tutoring’ any witnesses in the cases and have even granted reliefs in the cases she was hounded by which included false allegations of embezzlement of funds.

 We sincerely urge friends of CJP, civil society, activists and journalists to come together to demand justice for Teesta Setalvad.

I fear for my life: Teesta Setalvad allegedly roughed up by Gujarat ATS personnel

Police barged into her home and allegedly assaulted her; Setalvad arrested from Mumbai and taken to Ahmedabad Crime branch

Teesta Setalvad

On Saturday afternoon, a unit of the Gujarat Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) barged into the ancestral bungalow of human rights defender and secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) Teesta Setalvad. The ATS personnel detained her on trumped up charges, that appear to have materialised just a day after the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Zakia Jafri case. 

Setalvad says she was roughed up as she was picked up from her Mumbai home and taken to the Santacruz police station, where she was placed under arrest. At present she is being taken to the Ahmedabad Crime Branch by road. 

At about 5:30 P.M, just before being whisked away to Ahmedabad, Setalvad filed a handwritten complaint with the Santacruz Police Station saying, “I fear for my life.” In her complaint, Setalvad named Police Inspector JH Patel of the ATS Ahmedabad and said that he and a lady officer in civil clothes came into her bedroom and assaulted her when she demanded to speak to her lawyer. In her complaint, Setalvad has also stated that the assault left her with a bruise on her left hand, and that she was not shown the First Information Report (FIR) or a warrant till her lawyer arrived. 

A copy of her complaint may be read here:

Teeta page1

Teesta

 The timing of Setalvad’s arrest is curious, given it comes just a day after the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea by Zakia Jafri, the widow of slain Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Ehsan Jafri. Ehsan Jafri had been killed during the communal violence in Gulberg Society during the 2002 Gujarat carnage. In the ensuing years Zakia Jafri had become the face of a mammoth litigation that pointed out lapses in the investigation carried out by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to probe the case, and asked for an investigation into an alleged larger conspiracy behind the violence. 

But the court dismissed the plea, and in its judgment delivered on June 24, 2022, observed, “As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock ad proceeded with in accordance with law. 

The above extract was also quoted in a complaint filed on behalf of the State by Darshansinh B Barad, Police Inspector, Detection of Crime Branch, Ahmedabad City. In the complaint dated June 25, 2022, Barad asks for an FIR to be registered against Setalvad, former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) R.B Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt under the following sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC): 

194 (Giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence) 

211 (False charge of offence made with intent to injure) 

218 (Public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfei­ture) 

468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating) 

471 (Using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) 

Read with 120 B (Criminal Conspiracy) 

The State’s complaint says that Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt conspired to malign the reputation of senior Gujarat government officials as well as the Special investigation Team (SIT) formed to investigate the communal violence of 2002. The trumped up charges against Setalvad include conspiracy to fabricate facts and documents, tutor witnesses and bring about a malicious prosecution against the alleged perpetrators of the conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat communal violence. 

It is noteworthy that even when the SLP was being heard by the Supreme Court in December 2021, an elaborate smear campaign was launched against Teesta Setalvad where several past allegations were also dug up again. Details may be read here. 

Setalvad is being targeted today as part of an elaborate witch hunt. In fact, many international publications have also vouched for her in their reports including those by New York TimesBBC as also organisations like Frontline Defenders. That aside, even courts of law have from time to time found no merit in allegations of Setalvad ‘tutoring’ any witnesses in the cases and have even granted reliefs in the cases she was hounded by which included false allegations of embezzlement of funds.

 We sincerely urge friends of CJP, civil society, activists and journalists to come together to demand justice for Teesta Setalvad.

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India in the age of State-sponsored Doxing

A closer look at the legal provisions surrounding revealing private information of individuals

23 Jun 2022

cjp

Doxing (sometimes spelt as doxing) is a well-recognised term for publishing and revealing private and identifying information (about an individual/set of persons), on the internet with malicious intent. The purpose is usually to humiliate or harass the victim or accused.

Shockingly, the recent actions of the Jharkand Police are an unfortunate example of what appears to be state-sponsored doxing. These acts that are clearly violative of the values and principles contained within the Indian Constitution. The practice of putting names of the accused persons on the flysheet board at police stations without issuance of any proclamation (that required a rigorous due process to be followed as in the case of hardened economic or criminal offenders who are absconding) is inherently derogatory to the concept of human dignity and privacy enshrined under Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution.

Privacy is a fundamental human right, enshrined in numerous international human rights instruments. It is central to the protection of human dignity, and forms the basis of any democratic society. It also supports and reinforces other rights, such as freedom of expression, information and association. Activities that restrict the right to privacy, such as surveillance and censorship, can only be justified when they are prescribed by law, necessary to achieve a legitimate aim, and proportionate to the aim pursued.

The Supreme Court of India (SC) in its acclaimed 2017 verdict, delivered by nine judges of the court (KS Puttaswamy v/s Union of India & Ors) clearly held, “The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.”

The Jharkhand police on June 14, 2022, released posters of those allegedly involved in the June 10 protests in Ranchi against ‘insulting’ remarks on Prophet Mohammad. These actions of the Jharkhand police were prompt responses to an open call given the day before, on June 13, 2022 Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais.

Ramesh Bais is an Indian politician serving as the 10th and current Governor of Jharkhand. He also served as the 18th Governor of Tripura in 2019. A member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he had served as a Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government from 1999. Under the Indian Constitution—Articles 154, 163 and 164 that lay down the roles and powers of the Governor, clear right of governance has been granted to an elected government provided it has a legitimate majority.

It is in a clear violation of the constitutional scheme, that Bais was speaking over the head of a constitutionally elected government addressed the state’s police directly with a direction! He told the state’s top cop and other senior officials to make details of the protester’s public. The Governor had also asked officials to display these posters at main places and thoroughfares of the city so that people could identify them and help the police. A day after the Ranchi Police, actually following these un-Constitutional diktats, released posters of those who were allegedly involved in the June 10 violence during protests against remarks on the Prophet, Rajiv Arun Ekka, principal secretary to Chief Minister Hemant Soren, ordered the Ranchi SSP to submit an explanation on reasons for doing so despite it “not being legal”.

In a letter to Ranchi SSP Surendra Jha, Principal Secretary Ekka, who is also the state Home Secretary, said, among other things that: “…posters of people part of violent protest were put up by Ranchi Police on June 14, in which many people’s names and other information have also been given. This is illegal and against the order of the Allahabad High Court in PIL 532/2020 dated March 9, 2020.” He asked the SSP to submit within two days an explanation. The illegal and unlawful acts of the Uttar Pradesh government then had been completely nullified and declared unconstitutional by the Allahabad High Court.

UP sets the unlawful precedent: 2020, 2022

The actions that inspired Bais into unconstitutional interference came from the U.P government’s playbook during chief minister, Adityanath’s first tenure. In 2020, in an act of public shaming, the district administration Uttar Pradesh had installed more than 100 hoardings, making public the images, names and addresses of all the protesters who had launched successful, citizen’s protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act/CAA, 2019. These persons were, in acts of sweeping, unverified state action, also “accused” of damaging public and private property during the demonstrations in Lucknow in December 2019. The administration had also put up some hoardings announcing the amount demanded from the 53 protesters in the Uttar Pradesh capital, also warning that “their properties would be attached if they failed to pay the recovery amount.”

The justification for such high-handed and malafide actions was strange. The Additional District Magistrate(ADM), Vishwa Bhushan Mishra –who at the fourth rung of the state’s judiciary is supposed to be equipped in knowledge of the law and the Constitution— said, “It was ordered that there should be proper publication of the fact that these people are guilty. Hence, it was decided to put up the hoardings so that these people may not escape after selling off their properties.” It was his court that had issued recovery notices against some protestors on February 13, 2020.

The move had attracted strong reactions, not only from those affected directly i.ethe protestors, but also from ordinary citizens, politicians, legal experts and social activists, who sharply criticised the idea of public shaming although some voices were in favour of the administration.

It was the state’s judiciary that had put a brake on the rank illegality. On March 9, 2020, a bench comprising Hon’ble Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha in response to a public interest petition, ordered that the hoardings be pulled down. The bench held, “Privacy is a fundamental human right recognized in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the international covenant on civil and political rights and many other international and regional treaties. Privacy underpins human dignity and key values of a democracy. Nearly every country in the world recognises the right of privacy explicitly in their constitution. In our country, where privacy is not explicitly recognized as fundamental right in the constitution, the Courts have found such right protected as an intrinsic part of life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

The Allahabad High Court furtherheld, “As a matter of fact, the placement of personal data of selected persons reflects colourable exercise of powers by the Executive. In entirety, we are having no doubt that the action of the State which is subject matter of this public interest litigation is nothing but an unwarranted interference in privacy of people. The same hence, is in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Accordingly, the District Magistrate, Lucknow and the Commissioner of Police, Lucknow Commissionerate, Lucknow are directed to remove the banners from the road side forthwith. The State of Uttar Pradesh is directed not to place such banners on road side containing personal data of individuals without having authority of law. A report of satisfactory compliance is required to be submitted by the District Magistrate, Lucknow to the Registrar General of this Court on or before 16th March, 2020. On receiving such compliance report, the proceedings of this petition shall stand closed.”

Despite this sharp rebuke from the constitutional court in the state, a brazen state executive in UP, this time re-elected back to power, proceeded to follow the same pattern of illegality when it not just publicised identities, but also demolished homes of alleged protester accused in the violence that took place in Kanpur on June 3, 2022, and Saharanpur and Allahabad (Prayagraj) on June 11 and 12. On cue, came the call to action from a party member turned Governor in Jharkhand. The Jharkhand police on June 14, 2022 released posters of those allegedly involved in the June 10 protests in Ranchi against ‘insulting’ remarks on Prophet Mohammad. These were withdrawn the next day, after the state government reacted.

Which Laws do these actions violate?

  • Indian Constitution
  • Right to Privacy
  • Indian Criminal Law: Presumption of Innocence
  • Role of the Governor

 A. Indian Constitution and the Right to Privacy

Privacy is a right that all human beings enjoy by virtue of their existence. It also extends to physical integrity, individual autonomy, free speech, and freedom to move, or think. This means that privacy is not only about the body, but extends to integrity, personal autonomy, data, speech, consent, objections, movements, thoughts, and reputation. Therefore, it is a neutral relationship between an individual, group, and an individual who is not subject to interference or unwanted invasion or invasion of personal freedom. All modern societies recognize that privacy is essential and recognize it not only for humanitarian reasons but also from a legal point of view.

It was in the path-breaking Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1, judgement that the Supreme Court the Bench unanimously recognised a fundamental right to privacy of every individual guaranteed by the Constitution, within Article 21 in particular and Part III on the whole.

Article 21 has been widened with judicial interpretation over the decades. This widening of the scope of Article 21 particularly after the case of Maneka Gandhi vs. UOI 1978 SCC (1) 248.The Supreme Court has time and again laid down that Article 21 is the basic foundation of fundamental rights. Article 21 has proven to be multi-faceted. The scope of Article 21 has been widened by reinterpreting what constitutes life and liberty in specific circumstances. These terms, that is life and liberty, are not one size fits for all terms.

The right to life within Article 21 is freely interpreted and therefore, it includes all aspects of a life that makes a person’s life more meaningful and the right to privacy is one of these rights. This issue was first raised in Kharak Singh vs. the state of UP AIR 1963 SC 1295, the Supreme Court held that Regulation 236 of the UP Police Regulations violated the Constitution because it violated Article 21 of the Constitution. The Court held that the right to privacy is part of the right to protect life and personal freedom. In this case, the Court equated privacy with personal freedom.

