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UP’s damage to property law contravenes SC guidelines

The Supreme Court had, in a judgement in 2009, directed that for claiming compensation, the high court should appoint a Claims Commissioner and the court would finally decide the amount after hearing both parties.

23 Jul 2021

SC GuidelinesImage Courtesy:tilakmarg.com

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court directed the Uttar Pradesh government to not proceed with earlier notices issued to alleged protestors for recovering losses caused by damage to public property during the agitations against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA). Instead, the court asked the state government to follow the new law and the rules laid down thereunder to recover damages. Meanwhile, a new law, i.e., Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damage to Public and Private Property Act, 2020 has been challenged and is pending before the Allahabad High Court for having provisions that contravene principles of natural justice and violate right to life and right to privacy.

The brute force with which the UP government and its administration dealt with the anti-CAA protestors is not distant memory. Section 144 of IPC restricting assembly of more than 5 persons was imposed in several districts and as per a fact finding report, in Firozabad, Police fired directly into the protesters, most of them above the waist killing six people. In Muzaffarnagar, the police, RAF and un-uniformed men in police jackets entered in numbers of 50 to 100 into two Muslim dominated areas destroying and vandalising all in its wake, while street lights were turned off. Resorting to scare tactics and allegedly warning people against participating in anti-CAA protests, the Uttar Pradesh cops carried lists of alleged anti-CAA protesters and their addresses, questioning locals of their whereabouts, houses, size of families, who and where they are and their age and profession.

The violence in Uttar Pradesh claimed 21 lives, more than 1,100 people were arrested and 5,558 people were kept in preventive detention.

In December 2019, reportedly, 295 people in the districts of Lucknow, Kanpur, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Sambhal, Rampur, Bijnor and Bulandshahr had reportedly received notices in connection with property damage worth at least Rs 1.9 crore.

The petition

The petition was filed by one Parwaiz Arif Titu seeking quashing of notices sent to the alleged protestors. It was alleged that some of these notices were sent to persons aged above 90 years and one was issued to a person who deceased 6 years ago; thus making their manner arbitrary. The petitioner contended that these notices were based on an Allahabad High Court judgement delivered in 2010 which “is in violation of the guidelines” laid down by the top court in a 2009 verdict, and re-affirmed in a 2018 order.

The plea states that the notices have been issued against persons who have not been booked under any penal provisions and no details of FIR or any criminal offences have been made out against them. The plea sought setting up of an independent judicial inquiry to probe into the incidents which happened during the anti-CAA protests, as was done by Karnataka High Court.

The Indian Express quoted the plea which said, “The government of Uttar Pradesh and its administration and police are no longer behaving like the arm of a democratic government as it cracked down on protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019/NRC. The police on the instructions of the Uttar Pradesh administration used disproportionate force and denied public accountability”.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah directed the UP government to file a counter affidavit giving details of rules and tribunals constituted under the new law and has now posted the matter for July 23.

The SC order may be read here:

The SC guidelines for recovering damages

The plea highlighted that the UP government stated that it was following the Allahabad High Court judgement in Mohammad Shujauddin vs. State of UP (Writ -A No 40831 of 2009; decided on 9 July 2012) which allowed the state government undertake these processes to recover damages.

However, the Supreme Court in Re: Destruction of Public and Private Properties vs. Govt. of AP (2009) 5 SCC 212 had put the onus of assessment of damages and recovery from the accused on high courts of every state. The court had stated that if a mass destruction to property takes place due to protests the High Court may issue suo motu action and set up a machinery to investigate the damage caused and to award compensation. The guidelines further stated that the court may then appoint a sitting or retired High Court judge or a sitting or retired District judge as a Claims Commissioner to estimate the damages and investigate liability.

The report of such determined liability is to be then presented to the court which will decide on the final liability only after hearing the parties.

The judgement may be read here:

The UP Recovery of Damages to Property Act

The UP Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Act, 2020 violates the Supreme Court guidelines where it allows for setting up of Claims Tribunals and allows the passing of ex-parte orders without allowing the noticee to challenge the same.

The law has been challenged before the Allahabad High Court on the basis that the law is redundant since the subject matter is already covered by The Prevention of Damages to Public Property Act, 1984 as also compensation as to public/private property and punishment for offences such as rioting and mischief, are already provided for the Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Penal Code. The petition also questions the need for constituting a separate Claims Tribunal when all the requisite powers of dealing with the situation(s) are well within the domain of the Civil and the Criminal Courts.

Further, Section 13 and Section 19(2) of the law provides for publication of names, photographs and addresses of persons which is an unwarranted assault on the individual’s right to live with basic human dignity and the right to privacy. The Allahabad High Court had upheld right to privacy on March 8, 2020 when it directed the UP government to take down such ‘name and shame’ hoardings in absence of legal sanction.

The orders of the Tribunal are also supposed to final which means they cannot be challenged in appeal before a lower court, thus leading to barrage petitions before the High Court

The UP Recovery of Damages to Property Act- Timeline

There is a proper timeline of events that finally led to the passing of this Act right from the unlawful hoardings doxing individuals to the high court deeming it illegal. It all started with UP Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, declaring that properties of those involved in the violence would be seized and auctioned to compensate for destruction of public and private assets during the protests over the amended citizenship law and issued three recovery orders for the same. 

Thereafter, the administration displayed posters and hoardings throughout the state capital of Lucknow of alleged anti-CAA protesters in a crude and illegal way of ‘naming’ and shaming them. As many as 57 persons were named and with their addresses and photographs put up on posters and hoardings. They were accused of being part of the violence during the protests. The alleged protestors were also arbitrarily asked to pay huge sums compensation for “damage to public property” that took place during the violence at the protest in December, 2019. The hoardings also said that if these people fail to pay up, their properties will be attached/confiscated. The total amount of damage to property listed in the hoardings was up to Rs. 1.55 crore.

This led to the suo moto cognizance taken by Allahabad High Court on March 8, 2020, observing injury to the right of privacy. It held that this incident amounted to gross negligence on part of public authorities and government. The Court deemed these actions of the state to be “colourable exercise of powers by the Executive” which amounted to violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. The court also held that there was a valid apprehension of causing serious injury to the rights protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It said that this caused injury to the precious constitutional value and its shameless depiction by the administration. “The cause as such is undemocratic functioning of government agencies which are supposed to treat all members of public with respect and courtesy and at all time should behave in manner that upholds constitutional and democratic values”, the court remarked. It then directed the Lucknow administration to remove the banners and file a compliance report by March 16, 2020. The order was then upheld by the Supreme Court on March 16 when the UP government challenged the same.

Taking cue from the high court’s observation that there was no law to back such action, the Uttar Pradesh recovery of damage to public and private property ordinance 2020 was cleared in the cabinet meeting in Lucknow, on March 15, 2020.

Speaking to the media, UP cabinet minister and state government spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh had said, "Supreme Court in 2011 said that if a government or private property is damaged in any demonstration or protest, stringent law should be made for its prevention. Our government earlier issued an order but the SC, while hearing the anti-CAA hoardings matter, asked us under which law such action has been taken. Based on that we have brought an ordinance which will subsequently be converted into a law."

Related:

‘Naming & shaming’ instead of rule of law: UP recovery of damage to public & private property ordinance, 2020
Is UP's new Ordinance on recovery of damages an example of abuse of power?
UP’s 'Name and shame ordinance' against all canons of justice: PIL in Allahabad HC

UP’s damage to property law contravenes SC guidelines

The Supreme Court had, in a judgement in 2009, directed that for claiming compensation, the high court should appoint a Claims Commissioner and the court would finally decide the amount after hearing both parties.

SC GuidelinesImage Courtesy:tilakmarg.com

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court directed the Uttar Pradesh government to not proceed with earlier notices issued to alleged protestors for recovering losses caused by damage to public property during the agitations against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA). Instead, the court asked the state government to follow the new law and the rules laid down thereunder to recover damages. Meanwhile, a new law, i.e., Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damage to Public and Private Property Act, 2020 has been challenged and is pending before the Allahabad High Court for having provisions that contravene principles of natural justice and violate right to life and right to privacy.

The brute force with which the UP government and its administration dealt with the anti-CAA protestors is not distant memory. Section 144 of IPC restricting assembly of more than 5 persons was imposed in several districts and as per a fact finding report, in Firozabad, Police fired directly into the protesters, most of them above the waist killing six people. In Muzaffarnagar, the police, RAF and un-uniformed men in police jackets entered in numbers of 50 to 100 into two Muslim dominated areas destroying and vandalising all in its wake, while street lights were turned off. Resorting to scare tactics and allegedly warning people against participating in anti-CAA protests, the Uttar Pradesh cops carried lists of alleged anti-CAA protesters and their addresses, questioning locals of their whereabouts, houses, size of families, who and where they are and their age and profession.

The violence in Uttar Pradesh claimed 21 lives, more than 1,100 people were arrested and 5,558 people were kept in preventive detention.

In December 2019, reportedly, 295 people in the districts of Lucknow, Kanpur, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Sambhal, Rampur, Bijnor and Bulandshahr had reportedly received notices in connection with property damage worth at least Rs 1.9 crore.

The petition

The petition was filed by one Parwaiz Arif Titu seeking quashing of notices sent to the alleged protestors. It was alleged that some of these notices were sent to persons aged above 90 years and one was issued to a person who deceased 6 years ago; thus making their manner arbitrary. The petitioner contended that these notices were based on an Allahabad High Court judgement delivered in 2010 which “is in violation of the guidelines” laid down by the top court in a 2009 verdict, and re-affirmed in a 2018 order.

The plea states that the notices have been issued against persons who have not been booked under any penal provisions and no details of FIR or any criminal offences have been made out against them. The plea sought setting up of an independent judicial inquiry to probe into the incidents which happened during the anti-CAA protests, as was done by Karnataka High Court.

The Indian Express quoted the plea which said, “The government of Uttar Pradesh and its administration and police are no longer behaving like the arm of a democratic government as it cracked down on protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019/NRC. The police on the instructions of the Uttar Pradesh administration used disproportionate force and denied public accountability”.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah directed the UP government to file a counter affidavit giving details of rules and tribunals constituted under the new law and has now posted the matter for July 23.

The SC order may be read here:

The SC guidelines for recovering damages

The plea highlighted that the UP government stated that it was following the Allahabad High Court judgement in Mohammad Shujauddin vs. State of UP (Writ -A No 40831 of 2009; decided on 9 July 2012) which allowed the state government undertake these processes to recover damages.

However, the Supreme Court in Re: Destruction of Public and Private Properties vs. Govt. of AP (2009) 5 SCC 212 had put the onus of assessment of damages and recovery from the accused on high courts of every state. The court had stated that if a mass destruction to property takes place due to protests the High Court may issue suo motu action and set up a machinery to investigate the damage caused and to award compensation. The guidelines further stated that the court may then appoint a sitting or retired High Court judge or a sitting or retired District judge as a Claims Commissioner to estimate the damages and investigate liability.

The report of such determined liability is to be then presented to the court which will decide on the final liability only after hearing the parties.

The judgement may be read here:

The UP Recovery of Damages to Property Act

The UP Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Act, 2020 violates the Supreme Court guidelines where it allows for setting up of Claims Tribunals and allows the passing of ex-parte orders without allowing the noticee to challenge the same.

The law has been challenged before the Allahabad High Court on the basis that the law is redundant since the subject matter is already covered by The Prevention of Damages to Public Property Act, 1984 as also compensation as to public/private property and punishment for offences such as rioting and mischief, are already provided for the Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Penal Code. The petition also questions the need for constituting a separate Claims Tribunal when all the requisite powers of dealing with the situation(s) are well within the domain of the Civil and the Criminal Courts.

Further, Section 13 and Section 19(2) of the law provides for publication of names, photographs and addresses of persons which is an unwarranted assault on the individual’s right to live with basic human dignity and the right to privacy. The Allahabad High Court had upheld right to privacy on March 8, 2020 when it directed the UP government to take down such ‘name and shame’ hoardings in absence of legal sanction.