In a historic decision delivered in the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1, the Bench unanimously recognised a fundamental right to privacy of every individual guaranteed by the Constitution, within Article 21 in particular and Part III on the whole. The decisions in Kharak Singh was overruled. In Para 77 of the judgement Hon’ble Court held,“The right of privacy is a fundamental right. It is a right which protects the inner sphere of the individual from interference from both State, and non-State actors and allows the individuals to make autonomous life choices.” And in Para 88 held that “Let the right of privacy, an inherent right, be unequivocally a fundamental right embedded in part-III of the Constitution of India, but subject to the restrictions specified, relatable to that part. This is the call of today. The old order changeth yielding place to new.” Since the Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (2017) judgment, the fundamental right to privacy has been cited as precedent in various landmark judgments, such as the Navtej Johar (2018) 10 SCC 1.

In the case of Navtej Singh Johar Vs. Union of India (2018) 10 SCC 1, the Apex Court held that the guarantee of a fundamental right to privacy in Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) vs Union Of India 2017 finding that Section 377 affected only a ‘miniscule minority’ cannot be the basis to deny the right to privacy. It observed that minorities face discrimination because their views and beliefs do not align with the majority. Justice Indu Malhotra spoke about the fundamental right to health, which flows from the right to life in Article 21. She pointed out that the stigma associated with being LGBT forces LGBT individuals to live closeted lives. This, in turn, denies LGBT individual access to adequate healthcare. She expressed grave concern about the high incidence of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in LGBT communities across India. In Maneka Gandhi vs. UOI (1978) laid down the triple test for any law interfering with personal liberty:

(1) It must prescribe a procedure;

(2) the procedure must withstand the test of one or more of the fundamental rights conferred under Article 19 which may be applicable in a given situation and

(3) It must withstand the test of Article 14.

The law and procedure authorising interference with personal liberty and right of privacy must also be right, just and fair and not arbitrary, or oppressive. It is now established that the right to life and liberty under Article 21 consists of the right to privacy as well.

B. Right to privacy and police investigation

The right to privacy may also come in conflict with several aspects of police investigation. Narco–analysis, brain mapping tests and polygraph tests lead to unjustified intrusion into one person’s right to privacy. The Supreme Court has acknowledged the right to privacy by branding these tests to be unconstitutional and inhumane. Yet sections of the executive –law and order machinery—continue to use or apply them, regardless. The Court ruled in Selvi vs. State of Karnataka (2010) 7 SCC 263 that the use of such neuroscientific investigative techniques constituted testimonial compulsion and violated an accused person’s right against self-incrimination under Article 20(3), and their right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.

 In the case of A.K Gopalan v. the State of Madras (1950)and also the relaxation of this stringent stand may well be felt within the decision of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978). The right to life was considered to not be the embodiment of mere animal existence, but the guarantee of a full and meaningful life. Being a part of society often overrides the very fact that we are individuals first. Each individual needs their private space for whichever activity (assuming here that it shall be legal). The state accordingly gives each person the right to enjoy those private moments. Clinton Rossiter in his book Constitutional Dictatorship: Crisis Government in the Modern Democracies, 1948 has said that privacy could be special reasonable independence that may be understood as a trial to secure autonomy in a minimum of some personal and spiritual concerns. This autonomy is the most special thing that the person can enjoy. They’re truly free humans there. This is often not a right against the state, but against the planet.

C. Indian Criminal Law: Presumption of Innocence

The presumption of innocence is the principle which asserts that an individual is always considered “innocent until proven guilty”.A fundamental principle behind the right to a fair trial is that every person should be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Many people who are accused of crimes will ultimately be found innocent. This is why any restriction on an accused person’s rights, such as holding them in pre-trial detention, should only take place where absolutely necessary. As a logical extension of this principal that is fundamental to Indian law, civil and criminal, the presumption of innocence, debars or precludes the state from imposing peremptory and un-tested (by the state executive/police) punishment without due process of law, civil and criminal being followed. In these cases, first is the issue of whether the “accused” were in fact guilty of violation of Article 19(1)(a) and (b) [the right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to assemble freely and without arms] during the protests, second the issue of other laws –municipal, land etc –which are in place that lay down stringent procedures before properties can be seized or destroyed.

In 1980, the Constitution Bench in Gurbaksh Sibbia (1980 SCC (2) 565) hailed the presumption as of innocence as“salutary and deep[grainedin our criminal jurisprudence]” but stopped short of saying that it flows from Article 21. Nonetheless, the Court held that while interpreting section 438 Cr.P.C.—which provides for the grant of anticipatory bail—a liberal approach must be adopted in view of the presumption of innocence, for “the right to personal freedom cannot be made to depend on compliance with unreasonable restrictions.” A holistic reading of Sibbia suggests that the Court implicitly recognises a link between Article 21 and the presumption of innocence, though it is not precisely spelt out.

In Narendra Singh & Anr. Vs. State of MP (2004) 10 SCC 699, a division bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court labelled the presumption a “human right” while holding that the burden of proof always remains on the prosecution in a criminal trial, even where a plea of alibi is raised. This label was reiterated in context of the twin conditions under MCOCA by a 3-judge bench in Ranjit Sing Sharma ((2005) 5 SCC 294). Like in Sibbia, the Court spoke of Article 21 and the presumption of innocence in the same breath: “Presumption of innocence is a human right. Article 21 in view of its expansive meaning not only protects life and liberty but also envisages a fair procedure. Liberty of a person should not ordinarily be interfered with unless there exist cogent grounds therefor….” Yet, conspicuously, the Court did not commit itself to a position concretely linking the presumption with Article 21.

The link with Article 21

Article 21 permits the State to breach the right to life and personal liberty (such as by incarcerating a convict) only after following a fair, just and reasonable legal procedure. Keeping the above judgments aside, the link between Article 21 and the presumption can be traced directly to the ‘just, fair and reasonable’ requirement. There are at least two reasons why the presumption of innocence is an important aspect of fairness and reasonableness in criminal law.

Compliance with Article 14

As held in Maneka Gandhi (1978), a law restricting personal liberty must also pass muster under Article 14. Hence, if the law makes a classification, it must be shown that the classification has a rational nexus with the object sought to be achieved. Article 14 also prohibits an unreasonable classification made by a combination of laws; hence, if two offenders are treated differently from the perspective of the presumption of innocence by two different statutes, the tests of Article 14 would need to be satisfied.

More Jurisprudence on the issue

Allahabad HC Orders Removal of UP Govt Banners Naming Anti-CAA Protesters Accused of Violence:

1.      In-Re Banners Placed on Road Side Vs State Of U.P. on March 9, 2020:

On March 9, 2020, a bench comprising Hon’ble Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha order ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to remove all posters with names, photographs and addresses of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors that have been put up in Lucknow. The hoardings, ordered to be put up by chief minister, Adityanath, had been set up to identify those who allegedly committed violence during demonstrations against the Act. The bench was hearing a suo motu public interest litigation taken by the court itself, after reports surfaced that the state government has put up banners with pictures, names and addresses of the riot-accused. Calling it an “an unwarranted interference in the privacy of people”, the Allahabad High Court, ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to remove hoardings of those booked in cases of alleged vandalism and arson linked to protests against the Citizenship Act in Lucknow on December 19, 2019.

The High Court further said the hoardings constituted an “unwarranted interference in privacy” and was a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. On the state government’s claim that the High Court lacked territorial jurisdiction as the matter arose in Lucknow, the bench said the reason for its involvement was not about “personal injury” to those named in the hoardings, but “the injury caused to the precious constitutional value and its shameless depiction by the administration.” The High Court observed also that the act was “highly unjust” and that it was an absolute “encroachment” on personal liberty of the persons concerned.

2. Malak Singh and others Vs. State of Punjab and Haryana AIR 1981 SCC(1) 420

The Supreme Court in Malak Singh and others Vs. State of Punjab and Haryana and others reported in 1981 SCC (1) 420, held that even for history sheeters who have the necessary criminal history, the information about the history sheet and the surveillance has to be kept discreet and confidential that cannot be shared with public and there is no question of posting the photographs of history sheeters even at police stations.

3. People’s Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) Vs. Union of India 1997 (1)SCC 301

The Supreme Court in People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Vs. Union of India and another reported in 1997 (1) SCC 301 examined the issue with regard to availability of a fundamental right of privacy. In the PUCL case, Supreme Court held that “The right privacy – by itself – has not been identified under the Constitution. As a concept it may be too broad andmoralistic to define it judicially. Whether right to privacy can be claimed or has been infrigned in a given case would depend on the facts of the said case. But the right to holda telephone conversation in the privacy of one’s home or office without interference can certainly be claimed as”right to privacy”.

Conversations on the telephone are often of an intimate and confidential character. Telephone conversation is a part of modern man’s life. It is considered so important that more and more people are carrying mobile telephone instruments in their pockets. Telephone conversation is an important facet of a man’s private life. Right to privacy would certainly include telephone-conversation in the privacy of one’s home or office. Telephone-tapping would, thus, infract Article 21 of the Constitution of India unless it is permitted under the procedure established by law. Right to freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. This freedom means the right to express one’s convictions and opinions freely by word of mouth, writing, printing, picture, or in any other manner. When a person is talking on telephone, he is exercising his right to freedom of speech and expression. Telephone-tapping unless it comes within the grounds of restrictions under Article 19(2) would infract Article19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

4. Kharak Singh vs The State Of U. P. & Others AIR 1963 SC 1295

A seven-judge bench judgment of the Supreme Court in Kharak Singh Vs. State of U.P examined the issue of surveillance and how it did or did not infringe fundamental rights.

“The question for consideration before this Court was whether “surveillance” under Chapter XX of the U.P. Police Regulations constituted an infringement of any of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.” Regulation 236(b) which permitted surveillance by “domiciliary visits at night” was held to be violative of Article 21 on the ground that there was no “law” under which the said regulation could be justified.The word “life” and the expression “personal liberty” in Article 21 were elaborately considered by this Court in Kharak Singh’s case.

5. Field, J. in Munn v. Illinois (1877) 94 U.S. 113, 142

In the case of Field, J. in Munn v. Illinois (1877) 94 U.S. 113, 142, the learned Judge pointed out that “life” in the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution corresponding to Article 21, means not merely the right to the continuance of a person’s animal existence, but a right to the possession of each of his organs-his arms and legs etc. “We do not entertain any doubt that the word “life” in Article 21 bears the same signification. Is then the word “personal liberty” to be construed as excluding from its purview an invasion on the part of the police of the sanctity of a man’s home and an intrusion into his personal security and his right to sleep which is the normal comfort and a dire necessity for human existence even as an animal? It might not be inappropriate to refer here to the words of the preamble to the Constitution that it is designed to “assure the dignity of the individual” and therefore of those cherished human value as the means of ensuring his full development and evolution. We are referring to these objectives of the trainers merely to draw attention to the concepts underlying the Constitution which would point to such vital words as “personal liberty” having to be construed in a reasonable manner and to be attributed that sense which would promote and achieve those objectives and by no means to stretch the meaning of the phrase to square with any preconceived notions or doctrinaire constitutional theories.”

6. Wolfs. Vs. Colorado 338 U.S. 25 (1949)

Frankfurter J. observed in Wolfs. Colorado,“The security of one’s privacy against arbitrary intrusion by the police is basic to a free society. It is therefore implicit in ‘the concept of ordered liberty’ and as such enforceable against the States through the Due Process Clause. The knock at the door, whether by day or by night, as a prelude to a search without authority of law but solely on the authority of the police, did not need the commentary of recent history to be condemned as inconsistent with the conception of human rights enshrined in the history and the basic constitutional documents of English-speaking peoples We have no hesitation in saying that were a State affirmatively to sanction such police incursion into privacy it would run counter to the guaranty of the fourteenth Amendment.

Murphy J. considered that such invasion was against “the very essence of a scheme of ordered liberty.”While it is true that in the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court from which these extracts are made, the Court had to consider also the impact of a violation of the Fourth Amendment which reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” While the Indian Constitution does not, in terms confer any comparable constitutional guarantee, nevertheless, these extracts do show (establish) that an unauthorised intrusion into a person’s home and the disturbance caused to him thereby, is as it were the violation of a common law right of a man-an ultimate essential of ordered liberty, which is the basis of the very concept of civilisation.