The orders of the Tribunal are also supposed to final which means they cannot be challenged in appeal before a lower court, thus leading to barrage petitions before the High Court

The UP Recovery of Damages to Property Act- Timeline

There is a proper timeline of events that finally led to the passing of this Act right from the unlawful hoardings doxing individuals to the high court deeming it illegal. It all started with UP Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, declaring that properties of those involved in the violence would be seized and auctioned to compensate for destruction of public and private assets during the protests over the amended citizenship law and issued three recovery orders for the same. 

Thereafter, the administration displayed posters and hoardings throughout the state capital of Lucknow of alleged anti-CAA protesters in a crude and illegal way of ‘naming’ and shaming them. As many as 57 persons were named and with their addresses and photographs put up on posters and hoardings. They were accused of being part of the violence during the protests. The alleged protestors were also arbitrarily asked to pay huge sums compensation for “damage to public property” that took place during the violence at the protest in December, 2019. The hoardings also said that if these people fail to pay up, their properties will be attached/confiscated. The total amount of damage to property listed in the hoardings was up to Rs. 1.55 crore.

This led to the suo moto cognizance taken by Allahabad High Court on March 8, 2020, observing injury to the right of privacy. It held that this incident amounted to gross negligence on part of public authorities and government. The Court deemed these actions of the state to be “colourable exercise of powers by the Executive” which amounted to violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. The court also held that there was a valid apprehension of causing serious injury to the rights protected under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It said that this caused injury to the precious constitutional value and its shameless depiction by the administration. “The cause as such is undemocratic functioning of government agencies which are supposed to treat all members of public with respect and courtesy and at all time should behave in manner that upholds constitutional and democratic values”, the court remarked. It then directed the Lucknow administration to remove the banners and file a compliance report by March 16, 2020. The order was then upheld by the Supreme Court on March 16 when the UP government challenged the same.

Taking cue from the high court’s observation that there was no law to back such action, the Uttar Pradesh recovery of damage to public and private property ordinance 2020 was cleared in the cabinet meeting in Lucknow, on March 15, 2020.

Speaking to the media, UP cabinet minister and state government spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh had said, "Supreme Court in 2011 said that if a government or private property is damaged in any demonstration or protest, stringent law should be made for its prevention. Our government earlier issued an order but the SC, while hearing the anti-CAA hoardings matter, asked us under which law such action has been taken. Based on that we have brought an ordinance which will subsequently be converted into a law."

Related:

‘Naming & shaming’ instead of rule of law: UP recovery of damage to public & private property ordinance, 2020
Is UP's new Ordinance on recovery of damages an example of abuse of power?
UP’s 'Name and shame ordinance' against all canons of justice: PIL in Allahabad HC

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No evidence of conspiracy against me: Ishrat Jahan to Delhi court

The Karkadooma sessions court is hearing lawyer-activist Ishrat Jahan’s bail application in the Delhi violence conspiracy case

23 Jul 2021

Delhi Session Court

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat continued to hear the bail application filed by former Congress councillor and lawyer Ishrat Jahan, who has been accused in last year’s conspiracy case of North East Delhi violence. The next date for the hearing is now August 2, 2021, where the Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad will start his arguments, opposing Jahan’s bail plea.

Pradeep Teotia, senior counsel appearing for Ishrat Jahan, argued that there is no evidence against her in the conspiracy case to be booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. Jahan has been charged under sections 13 (Punishment for unlawful activities), 16 (punishment for terrorist act), 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act) and 18 (punishment for conspiracy) of the UAPA. He argued that Ishrat has been falsely implicated and is not a hardliner, as projected by the Delhi Police.

Teotia further argued, “I (Ishrat Jahan) was victorious counsellor from a ward where Muslims were are in a minority. She was the only woman to win. She was victorious because of her secular image. I have participated in both Hindu and Sikh processions. They have projected me as a hardliner, but I have been popular in all events, there is no connection with the conspiracy.”

He added, “She was a popular lady, there is not a single iota of evidence to suggest that she was attached to this conspiracy. The prosecution and the investigation agency have no evidence that can qualify to put her behind bars under UAPA. There is no bar on bail for Ishrat.” He also referred to the time last year, when Ishrat was granted interim bail for her wedding between June 10 to June 19, to contend that she did not attempt to influence any witness.

He then referred to Jahan’s financial transactions in 2019 and told the court that her “pattern of financial withdrawal and deposit has not changed”, and that the police does not have any qualitative evidence against her. He informed the court that the Police had failed to show any evidence in totality. “The evidence is piecemeal and not in totality. If shown properly, it will be proved that I am not guilty”, he said while concluding his arguments.

Ishrat was initially arrested on February 26, 2020, on charges of inciting violence, rioting and attempt to murder under the Indian Penal Code. After spending a month in judicial custody, Ishrat along with four others were granted bail by Additional Sessions Judge Manjusha Wadhwa on March 21, 2020. The court had noted that the role assigned to Ishrat is that she incited the crowd to remain present at the protest spot as well as raised slogans of freedom, however, no overt act had been imputed to her regarding taking law into her own hands. 

On the same day, she was re-arrested under UAPA charges and has remained in jail since then. For a brief period of 10 days, she was released on interim bail on account of her wedding in June last year. Ishrat had moved for interim bail in November, which was rejected by the Delhi Sessions Court.

Over the past few months, bail applications to several of those young leaders accused of a ‘conspiracy’ behind the Delhi 2020 violence have been heard. While in 2020 most cases were rejected by lower courts, on June 15, 2021 three such activists, Asif Iqbal Tabha, Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal were granted bail by a division bench of the Delhi high court. In landmark verdicts the Court held that the offences, if at all made out did not fall under the ambit of “terrorist act” as defined under the UAPA. An analysis of the Delhi High Court verdict may be read here and here.

Related:

After 15 months in jail, Ishrat Jahan awaits bail: Delhi Violence Case
Meet Ishrat Jahan citizen, advocate, activist, politician, daughter, sister, and wife

No evidence of conspiracy against me: Ishrat Jahan to Delhi court

The Karkadooma sessions court is hearing lawyer-activist Ishrat Jahan’s bail application in the Delhi violence conspiracy case

Delhi Session Court

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat continued to hear the bail application filed by former Congress councillor and lawyer Ishrat Jahan, who has been accused in last year’s conspiracy case of North East Delhi violence. The next date for the hearing is now August 2, 2021, where the Special Public Prosecutor Amit Prasad will start his arguments, opposing Jahan’s bail plea.

Pradeep Teotia, senior counsel appearing for Ishrat Jahan, argued that there is no evidence against her in the conspiracy case to be booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. Jahan has been charged under sections 13 (Punishment for unlawful activities), 16 (punishment for terrorist act), 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act) and 18 (punishment for conspiracy) of the UAPA. He argued that Ishrat has been falsely implicated and is not a hardliner, as projected by the Delhi Police.

Teotia further argued, “I (Ishrat Jahan) was victorious counsellor from a ward where Muslims were are in a minority. She was the only woman to win. She was victorious because of her secular image. I have participated in both Hindu and Sikh processions. They have projected me as a hardliner, but I have been popular in all events, there is no connection with the conspiracy.”

He added, “She was a popular lady, there is not a single iota of evidence to suggest that she was attached to this conspiracy. The prosecution and the investigation agency have no evidence that can qualify to put her behind bars under UAPA. There is no bar on bail for Ishrat.” He also referred to the time last year, when Ishrat was granted interim bail for her wedding between June 10 to June 19, to contend that she did not attempt to influence any witness.

He then referred to Jahan’s financial transactions in 2019 and told the court that her “pattern of financial withdrawal and deposit has not changed”, and that the police does not have any qualitative evidence against her. He informed the court that the Police had failed to show any evidence in totality. “The evidence is piecemeal and not in totality. If shown properly, it will be proved that I am not guilty”, he said while concluding his arguments.

Ishrat was initially arrested on February 26, 2020, on charges of inciting violence, rioting and attempt to murder under the Indian Penal Code. After spending a month in judicial custody, Ishrat along with four others were granted bail by Additional Sessions Judge Manjusha Wadhwa on March 21, 2020. The court had noted that the role assigned to Ishrat is that she incited the crowd to remain present at the protest spot as well as raised slogans of freedom, however, no overt act had been imputed to her regarding taking law into her own hands. 

On the same day, she was re-arrested under UAPA charges and has remained in jail since then. For a brief period of 10 days, she was released on interim bail on account of her wedding in June last year. Ishrat had moved for interim bail in November, which was rejected by the Delhi Sessions Court.

Over the past few months, bail applications to several of those young leaders accused of a ‘conspiracy’ behind the Delhi 2020 violence have been heard. While in 2020 most cases were rejected by lower courts, on June 15, 2021 three such activists, Asif Iqbal Tabha, Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal were granted bail by a division bench of the Delhi high court. In landmark verdicts the Court held that the offences, if at all made out did not fall under the ambit of “terrorist act” as defined under the UAPA. An analysis of the Delhi High Court verdict may be read here and here.

Related:

After 15 months in jail, Ishrat Jahan awaits bail: Delhi Violence Case
Meet Ishrat Jahan citizen, advocate, activist, politician, daughter, sister, and wife

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High Court is parents patriae, father of deceased Fr Stan Swamy: Mihir Desai

The senior counsel was urging the court to ensure a just enquiry into the death of the activist Jesuit priest

23 Jul 2021

Bombay HCImage Courtesy:newindianexpress.com

The Bombay High Court hearing following the untimely death of Father Stan Swamy will now deliberate on the powers of a constitutional court to ensure justice to an under trial when he dies in tragic circumstances while still in custody. The death on July 5 of Father Stan Swamy at Mumbai’s Holy Family hospital has been dubbed an institutional murder because of the callous disregard, obfuscations and negligence by the NIA and Jail authorities regarding his health in the month before he was admitted, following the High Court’s order, to hospital.

Today’s was the second hearing following his demise that led to widespread public grief, outrage and protests. Senior Counsel Mihir Desai, appearing for Father Swamy, put forward four requests before Justice Shinde and Jamdar today:

  • Father Francis Mascarenhas, who was next of kin of Father Swamy, should be allowed to participate in the judicial enquiry;
  • The judicial enquiry behind his death should be done in accordance to the NHRC guidelines;
  • Since Father Stan’s death was in Mumbai, the Magistrate for enquiry under section 176 of the Code of Criminal Procedure be from Mumbai and
  • The report after enquiry to be submitted to the Bombay High Court.

The Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) appearing for the NIA, Anil Singh while agreeing with the first three requests, also argued that since Father Stan is now deceased, as per section 394 of the Code of Criminal procedure, the appeal for his bail needs to be abated. [Section 394 of the CrPC states that every appeal under section 377 and 378 of the Code shall abate on the death of the accused, provided that the appeal is against the accused’s conviction or sentence]. The ASG contended that since Father Stan’s bail applications were neither against sentence or conviction, this could not be kept pending any longer. The Public Prosecutor for the Maharashtra Government, Ms. Aruna Pai agreed with the ASG’s submissions. At this the Court remarked that if the ASG’s request was acceded to, the first three prayers would also lapse.

In response to the NIA, Senior Counsel Desai submitted that the High Court, being a constitutional court has the authority above all to see justice done. He urged that the matter should be kept pending so that the inquiry report behind his death could be placed before the Bench for consideration. He said, “Father Swamy died when the appeal was pending. The High Court is a constitutional court, its powers are very vast….its power’s to do justice is not affected by any situation. The concept of parens patriae (parent of the nation) would apply. The High Court would become the parens patriae in all such cases, it becomes the parent of the deceased.”

The Bench observed that if this matter was disposed of, Mr. Desai’s requests would not arise. Hence, they requested Mr. Desai to submit a short note on the matter to see if this appeal can be converted into a writ petition that would be maintainable. The matter has been posted on August 4, 2021, for consideration.