7. Semayne Vs. Gresham(January 1, 1604) 5 Coke Rep. 91

An English Common Law maxim asserts that “every man’s house is his castle” and in Semayne’s case (1604) 5 Coke 91, where this was applied, it was stated that “the house of everyone is to him as his castle and fortress as well as for his defence against injury and violence as for his repose”.

Though the Semayne’s case was concerned with the law relating to executions in England, but the passage extracted has a validity quite apart from the context of the particular decision. It embodies an abiding principle which transcends mere protection of property rights and expounds a concept of “personal liberty” which does not rest on any element of feudalism or on any theory of freedom which has ceased to be of value. Therefore, Clause (b) of Regulation 236 is plainly violative of Article 21 and as there is no “law” on which the same could be justified it must be struck down as unconstitutional.

8. Minority Opinion on Article 21

Koka Subba Rao J. (as the learned Judge then was) in his minority opinion in Kharak Singh Vs. State of U.P., also came to the conclusion that right to privacy was a part of Article 21 of the Constitution but went a step further and struck down Regulation 236 as a whole on the following reasoning:” Further, the right to personal liberty takes in not only a right to be free from restrictions placed on his movements, but also free from encroachments on his private life. It is true that the Indian Constitution does not expressly declare a right to privacy as a fundamental right, but the said right is an essential ingredient of personal liberty. Every democratic country sanctifies domestic life; it is expected to give him rest, physical happiness, peace of mind and security. In the last resort, a person’s house, where he lives with his family, is his “castle”: it is his rampart against encroachment on his personal liberty.

9. Gobind vs State Of Madhya Pradesh And Anr. (1975) 2 SCC 148

In Gobind Vs. State of U.P., a three-Judge Bench of this Court considered the constitutional validity of Regulations 855 and 856 of the Madhya Pradesh Police Regulations which provided surveillance by way of several measures indicated in the said regulations. This Court upheld the validity of the regulations by holding that Article 21 was not violated because the impugned regulations were “procedure established by law” in terms of the said Article. The Supreme Court in its historical judgment in Justice K.P. Puttaswamy and others Vs. Union of India and others reported in AIR 2017 SC 4161affirmed the constitutional right to privacy. It declared privacy an intrinsic component of Part III of Constitution of India that lays down our fundamental rights relating to equality, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of movement and protection of life and personal liberty. These fundamental rights cannot be given or taken away by law and laws. All the executive actions must abide by them. The Supreme Court has however, clarified that like most other fundamental rights the right to privacy is not an “absolute right”. A person’s privacy interests can be overridden by compounding state and individual interests subject to satisfaction to certain tests and bench marks. The nine Judges Bench noticed certain tests and bench marks, which are liability, legitimate goal, proportionately and procedural guarantees.

D. Powers of the Governor

The Governor is the chief executive head of the State but he enjoys only nominal or titular power like the President of India. In the recent case of the Jharkand Governor issuing directions to the state police, the serious issue of Ramesh Bais committing a serious case of constitutional over-reach arise. While being the nominal head of the state, the Governor while being given exceptional powers under Articles 355 and 356, he is in general not empowered to exercise real power that is vested in elected executive, that is the chief minister and council of ministers. The constitutional position is laid down in in Articles 154, 163 (discretionary power) and 164.

Recent abuse of unitary power by the central government has led to a spate of cases where a person associated with a particular political ideology has been appointed as the Governor. This clearly is what resulted in the Jharkhand kind of unconstitutional call that was called back by the elected state executive the very next day.

Not too long back, Rajasthan (2020), a controversy arose over the Governor’s refusal to procedurally okay the dates of the proposed state assembly and the agenda to be discussed therein.  Under the Constitution, the elected government alone has the prerogative to decide the date of the proposed session, even if the Governor suggests another date that he is bound to sign the order.

In Shamsher Singh v/s State of Punjab1975 SCR (1) 814, a Seven-Judge Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had categorically laid down, “The Governor has no right to refuse to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers. Such a position is antithetical to the concept of responsible Government.” This statement underlines the constitutional understanding of the the role of the Governor.

In S.R. Bommai vs Union of India case (1994) SCC (3), a 9-membner bench of the Supreme Court verdict ruled that the Assembly is the only forum that should test the majority of the government and that the opinion of the Governor (referred to as the agent of Central Government) has no say. This arose out of a situation wherein the then Governor P. Venkatasubbaiah of Karnataka refused to give Bommai (then CM of Karnataka 1989) an opportunity to test his majority in the Assembly even after receiving a copy of the resolution passed by the Janata Dal Assembly. Bommai, then moved Karnataka High Court against the Governor’s decision to recommend President’s Rule which was dismissed by the High Court.

In Nebam Rebia and Etc, Etc vs Deputy Speaker And Ors. (2017) 13 SCC 332 the Supreme Court stated that the role of the Governor ends with the summoning of the house so far as the assembly is concerned. The Supreme Court stated that a Governor “cannot have an overriding authority, over the representatives of the people, who constitute… the state legislature… and/or even the executive Government functioning under the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as the head”.

There have been periods of misuse and overreach by the central government—during the Emergency and by the present regime, now in its second term. The Administrative Reforms Commission (1968) highlighted that the appointment of the Governor should not be made based on political affiliation that would undermine his office. It also recommended that the Governor’s report on President’s rule should be based on subjectivity.

Besides, the Sarkaria Commission (1988) had also emphasized the character of the Governors personalities to be appointed. It stated, “Four criteria for being appointed as Governor, including that the person should be ’eminent in some walk of life, should be a person…from outside of the State, and should be detached and not too intimately connected with local politics of the state.”

Given the recent acrimonious developments in states where ideologically pliant governors have run interference — few examples are Goa (2017), Meghalaya (2018), Manipur (2017) and Karnataka (2018)—jurists have been recommending that for the office of Governors to function effectively and to maintain institutional credibility, the appointment process of the Governors requires revision which should also involve State Governments. One particularly sordid example was from 2021, in Karnataka when the (present) Union government, rather brazenly instructed the Governor of Karnataka, Vajubhai Vala to chair an all-party virtual meeting (of the Bharatiya Janata Party-BJP). This violated constitutionality as the Governor, must to refrain from entertaining any party-related activities and the decision to call a meeting is entirely under the ambit of powers of the chief minister.

This would require a constitutional amendment wherein apart from ideological neutrality, constitutional consensus between states and the centre should be ensured. Taking into account a fledgling (read flawed) democracy’s experience of seven plus decades, a well-knit procedure of appointment, with his powers and functions should be laid down that ensure that the Governor acts independently rather than being instructed by the Central Government

Post Script: Exceptions in Law

Legal provision and Supreme Court guidelines on identity disclosure of Rape Survivor: There are several legal provisions that require protection of the identity of survivors and victims of crimes – some specifically for children, and others for certain crimes against women.

Section 228 (A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) had provisions to penalise those disclosing the identities of rape survivors directly or indirectly and Section 23(2) of the POCSO Act prohibits the disclosure of the identity of a child victim of sexual offences “including his name, address, photograph, family details, school, neighbourhood or any other particulars which may lead to disclosure of identity of the child. Violation of this prohibition is a criminal offence, punishable with six months to one year in jail as well as a fine Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act prohibits the disclosure of the “name, address or school or any other particular,” which can be used to identify a child who is a victim of any crime, or even a child who is accused of committing a crime, as well as children who are witnesses to a crime. Violating this prohibition is also a criminal offence, punishable with up to six months’ imprisonment, and/or a fine.

The Supreme Court in Bhupinder Sharma Vs. State of Himachal Pradesh(2003) 8 SCC 551held as follows; “We do not propose to mention name of the victim, section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 makes disclosure of identity of victim of certain offences punishable.

Detailed guidelines were laid down by the Supreme Court (SC) in Nipun Saxena v. Union of India, (2019) 2 SCC 703when the identity of the petitioner was brought before HC. The court has also directed the lower courts conducting trials in rape and cases under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, to conceal the name of the survivor, by referring to them with some abbreviations or letters such as “X”, while framing charges, recording statements or evidences of the survivor or of any other witness.

“The name, place of residence, age, occupation shall be kept in a sealed cover and in the name column, they can be referred in the same manner described while framing charge, keeping the address column, occupation column blank,” said the bench. In Nipun Saxena’s case, the Supreme Court (SC) declared that “no person can print or publish in print, electronic, social media, etc. the name of victims in rape and Pocso Act cases or even in a remote manner disclose any facts which can lead to the victim being identified and which should make their identity known to the public at large.” In the same case, SC has also restrained the police from putting first information reports (FIRs) in rape and Pocso cases in public domain and mask the name of the victims whenever documents relating to these cases are required to be made public.

The SC in the Nipun Saxena case pointed out that;

“Para 4. Officer-in-Charge of the police station and the Investigating Officer in the case including the Special Juvenile Police Unit shall ensure that the identity of the victim is not disclosed in the course of investigation, particularly at the time of recording statement of the victim under section 24 of the Act (which as far as practicable may be done at the residence or a place of choice of the victim or that of his/her parents/custodian, as the case may be), his/her examination before Magistrate under section 25 of the Act, forwarding of the child for emergency medical aid under section 19(5) and/or medical examination under section 27 of the Act.

“Para5. The Investigating Agency shall not disclose the identity of the victim in any media and shall ensure that such identity is not disclosed in any manner whatsoever except the express permission of the Special Court in the interest of justice. Any person including a police officer committing breach of the aforesaid requirement of law shall be prosecuted in terms of section 23(4) of the said Act

“Para8. The identity of the victim particularly his/her name, parentage, address or any other particulars that may reveal such identity shall not be disclosed in the judgment delivered by the Special Court unless such disclosure of identity is in the interest of the child.

Context and Background: In Nipun Saxena Case, the bench reasoned that a victim of rape would face hostile discrimination and social ostracisation in society. Such a victim would find it difficult to get a job, would find it difficult to get married and would also find it difficult to get integrated in society. India’s criminal jurisprudence did not provide for an adequate witness protection programme and, therefore, the need was much greater to protect the victim and hide her identity.

Does the law make any exceptions?

Sub-section (2) of Section 228A of the IPC makes an exception for police officials who might have to record the true identity of the victim in the police station or in the investigation file. In the FIR, the name of the victim would have to be disclosed. However, this should not be made public and especially not to media, the bench held in Nipun Saxena Case. An FIR relating to the offence of rape against a woman (or offences against children falling within the purview of POCSO) shall not be put in the public domain to prevent the name and identity of the victim from being disclosed, the bench clarified.

The bench also carved out an exception for a situation where an unidentified body is found: “There may be cases where the identity of the victim, if not her name, may have to be disclosed. There may be cases where a dead-body of a victim is found. It is established that the victim was subjected to rape. It may not be possible to identify the victim. Then, obviously, her photograph will have to be published in the media. Even here, we would direct that while this may be done, the fact that such victim has been subjected to a sexual offence need not be disclosed. There may be other situations where the next of kin may be justified in disclosing the identity of the victim. If any such need should arise, then we direct that an application to authorise disclosure of identity should be made only to the sessions judge/magistrate concerned and the said sessions judge/magistrate shall decide the application on the basis of the law laid down by us.”

Under what conditions is disclosure allowed?

Under clause (b) of Sub-section (2) of Section 228A of the IPC, if an adult victim has no objection to her name being published or identity being disclosed, she can authorise any person in writing to disclose her name. This had to be a voluntary and conscious act of the victim, the bench underlined. Such was the case with the ‘Park Street’ survivor, Suzette Jordan. “There were some victims who were strong enough and willing to face [the] society even after their names were disclosed. Some of them, in fact, help other victims of rape and they become a source of inspiration to other rape victims. Nobody could have any objection to victim disclosing her name as long as victim was a major,” the bench explained

(This legal resource was a combined effort of the CJP Legal Team and intern, Aman Khan)

Related:

Ranchi violence: Images of alleged rioters released, then taken down by Jharkhand Police

Why is Jharkhand governor in favour of doxing alleged riot participants’ names?

Despite SC rap, UP Claims Tribunal issues notice to recover damages from anti-CAA protesters

Under fire from SC, UP gov’t withdraws damage notices against anti-CAA protesters

Supreme Court takes UP gov’t to task over notices issued to anti-CAA protesters

UP’s damage to property law contravenes SC guidelines

A 2020 report on Victims of Vilification: Anti-CAA protesters in Uttar Pradesh 

 

India in the age of State-sponsored Doxing

A closer look at the legal provisions surrounding revealing private information of individuals

cjp

Doxing (sometimes spelt as doxing) is a well-recognised term for publishing and revealing private and identifying information (about an individual/set of persons), on the internet with malicious intent. The purpose is usually to humiliate or harass the victim or accused.

Shockingly, the recent actions of the Jharkand Police are an unfortunate example of what appears to be state-sponsored doxing. These acts that are clearly violative of the values and principles contained within the Indian Constitution. The practice of putting names of the accused persons on the flysheet board at police stations without issuance of any proclamation (that required a rigorous due process to be followed as in the case of hardened economic or criminal offenders who are absconding) is inherently derogatory to the concept of human dignity and privacy enshrined under Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution.

Privacy is a fundamental human right, enshrined in numerous international human rights instruments. It is central to the protection of human dignity, and forms the basis of any democratic society. It also supports and reinforces other rights, such as freedom of expression, information and association. Activities that restrict the right to privacy, such as surveillance and censorship, can only be justified when they are prescribed by law, necessary to achieve a legitimate aim, and proportionate to the aim pursued.

The Supreme Court of India (SC) in its acclaimed 2017 verdict, delivered by nine judges of the court (KS Puttaswamy v/s Union of India & Ors) clearly held, “The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.”

The Jharkhand police on June 14, 2022, released posters of those allegedly involved in the June 10 protests in Ranchi against ‘insulting’ remarks on Prophet Mohammad. These actions of the Jharkhand police were prompt responses to an open call given the day before, on June 13, 2022 Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais.

Ramesh Bais is an Indian politician serving as the 10th and current Governor of Jharkhand. He also served as the 18th Governor of Tripura in 2019. A member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), he had served as a Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government from 1999. Under the Indian Constitution—Articles 154, 163 and 164 that lay down the roles and powers of the Governor, clear right of governance has been granted to an elected government provided it has a legitimate majority.

It is in a clear violation of the constitutional scheme, that Bais was speaking over the head of a constitutionally elected government addressed the state’s police directly with a direction! He told the state’s top cop and other senior officials to make details of the protester’s public. The Governor had also asked officials to display these posters at main places and thoroughfares of the city so that people could identify them and help the police. A day after the Ranchi Police, actually following these un-Constitutional diktats, released posters of those who were allegedly involved in the June 10 violence during protests against remarks on the Prophet, Rajiv Arun Ekka, principal secretary to Chief Minister Hemant Soren, ordered the Ranchi SSP to submit an explanation on reasons for doing so despite it “not being legal”.

In a letter to Ranchi SSP Surendra Jha, Principal Secretary Ekka, who is also the state Home Secretary, said, among other things that: “…posters of people part of violent protest were put up by Ranchi Police on June 14, in which many people’s names and other information have also been given. This is illegal and against the order of the Allahabad High Court in PIL 532/2020 dated March 9, 2020.” He asked the SSP to submit within two days an explanation. The illegal and unlawful acts of the Uttar Pradesh government then had been completely nullified and declared unconstitutional by the Allahabad High Court.

UP sets the unlawful precedent: 2020, 2022

The actions that inspired Bais into unconstitutional interference came from the U.P government’s playbook during chief minister, Adityanath’s first tenure. In 2020, in an act of public shaming, the district administration Uttar Pradesh had installed more than 100 hoardings, making public the images, names and addresses of all the protesters who had launched successful, citizen’s protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act/CAA, 2019. These persons were, in acts of sweeping, unverified state action, also “accused” of damaging public and private property during the demonstrations in Lucknow in December 2019. The administration had also put up some hoardings announcing the amount demanded from the 53 protesters in the Uttar Pradesh capital, also warning that “their properties would be attached if they failed to pay the recovery amount.”

The justification for such high-handed and malafide actions was strange. The Additional District Magistrate(ADM), Vishwa Bhushan Mishra –who at the fourth rung of the state’s judiciary is supposed to be equipped in knowledge of the law and the Constitution— said, “It was ordered that there should be proper publication of the fact that these people are guilty. Hence, it was decided to put up the hoardings so that these people may not escape after selling off their properties.” It was his court that had issued recovery notices against some protestors on February 13, 2020.

The move had attracted strong reactions, not only from those affected directly i.ethe protestors, but also from ordinary citizens, politicians, legal experts and social activists, who sharply criticised the idea of public shaming although some voices were in favour of the administration.

It was the state’s judiciary that had put a brake on the rank illegality. On March 9, 2020, a bench comprising Hon’ble Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha in response to a public interest petition, ordered that the hoardings be pulled down. The bench held, “Privacy is a fundamental human right recognized in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the international covenant on civil and political rights and many other international and regional treaties. Privacy underpins human dignity and key values of a democracy. Nearly every country in the world recognises the right of privacy explicitly in their constitution. In our country, where privacy is not explicitly recognized as fundamental right in the constitution, the Courts have found such right protected as an intrinsic part of life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

The Allahabad High Court furtherheld, “As a matter of fact, the placement of personal data of selected persons reflects colourable exercise of powers by the Executive. In entirety, we are having no doubt that the action of the State which is subject matter of this public interest litigation is nothing but an unwarranted interference in privacy of people. The same hence, is in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Accordingly, the District Magistrate, Lucknow and the Commissioner of Police, Lucknow Commissionerate, Lucknow are directed to remove the banners from the road side forthwith. The State of Uttar Pradesh is directed not to place such banners on road side containing personal data of individuals without having authority of law. A report of satisfactory compliance is required to be submitted by the District Magistrate, Lucknow to the Registrar General of this Court on or before 16th March, 2020. On receiving such compliance report, the proceedings of this petition shall stand closed.”

Despite this sharp rebuke from the constitutional court in the state, a brazen state executive in UP, this time re-elected back to power, proceeded to follow the same pattern of illegality when it not just publicised identities, but also demolished homes of alleged protester accused in the violence that took place in Kanpur on June 3, 2022, and Saharanpur and Allahabad (Prayagraj) on June 11 and 12. On cue, came the call to action from a party member turned Governor in Jharkhand. The Jharkhand police on June 14, 2022 released posters of those allegedly involved in the June 10 protests in Ranchi against ‘insulting’ remarks on Prophet Mohammad. These were withdrawn the next day, after the state government reacted.

Which Laws do these actions violate?

  • Indian Constitution
  • Right to Privacy
  • Indian Criminal Law: Presumption of Innocence
  • Role of the Governor

 A. Indian Constitution and the Right to Privacy

Privacy is a right that all human beings enjoy by virtue of their existence. It also extends to physical integrity, individual autonomy, free speech, and freedom to move, or think. This means that privacy is not only about the body, but extends to integrity, personal autonomy, data, speech, consent, objections, movements, thoughts, and reputation. Therefore, it is a neutral relationship between an individual, group, and an individual who is not subject to interference or unwanted invasion or invasion of personal freedom. All modern societies recognize that privacy is essential and recognize it not only for humanitarian reasons but also from a legal point of view.

It was in the path-breaking Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1, judgement that the Supreme Court the Bench unanimously recognised a fundamental right to privacy of every individual guaranteed by the Constitution, within Article 21 in particular and Part III on the whole.

Article 21 has been widened with judicial interpretation over the decades. This widening of the scope of Article 21 particularly after the case of Maneka Gandhi vs. UOI 1978 SCC (1) 248.The Supreme Court has time and again laid down that Article 21 is the basic foundation of fundamental rights. Article 21 has proven to be multi-faceted. The scope of Article 21 has been widened by reinterpreting what constitutes life and liberty in specific circumstances. These terms, that is life and liberty, are not one size fits for all terms.

The right to life within Article 21 is freely interpreted and therefore, it includes all aspects of a life that makes a person’s life more meaningful and the right to privacy is one of these rights. This issue was first raised in Kharak Singh vs. the state of UP AIR 1963 SC 1295, the Supreme Court held that Regulation 236 of the UP Police Regulations violated the Constitution because it violated Article 21 of the Constitution. The Court held that the right to privacy is part of the right to protect life and personal freedom. In this case, the Court equated privacy with personal freedom.

In a historic decision delivered in the case of Justice K.S. Puttaswamy v Union of India (2017) 10 SCC 1, the Bench unanimously recognised a fundamental right to privacy of every individual guaranteed by the Constitution, within Article 21 in particular and Part III on the whole. The decisions in Kharak Singh was overruled. In Para 77 of the judgement Hon’ble Court held,“The right of privacy is a fundamental right. It is a right which protects the inner sphere of the individual from interference from both State, and non-State actors and allows the individuals to make autonomous life choices.” And in Para 88 held that “Let the right of privacy, an inherent right, be unequivocally a fundamental right embedded in part-III of the Constitution of India, but subject to the restrictions specified, relatable to that part. This is the call of today. The old order changeth yielding place to new.” Since the Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (2017) judgment, the fundamental right to privacy has been cited as precedent in various landmark judgments, such as the Navtej Johar (2018) 10 SCC 1.

In the case of Navtej Singh Johar Vs. Union of India (2018) 10 SCC 1, the Apex Court held that the guarantee of a fundamental right to privacy in Justice K. S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) vs Union Of India 2017 finding that Section 377 affected only a ‘miniscule minority’ cannot be the basis to deny the right to privacy. It observed that minorities face discrimination because their views and beliefs do not align with the majority. Justice Indu Malhotra spoke about the fundamental right to health, which flows from the right to life in Article 21. She pointed out that the stigma associated with being LGBT forces LGBT individuals to live closeted lives. This, in turn, denies LGBT individual access to adequate healthcare. She expressed grave concern about the high incidence of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases in LGBT communities across India. In Maneka Gandhi vs. UOI (1978) laid down the triple test for any law interfering with personal liberty:

(1) It must prescribe a procedure;

(2) the procedure must withstand the test of one or more of the fundamental rights conferred under Article 19 which may be applicable in a given situation and

(3) It must withstand the test of Article 14.

The law and procedure authorising interference with personal liberty and right of privacy must also be right, just and fair and not arbitrary, or oppressive. It is now established that the right to life and liberty under Article 21 consists of the right to privacy as well.

B. Right to privacy and police investigation

The right to privacy may also come in conflict with several aspects of police investigation. Narco–analysis, brain mapping tests and polygraph tests lead to unjustified intrusion into one person’s right to privacy. The Supreme Court has acknowledged the right to privacy by branding these tests to be unconstitutional and inhumane. Yet sections of the executive –law and order machinery—continue to use or apply them, regardless. The Court ruled in Selvi vs. State of Karnataka (2010) 7 SCC 263 that the use of such neuroscientific investigative techniques constituted testimonial compulsion and violated an accused person’s right against self-incrimination under Article 20(3), and their right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.

 In the case of A.K Gopalan v. the State of Madras (1950)and also the relaxation of this stringent stand may well be felt within the decision of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978). The right to life was considered to not be the embodiment of mere animal existence, but the guarantee of a full and meaningful life. Being a part of society often overrides the very fact that we are individuals first. Each individual needs their private space for whichever activity (assuming here that it shall be legal). The state accordingly gives each person the right to enjoy those private moments. Clinton Rossiter in his book Constitutional Dictatorship: Crisis Government in the Modern Democracies, 1948 has said that privacy could be special reasonable independence that may be understood as a trial to secure autonomy in a minimum of some personal and spiritual concerns. This autonomy is the most special thing that the person can enjoy. They’re truly free humans there. This is often not a right against the state, but against the planet.