Meanwhile, the ASG also expressed his dissatisfaction the emotional comments made by the Court at the last hearing.  Singh said, “We have condoled Father Stan’s death. I don’t want to submit anything pertaining to the merits of the case. Any personal or private comments coming from the judges in the open court or law officers in a pending investigation, gets twisted by the press and in the social media.”

On July 19, in widely reported remarks the Bench had said, “I was informed about the timing of the funeral service. Such a wonderful person. The kind of services he has rendered to the society. We have respect for his work. Legally, whatever is there against him is a different matter…We normally don't get time for TV, but we saw this funeral, and it was very graceful.”

The ASG stated that the remarks may adversely affect the reputation of the NIA. At this, the court stated clearly that it had said nothing on the quality of the prosecution, the legal issues, role of the public prosecutor or the ASG. There was no intention to hurt the public prosecutor or the ASG and to that extent, if they were hurt the Court took its words back.

Related:

Jailed Father Stan Swamy dies ahead of his bail hearing
Fr Stan Swamy’s institutional murder
‘Making a game of a person’s death’: Deccan Herald apologises after outrage over Stan Swamy ‘quiz’

 

High Court is parents patriae, father of deceased Fr Stan Swamy: Mihir Desai

The senior counsel was urging the court to ensure a just enquiry into the death of the activist Jesuit priest

Bombay HCImage Courtesy:newindianexpress.com

The Bombay High Court hearing following the untimely death of Father Stan Swamy will now deliberate on the powers of a constitutional court to ensure justice to an under trial when he dies in tragic circumstances while still in custody. The death on July 5 of Father Stan Swamy at Mumbai’s Holy Family hospital has been dubbed an institutional murder because of the callous disregard, obfuscations and negligence by the NIA and Jail authorities regarding his health in the month before he was admitted, following the High Court’s order, to hospital.

Today’s was the second hearing following his demise that led to widespread public grief, outrage and protests. Senior Counsel Mihir Desai, appearing for Father Swamy, put forward four requests before Justice Shinde and Jamdar today:

  • Father Francis Mascarenhas, who was next of kin of Father Swamy, should be allowed to participate in the judicial enquiry;
  • The judicial enquiry behind his death should be done in accordance to the NHRC guidelines;
  • Since Father Stan’s death was in Mumbai, the Magistrate for enquiry under section 176 of the Code of Criminal Procedure be from Mumbai and
  • The report after enquiry to be submitted to the Bombay High Court.

The Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) appearing for the NIA, Anil Singh while agreeing with the first three requests, also argued that since Father Stan is now deceased, as per section 394 of the Code of Criminal procedure, the appeal for his bail needs to be abated. [Section 394 of the CrPC states that every appeal under section 377 and 378 of the Code shall abate on the death of the accused, provided that the appeal is against the accused’s conviction or sentence]. The ASG contended that since Father Stan’s bail applications were neither against sentence or conviction, this could not be kept pending any longer. The Public Prosecutor for the Maharashtra Government, Ms. Aruna Pai agreed with the ASG’s submissions. At this the Court remarked that if the ASG’s request was acceded to, the first three prayers would also lapse.

In response to the NIA, Senior Counsel Desai submitted that the High Court, being a constitutional court has the authority above all to see justice done. He urged that the matter should be kept pending so that the inquiry report behind his death could be placed before the Bench for consideration. He said, “Father Swamy died when the appeal was pending. The High Court is a constitutional court, its powers are very vast….its power’s to do justice is not affected by any situation. The concept of parens patriae (parent of the nation) would apply. The High Court would become the parens patriae in all such cases, it becomes the parent of the deceased.”

The Bench observed that if this matter was disposed of, Mr. Desai’s requests would not arise. Hence, they requested Mr. Desai to submit a short note on the matter to see if this appeal can be converted into a writ petition that would be maintainable. The matter has been posted on August 4, 2021, for consideration.

Meanwhile, the ASG also expressed his dissatisfaction the emotional comments made by the Court at the last hearing.  Singh said, “We have condoled Father Stan’s death. I don’t want to submit anything pertaining to the merits of the case. Any personal or private comments coming from the judges in the open court or law officers in a pending investigation, gets twisted by the press and in the social media.”

On July 19, in widely reported remarks the Bench had said, “I was informed about the timing of the funeral service. Such a wonderful person. The kind of services he has rendered to the society. We have respect for his work. Legally, whatever is there against him is a different matter…We normally don't get time for TV, but we saw this funeral, and it was very graceful.”

The ASG stated that the remarks may adversely affect the reputation of the NIA. At this, the court stated clearly that it had said nothing on the quality of the prosecution, the legal issues, role of the public prosecutor or the ASG. There was no intention to hurt the public prosecutor or the ASG and to that extent, if they were hurt the Court took its words back.

Related:

Jailed Father Stan Swamy dies ahead of his bail hearing
Fr Stan Swamy’s institutional murder
‘Making a game of a person’s death’: Deccan Herald apologises after outrage over Stan Swamy ‘quiz’

 

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Why has India still not ratified UN Convention against torture?

India still does not have a law condemning torture

23 Jul 2021

IndiaImage Courtesy:economictimes.indiatimes.com

What continues to remain amiss in the Indian legislations is the definition, and subsequent condemnation of torture by public officials. A right against torture is nothing but an affirmation of Right to Life under Article 21. However, enforcing fundamental rights is a much more tedious task than invoking the provisions of the specific law, which is always more accessible. Thus arises the question why India has not yet ratified the UN Convention against Torture and why there is no law adhering to the same.

On July 20, Lok Sabha member Ritesh Pandey of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) questioned the Ministry of Home Affairs on whether it plans to rehabilitate Rohingya Muslims seeking refuge in India and whether denying them legal status is in contravention to any UN treaties or convention that it has ratified.

The Ministry responded that Rohingyas were illegal migrants and hence they pose a threat to the nation, while there also being reports of them indulging in illegal activities. The question also pertained to whether denying rehabilitation to these refugees violated the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) or the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Ministry conceded that while India had signed UNCAT, it had not ratified it, and it did accede to ICCPR in 1979.

The answer given in Lok Sabha may be read here:

The UNCAT or the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was the result of many years’ work, initiated soon after the adoption of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the “Torture Declaration”). India signed it but did not ratify it. This means that a representative of India at that time signed the document but the same has not been affirmed by the State (nation) in order for it to be binding as per international law. Thus, UNCAT cannot be invoked at any international fora against any activities that come under the definition of torture or cruelty in the country.

How does the issue of refuge seeking Rohingyas from Myanmar being declared as illegal migrants connect with the convention against torture? In simple terms, when a person is found to be an illegal migrant, law states that they can be confined to a place by the government which usually translates to detention camps. The conditions of detention camps and the way these non-citizens are to be treated is not governed by any law and thus human rights come into play. Any country that is run by a democratically elected government cannot be averse to safeguarding human rights. Thus, India’s non-ratification of UNCAT in 1997 is quite appalling.

Why is UNCAT such a big deal?

To begin with, for any international convention that a country signs, it has to indicate to the related Committee what measures it has taken to bring to effect the undertakings of the convention. Thus, ratifying the UNCAT would mean that India would have had to take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture.

The undertakings prescribed under UNCAT require the State to ensure that its authorities make investigations when there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed and to ensure that acts of torture are serious criminal offences within its legal system. Most importantly, and the one undertaking that remains pertinent is that the State cannot expel or extradite a person to a State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture. It is extremely important to delineate here the 2019 amendment to the Citizenship Act which eases up grant of citizenship to non-Muslim communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh and the motive behind it was that they seek refuge here due to religious persecution. The same rationale when not implied to Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar where they are being persecuted due to their religion and are being subjected to torture, shows a clear bias of the government and its selective adherence to human rights.

What if India ratified UNCAT?

Ratifying UNCAT would mean that India would have had to pass the Prevention of Torture Bill that was first introduced by the UPA II government in 2010. The bill defined torture as: an act by a public servant or by a persons with acquiescence of a public servant, causes grievous hurt or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical). It proposed punishment of minimum 3 years which may be extended to 10 years and fine, for torture inflicted for purpose of extorting confession, or for punishing or on the ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground.

The 273rd Law Commission report released in 2017 suggested, among other things, payment of compensation to victims of torture keeping in mind socio-economic background of the victim, nature, purpose, extent and manner of injury, including mental agony caused to the victim such as the amount suffices the victim to bear the expenses on medical treatment and rehabilitation. The Commission had also observed that tolerance of police atrocities, amounts to acceptance of systematic subversion and erosion of the rule of law and that it is not permissible whether it occurs during investigation, interrogation or otherwise.

India’s refusal to ratify UNCAT and its unwillingness to have any law that condemns torture only makes its fealty to the doctrine of sovereign immunity apparent. The doctrine of sovereign immunity is a concept of common law principle consistently followed in British jurisprudence in last several centuries that ‘King commits no wrong’ and has evolved on the principle of sovereignty that a State cannot be sued in its own court.

The courts’ take on torture

In D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal AIR 1997 SC 610, the Supreme Court had observed, “Torture has not been defined in the Constitution or in other penal laws. 'Torture' of a human being by another human being is essentially an instrument to impose the will of the 'strong' over the 'weak' by suffering. The word torture today has become synonymous with the darker side of the human civilisation”.

The judgement may be read here:

In Raghubir Singh v. State of Haryana 1980 AIR 1087 , a case where the violence employed by the police to extract a confession resulted in death of a person suspected of theft, the court had passed severe remarks “We are deeply disturbed by the diabolical recurrence of police torture resulting in terrible scare in the minds of common citizens that their lives and liberty are under a new peril when the guardians of law gore human rights to death.”

The judgement may be read here:

In another case, State of U.P. v. Ram Sagar Yadav 1985 AIR 416, the Supreme Court dealt with a case where the policemen murdered one Brijlal who not only refused to pay a bribe of Rs.100 in a trivial matter of cattle trespass but also complained about demand of bribe to senior police officers. The Court observed that “Police officers alone and none else can give evidence as regards the circumstances in which a person in their custody comes to receive injuries while in their custody... The result is that persons on whom atrocities are perpetrated by the police in the sanctum sanctorum of the police station are left without any evidence to prove who the offenders are.” The Court recommended that the “law as to the burden of proof in such cases may be re-examined by the legislature so that handmaids of law and order do not use their authority and opportunities for oppressing the innocent citizens who look to them for protection.”

The judgement may be read here:

Torture and Indian laws

The only record that is indicative of torture is the number of custodial deaths released every year in Crimes in India report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) annually. However, death in judicial or state’s custody is an extremely poor measure of torture even if custodial deaths are always met with impunity of the officials, without much ado. Naturally, this is because there is no law in place to enforce criminal cases against agents of the government.

The UNCAT defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

While there are some safeguards against torture in Indian law, they are seldom taken seriously and enforced. For instance, section 54 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) extends safeguard against any infliction of custodial torture and violence by providing for examination of arrested person by medical officer and section 176 of the Code provides for compulsory magisterial inquiry on the death of the accused in police custody.

It can be unequivocally said that a democratic country ought to safeguard human rights and thus cannot be tolerant of any form of torture to human life. It takes an accountable and responsible government to recognize the iniquities within its system with the clear intent of upholding basic human rights as well as the right to life enshrined under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Law Commissions have over the years pushed for a legislation penalizing torture by public officials but the discourse around it has died down and needs to be reinvigorated as a fight for human rights.

The UN Convention against Torture may be read here:

Related:

Prevention of torture Bill - the forgotten law
Ratify Convention Against Torture, Enact Prevention of Torture Bill, 2017: Law Commission
Ratify the convention against custodial torture: SC Adv Nitya Ramakrishnan
Genesis of Rights against handcuffs in India

Why has India still not ratified UN Convention against torture?

India still does not have a law condemning torture

IndiaImage Courtesy:economictimes.indiatimes.com

What continues to remain amiss in the Indian legislations is the definition, and subsequent condemnation of torture by public officials. A right against torture is nothing but an affirmation of Right to Life under Article 21. However, enforcing fundamental rights is a much more tedious task than invoking the provisions of the specific law, which is always more accessible. Thus arises the question why India has not yet ratified the UN Convention against Torture and why there is no law adhering to the same.