C. Indian Criminal Law: Presumption of Innocence

The presumption of innocence is the principle which asserts that an individual is always considered “innocent until proven guilty”.A fundamental principle behind the right to a fair trial is that every person should be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Many people who are accused of crimes will ultimately be found innocent. This is why any restriction on an accused person’s rights, such as holding them in pre-trial detention, should only take place where absolutely necessary. As a logical extension of this principal that is fundamental to Indian law, civil and criminal, the presumption of innocence, debars or precludes the state from imposing peremptory and un-tested (by the state executive/police) punishment without due process of law, civil and criminal being followed. In these cases, first is the issue of whether the “accused” were in fact guilty of violation of Article 19(1)(a) and (b) [the right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to assemble freely and without arms] during the protests, second the issue of other laws –municipal, land etc –which are in place that lay down stringent procedures before properties can be seized or destroyed.

In 1980, the Constitution Bench in Gurbaksh Sibbia (1980 SCC (2) 565) hailed the presumption as of innocence as“salutary and deep[grainedin our criminal jurisprudence]” but stopped short of saying that it flows from Article 21. Nonetheless, the Court held that while interpreting section 438 Cr.P.C.—which provides for the grant of anticipatory bail—a liberal approach must be adopted in view of the presumption of innocence, for “the right to personal freedom cannot be made to depend on compliance with unreasonable restrictions.” A holistic reading of Sibbia suggests that the Court implicitly recognises a link between Article 21 and the presumption of innocence, though it is not precisely spelt out.

In Narendra Singh & Anr. Vs. State of MP (2004) 10 SCC 699, a division bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court labelled the presumption a “human right” while holding that the burden of proof always remains on the prosecution in a criminal trial, even where a plea of alibi is raised. This label was reiterated in context of the twin conditions under MCOCA by a 3-judge bench in Ranjit Sing Sharma ((2005) 5 SCC 294). Like in Sibbia, the Court spoke of Article 21 and the presumption of innocence in the same breath: “Presumption of innocence is a human right. Article 21 in view of its expansive meaning not only protects life and liberty but also envisages a fair procedure. Liberty of a person should not ordinarily be interfered with unless there exist cogent grounds therefor….” Yet, conspicuously, the Court did not commit itself to a position concretely linking the presumption with Article 21.

The link with Article 21

Article 21 permits the State to breach the right to life and personal liberty (such as by incarcerating a convict) only after following a fair, just and reasonable legal procedure. Keeping the above judgments aside, the link between Article 21 and the presumption can be traced directly to the ‘just, fair and reasonable’ requirement. There are at least two reasons why the presumption of innocence is an important aspect of fairness and reasonableness in criminal law.

Compliance with Article 14

As held in Maneka Gandhi (1978), a law restricting personal liberty must also pass muster under Article 14. Hence, if the law makes a classification, it must be shown that the classification has a rational nexus with the object sought to be achieved. Article 14 also prohibits an unreasonable classification made by a combination of laws; hence, if two offenders are treated differently from the perspective of the presumption of innocence by two different statutes, the tests of Article 14 would need to be satisfied.

More Jurisprudence on the issue

Allahabad HC Orders Removal of UP Govt Banners Naming Anti-CAA Protesters Accused of Violence:

1.      In-Re Banners Placed on Road Side Vs State Of U.P. on March 9, 2020:

On March 9, 2020, a bench comprising Hon’ble Chief Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha order ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to remove all posters with names, photographs and addresses of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protestors that have been put up in Lucknow. The hoardings, ordered to be put up by chief minister, Adityanath, had been set up to identify those who allegedly committed violence during demonstrations against the Act. The bench was hearing a suo motu public interest litigation taken by the court itself, after reports surfaced that the state government has put up banners with pictures, names and addresses of the riot-accused. Calling it an “an unwarranted interference in the privacy of people”, the Allahabad High Court, ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to remove hoardings of those booked in cases of alleged vandalism and arson linked to protests against the Citizenship Act in Lucknow on December 19, 2019.

The High Court further said the hoardings constituted an “unwarranted interference in privacy” and was a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. On the state government’s claim that the High Court lacked territorial jurisdiction as the matter arose in Lucknow, the bench said the reason for its involvement was not about “personal injury” to those named in the hoardings, but “the injury caused to the precious constitutional value and its shameless depiction by the administration.” The High Court observed also that the act was “highly unjust” and that it was an absolute “encroachment” on personal liberty of the persons concerned.

2. Malak Singh and others Vs. State of Punjab and Haryana AIR 1981 SCC(1) 420

The Supreme Court in Malak Singh and others Vs. State of Punjab and Haryana and others reported in 1981 SCC (1) 420, held that even for history sheeters who have the necessary criminal history, the information about the history sheet and the surveillance has to be kept discreet and confidential that cannot be shared with public and there is no question of posting the photographs of history sheeters even at police stations.

3. People’s Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) Vs. Union of India 1997 (1)SCC 301

The Supreme Court in People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Vs. Union of India and another reported in 1997 (1) SCC 301 examined the issue with regard to availability of a fundamental right of privacy. In the PUCL case, Supreme Court held that “The right privacy – by itself – has not been identified under the Constitution. As a concept it may be too broad andmoralistic to define it judicially. Whether right to privacy can be claimed or has been infrigned in a given case would depend on the facts of the said case. But the right to holda telephone conversation in the privacy of one’s home or office without interference can certainly be claimed as”right to privacy”.

Conversations on the telephone are often of an intimate and confidential character. Telephone conversation is a part of modern man’s life. It is considered so important that more and more people are carrying mobile telephone instruments in their pockets. Telephone conversation is an important facet of a man’s private life. Right to privacy would certainly include telephone-conversation in the privacy of one’s home or office. Telephone-tapping would, thus, infract Article 21 of the Constitution of India unless it is permitted under the procedure established by law. Right to freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. This freedom means the right to express one’s convictions and opinions freely by word of mouth, writing, printing, picture, or in any other manner. When a person is talking on telephone, he is exercising his right to freedom of speech and expression. Telephone-tapping unless it comes within the grounds of restrictions under Article 19(2) would infract Article19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

4. Kharak Singh vs The State Of U. P. & Others AIR 1963 SC 1295

A seven-judge bench judgment of the Supreme Court in Kharak Singh Vs. State of U.P examined the issue of surveillance and how it did or did not infringe fundamental rights.

“The question for consideration before this Court was whether “surveillance” under Chapter XX of the U.P. Police Regulations constituted an infringement of any of the fundamental rights guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.” Regulation 236(b) which permitted surveillance by “domiciliary visits at night” was held to be violative of Article 21 on the ground that there was no “law” under which the said regulation could be justified.The word “life” and the expression “personal liberty” in Article 21 were elaborately considered by this Court in Kharak Singh’s case.

5. Field, J. in Munn v. Illinois (1877) 94 U.S. 113, 142

In the case of Field, J. in Munn v. Illinois (1877) 94 U.S. 113, 142, the learned Judge pointed out that “life” in the 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution corresponding to Article 21, means not merely the right to the continuance of a person’s animal existence, but a right to the possession of each of his organs-his arms and legs etc. “We do not entertain any doubt that the word “life” in Article 21 bears the same signification. Is then the word “personal liberty” to be construed as excluding from its purview an invasion on the part of the police of the sanctity of a man’s home and an intrusion into his personal security and his right to sleep which is the normal comfort and a dire necessity for human existence even as an animal? It might not be inappropriate to refer here to the words of the preamble to the Constitution that it is designed to “assure the dignity of the individual” and therefore of those cherished human value as the means of ensuring his full development and evolution. We are referring to these objectives of the trainers merely to draw attention to the concepts underlying the Constitution which would point to such vital words as “personal liberty” having to be construed in a reasonable manner and to be attributed that sense which would promote and achieve those objectives and by no means to stretch the meaning of the phrase to square with any preconceived notions or doctrinaire constitutional theories.”

6. Wolfs. Vs. Colorado 338 U.S. 25 (1949)

Frankfurter J. observed in Wolfs. Colorado,“The security of one’s privacy against arbitrary intrusion by the police is basic to a free society. It is therefore implicit in ‘the concept of ordered liberty’ and as such enforceable against the States through the Due Process Clause. The knock at the door, whether by day or by night, as a prelude to a search without authority of law but solely on the authority of the police, did not need the commentary of recent history to be condemned as inconsistent with the conception of human rights enshrined in the history and the basic constitutional documents of English-speaking peoples We have no hesitation in saying that were a State affirmatively to sanction such police incursion into privacy it would run counter to the guaranty of the fourteenth Amendment.

Murphy J. considered that such invasion was against “the very essence of a scheme of ordered liberty.”While it is true that in the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court from which these extracts are made, the Court had to consider also the impact of a violation of the Fourth Amendment which reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” While the Indian Constitution does not, in terms confer any comparable constitutional guarantee, nevertheless, these extracts do show (establish) that an unauthorised intrusion into a person’s home and the disturbance caused to him thereby, is as it were the violation of a common law right of a man-an ultimate essential of ordered liberty, which is the basis of the very concept of civilisation.

7. Semayne Vs. Gresham(January 1, 1604) 5 Coke Rep. 91

An English Common Law maxim asserts that “every man’s house is his castle” and in Semayne’s case (1604) 5 Coke 91, where this was applied, it was stated that “the house of everyone is to him as his castle and fortress as well as for his defence against injury and violence as for his repose”.

Though the Semayne’s case was concerned with the law relating to executions in England, but the passage extracted has a validity quite apart from the context of the particular decision. It embodies an abiding principle which transcends mere protection of property rights and expounds a concept of “personal liberty” which does not rest on any element of feudalism or on any theory of freedom which has ceased to be of value. Therefore, Clause (b) of Regulation 236 is plainly violative of Article 21 and as there is no “law” on which the same could be justified it must be struck down as unconstitutional.

8. Minority Opinion on Article 21

Koka Subba Rao J. (as the learned Judge then was) in his minority opinion in Kharak Singh Vs. State of U.P., also came to the conclusion that right to privacy was a part of Article 21 of the Constitution but went a step further and struck down Regulation 236 as a whole on the following reasoning:” Further, the right to personal liberty takes in not only a right to be free from restrictions placed on his movements, but also free from encroachments on his private life. It is true that the Indian Constitution does not expressly declare a right to privacy as a fundamental right, but the said right is an essential ingredient of personal liberty. Every democratic country sanctifies domestic life; it is expected to give him rest, physical happiness, peace of mind and security. In the last resort, a person’s house, where he lives with his family, is his “castle”: it is his rampart against encroachment on his personal liberty.

9. Gobind vs State Of Madhya Pradesh And Anr. (1975) 2 SCC 148

In Gobind Vs. State of U.P., a three-Judge Bench of this Court considered the constitutional validity of Regulations 855 and 856 of the Madhya Pradesh Police Regulations which provided surveillance by way of several measures indicated in the said regulations. This Court upheld the validity of the regulations by holding that Article 21 was not violated because the impugned regulations were “procedure established by law” in terms of the said Article. The Supreme Court in its historical judgment in Justice K.P. Puttaswamy and others Vs. Union of India and others reported in AIR 2017 SC 4161affirmed the constitutional right to privacy. It declared privacy an intrinsic component of Part III of Constitution of India that lays down our fundamental rights relating to equality, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of movement and protection of life and personal liberty. These fundamental rights cannot be given or taken away by law and laws. All the executive actions must abide by them. The Supreme Court has however, clarified that like most other fundamental rights the right to privacy is not an “absolute right”. A person’s privacy interests can be overridden by compounding state and individual interests subject to satisfaction to certain tests and bench marks. The nine Judges Bench noticed certain tests and bench marks, which are liability, legitimate goal, proportionately and procedural guarantees.