On July 20, Lok Sabha member Ritesh Pandey of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) questioned the Ministry of Home Affairs on whether it plans to rehabilitate Rohingya Muslims seeking refuge in India and whether denying them legal status is in contravention to any UN treaties or convention that it has ratified.

The Ministry responded that Rohingyas were illegal migrants and hence they pose a threat to the nation, while there also being reports of them indulging in illegal activities. The question also pertained to whether denying rehabilitation to these refugees violated the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) or the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Ministry conceded that while India had signed UNCAT, it had not ratified it, and it did accede to ICCPR in 1979.

The answer given in Lok Sabha may be read here:

The UNCAT or the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was the result of many years’ work, initiated soon after the adoption of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the “Torture Declaration”). India signed it but did not ratify it. This means that a representative of India at that time signed the document but the same has not been affirmed by the State (nation) in order for it to be binding as per international law. Thus, UNCAT cannot be invoked at any international fora against any activities that come under the definition of torture or cruelty in the country.

How does the issue of refuge seeking Rohingyas from Myanmar being declared as illegal migrants connect with the convention against torture? In simple terms, when a person is found to be an illegal migrant, law states that they can be confined to a place by the government which usually translates to detention camps. The conditions of detention camps and the way these non-citizens are to be treated is not governed by any law and thus human rights come into play. Any country that is run by a democratically elected government cannot be averse to safeguarding human rights. Thus, India’s non-ratification of UNCAT in 1997 is quite appalling.

Why is UNCAT such a big deal?

To begin with, for any international convention that a country signs, it has to indicate to the related Committee what measures it has taken to bring to effect the undertakings of the convention. Thus, ratifying the UNCAT would mean that India would have had to take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture.

The undertakings prescribed under UNCAT require the State to ensure that its authorities make investigations when there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed and to ensure that acts of torture are serious criminal offences within its legal system. Most importantly, and the one undertaking that remains pertinent is that the State cannot expel or extradite a person to a State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture. It is extremely important to delineate here the 2019 amendment to the Citizenship Act which eases up grant of citizenship to non-Muslim communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh and the motive behind it was that they seek refuge here due to religious persecution. The same rationale when not implied to Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar where they are being persecuted due to their religion and are being subjected to torture, shows a clear bias of the government and its selective adherence to human rights.

What if India ratified UNCAT?

Ratifying UNCAT would mean that India would have had to pass the Prevention of Torture Bill that was first introduced by the UPA II government in 2010. The bill defined torture as: an act by a public servant or by a persons with acquiescence of a public servant, causes grievous hurt or danger to life, limb or health (whether mental or physical). It proposed punishment of minimum 3 years which may be extended to 10 years and fine, for torture inflicted for purpose of extorting confession, or for punishing or on the ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground.

The 273rd Law Commission report released in 2017 suggested, among other things, payment of compensation to victims of torture keeping in mind socio-economic background of the victim, nature, purpose, extent and manner of injury, including mental agony caused to the victim such as the amount suffices the victim to bear the expenses on medical treatment and rehabilitation. The Commission had also observed that tolerance of police atrocities, amounts to acceptance of systematic subversion and erosion of the rule of law and that it is not permissible whether it occurs during investigation, interrogation or otherwise.

India’s refusal to ratify UNCAT and its unwillingness to have any law that condemns torture only makes its fealty to the doctrine of sovereign immunity apparent. The doctrine of sovereign immunity is a concept of common law principle consistently followed in British jurisprudence in last several centuries that ‘King commits no wrong’ and has evolved on the principle of sovereignty that a State cannot be sued in its own court.

The courts’ take on torture

In D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal AIR 1997 SC 610, the Supreme Court had observed, “Torture has not been defined in the Constitution or in other penal laws. 'Torture' of a human being by another human being is essentially an instrument to impose the will of the 'strong' over the 'weak' by suffering. The word torture today has become synonymous with the darker side of the human civilisation”.

The judgement may be read here:

In Raghubir Singh v. State of Haryana 1980 AIR 1087 , a case where the violence employed by the police to extract a confession resulted in death of a person suspected of theft, the court had passed severe remarks “We are deeply disturbed by the diabolical recurrence of police torture resulting in terrible scare in the minds of common citizens that their lives and liberty are under a new peril when the guardians of law gore human rights to death.”

The judgement may be read here:

In another case, State of U.P. v. Ram Sagar Yadav 1985 AIR 416, the Supreme Court dealt with a case where the policemen murdered one Brijlal who not only refused to pay a bribe of Rs.100 in a trivial matter of cattle trespass but also complained about demand of bribe to senior police officers. The Court observed that “Police officers alone and none else can give evidence as regards the circumstances in which a person in their custody comes to receive injuries while in their custody... The result is that persons on whom atrocities are perpetrated by the police in the sanctum sanctorum of the police station are left without any evidence to prove who the offenders are.” The Court recommended that the “law as to the burden of proof in such cases may be re-examined by the legislature so that handmaids of law and order do not use their authority and opportunities for oppressing the innocent citizens who look to them for protection.”

The judgement may be read here:

Torture and Indian laws

The only record that is indicative of torture is the number of custodial deaths released every year in Crimes in India report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) annually. However, death in judicial or state’s custody is an extremely poor measure of torture even if custodial deaths are always met with impunity of the officials, without much ado. Naturally, this is because there is no law in place to enforce criminal cases against agents of the government.

The UNCAT defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

While there are some safeguards against torture in Indian law, they are seldom taken seriously and enforced. For instance, section 54 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) extends safeguard against any infliction of custodial torture and violence by providing for examination of arrested person by medical officer and section 176 of the Code provides for compulsory magisterial inquiry on the death of the accused in police custody.

It can be unequivocally said that a democratic country ought to safeguard human rights and thus cannot be tolerant of any form of torture to human life. It takes an accountable and responsible government to recognize the iniquities within its system with the clear intent of upholding basic human rights as well as the right to life enshrined under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Law Commissions have over the years pushed for a legislation penalizing torture by public officials but the discourse around it has died down and needs to be reinvigorated as a fight for human rights.

The UN Convention against Torture may be read here:

Related:

Prevention of torture Bill - the forgotten law
Ratify Convention Against Torture, Enact Prevention of Torture Bill, 2017: Law Commission
Ratify the convention against custodial torture: SC Adv Nitya Ramakrishnan
Genesis of Rights against handcuffs in India

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No data on witnesses killed, turned hostile: Centre in Lok Sabha

The MoS Home Affairs, has answered in the Lok Sabha that data on witnesses killed is not centrally maintained

20 Jul 2021

Data

“Details of witnesses killed and cases in which accused were set free due to adverse attitude of witnesses are not maintained centrally”, answered Nityanand Rai, the Minister of State for Home Affairs.

Indian Politician Jayadev Galla asked the minister whether there exists any data on such witnesses and whether the Witness Protection scheme provides only three months of protection to witnesses. To the latter part of the question, Mr. Rai answered, “The Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 provides that the witness protection measures ordered shall be proportionate to the threat and shall be for a specific duration not exceeding three months at a time. The duration of protection is thus, not restricted to three months. The same can be extended by the Competent Authority keeping in view the threat perception.”

This answer comes at a crucial time when the Witness Protection Scheme of 2018 has been gathering dust and instances of witnesses getting killed or turning hostile have been increasing. Recently, the family and lawyers of the 19-year-old Dalit girl who was allegedly gang raped and murdered in Hathras last year, was threatened before the Special Court in Hathras on March 5, 2021, where the trial is pending.

In an affidavit submitted before the Allahabad High Court, an advocate named Tarun Hari Sharma, stormed into the court room and charged towards the victim’s family and their lawyers, allegedly shouting and issuing threats. Amidst the barrage of threats extended to them, the trial was interrupted and the family’s counsel Seema could not represent them. The affidavit also states that on account of this ruckus created by Advocate Tarun Sharma and the mob, the witnesses could not properly depose on account of fear for their lives and security, and that there was a clear attempt to hinder the trial, as SabrangIndia had reported previously.

In another instance, a key witness in two separate murder cases was shot dead near Hakimganj under Kiul police station area in Bihar’s Lakhisarai in March this year, reported The Times of India. In January 2020, a woman from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh was beaten to death allegedly by men who were facing trial for molesting her 13-year-old daughter. In June this year, one Suresh, a private school owner, was reportedly shot dead while walking. According to some media reports, he was a prime witness in his nephew’s murder case, who was stabbed to death outside Neki Ram College in Rohtak, Haryana in 2018.

The need for witness protection has been highlighted in many judgments of the Supreme Court, especially cases like Sakshi v. Union of India (2004), where the court took extraordinary measures to ensure protection of the witness. It said, “The mere sight of the accused may induce an element of extreme fear in the mind of the victim or the witnesses or can put them in a state of shock. In such a situation he or she may not be able to give full details of the incident which may result in miscarriage of justice. Therefore, a screen or some such arrangement can be made where the victim or witness do not have to undergo the trauma of seeing the body or face of the accused.”

But the most instrumental piece of law in witness protection remains the case of Mahender Chawla & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 156 of 2016], which laid down a Witness Protection Scheme that was also endorsed by the government in the Rajya Sabha in July 2019. But even after 3 years of its existence, very little has been done about its implementation.

The answer may be read here: 

Related:

Hathras case: Victim’s family and lawyers threatened inside court premises
Witness Protection in India: an idea gathering dust
Witness Protection

No data on witnesses killed, turned hostile: Centre in Lok Sabha

The MoS Home Affairs, has answered in the Lok Sabha that data on witnesses killed is not centrally maintained

Data

“Details of witnesses killed and cases in which accused were set free due to adverse attitude of witnesses are not maintained centrally”, answered Nityanand Rai, the Minister of State for Home Affairs.

Indian Politician Jayadev Galla asked the minister whether there exists any data on such witnesses and whether the Witness Protection scheme provides only three months of protection to witnesses. To the latter part of the question, Mr. Rai answered, “The Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 provides that the witness protection measures ordered shall be proportionate to the threat and shall be for a specific duration not exceeding three months at a time. The duration of protection is thus, not restricted to three months. The same can be extended by the Competent Authority keeping in view the threat perception.”

This answer comes at a crucial time when the Witness Protection Scheme of 2018 has been gathering dust and instances of witnesses getting killed or turning hostile have been increasing. Recently, the family and lawyers of the 19-year-old Dalit girl who was allegedly gang raped and murdered in Hathras last year, was threatened before the Special Court in Hathras on March 5, 2021, where the trial is pending.

In an affidavit submitted before the Allahabad High Court, an advocate named Tarun Hari Sharma, stormed into the court room and charged towards the victim’s family and their lawyers, allegedly shouting and issuing threats. Amidst the barrage of threats extended to them, the trial was interrupted and the family’s counsel Seema could not represent them. The affidavit also states that on account of this ruckus created by Advocate Tarun Sharma and the mob, the witnesses could not properly depose on account of fear for their lives and security, and that there was a clear attempt to hinder the trial, as SabrangIndia had reported previously.

In another instance, a key witness in two separate murder cases was shot dead near Hakimganj under Kiul police station area in Bihar’s Lakhisarai in March this year, reported The Times of India. In January 2020, a woman from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh was beaten to death allegedly by men who were facing trial for molesting her 13-year-old daughter. In June this year, one Suresh, a private school owner, was reportedly shot dead while walking. According to some media reports, he was a prime witness in his nephew’s murder case, who was stabbed to death outside Neki Ram College in Rohtak, Haryana in 2018.

The need for witness protection has been highlighted in many judgments of the Supreme Court, especially cases like Sakshi v. Union of India (2004), where the court took extraordinary measures to ensure protection of the witness. It said, “The mere sight of the accused may induce an element of extreme fear in the mind of the victim or the witnesses or can put them in a state of shock. In such a situation he or she may not be able to give full details of the incident which may result in miscarriage of justice. Therefore, a screen or some such arrangement can be made where the victim or witness do not have to undergo the trauma of seeing the body or face of the accused.”