D. Powers of the Governor

The Governor is the chief executive head of the State but he enjoys only nominal or titular power like the President of India. In the recent case of the Jharkand Governor issuing directions to the state police, the serious issue of Ramesh Bais committing a serious case of constitutional over-reach arise. While being the nominal head of the state, the Governor while being given exceptional powers under Articles 355 and 356, he is in general not empowered to exercise real power that is vested in elected executive, that is the chief minister and council of ministers. The constitutional position is laid down in in Articles 154, 163 (discretionary power) and 164.

Recent abuse of unitary power by the central government has led to a spate of cases where a person associated with a particular political ideology has been appointed as the Governor. This clearly is what resulted in the Jharkhand kind of unconstitutional call that was called back by the elected state executive the very next day.

Not too long back, Rajasthan (2020), a controversy arose over the Governor’s refusal to procedurally okay the dates of the proposed state assembly and the agenda to be discussed therein.  Under the Constitution, the elected government alone has the prerogative to decide the date of the proposed session, even if the Governor suggests another date that he is bound to sign the order.

In Shamsher Singh v/s State of Punjab1975 SCR (1) 814, a Seven-Judge Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court had categorically laid down, “The Governor has no right to refuse to act on the advice of the Council of Ministers. Such a position is antithetical to the concept of responsible Government.” This statement underlines the constitutional understanding of the the role of the Governor.

In S.R. Bommai vs Union of India case (1994) SCC (3), a 9-membner bench of the Supreme Court verdict ruled that the Assembly is the only forum that should test the majority of the government and that the opinion of the Governor (referred to as the agent of Central Government) has no say. This arose out of a situation wherein the then Governor P. Venkatasubbaiah of Karnataka refused to give Bommai (then CM of Karnataka 1989) an opportunity to test his majority in the Assembly even after receiving a copy of the resolution passed by the Janata Dal Assembly. Bommai, then moved Karnataka High Court against the Governor’s decision to recommend President’s Rule which was dismissed by the High Court.

In Nebam Rebia and Etc, Etc vs Deputy Speaker And Ors. (2017) 13 SCC 332 the Supreme Court stated that the role of the Governor ends with the summoning of the house so far as the assembly is concerned. The Supreme Court stated that a Governor “cannot have an overriding authority, over the representatives of the people, who constitute… the state legislature… and/or even the executive Government functioning under the Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister as the head”.

There have been periods of misuse and overreach by the central government—during the Emergency and by the present regime, now in its second term. The Administrative Reforms Commission (1968) highlighted that the appointment of the Governor should not be made based on political affiliation that would undermine his office. It also recommended that the Governor’s report on President’s rule should be based on subjectivity.

Besides, the Sarkaria Commission (1988) had also emphasized the character of the Governors personalities to be appointed. It stated, “Four criteria for being appointed as Governor, including that the person should be ’eminent in some walk of life, should be a person…from outside of the State, and should be detached and not too intimately connected with local politics of the state.”

Given the recent acrimonious developments in states where ideologically pliant governors have run interference — few examples are Goa (2017), Meghalaya (2018), Manipur (2017) and Karnataka (2018)—jurists have been recommending that for the office of Governors to function effectively and to maintain institutional credibility, the appointment process of the Governors requires revision which should also involve State Governments. One particularly sordid example was from 2021, in Karnataka when the (present) Union government, rather brazenly instructed the Governor of Karnataka, Vajubhai Vala to chair an all-party virtual meeting (of the Bharatiya Janata Party-BJP). This violated constitutionality as the Governor, must to refrain from entertaining any party-related activities and the decision to call a meeting is entirely under the ambit of powers of the chief minister.

This would require a constitutional amendment wherein apart from ideological neutrality, constitutional consensus between states and the centre should be ensured. Taking into account a fledgling (read flawed) democracy’s experience of seven plus decades, a well-knit procedure of appointment, with his powers and functions should be laid down that ensure that the Governor acts independently rather than being instructed by the Central Government

Post Script: Exceptions in Law

Legal provision and Supreme Court guidelines on identity disclosure of Rape Survivor: There are several legal provisions that require protection of the identity of survivors and victims of crimes – some specifically for children, and others for certain crimes against women.

Section 228 (A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) had provisions to penalise those disclosing the identities of rape survivors directly or indirectly and Section 23(2) of the POCSO Act prohibits the disclosure of the identity of a child victim of sexual offences “including his name, address, photograph, family details, school, neighbourhood or any other particulars which may lead to disclosure of identity of the child. Violation of this prohibition is a criminal offence, punishable with six months to one year in jail as well as a fine Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act prohibits the disclosure of the “name, address or school or any other particular,” which can be used to identify a child who is a victim of any crime, or even a child who is accused of committing a crime, as well as children who are witnesses to a crime. Violating this prohibition is also a criminal offence, punishable with up to six months’ imprisonment, and/or a fine.

The Supreme Court in Bhupinder Sharma Vs. State of Himachal Pradesh(2003) 8 SCC 551held as follows; “We do not propose to mention name of the victim, section 228-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 makes disclosure of identity of victim of certain offences punishable.

Detailed guidelines were laid down by the Supreme Court (SC) in Nipun Saxena v. Union of India, (2019) 2 SCC 703when the identity of the petitioner was brought before HC. The court has also directed the lower courts conducting trials in rape and cases under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, to conceal the name of the survivor, by referring to them with some abbreviations or letters such as “X”, while framing charges, recording statements or evidences of the survivor or of any other witness.

“The name, place of residence, age, occupation shall be kept in a sealed cover and in the name column, they can be referred in the same manner described while framing charge, keeping the address column, occupation column blank,” said the bench. In Nipun Saxena’s case, the Supreme Court (SC) declared that “no person can print or publish in print, electronic, social media, etc. the name of victims in rape and Pocso Act cases or even in a remote manner disclose any facts which can lead to the victim being identified and which should make their identity known to the public at large.” In the same case, SC has also restrained the police from putting first information reports (FIRs) in rape and Pocso cases in public domain and mask the name of the victims whenever documents relating to these cases are required to be made public.

The SC in the Nipun Saxena case pointed out that;

“Para 4. Officer-in-Charge of the police station and the Investigating Officer in the case including the Special Juvenile Police Unit shall ensure that the identity of the victim is not disclosed in the course of investigation, particularly at the time of recording statement of the victim under section 24 of the Act (which as far as practicable may be done at the residence or a place of choice of the victim or that of his/her parents/custodian, as the case may be), his/her examination before Magistrate under section 25 of the Act, forwarding of the child for emergency medical aid under section 19(5) and/or medical examination under section 27 of the Act.

“Para5. The Investigating Agency shall not disclose the identity of the victim in any media and shall ensure that such identity is not disclosed in any manner whatsoever except the express permission of the Special Court in the interest of justice. Any person including a police officer committing breach of the aforesaid requirement of law shall be prosecuted in terms of section 23(4) of the said Act

“Para8. The identity of the victim particularly his/her name, parentage, address or any other particulars that may reveal such identity shall not be disclosed in the judgment delivered by the Special Court unless such disclosure of identity is in the interest of the child.

Context and Background: In Nipun Saxena Case, the bench reasoned that a victim of rape would face hostile discrimination and social ostracisation in society. Such a victim would find it difficult to get a job, would find it difficult to get married and would also find it difficult to get integrated in society. India’s criminal jurisprudence did not provide for an adequate witness protection programme and, therefore, the need was much greater to protect the victim and hide her identity.

Does the law make any exceptions?

Sub-section (2) of Section 228A of the IPC makes an exception for police officials who might have to record the true identity of the victim in the police station or in the investigation file. In the FIR, the name of the victim would have to be disclosed. However, this should not be made public and especially not to media, the bench held in Nipun Saxena Case. An FIR relating to the offence of rape against a woman (or offences against children falling within the purview of POCSO) shall not be put in the public domain to prevent the name and identity of the victim from being disclosed, the bench clarified.

The bench also carved out an exception for a situation where an unidentified body is found: “There may be cases where the identity of the victim, if not her name, may have to be disclosed. There may be cases where a dead-body of a victim is found. It is established that the victim was subjected to rape. It may not be possible to identify the victim. Then, obviously, her photograph will have to be published in the media. Even here, we would direct that while this may be done, the fact that such victim has been subjected to a sexual offence need not be disclosed. There may be other situations where the next of kin may be justified in disclosing the identity of the victim. If any such need should arise, then we direct that an application to authorise disclosure of identity should be made only to the sessions judge/magistrate concerned and the said sessions judge/magistrate shall decide the application on the basis of the law laid down by us.”

Under what conditions is disclosure allowed?

Under clause (b) of Sub-section (2) of Section 228A of the IPC, if an adult victim has no objection to her name being published or identity being disclosed, she can authorise any person in writing to disclose her name. This had to be a voluntary and conscious act of the victim, the bench underlined. Such was the case with the ‘Park Street’ survivor, Suzette Jordan. “There were some victims who were strong enough and willing to face [the] society even after their names were disclosed. Some of them, in fact, help other victims of rape and they become a source of inspiration to other rape victims. Nobody could have any objection to victim disclosing her name as long as victim was a major,” the bench explained

(This legal resource was a combined effort of the CJP Legal Team and intern, Aman Khan)

Related:

Ranchi violence: Images of alleged rioters released, then taken down by Jharkhand Police

Why is Jharkhand governor in favour of doxing alleged riot participants’ names?

Despite SC rap, UP Claims Tribunal issues notice to recover damages from anti-CAA protesters

Under fire from SC, UP gov’t withdraws damage notices against anti-CAA protesters

Supreme Court takes UP gov’t to task over notices issued to anti-CAA protesters

UP’s damage to property law contravenes SC guidelines

A 2020 report on Victims of Vilification: Anti-CAA protesters in Uttar Pradesh 

 

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Centre tightens security against anti-agnipath Bharat Bandh

Trade unions and farmers groups voiced support of the students decrying the Centre’s scheme

20 Jun 2022

Protest AgnipathImage Courtesy: indiaaheadnews.com

Governments tightened security across railway stations and roads as traffic worsened during youths’ Bharat Bandh on June 20, 2022 against the Agnipath military recruitment scheme. As per reports, at least 877 people were arrested in Bihar and another 475 arrested in Uttar Pradesh for staging violent protests. In case of the latter, 330 people were arrested for serious charges, said News NCR.

UP’s ADG Law and Order Prashant Kumar told media persons that 39 cases were registered by Monday. There was heavy deployment of police and no untoward incident occurred. However, sources told Sabrang India that the Varanasi administration suffered considerable loss during the protests via damages to buses, city transport and similar government property. This loss will now be compensated from arrested protesters in jail. The police will also assess the role of the arrested in the June 17 violence.

Further, sources said that the city police is screening all youths between 18 and 24 years of age to make sure there is peace in the city. Children are asked to show their identity cards before entering the city.

However, the outrage regarding the scheme is already simmering among students. The government remains firm on its stand regarding the short-term military recruitment scheme. On the same day as the Bharat Bandh, the Army issued a notification for the induction of soldiers under the scheme. The online registration for this will begin from July.

This despite protests in Delhi by students wherein the Delhi police dragged and thrashed protesters. Student unions had voiced support for the Bandh in lieu of this behaviour. Protests erupted across states after June 14 when the central government announced the plan to recruit youths between 17.5 and 21 years in the armed forces for a four-year period, followed by compulsory retirement for most without gratuity and pension benefits.

The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) too voiced its solidarity with the protests, who according to the union, have realised the “real meaning” of the scheme.

“There are others, retired military commanders, who know the military establishment inside out, who are flabbergasted at this scatterbrained Scheme. They have warned that on the one hand Agnipath will weaken the military establishment and on the other, endanger Society at large when Agniveers are let loose on the streets, unemployed and without pension!” said General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur.

Further, farmers umbrella body Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) too voiced its support for the protest, describing the scheme as “playing with the future of the country”.