But the most instrumental piece of law in witness protection remains the case of Mahender Chawla & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 156 of 2016], which laid down a Witness Protection Scheme that was also endorsed by the government in the Rajya Sabha in July 2019. But even after 3 years of its existence, very little has been done about its implementation.

The answer may be read here: 

Related:

Hathras case: Victim’s family and lawyers threatened inside court premises
Witness Protection in India: an idea gathering dust
Witness Protection

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Guj gov’t faces heat for submitting report on fire safety in hospitals to SC in sealed cover

Pressure has been mounting to ensure higher safety standards since the tragic Shrey Hospital fire of August 2020

19 Jul 2021

Fire safetyImage Courtesy:deccanherald.com

The Supreme Court has come down heavily on the Gujarat government for a series of decisions regarding fire safety that appear to be contempt of court. The court also appeared flummoxed at the state government’s decision to submit its report in a sealed cover.

“What is this report in sealed cover? It is not a nuclear secret,” Justice DY Chandrachud was quoted as saying by Bar&Bench. Justice Chandrachud was hearing the case along with Justice MR Shah. The court also took umbrage to the state government’s decision to issue an executive notification that hospitals will not be required to adhere to fire safety norms till 2022.

The Bench slammed the state government, reportedly saying, “Once a mandamus is there, it cannot be overridden by an executive notification like this! You now give a carte blanche and say hospitals don't have to adhere till 2022 and people will continue dying and be burnt...”

The Court has hearing a suo moto case concerning fire tragedies at Covid Hospitals after two cases in Rajkot and Ahmedabad. SabrangIndia had previously reported on the fire that broke out in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Ahmedabad’s Shrey Hospital leading to the deaths of eight Covid-19 patients on August 6, 2020. Advocate Suhel Tirmizi, whose wife Ayesha was one of the victims, had filed a PIL demanding accountability be fixed on various state and hospital authorities. Then in November 2020, another inferno, this time at a Rajkot Covid care hospital claimed five lives.

Two significant orders by the Gujarat HC

Following this, the Gujarat High Court had passed two significant orders. On December 15, 2020, while passing orders in a batch of Public Interest Litigations (PIL) in connection with the Shrey Hospital fire case, the Gujarat High Court had made a series of pertinent observations and passed orders that are bound to have a far-reaching impact.

The court ordered the State of Gujarat “to enact a consolidated Code/Act/Guidelines for fire safety requirement for clinical establishments/hospitals of all kinds setting out minimum standards of fire safety standards to be maintained by clinical establishments/ hospitals such as across the State of Gujarat.” It also directed the state government “to frame rules and guidelines for fire safety in ICU wards of the hospitals.”

It further ordered all respondent authorities “to comply with the provisions of Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2013 strictly in clinical establishments such as Hospital/Nursing Homes/ School buildings of the city of Ahmedabad.”

Significantly, it also directed respondent authorities “to make mandatory installation of sprinkles and a fire extinguisher in every room/ward of every Hospital/Nursing Home irrespective of its height with a view to protect lives of innocent and infirm patients who are not capable of escaping any disaster in case of emergency situations.”

Then on February 26, 2021, the court ordered that all Municipal Corporations mentioned in the PIL be served notice. It further ordered, “We direct all the Municipal Corporations to place on C/WPPIL/118/2020 ORDER record by way of an affidavit, a list of all the high rise buildings

-15 metres and 18 metres in height, special buildings, schools, hospitals, industries and factories within the jurisdictional limits of all the Municipal Corporations :

a. Which have a valid and subsisting No Objection Certificate with regard to the Fire Prevention and Protection Systems in the State of Gujarat ;

AND b. Which do not have a valid and subsisting No Objection Certificate with regard to the Fire Prevention and Protection Systems in the State of Gujarat”

The Court had ordered, “Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is directed to place on record by way of an affidavit, the details of all the private hospitals which have not complied with the directions issued in Paragraph No. 23(14) of our earlier Order dated 15.12.2020” and that it was “directed to place on record the photocopies of the No Objection Certificates issued to all the hospitals located within the jurisdictional limits of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation signed and certified by the Competent Authority within a period of 10 days from the date of the receipt of this order. One set of such photocopies shall also be furnished to the party-in-person.”

Specifically, when it came to reopening the Shrey Hospital, the court had on February 26, 2021 ordered, “The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is directed not to remove or open the seals applied at the premises of the Shrey Hospital without the permission of this Court and shall not permit the Management to once again start with the functioning of the Hospital without the permission of this Court.”

The case in the Supreme Court

Following the Rajkot fire at the Uday Shivananda Hospital the SC took suo moto cognizance, and in the case titled, In Re: Proper Treatment of COVID-19 Patients and Dignified Handling of Dead Bodies in the Hospitals, etc., asked the government via an order passed on December 9, 2020, to submit a report comprising data from all states on fire safety audits carried out in hospitals.

Meanwhile, little changed on the ground as yet another fire broke out in the ICU of the Bharuch Welfare Hospital in May this year, killing 18 people. Meanwhile, the Gujarat government issued an executive notification that gave a virtual carte blanche to hospitals by allowing them to function without adhering to fire safety norms till June 2022, and that no action will be taken against them till then. Given the number of lives lost and the direct involvement of the highest court in the country, this notification showcased the Gujarat government’s impunity.

Bar&Bench quoted Justice Shah as saying, “40 hospitals in Gujarat were held liable and they came to High Court. Later, government order was that no action should be taken against hospitals for violation of fire safety. Such an order is a contempt of this court.”

The case has been adjourned for two weeks.

To be updated with order copy.

Related:

Guj HC slams state gov’t for lax attitude to fire safety
Gujarat: 18 Covid patients killed in Bharuch hospital fire!
Shrey Hospital Fire: Guj HC bats for greater accountability
SC takes suo moto cognisance of Rajkot Covid Hospital fire
Shrey Hospital Fire: Four months on, no evidence yet!
8 killed in Ahmedabad Covid-19 Hospital Fire
Another fatal inferno in Gujarat Covid hospital!

Guj gov’t faces heat for submitting report on fire safety in hospitals to SC in sealed cover

Pressure has been mounting to ensure higher safety standards since the tragic Shrey Hospital fire of August 2020

Fire safetyImage Courtesy:deccanherald.com

The Supreme Court has come down heavily on the Gujarat government for a series of decisions regarding fire safety that appear to be contempt of court. The court also appeared flummoxed at the state government’s decision to submit its report in a sealed cover.

“What is this report in sealed cover? It is not a nuclear secret,” Justice DY Chandrachud was quoted as saying by Bar&Bench. Justice Chandrachud was hearing the case along with Justice MR Shah. The court also took umbrage to the state government’s decision to issue an executive notification that hospitals will not be required to adhere to fire safety norms till 2022.

The Bench slammed the state government, reportedly saying, “Once a mandamus is there, it cannot be overridden by an executive notification like this! You now give a carte blanche and say hospitals don't have to adhere till 2022 and people will continue dying and be burnt...”

The Court has hearing a suo moto case concerning fire tragedies at Covid Hospitals after two cases in Rajkot and Ahmedabad. SabrangIndia had previously reported on the fire that broke out in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Ahmedabad’s Shrey Hospital leading to the deaths of eight Covid-19 patients on August 6, 2020. Advocate Suhel Tirmizi, whose wife Ayesha was one of the victims, had filed a PIL demanding accountability be fixed on various state and hospital authorities. Then in November 2020, another inferno, this time at a Rajkot Covid care hospital claimed five lives.

Two significant orders by the Gujarat HC

Following this, the Gujarat High Court had passed two significant orders. On December 15, 2020, while passing orders in a batch of Public Interest Litigations (PIL) in connection with the Shrey Hospital fire case, the Gujarat High Court had made a series of pertinent observations and passed orders that are bound to have a far-reaching impact.

The court ordered the State of Gujarat “to enact a consolidated Code/Act/Guidelines for fire safety requirement for clinical establishments/hospitals of all kinds setting out minimum standards of fire safety standards to be maintained by clinical establishments/ hospitals such as across the State of Gujarat.” It also directed the state government “to frame rules and guidelines for fire safety in ICU wards of the hospitals.”

It further ordered all respondent authorities “to comply with the provisions of Gujarat Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2013 strictly in clinical establishments such as Hospital/Nursing Homes/ School buildings of the city of Ahmedabad.”

Significantly, it also directed respondent authorities “to make mandatory installation of sprinkles and a fire extinguisher in every room/ward of every Hospital/Nursing Home irrespective of its height with a view to protect lives of innocent and infirm patients who are not capable of escaping any disaster in case of emergency situations.”

Then on February 26, 2021, the court ordered that all Municipal Corporations mentioned in the PIL be served notice. It further ordered, “We direct all the Municipal Corporations to place on C/WPPIL/118/2020 ORDER record by way of an affidavit, a list of all the high rise buildings

-15 metres and 18 metres in height, special buildings, schools, hospitals, industries and factories within the jurisdictional limits of all the Municipal Corporations :

a. Which have a valid and subsisting No Objection Certificate with regard to the Fire Prevention and Protection Systems in the State of Gujarat ;

AND b. Which do not have a valid and subsisting No Objection Certificate with regard to the Fire Prevention and Protection Systems in the State of Gujarat”

The Court had ordered, “Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is directed to place on record by way of an affidavit, the details of all the private hospitals which have not complied with the directions issued in Paragraph No. 23(14) of our earlier Order dated 15.12.2020” and that it was “directed to place on record the photocopies of the No Objection Certificates issued to all the hospitals located within the jurisdictional limits of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation signed and certified by the Competent Authority within a period of 10 days from the date of the receipt of this order. One set of such photocopies shall also be furnished to the party-in-person.”

Specifically, when it came to reopening the Shrey Hospital, the court had on February 26, 2021 ordered, “The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is directed not to remove or open the seals applied at the premises of the Shrey Hospital without the permission of this Court and shall not permit the Management to once again start with the functioning of the Hospital without the permission of this Court.”

The case in the Supreme Court

Following the Rajkot fire at the Uday Shivananda Hospital the SC took suo moto cognizance, and in the case titled, In Re: Proper Treatment of COVID-19 Patients and Dignified Handling of Dead Bodies in the Hospitals, etc., asked the government via an order passed on December 9, 2020, to submit a report comprising data from all states on fire safety audits carried out in hospitals.

Meanwhile, little changed on the ground as yet another fire broke out in the ICU of the Bharuch Welfare Hospital in May this year, killing 18 people. Meanwhile, the Gujarat government issued an executive notification that gave a virtual carte blanche to hospitals by allowing them to function without adhering to fire safety norms till June 2022, and that no action will be taken against them till then. Given the number of lives lost and the direct involvement of the highest court in the country, this notification showcased the Gujarat government’s impunity.

Bar&Bench quoted Justice Shah as saying, “40 hospitals in Gujarat were held liable and they came to High Court. Later, government order was that no action should be taken against hospitals for violation of fire safety. Such an order is a contempt of this court.”

The case has been adjourned for two weeks.

To be updated with order copy.

Related:

Guj HC slams state gov’t for lax attitude to fire safety
Gujarat: 18 Covid patients killed in Bharuch hospital fire!
Shrey Hospital Fire: Guj HC bats for greater accountability
SC takes suo moto cognisance of Rajkot Covid Hospital fire
Shrey Hospital Fire: Four months on, no evidence yet!
8 killed in Ahmedabad Covid-19 Hospital Fire
Another fatal inferno in Gujarat Covid hospital!

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Why was Dr. Anand Teltumbde denied bail by the NIA court?

The Special NIA court held that there was prima facie evidence against the Bhima Koregaon accused

17 Jul 2021

Image Courtesy:freepressjournal.in

Dr. Anand Teltumbde, who is booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the Bhima Koregaon case, will continue to remain in Taloja jail after the Special NIA court rejected his bail plea on July 12. He was arrested on April 14, last year. On July 15, the jailed Dalit scholar turned 70.

Judge D.E. Kothalikar said, “The courts considering the bail application are required to maintain fine balance between the societal interest vis-à-vis personal liberty of the accused, by adhering to the fundamental principle of Criminal Jurisprudence”.

The same Special NIA judge had rejected Father Stan’s bail on medical grounds in March this year. Ignoring his deteriorating health conditions and advanced Parkinson’s Disease, Judge Kothalikar had held that, “The collective interest of the community outweighs his personal liberty and also the alleged sickness he suffers”.

Elgar Parishad violence

The NIA court in Mumbai held that even though Anand Teltumbde was invited for a wedding on December 31, 2017, one day before the Elgar parishad event at Bhima Koregaon, “Considering the fact that the name of the applicant appeared in the invitation card and that the applicant had gone to Shaniwar Wada, the place at which the event of Elgar Parishad was organised, goes to prima facie suggest that the applicant was also connected with the Elgar Parishad.”

Further, the court also said, “Upon perusal of the documents, including the exchange of emails and the statements of the witnesses relied upon by the prosecution, and after cross-checking the truthfulness of the allegations made against the applicant, this court does not find that the accusations are inherently improbable or wholly unbelievable.”

Educational qualifications

Dr. Teltumbde relied heavily on his academic qualifications while arguing for bail. He holds the qualification of B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from VNIT, Nagpur, MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, and D. Litt from Karnataka State University, Mysore. He was also the Executive Director of Bharat Petroleum, and Managing Director and CEO of Petronet India Limited up to 2010. He has also been invited as a Professor of Management by IIT, Kharagpur.

The order recorded that, “He has written extensively in all leading newspapers, magazines, organizational pamphlets and booklets and lectured widely in India. He has authored several books. He was associated with the People's struggle, particularly labour class. He has contributed to the respected social science journal, Economic and Political Weekly and written columns. Presently, he is a senior professor, Big Data Analytics, Goa Institute of Management.”

But the court refused arguments of him being widely respected in his field. Since the court ruled that there was prime facie evidence against him, the order read, “the contention of the applicant that his educational qualification and social background, needs to be considered while deciding bail application, is liable to be discarded.”

Material against Dr. Teltumbde

The National Investigation Agency alleged that the material from Dr. Anand’s laptop, computers, pen drives, memory cards were “shocking” and implicates him to an extent that establishes that he was not only an active member of the banned organisation CPI (Maoist), but clearly reflected the ongoing sinister design of committing an offence that would destabilise the society.

The NIA submitted that the investigation revealed a “deep rooted conspiracy” to create disharmony to strike terror in people’s minds with the intent to threaten the unity and integrity of India. Hence, sections 13 (punishment for unlawful activities), 16 (punishment for terrorist act), 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act), 18 (punishment for conspiracy), 18B (punishment for recruiting a person for a terrorist act), 20 (punishment for being a member of a banned organisation), 38 (offence related to being a member of a banned organisation), 39 (offence related to giving support to a terrorist organisation) and 40 (offence of raising fund for a terrorist organisation) of the UAPA were added against him.

The documents on record included a letter allegedly written by one ‘Prakash’ to ‘Anand’, that was recovered from co-accused Rona Wilson’s laptop. The letter mentions “Anand’s visit to Paris for Human Rights Convention to be held on April 9 and 10, 2018 and lectures on Dalit issues in order to give traction to domestic chaos.” The prosecution claimed that the letter mentioned to “keep the fire ablaze”.

Judge Kothalikar noted that the prosecution had claimed that during the said period of domestic chaos related to the Dalit issue, was only the incident relating to the Bhima Koregaon incident. “The very statement made in the letter that all PM’s and intellectual comrades must strive to keep the fire ablaze, goes to prima facie indicate that the applicant was involved in furthering activities of the banned organisation”, alleged the prosecution.

The court relied heavily on the documents/letters recovered from Rona Wilson’s laptop to accept the prosecution’s argument that prima facie Teltumbde was an active member of the banned CPI (Maoist) organisation. It is noteworthy that an American Consultancy firm had released a report stating that the alleged incriminating material found on Rona Wilson and most recently co-accused Surendra Gadling’s laptop, was planted. It has unearthed evidence that 14 key files mentioned in the chargesheet against activist and lawyer Surendra Gadling were planted on his hard drive using Netwire, the very same malware that was used to plant false evidence on a laptop belonging to Rona Wilson. Wilson has approached the Bombay High Court seeking formation of an SIT to investigate the planting of these documents on his laptop.

The court also ruled that Anand was not only prima facie involved in activities of a banned organisation but also assisted his own brother Milind Teltumbde, who is a wanted Maoist leader and the Secretary of the Maharashtra State Committee of CPI (Maoist).

Allegations in the chargesheet

Furthermore, the Special NIA court also noted the chargesheet filed against Teltumbde and 13 other accused in the case. The chargesheet states that they conspired to mobilise masses to spread disaffection against the government through provocative speeches, plays, songs, and that they had incited feelings of hatred among communities that led to the violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.

The court further perused the chargesheet and recorded in its order that the Bhima Koregaon incident was just a part of the larger conspiracy and that the NIA’s investigation has revealed that “funds were provided by the banned organization through their members and that the students from eminent educational institutes were taken to forest area occupied by Maoist guerrilla and were given training for terrorist activities.”

The court thus held, “I do not find merit in the contention raised by the learned advocate of the applicant (Anand Teltumbde) that the material placed on record does not prima facie make out a case for the offences punishable under UAPA.”

The restriction on bail provisions under Section 43 D (5) of the UAPA makes it impossible for any person seeking regular bail to do so before or even after the chargesheet is filed. This section existed before as Section 20 (8) under TADA and then Section 49(7) in POTA.

Under the UAPA, despite provisions for bail that exist in Indian criminal law, an exception is made under Section 43 D (5): bail is an impossibility unless “the public prosecutor is heard” and if “the court, after perusal of the case diary, is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing the accusation against person is prima facie true”. This section, which turns Indian criminal law on its head, received the untenable judicial stamp of approval in April 2019 in National Investigation Agency vs Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, which has adversely impacted the accepted doctrine on bail, holding essentially that the accused must remain in custody throughout the period of the trial because the courts must assume every allegation made in the first information report (FIR) to be correct.

The same Watali judgment was relied upon by Judge Kothalikar, who looked at the available documents against Dr. Teltumbde and took its contents into account “as it is” without opining on the admissibility of the materials at the stage of granting bail. Out of the 16 accused and jailed in this case, Father Stan Swamy died awaiting bail on July 5 and Dr. Varavara Rao is currently out on medical bail.

The judgment may be read here:

Related:

Another bullet from Arsenal pierces through NIA’s Bhima Koregaon case!
The institutional murder of Father Stan Swamy
Bhima Koregaon: Anand Teltumbde files bail plea before Special court

Why was Dr. Anand Teltumbde denied bail by the NIA court?

The Special NIA court held that there was prima facie evidence against the Bhima Koregaon accused

Image Courtesy:freepressjournal.in

Dr. Anand Teltumbde, who is booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in the Bhima Koregaon case, will continue to remain in Taloja jail after the Special NIA court rejected his bail plea on July 12. He was arrested on April 14, last year. On July 15, the jailed Dalit scholar turned 70.

Judge D.E. Kothalikar said, “The courts considering the bail application are required to maintain fine balance between the societal interest vis-à-vis personal liberty of the accused, by adhering to the fundamental principle of Criminal Jurisprudence”.

The same Special NIA judge had rejected Father Stan’s bail on medical grounds in March this year. Ignoring his deteriorating health conditions and advanced Parkinson’s Disease, Judge Kothalikar had held that, “The collective interest of the community outweighs his personal liberty and also the alleged sickness he suffers”.

Elgar Parishad violence

The NIA court in Mumbai held that even though Anand Teltumbde was invited for a wedding on December 31, 2017, one day before the Elgar parishad event at Bhima Koregaon, “Considering the fact that the name of the applicant appeared in the invitation card and that the applicant had gone to Shaniwar Wada, the place at which the event of Elgar Parishad was organised, goes to prima facie suggest that the applicant was also connected with the Elgar Parishad.”

Further, the court also said, “Upon perusal of the documents, including the exchange of emails and the statements of the witnesses relied upon by the prosecution, and after cross-checking the truthfulness of the allegations made against the applicant, this court does not find that the accusations are inherently improbable or wholly unbelievable.”

Educational qualifications

Dr. Teltumbde relied heavily on his academic qualifications while arguing for bail. He holds the qualification of B.E. in Mechanical Engineering from VNIT, Nagpur, MBA from IIM Ahmedabad, and D. Litt from Karnataka State University, Mysore. He was also the Executive Director of Bharat Petroleum, and Managing Director and CEO of Petronet India Limited up to 2010. He has also been invited as a Professor of Management by IIT, Kharagpur.

The order recorded that, “He has written extensively in all leading newspapers, magazines, organizational pamphlets and booklets and lectured widely in India. He has authored several books. He was associated with the People's struggle, particularly labour class. He has contributed to the respected social science journal, Economic and Political Weekly and written columns. Presently, he is a senior professor, Big Data Analytics, Goa Institute of Management.”

But the court refused arguments of him being widely respected in his field. Since the court ruled that there was prime facie evidence against him, the order read, “the contention of the applicant that his educational qualification and social background, needs to be considered while deciding bail application, is liable to be discarded.”

Material against Dr. Teltumbde

The National Investigation Agency alleged that the material from Dr. Anand’s laptop, computers, pen drives, memory cards were “shocking” and implicates him to an extent that establishes that he was not only an active member of the banned organisation CPI (Maoist), but clearly reflected the ongoing sinister design of committing an offence that would destabilise the society.

The NIA submitted that the investigation revealed a “deep rooted conspiracy” to create disharmony to strike terror in people’s minds with the intent to threaten the unity and integrity of India. Hence, sections 13 (punishment for unlawful activities), 16 (punishment for terrorist act), 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act), 18 (punishment for conspiracy), 18B (punishment for recruiting a person for a terrorist act), 20 (punishment for being a member of a banned organisation), 38 (offence related to being a member of a banned organisation), 39 (offence related to giving support to a terrorist organisation) and 40 (offence of raising fund for a terrorist organisation) of the UAPA were added against him.

The documents on record included a letter allegedly written by one ‘Prakash’ to ‘Anand’, that was recovered from co-accused Rona Wilson’s laptop. The letter mentions “Anand’s visit to Paris for Human Rights Convention to be held on April 9 and 10, 2018 and lectures on Dalit issues in order to give traction to domestic chaos.” The prosecution claimed that the letter mentioned to “keep the fire ablaze”.

Judge Kothalikar noted that the prosecution had claimed that during the said period of domestic chaos related to the Dalit issue, was only the incident relating to the Bhima Koregaon incident. “The very statement made in the letter that all PM’s and intellectual comrades must strive to keep the fire ablaze, goes to prima facie indicate that the applicant was involved in furthering activities of the banned organisation”, alleged the prosecution.

The court relied heavily on the documents/letters recovered from Rona Wilson’s laptop to accept the prosecution’s argument that prima facie Teltumbde was an active member of the banned CPI (Maoist) organisation. It is noteworthy that an American Consultancy firm had released a report stating that the alleged incriminating material found on Rona Wilson and most recently co-accused Surendra Gadling’s laptop, was planted. It has unearthed evidence that 14 key files mentioned in the chargesheet against activist and lawyer Surendra Gadling were planted on his hard drive using Netwire, the very same malware that was used to plant false evidence on a laptop belonging to Rona Wilson. Wilson has approached the Bombay High Court seeking formation of an SIT to investigate the planting of these documents on his laptop.

The court also ruled that Anand was not only prima facie involved in activities of a banned organisation but also assisted his own brother Milind Teltumbde, who is a wanted Maoist leader and the Secretary of the Maharashtra State Committee of CPI (Maoist).