Congress leaders too announced a satyagraha at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to express solidarity against the Agnipath scheme. Youth Congress workers were detained after they blocked a train at the Shivaji Bridge railway station near Connaught Place. Further, parts of Delhi where jam-packed with cards although no undue incident occurred.

Overall, at least 527 trains were cancelled across India in preparation for the protest. Already, NDTV reported how the Railways suffered a major loss of property due to arson and rioting by protesters over the last five days.

The Free Press Journal reported how over 20 students were nabbed by the Adhartal police in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh for allegedly planning a protest. According to the police, the youths had formed a WhatsApp group but the police took them into custody and placed them under house arrest for more than 10 hours.

However, according to the youth Abhishek Kumar speaking to the newspaper, they only wanted to submit a memorandum peacefully. In Jharkhand, schools were closed for the day.

Security was similarly tightened at railway stations, bus stands and central government offices of Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh. Youngsters were disallowed from holding protests or bandhs and warned of stern action, said Sakshi news.

However, in Bihar such warnings did not deter students from engaging in vibrant protests condemning the scheme. Authorities suspended mobile internet services in 20 districts, i.e., over half of the state.

https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=pfbid025KpbaMi5g8NRCG4aVPjjAXu91iU3muEq7de1ShnB6XoAmxrkaCutDPZv6RiRcBXql&id=100064630996023&sfnsn=wiwspwa

Meanwhile, the cancellation of trains had affected the coal supply to thermal plants of Punjab, reported Amar Ujala. There has been a 60 percent reduction in the rakes of coal coming to Punjab, causing a shortage of the fuel. Further, a group of job aspirants in Haryana blocked the Lal Batti Chowk in Fatehabad. Several others staged a protest on roads in Rohtak district.

Related:

Scrap the ‘Agnipath Scheme’, protesters stage violent protests countrywide

Centre tightens security against anti-agnipath Bharat Bandh

Trade unions and farmers groups voiced support of the students decrying the Centre’s scheme

Protest AgnipathImage Courtesy: indiaaheadnews.com

Governments tightened security across railway stations and roads as traffic worsened during youths’ Bharat Bandh on June 20, 2022 against the Agnipath military recruitment scheme. As per reports, at least 877 people were arrested in Bihar and another 475 arrested in Uttar Pradesh for staging violent protests. In case of the latter, 330 people were arrested for serious charges, said News NCR.

UP’s ADG Law and Order Prashant Kumar told media persons that 39 cases were registered by Monday. There was heavy deployment of police and no untoward incident occurred. However, sources told Sabrang India that the Varanasi administration suffered considerable loss during the protests via damages to buses, city transport and similar government property. This loss will now be compensated from arrested protesters in jail. The police will also assess the role of the arrested in the June 17 violence.

Further, sources said that the city police is screening all youths between 18 and 24 years of age to make sure there is peace in the city. Children are asked to show their identity cards before entering the city.

However, the outrage regarding the scheme is already simmering among students. The government remains firm on its stand regarding the short-term military recruitment scheme. On the same day as the Bharat Bandh, the Army issued a notification for the induction of soldiers under the scheme. The online registration for this will begin from July.

This despite protests in Delhi by students wherein the Delhi police dragged and thrashed protesters. Student unions had voiced support for the Bandh in lieu of this behaviour. Protests erupted across states after June 14 when the central government announced the plan to recruit youths between 17.5 and 21 years in the armed forces for a four-year period, followed by compulsory retirement for most without gratuity and pension benefits.

The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) too voiced its solidarity with the protests, who according to the union, have realised the “real meaning” of the scheme.

“There are others, retired military commanders, who know the military establishment inside out, who are flabbergasted at this scatterbrained Scheme. They have warned that on the one hand Agnipath will weaken the military establishment and on the other, endanger Society at large when Agniveers are let loose on the streets, unemployed and without pension!” said General Secretary Amarjeet Kaur.

Further, farmers umbrella body Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) too voiced its support for the protest, describing the scheme as “playing with the future of the country”.

Congress leaders too announced a satyagraha at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to express solidarity against the Agnipath scheme. Youth Congress workers were detained after they blocked a train at the Shivaji Bridge railway station near Connaught Place. Further, parts of Delhi where jam-packed with cards although no undue incident occurred.

Overall, at least 527 trains were cancelled across India in preparation for the protest. Already, NDTV reported how the Railways suffered a major loss of property due to arson and rioting by protesters over the last five days.

The Free Press Journal reported how over 20 students were nabbed by the Adhartal police in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh for allegedly planning a protest. According to the police, the youths had formed a WhatsApp group but the police took them into custody and placed them under house arrest for more than 10 hours.

However, according to the youth Abhishek Kumar speaking to the newspaper, they only wanted to submit a memorandum peacefully. In Jharkhand, schools were closed for the day.

Security was similarly tightened at railway stations, bus stands and central government offices of Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh. Youngsters were disallowed from holding protests or bandhs and warned of stern action, said Sakshi news.

However, in Bihar such warnings did not deter students from engaging in vibrant protests condemning the scheme. Authorities suspended mobile internet services in 20 districts, i.e., over half of the state.

https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=pfbid025KpbaMi5g8NRCG4aVPjjAXu91iU3muEq7de1ShnB6XoAmxrkaCutDPZv6RiRcBXql&id=100064630996023&sfnsn=wiwspwa

Meanwhile, the cancellation of trains had affected the coal supply to thermal plants of Punjab, reported Amar Ujala. There has been a 60 percent reduction in the rakes of coal coming to Punjab, causing a shortage of the fuel. Further, a group of job aspirants in Haryana blocked the Lal Batti Chowk in Fatehabad. Several others staged a protest on roads in Rohtak district.

Related:

Scrap the ‘Agnipath Scheme’, protesters stage violent protests countrywide

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No innocent should ever be jailed, my life is dedicated to get other innocents released: Abdul Wahid Shaikh

Abdul Wahid Shaikh talks to Sabrang India’s Vallari Sanzgiri in an interview about his experience as an accused in the 2006 Mumbai train bomb blast case

17 Jun 2022

Abdul wahid shaikh

Abdul Wahid Shaikh, was a teacher in a Mumbai school when he was wrongly imprisoned in the Mumbai train bomb blasts case on July 11, 2006. Although police could find no evidence against him, he was released from jail in 2015, while 12 fellow-accused in the case remain imprisoned to this day.

Through his book ‘Begunah Kaidi’ (Innocent Prisoner) – and recent movie ‘Haemolymph’ – Wahid spoke about how his refusal to sign a false confessional statement proved his greatest strength. The beginning of his book and movie also talk about his interaction with a 1993 bomb blast accused. Shocking though not surprising is the manner in which co-accused were tortured and pressured to sign statements that were used against them in court. Wahid himself is recently dedicated to educating people about their rights as accused. His book is an important stepping stone in this direction.

However, many other questions remain. What did he do during his years in prison? How did he fight the case and what effect did it have on him? When and how did he resolve to write his book? Most importantly, what kept him going through this ordeal?

In this interview with Sabrang India, Wahid talks about his life in jail, how he continued his post-graduation and law-studies behind bars and the treatment of the police towards accused. While discussing the prevalence of police-raj in India, that too with a distinct anti-minority (Muslim) bias, Wahid also talks about how unconstitutional laws such as UAPA, MCOCA, POTA and TADA support such a partisan regime. He also talks about his deep concerns regarding the manner in which the criminal justice system works. Prison manuals, rules are just never implemented, they remain on paper for the prisoner who suffers the indignity of unregulated prison assaults.

With great stoicism and eloquence, Wahid talks about his life as an innocent prisoner.

Wahid’s well-documented book, published by Pharos Media in 2021, has been preceded by another searing account of torture of a Muslim cleric, Mufti Abdul Qayum Mansuri from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, who suffered brutality when wrongly accused and convicted in the infamous Akshardham case (2003), Gujarat. He and five others were finally released 9 years later, on May 16, 2016 when the Supreme Court, in a scathing judgement pulled up the investigation and prosecution for lack of basic professional standards. “ The story of the prosecution crumbles at every juncture,” the SC had then observed. Former DG Vanzara himself an accused in the Sohrabuddin and Ishrat Jahan encounters that shook the state in the mid-2000s guided the (mis)conduct vis a vis Mufri Abdul Qayum and others under the now repealed POTA law.

In Innocent Prisoner, 500 pages, well written and direct, pen the story of not just the 7/11 train blasts case of 2006 and how persons (apart from Abdul Wahid Shaikh) still remain incarcerated, but do so with the express purpose of wanting to inform other innocent accused from the minority Muslim community, who with some legal knowledge could resist such false and mala fide incarceration. In that sense, the book is a treatise in simple legal education, a tutorial that even our police and judiciary desperately need. Special thanks are given by the writer to Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind for help battling such cases be the case of the Akshardham (2003) falsely accused or the 7/11 Mumbai train blasts. Indians should be concerned about the fact that we still do not know the criminals who were responsible behind these mass public outrages. Worse even is the fact that the policemen, named in both instances of grossly illegal acts, were not prosecuted or punished. [1]

Related:

Moderate or Conservative: Who represents the Indian Muslim?

India under Modi is living through a Dark Age: Professor DN Jha

The Constitution is a miracle: Sen Adv Rajeev Dhawan

Dec 15: Jamia attack anniversary

 


[1] In September 2014, the same SC that had acquitted all the six accused in the Akshardham case refused the acquitted persons right to reparation and fair compensation. Most of India’s counter-terror laws carry within them craftily drafted clauses/sections that in fact protect police and the jail administration from prosecution for mala fide acts.

No innocent should ever be jailed, my life is dedicated to get other innocents released: Abdul Wahid Shaikh

Abdul Wahid Shaikh talks to Sabrang India’s Vallari Sanzgiri in an interview about his experience as an accused in the 2006 Mumbai train bomb blast case

Abdul wahid shaikh

Abdul Wahid Shaikh, was a teacher in a Mumbai school when he was wrongly imprisoned in the Mumbai train bomb blasts case on July 11, 2006. Although police could find no evidence against him, he was released from jail in 2015, while 12 fellow-accused in the case remain imprisoned to this day.

Through his book ‘Begunah Kaidi’ (Innocent Prisoner) – and recent movie ‘Haemolymph’ – Wahid spoke about how his refusal to sign a false confessional statement proved his greatest strength. The beginning of his book and movie also talk about his interaction with a 1993 bomb blast accused. Shocking though not surprising is the manner in which co-accused were tortured and pressured to sign statements that were used against them in court. Wahid himself is recently dedicated to educating people about their rights as accused. His book is an important stepping stone in this direction.

However, many other questions remain. What did he do during his years in prison? How did he fight the case and what effect did it have on him? When and how did he resolve to write his book? Most importantly, what kept him going through this ordeal?

In this interview with Sabrang India, Wahid talks about his life in jail, how he continued his post-graduation and law-studies behind bars and the treatment of the police towards accused. While discussing the prevalence of police-raj in India, that too with a distinct anti-minority (Muslim) bias, Wahid also talks about how unconstitutional laws such as UAPA, MCOCA, POTA and TADA support such a partisan regime. He also talks about his deep concerns regarding the manner in which the criminal justice system works. Prison manuals, rules are just never implemented, they remain on paper for the prisoner who suffers the indignity of unregulated prison assaults.

With great stoicism and eloquence, Wahid talks about his life as an innocent prisoner.

Wahid’s well-documented book, published by Pharos Media in 2021, has been preceded by another searing account of torture of a Muslim cleric, Mufti Abdul Qayum Mansuri from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, who suffered brutality when wrongly accused and convicted in the infamous Akshardham case (2003), Gujarat. He and five others were finally released 9 years later, on May 16, 2016 when the Supreme Court, in a scathing judgement pulled up the investigation and prosecution for lack of basic professional standards. “ The story of the prosecution crumbles at every juncture,” the SC had then observed. Former DG Vanzara himself an accused in the Sohrabuddin and Ishrat Jahan encounters that shook the state in the mid-2000s guided the (mis)conduct vis a vis Mufri Abdul Qayum and others under the now repealed POTA law.