Allegations in the chargesheet

Furthermore, the Special NIA court also noted the chargesheet filed against Teltumbde and 13 other accused in the case. The chargesheet states that they conspired to mobilise masses to spread disaffection against the government through provocative speeches, plays, songs, and that they had incited feelings of hatred among communities that led to the violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.

The court further perused the chargesheet and recorded in its order that the Bhima Koregaon incident was just a part of the larger conspiracy and that the NIA’s investigation has revealed that “funds were provided by the banned organization through their members and that the students from eminent educational institutes were taken to forest area occupied by Maoist guerrilla and were given training for terrorist activities.”

The court thus held, “I do not find merit in the contention raised by the learned advocate of the applicant (Anand Teltumbde) that the material placed on record does not prima facie make out a case for the offences punishable under UAPA.”

The restriction on bail provisions under Section 43 D (5) of the UAPA makes it impossible for any person seeking regular bail to do so before or even after the chargesheet is filed. This section existed before as Section 20 (8) under TADA and then Section 49(7) in POTA.

Under the UAPA, despite provisions for bail that exist in Indian criminal law, an exception is made under Section 43 D (5): bail is an impossibility unless “the public prosecutor is heard” and if “the court, after perusal of the case diary, is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds for believing the accusation against person is prima facie true”. This section, which turns Indian criminal law on its head, received the untenable judicial stamp of approval in April 2019 in National Investigation Agency vs Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, which has adversely impacted the accepted doctrine on bail, holding essentially that the accused must remain in custody throughout the period of the trial because the courts must assume every allegation made in the first information report (FIR) to be correct.

The same Watali judgment was relied upon by Judge Kothalikar, who looked at the available documents against Dr. Teltumbde and took its contents into account “as it is” without opining on the admissibility of the materials at the stage of granting bail. Out of the 16 accused and jailed in this case, Father Stan Swamy died awaiting bail on July 5 and Dr. Varavara Rao is currently out on medical bail.

The judgment may be read here:

Related:

Another bullet from Arsenal pierces through NIA’s Bhima Koregaon case!
The institutional murder of Father Stan Swamy
Bhima Koregaon: Anand Teltumbde files bail plea before Special court

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MP Adivasis piece their lives together following forced eviction

After destruction of settlement by a mob, that allegedly enjoyed the backing of police personnel present on the spot, Adivasis of this hamlet in Khandwa are demanding justice

17 Jul 2021

Adivasi

Over 200 Adivasis in Negaon-Jamniya region of Madhya Pradesh lost their houses, rations, fields and material belongings on July 10, 2021 during an illegal eviction. A mob looted, assaulted and illegally contained the indigenous families. Enraged, the Adivasis are now demanding justice for this gross violation of their rights. The following is a photo feature depicting the grave injustice. All images courtesy Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS).

AdivasiOn Saturday, 40 families of Bhil and Barela tribes tried to protect their homes and belongings from a mob of nearby villagers, who attacked them, allegedly with the blessings of police and forest officials.

 

AdivasiVillagers had until then lived under the bitter-sweet assurance that a court order protected them from eviction until July 15.

 

AdivasiMore than anything, families knew their rights to the land under the Forest Rights Act 2006.

 

AdivasiAfter July 10, villagers have vehemently demanded compensation from the government for allowing a gross violation of their constitutional rights.

 

AdivasiThese days, the community still lives amid the ruins of their homes. The fields in the background were sprayed with poisonous chemicals.

 

AdivasiJADS demanded an explanation as to why government officials were even accompanied by a frenzied mob that laid waste to land.

 

AdivasiWhat is left in the small hamlet now are battered and bent remains of homes destroyed in the attack.

 

AdivasiJADS estimated that in terms of livestock, over 300 chickens, 16 goats and one calf were killed in the mob attack.

 

AdivasiFurther, families mourned a loot of 130 quintals of food grains, Rs. 63,800 in cash, a shop worth Rs 80,000, Rs.12,000 worth of jewellery.

 

AdivasiDevastated by the incident, the community is only left with the clothes on their back and a week-long pending demand for justice against this destruction.

MP Adivasis piece their lives together following forced eviction

After destruction of settlement by a mob, that allegedly enjoyed the backing of police personnel present on the spot, Adivasis of this hamlet in Khandwa are demanding justice

Adivasi

Over 200 Adivasis in Negaon-Jamniya region of Madhya Pradesh lost their houses, rations, fields and material belongings on July 10, 2021 during an illegal eviction. A mob looted, assaulted and illegally contained the indigenous families. Enraged, the Adivasis are now demanding justice for this gross violation of their rights. The following is a photo feature depicting the grave injustice. All images courtesy Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS).

AdivasiOn Saturday, 40 families of Bhil and Barela tribes tried to protect their homes and belongings from a mob of nearby villagers, who attacked them, allegedly with the blessings of police and forest officials.

 

AdivasiVillagers had until then lived under the bitter-sweet assurance that a court order protected them from eviction until July 15.

 

AdivasiMore than anything, families knew their rights to the land under the Forest Rights Act 2006.

 

AdivasiAfter July 10, villagers have vehemently demanded compensation from the government for allowing a gross violation of their constitutional rights.

 

AdivasiThese days, the community still lives amid the ruins of their homes. The fields in the background were sprayed with poisonous chemicals.

 

AdivasiJADS demanded an explanation as to why government officials were even accompanied by a frenzied mob that laid waste to land.

 

AdivasiWhat is left in the small hamlet now are battered and bent remains of homes destroyed in the attack.

 

AdivasiJADS estimated that in terms of livestock, over 300 chickens, 16 goats and one calf were killed in the mob attack.

 

AdivasiFurther, families mourned a loot of 130 quintals of food grains, Rs. 63,800 in cash, a shop worth Rs 80,000, Rs.12,000 worth of jewellery.

 

AdivasiDevastated by the incident, the community is only left with the clothes on their back and a week-long pending demand for justice against this destruction.

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Gurugram Court denies bail to ‘Jamia Shooter’ in a Hate Speech case

The man identified as Rambhagat Gopal reportedly told a crowd at a Mahapanchayat in Haryana, to abduct Muslim women and to also kill other Muslims

16 Jul 2021

Bail ApplicationImage Courtesy:livelaw.in

A Gurugram court in Pataudi has rejected the bail application of Rambhagat Gopal for allegedly making communal speeches at a Mahapanchayat in Pataudi. Rambhagat Gopal is also infamous as the Jamia shooter, who held up a gun and shot at protesters near Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University in January last year, injuring one.

Rambhagat was booked for under sections 153-A and 295-A of the Indian Penal Code for voluntarily participating in an event and giving “hate speeches targeting a particular religious community and used inflammatory language to instigate the mob to abduct girls of particular religious community and to kill persons of that community.”

Judicial Magistrate Mohammad Sageer perused the FIR and the video recording available, and noted that it was clear that a gathering was present where he gave hate speeches and used inflammatory language, and raised slogans in the name of religion to kill persons of particular religious community.

The order read, “The act of the accused i.e., hate speech qua instigating abduction and killing of girls and persons of a particular religious community is itself a form of violence and such people and their inflammatory speeches are an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit. It leads to destruction of our society as people will fight based on religion. Religious tolerance is the need of the time and not Intolerance. It is necessary for individuals within the society to get along, especially when a variety of cultures and the people with different religious beliefs live in one community or nation.”

In his strongly worded order, Judge Sageer explained how the situation is getting out of hand with the Police failing to get matters into control. He said, “Hate speech based on religion or caste has become fashion nowadays and police also seem to be helpless in dealing with such incidents. Such kind of people who are trying to create disharmony and impart hatred amongst the common people are actually harming this country more than the pandemic.”

He also observed that Hate Speech lays down the groundwork for later, broad attacks on vulnerable that can range from “discrimination, to ostracism, segregation, deportation, violence and, in the most extreme cases, to genocide.” Hate speech also impacts a protected group's ability to respond to the substantive ideas under debate, thereby placing a serious barrier to their full participation in our democracy, he said.

Further ruling that the alleged offenses committed by Rambhagat are “very serious and severe in nature”, and that the consequences of these kinds of activities may be far more dangerous and it may translate into communal violence, the court rejected his bail plea.

“This Court does not find any reasons to enlarge the accused person on bail as there is every possibility that a law-and-order situation may arise and that the accused person may again indulge in such unconstitutional and illegal activities and actually disturb the communal harmony and peace of the society. If he is allowed to be out of jail then there is a strong possibility that he can affect the investigation and threaten the complainant and other witnesses and it may cause prejudice to the free, fair and full investigation. At this juncture, rights of the accused of his personal liberty cannot be preferred against the right of the society in peaceful communal harmony and balance lies in favour of the later”, read the order.

On January 30, 2020, when Rambhagat was only 17 years old, he had opened fired on a group of protesters near Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMIU), who were protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and demanding on Martyrs Day, a return to Gandhian values of peace, inclusion and tolerance. Shockingly, the events unfolded in front of the police and security personnel deployed on the spot as well as in full view of media persons who had gathered to cover the students’ march to Rajghat, Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi. The Jamia shooter reportedly said, “Kisko chahiye azadi, yeh lo azaadi,” (Who wants freedom? Here’s your freedom!) before he fired his gun. A man identified as Shadaab was injured in the firing and a video of the incident went viral on social media.

In the present case, where he has been booked for Hate Speech, he stood up and told the crowd of like-minded people to “abduct Muslim women”, and boasted that if he could go over a 100 kilometres away and “into Jamia in support of CAA”, “Pataudi is not very far”. His warning was for those he called “jihadis”. He said, “Pataudi se kewal itni chetavani dena chaahta hoon, un… jihadiyon, aatankwadi mansikta ke logon ko, jab sau kilometre door Jamia ja sakta hoon CAA ke samarthan mein, toh Pataudi zyada door nahin hai.” (From Pataudi I want to warn Jihadis, those with a terrorist mindset, when I can go 100 kilometres away into Jamia in support of CAA, then Pataudi is not very far). He reportedly also chanted “Jai Sri Ram” and the crowd at the Mahapanchayat in Pataudi echoed his mood. 

The entire order may be read here: 

Related:

Mahapanchayats and hate panchayats are not the same
Gunman fires at protesters near Jamia, injures one

Gurugram Court denies bail to ‘Jamia Shooter’ in a Hate Speech case

The man identified as Rambhagat Gopal reportedly told a crowd at a Mahapanchayat in Haryana, to abduct Muslim women and to also kill other Muslims

Bail ApplicationImage Courtesy:livelaw.in

A Gurugram court in Pataudi has rejected the bail application of Rambhagat Gopal for allegedly making communal speeches at a Mahapanchayat in Pataudi. Rambhagat Gopal is also infamous as the Jamia shooter, who held up a gun and shot at protesters near Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University in January last year, injuring one.

Rambhagat was booked for under sections 153-A and 295-A of the Indian Penal Code for voluntarily participating in an event and giving “hate speeches targeting a particular religious community and used inflammatory language to instigate the mob to abduct girls of particular religious community and to kill persons of that community.”

Judicial Magistrate Mohammad Sageer perused the FIR and the video recording available, and noted that it was clear that a gathering was present where he gave hate speeches and used inflammatory language, and raised slogans in the name of religion to kill persons of particular religious community.

The order read, “The act of the accused i.e., hate speech qua instigating abduction and killing of girls and persons of a particular religious community is itself a form of violence and such people and their inflammatory speeches are an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit. It leads to destruction of our society as people will fight based on religion. Religious tolerance is the need of the time and not Intolerance. It is necessary for individuals within the society to get along, especially when a variety of cultures and the people with different religious beliefs live in one community or nation.”

In his strongly worded order, Judge Sageer explained how the situation is getting out of hand with the Police failing to get matters into control. He said, “Hate speech based on religion or caste has become fashion nowadays and police also seem to be helpless in dealing with such incidents. Such kind of people who are trying to create disharmony and impart hatred amongst the common people are actually harming this country more than the pandemic.”