In Innocent Prisoner, 500 pages, well written and direct, pen the story of not just the 7/11 train blasts case of 2006 and how persons (apart from Abdul Wahid Shaikh) still remain incarcerated, but do so with the express purpose of wanting to inform other innocent accused from the minority Muslim community, who with some legal knowledge could resist such false and mala fide incarceration. In that sense, the book is a treatise in simple legal education, a tutorial that even our police and judiciary desperately need. Special thanks are given by the writer to Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind for help battling such cases be the case of the Akshardham (2003) falsely accused or the 7/11 Mumbai train blasts. Indians should be concerned about the fact that we still do not know the criminals who were responsible behind these mass public outrages. Worse even is the fact that the policemen, named in both instances of grossly illegal acts, were not prosecuted or punished. [1]

Related:

Moderate or Conservative: Who represents the Indian Muslim?

India under Modi is living through a Dark Age: Professor DN Jha

The Constitution is a miracle: Sen Adv Rajeev Dhawan

Dec 15: Jamia attack anniversary

 


[1] In September 2014, the same SC that had acquitted all the six accused in the Akshardham case refused the acquitted persons right to reparation and fair compensation. Most of India’s counter-terror laws carry within them craftily drafted clauses/sections that in fact protect police and the jail administration from prosecution for mala fide acts.

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Provable connection between police and people who planted false evidence against Bhima-Koregaon accused: SentinelOne

Wired reports that Sentinel One has unearthed a connection between cops who arrested the accused and Modified Elephant, a hacking campaign that allegedly planted evidence on the devices of activists

17 Jun 2022

bhima koregaon

In more shocking revelations in the Bhima Koregaon case, new information has emerged in connection with an alleged state-sponsored conspiracy against the human rights activists accused of masterminding the violence. Wired has now quoted researchers from security firm SentinelOne as saying that there is a link between the police and hackers.

“There’s a provable connection between the individuals who arrested these folks and the individuals who planted the evidence,” Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade, a security researcher at SentinelOne told Wired. “This is beyond ethically compromised. It is beyond callous. So, we’re trying to put as much data forward as we can in the hopes of helping these victims,” added Guerrero-Saade, who will present these findings at a Black Hat security conference in August, along with fellow researcher Tom Hegel.

Wired reports that “SentinelOne’s researchers revealed ties between the hackers and a government entity: none other than the very same Indian police agency in the city of Pune that arrested multiple activists based on the fabricated evidence.” It further reports, “SentinelOne’s new findings that link the Pune City Police to the long-running hacking campaign, which the company has called ModifiedElephant, center on two particular targets of the campaign: Rona Wilson and Varvara Rao.”

ModifiedElephant: A sinister hacking campaign

In February 2022, SabrangIndia had reported how Sentinel Labs, another US-based cybersecurity firm (after Arsenal) had discovered more evidence of Rona Wilson’s devices being targeted. According to Sentinel Labs, there were two separate sets of hackers who targeted Wilson’s devices. They were employed, possibly by the same entity that has “interests aligned with the Indian State”.

One of the groups of hackers who targeted Wilson’s devices is an entity Sentinel Labs called ModifiedElephant. A report by Sentinel Labs said, “ModifiedElephant is responsible for targeted attacks on human rights activists, human rights defenders, academics, and lawyers across India with the objective of planting incriminating digital evidence.” They also found that “ModifiedElephant has been operating since at least 2012, and has repeatedly targeted specific individuals,” and that “ModifiedElephant operates through the use of commercially available remote access trojans (RATs) and has potential ties to the commercial surveillance industry.”

According to Sentinel Labs, “The objective of ModifiedElephant is long-term surveillance that at times concludes with the delivery of ‘evidence’—files that incriminate the target in specific crimes—prior to conveniently coordinated arrests.” The report further said, “After careful review of the attackers’ campaigns over the last decade, we have identified hundreds of groups and individuals targeted by ModifiedElephant phishing campaigns. Activists, human rights defenders, journalists, academics, and law professionals in India are those most highly targeted. Notable targets include individuals associated with the Bhima Koregaon case.”

The report added on a chilling note, “We observe that ModifiedElephant activity aligns sharply with Indian state interests and that there is an observable correlation between ModifiedElephant attacks and the arrests of individuals in controversial, politically-charged cases.”

Activists implicated in Bhima Koregaon case targeted using malware and spyware

After it was discovered that Rona Wilson’s phone had been infected with the Pegasus spyware that was revealed to have been purchased by the Government of India as part of a 2-billion-dollar defence deal with Israel in 2017, there have been significant developments in the case.

In February 2022, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) sought the special court’s permission to hand over the devices of seven activists including Wilson to a special Committee constituted by the Indian Supreme Court to probe allegations related to the Pegasus scandal. The seven activists whose phones the NIA wanted examined are: Anand Teltumbde, Hany Babu, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Sudha Bharadwaj and Vernon Gonsalves. Of these, only Bharadwaj is out on bail. Together these seven people have 26 devices that were seized, first by the Pune Police and then by the NIA.

An electronic copy of Rona Wilson’s laptop was first examined by US-based digital forensics firm Arsenal. In February 2021 it was revealed that an attacker used malware to infiltrate the laptop and place incriminating evidence on it. According to Arsenal’s report, “Rona Wilson’s computer was compromised for just over 22 months.” They also found, “The attacker responsible for compromising Mr. Wilson’s computer had extensive resources (including time) and it is obvious that their primary goals were surveillance and incriminating document delivery.”

Then in December 2021 it came to light that an analysis by the Amnesty International’s Security Lab revealed that two backups of an iPhone 6 belonging to Wilson had “digital traces showing infection by the Pegasus surveillance tool”, something that by Pegasus’s own admission was licenced only to vetted governments. The phone backups were shared with the Amnesty team by Arsenal.

Finally, a New York Times expose shed light on how the Government of India had purchased the Pegasus software as part of a package included in a $2 billion defence deal with Israel in 2017, thus bringing the entire controversy full circle.

Related:

Rona Wilson’s devices hacked by two groups of hackers employed by same entity: Sentinel Labs

Bhima Koregaon: NIA seeks permission to hand over phones of 7 accused to Pegasus Committee

Pegasus scandal: Did GoI engage in an elaborate cover-up?

Pegasus scandal: SC stays Justice Lokur Commission probe

Defence Ministry has had no transaction with Pegasus developer NSO Group: Centre in RS

Centre refuses to disclose use of Pegasus in affidavit, pleads national security

Pegasus Project: 5 targeted journalists move SC, say have been subject to intrusive hacking

Pegasus Snoopgate: RS MP, Journalists move SC for court monitored probe   

Provable connection between police and people who planted false evidence against Bhima-Koregaon accused: SentinelOne

Wired reports that Sentinel One has unearthed a connection between cops who arrested the accused and Modified Elephant, a hacking campaign that allegedly planted evidence on the devices of activists

bhima koregaon

In more shocking revelations in the Bhima Koregaon case, new information has emerged in connection with an alleged state-sponsored conspiracy against the human rights activists accused of masterminding the violence. Wired has now quoted researchers from security firm SentinelOne as saying that there is a link between the police and hackers.

“There’s a provable connection between the individuals who arrested these folks and the individuals who planted the evidence,” Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade, a security researcher at SentinelOne told Wired. “This is beyond ethically compromised. It is beyond callous. So, we’re trying to put as much data forward as we can in the hopes of helping these victims,” added Guerrero-Saade, who will present these findings at a Black Hat security conference in August, along with fellow researcher Tom Hegel.

Wired reports that “SentinelOne’s researchers revealed ties between the hackers and a government entity: none other than the very same Indian police agency in the city of Pune that arrested multiple activists based on the fabricated evidence.” It further reports, “SentinelOne’s new findings that link the Pune City Police to the long-running hacking campaign, which the company has called ModifiedElephant, center on two particular targets of the campaign: Rona Wilson and Varvara Rao.”

ModifiedElephant: A sinister hacking campaign

In February 2022, SabrangIndia had reported how Sentinel Labs, another US-based cybersecurity firm (after Arsenal) had discovered more evidence of Rona Wilson’s devices being targeted. According to Sentinel Labs, there were two separate sets of hackers who targeted Wilson’s devices. They were employed, possibly by the same entity that has “interests aligned with the Indian State”.

One of the groups of hackers who targeted Wilson’s devices is an entity Sentinel Labs called ModifiedElephant. A report by Sentinel Labs said, “ModifiedElephant is responsible for targeted attacks on human rights activists, human rights defenders, academics, and lawyers across India with the objective of planting incriminating digital evidence.” They also found that “ModifiedElephant has been operating since at least 2012, and has repeatedly targeted specific individuals,” and that “ModifiedElephant operates through the use of commercially available remote access trojans (RATs) and has potential ties to the commercial surveillance industry.”

According to Sentinel Labs, “The objective of ModifiedElephant is long-term surveillance that at times concludes with the delivery of ‘evidence’—files that incriminate the target in specific crimes—prior to conveniently coordinated arrests.” The report further said, “After careful review of the attackers’ campaigns over the last decade, we have identified hundreds of groups and individuals targeted by ModifiedElephant phishing campaigns. Activists, human rights defenders, journalists, academics, and law professionals in India are those most highly targeted. Notable targets include individuals associated with the Bhima Koregaon case.”

The report added on a chilling note, “We observe that ModifiedElephant activity aligns sharply with Indian state interests and that there is an observable correlation between ModifiedElephant attacks and the arrests of individuals in controversial, politically-charged cases.”

Activists implicated in Bhima Koregaon case targeted using malware and spyware

After it was discovered that Rona Wilson’s phone had been infected with the Pegasus spyware that was revealed to have been purchased by the Government of India as part of a 2-billion-dollar defence deal with Israel in 2017, there have been significant developments in the case.

In February 2022, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) sought the special court’s permission to hand over the devices of seven activists including Wilson to a special Committee constituted by the Indian Supreme Court to probe allegations related to the Pegasus scandal. The seven activists whose phones the NIA wanted examined are: Anand Teltumbde, Hany Babu, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Sudha Bharadwaj and Vernon Gonsalves. Of these, only Bharadwaj is out on bail. Together these seven people have 26 devices that were seized, first by the Pune Police and then by the NIA.

An electronic copy of Rona Wilson’s laptop was first examined by US-based digital forensics firm Arsenal. In February 2021 it was revealed that an attacker used malware to infiltrate the laptop and place incriminating evidence on it. According to Arsenal’s report, “Rona Wilson’s computer was compromised for just over 22 months.” They also found, “The attacker responsible for compromising Mr. Wilson’s computer had extensive resources (including time) and it is obvious that their primary goals were surveillance and incriminating document delivery.”

Then in December 2021 it came to light that an analysis by the Amnesty International’s Security Lab revealed that two backups of an iPhone 6 belonging to Wilson had “digital traces showing infection by the Pegasus surveillance tool”, something that by Pegasus’s own admission was licenced only to vetted governments. The phone backups were shared with the Amnesty team by Arsenal.

Finally, a New York Times expose shed light on how the Government of India had purchased the Pegasus software as part of a package included in a $2 billion defence deal with Israel in 2017, thus bringing the entire controversy full circle.

Related:

Rona Wilson’s devices hacked by two groups of hackers employed by same entity: Sentinel Labs

Bhima Koregaon: NIA seeks permission to hand over phones of 7 accused to Pegasus Committee

Pegasus scandal: Did GoI engage in an elaborate cover-up?

Pegasus scandal: SC stays Justice Lokur Commission probe

Defence Ministry has had no transaction with Pegasus developer NSO Group: Centre in RS

Centre refuses to disclose use of Pegasus in affidavit, pleads national security

Pegasus Project: 5 targeted journalists move SC, say have been subject to intrusive hacking

Pegasus Snoopgate: RS MP, Journalists move SC for court monitored probe   

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