He also observed that Hate Speech lays down the groundwork for later, broad attacks on vulnerable that can range from “discrimination, to ostracism, segregation, deportation, violence and, in the most extreme cases, to genocide.” Hate speech also impacts a protected group's ability to respond to the substantive ideas under debate, thereby placing a serious barrier to their full participation in our democracy, he said.

Further ruling that the alleged offenses committed by Rambhagat are “very serious and severe in nature”, and that the consequences of these kinds of activities may be far more dangerous and it may translate into communal violence, the court rejected his bail plea.

“This Court does not find any reasons to enlarge the accused person on bail as there is every possibility that a law-and-order situation may arise and that the accused person may again indulge in such unconstitutional and illegal activities and actually disturb the communal harmony and peace of the society. If he is allowed to be out of jail then there is a strong possibility that he can affect the investigation and threaten the complainant and other witnesses and it may cause prejudice to the free, fair and full investigation. At this juncture, rights of the accused of his personal liberty cannot be preferred against the right of the society in peaceful communal harmony and balance lies in favour of the later”, read the order.

On January 30, 2020, when Rambhagat was only 17 years old, he had opened fired on a group of protesters near Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMIU), who were protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), and demanding on Martyrs Day, a return to Gandhian values of peace, inclusion and tolerance. Shockingly, the events unfolded in front of the police and security personnel deployed on the spot as well as in full view of media persons who had gathered to cover the students’ march to Rajghat, Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi. The Jamia shooter reportedly said, “Kisko chahiye azadi, yeh lo azaadi,” (Who wants freedom? Here’s your freedom!) before he fired his gun. A man identified as Shadaab was injured in the firing and a video of the incident went viral on social media.

In the present case, where he has been booked for Hate Speech, he stood up and told the crowd of like-minded people to “abduct Muslim women”, and boasted that if he could go over a 100 kilometres away and “into Jamia in support of CAA”, “Pataudi is not very far”. His warning was for those he called “jihadis”. He said, “Pataudi se kewal itni chetavani dena chaahta hoon, un… jihadiyon, aatankwadi mansikta ke logon ko, jab sau kilometre door Jamia ja sakta hoon CAA ke samarthan mein, toh Pataudi zyada door nahin hai.” (From Pataudi I want to warn Jihadis, those with a terrorist mindset, when I can go 100 kilometres away into Jamia in support of CAA, then Pataudi is not very far). He reportedly also chanted “Jai Sri Ram” and the crowd at the Mahapanchayat in Pataudi echoed his mood. 

The entire order may be read here: 

Related:

Mahapanchayats and hate panchayats are not the same
Gunman fires at protesters near Jamia, injures one

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Sabrang

MP: 40 Adivasi families illegally evicted amidst a pandemic!

Life upended during the monsoon season, Adivasi families protest the destruction of their small hamlet in Khandwa

16 Jul 2021

Demolition Adivasi

As many as 40 Adivasi families hailing from Bhil and Barela tribes in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh have spent the last six days roofless in the leftover ruins of their village. The destroyed settlement, now a mixture of rubble and dirt, is where once stood homes, and fields of crops. But, on July 10, 2021 a mob, allegedly supervised by police and forest officials, illegally evicted over 200 people with little concern for the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic or the monsoon season.

On Saturday, the unassuming villagers of Negaon-Jamniya went about their everyday activities, assured by a month-old High Court order that barred demolition and eviction in their area until July 15.

However, at the end of the day, the villagers suffered various atrocities such as looting of personal property, assault, abduction and illegal confinement by a mob comprising nearby villagers. Survivors said they did not receive any prior eviction notice.

Adivasi village ruined

According to people’s organisation Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), the mob ransacked houses and destroyed fields by spraying poisonous chemicals. Speaking to Sabrang India, Adivasi leader Madhuri said that two villagers Mahesh and Ramlal suffered physical injuries during the attack.

“The forest department has decided on its own that we are invading the land when in fact, under the Forest Rights Act, this land belongs to us," sadid Madhuri asking, "But regardless, what kind of government action is this to invite villagers from nearby villages to attack us?” 

Working for the community, she said that villagers living in the ruins have suffered continued attacks for the last week. This despite the fact that the mob already looted grain, cattle, money and household goods from the families.

Adivasi

“Everything owned by these families was looted or destroyed -- 130 quintals of food grains, Rs. 63,800 in cash, a shop worth Rs 80,000, Rs.12,000 worth of jewellery, five cycles and four mobile phones and over 300 chickens, 16 goats and 1 calf. Another calf was killed during the destruction of homes. They are left with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” said JADS in a press release.

JADS has released a detailed list of property loss in their complaint letters to the Chief Minister, Forest Minister and Tribal Affairs Minister along with the district administration.

Along with property loss, three Adivasis and three social activists were taken away to the Forest Development Corporation office for over 10 hours. Villagers alleged that detained adivasis were tied with ropes.

Adivasi

Adivasi

When news of the mob attack spread, hundreds of Adivasis gathered for a massive sit-in outside Khandwa SP’s office. Officials released the six people in light of the huge protest.

However, the administration has filed complaints against the detainees. The JADS said that the villagers have still not been informed about the details of these complaints although they were forced to sign blank papers.

The forest department took their signatures under Section 41 of the CrPC that allows arrest without warrant but did not hand over notices. Meanwhile, three phones were confiscated. Among their demands, villagers have asked that the phones be returned and the forcibly signed papers be dismissed.

Adivasi demands and administrative inaction

For nearly a week now, surviving Adivasis have voiced the need for immediate compensation and action with regards to the crimes committed during the illegal eviction.

Enraged by the attack, villagers demanded the immediate arrest of Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Charan Singh and other officials under the Prevention of Atrocities Act and other relevant provisions for supervising the wrongdoings that unfolded that day.

Adivasi

Adivasi

Moreover, they demanded immediate ration relief for the evicted families, left stranded during a pandemic. Villagers also require compensation for the loss of personal belongings. However, they are yet to hear from the state government.

“Adivasis have warned the administration that they will intensify their struggle if these basic demands are not met. There has been no action to punish those responsible for this brutal violation of adivasis’ constitutional rights. No relief has been provided so far to the over-200 people who remain homeless and have had their food grains looted,” said the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS) in a press release.

A blatant violation of Adivasi rights

When SabrangIndia spoke to the Khandwa police, Additional Superintendent of Police Prakash Parihar said that the incident occurred due to the illegal encroachment of the tribal community.

“The tribals came and cut down 90 hectares of land. They were to be removed from the place,” he said.

However, when asked about the court order for a stay on Adivasi eviction, the official directed the question to the forest department, and the forest department has been unavailable for comment so far.

Meanwhile, Bhil and Barela villagers condemn the eviction as a violation of not just High Court orders but the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006. The concerned families are claimants under the FRA that protects them against evictions until the verification process of claims is complete. In this case, the verification has not even started.

Regarding the incident, the JADS said just as freedom fighters in their community like Tantia Bhil, Vir Singh Gond, Ganjan Korku, Bhima Nayak fought the British colonists, the current generation continues to fight against a similar exploitative regime in free India.

Related:

Pathalgadi: Assertion of Adivasi rights over land
Stone quarrying, development projects threatening Jharkhand’s sacred groves
Dewas Adivasi family massacre: There’s more to it than a failed ‘love affair’
A 2020 Report of 10 Worst Victims of apathy: Dalits, Adivasis
Over 1,75,174 acres of Forest Land diverted to Industry between 2014-2019: Madhuribehn

MP: 40 Adivasi families illegally evicted amidst a pandemic!

Life upended during the monsoon season, Adivasi families protest the destruction of their small hamlet in Khandwa

Demolition Adivasi

As many as 40 Adivasi families hailing from Bhil and Barela tribes in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh have spent the last six days roofless in the leftover ruins of their village. The destroyed settlement, now a mixture of rubble and dirt, is where once stood homes, and fields of crops. But, on July 10, 2021 a mob, allegedly supervised by police and forest officials, illegally evicted over 200 people with little concern for the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic or the monsoon season.

On Saturday, the unassuming villagers of Negaon-Jamniya went about their everyday activities, assured by a month-old High Court order that barred demolition and eviction in their area until July 15.

However, at the end of the day, the villagers suffered various atrocities such as looting of personal property, assault, abduction and illegal confinement by a mob comprising nearby villagers. Survivors said they did not receive any prior eviction notice.

Adivasi village ruined

According to people’s organisation Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), the mob ransacked houses and destroyed fields by spraying poisonous chemicals. Speaking to Sabrang India, Adivasi leader Madhuri said that two villagers Mahesh and Ramlal suffered physical injuries during the attack.

“The forest department has decided on its own that we are invading the land when in fact, under the Forest Rights Act, this land belongs to us," sadid Madhuri asking, "But regardless, what kind of government action is this to invite villagers from nearby villages to attack us?” 

Working for the community, she said that villagers living in the ruins have suffered continued attacks for the last week. This despite the fact that the mob already looted grain, cattle, money and household goods from the families.

Adivasi

“Everything owned by these families was looted or destroyed -- 130 quintals of food grains, Rs. 63,800 in cash, a shop worth Rs 80,000, Rs.12,000 worth of jewellery, five cycles and four mobile phones and over 300 chickens, 16 goats and 1 calf. Another calf was killed during the destruction of homes. They are left with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” said JADS in a press release.

JADS has released a detailed list of property loss in their complaint letters to the Chief Minister, Forest Minister and Tribal Affairs Minister along with the district administration.

Along with property loss, three Adivasis and three social activists were taken away to the Forest Development Corporation office for over 10 hours. Villagers alleged that detained adivasis were tied with ropes.

Adivasi

Adivasi

When news of the mob attack spread, hundreds of Adivasis gathered for a massive sit-in outside Khandwa SP’s office. Officials released the six people in light of the huge protest.

However, the administration has filed complaints against the detainees. The JADS said that the villagers have still not been informed about the details of these complaints although they were forced to sign blank papers.

The forest department took their signatures under Section 41 of the CrPC that allows arrest without warrant but did not hand over notices. Meanwhile, three phones were confiscated. Among their demands, villagers have asked that the phones be returned and the forcibly signed papers be dismissed.

Adivasi demands and administrative inaction

For nearly a week now, surviving Adivasis have voiced the need for immediate compensation and action with regards to the crimes committed during the illegal eviction.

Enraged by the attack, villagers demanded the immediate arrest of Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Charan Singh and other officials under the Prevention of Atrocities Act and other relevant provisions for supervising the wrongdoings that unfolded that day.

Adivasi

Adivasi

Moreover, they demanded immediate ration relief for the evicted families, left stranded during a pandemic. Villagers also require compensation for the loss of personal belongings. However, they are yet to hear from the state government.

“Adivasis have warned the administration that they will intensify their struggle if these basic demands are not met. There has been no action to punish those responsible for this brutal violation of adivasis’ constitutional rights. No relief has been provided so far to the over-200 people who remain homeless and have had their food grains looted,” said the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS) in a press release.

A blatant violation of Adivasi rights

When SabrangIndia spoke to the Khandwa police, Additional Superintendent of Police Prakash Parihar said that the incident occurred due to the illegal encroachment of the tribal community.

“The tribals came and cut down 90 hectares of land. They were to be removed from the place,” he said.

However, when asked about the court order for a stay on Adivasi eviction, the official directed the question to the forest department, and the forest department has been unavailable for comment so far.

Meanwhile, Bhil and Barela villagers condemn the eviction as a violation of not just High Court orders but the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006. The concerned families are claimants under the FRA that protects them against evictions until the verification process of claims is complete. In this case, the verification has not even started.

Regarding the incident, the JADS said just as freedom fighters in their community like Tantia Bhil, Vir Singh Gond, Ganjan Korku, Bhima Nayak fought the British colonists, the current generation continues to fight against a similar exploitative regime in free India.

Related:

Pathalgadi: Assertion of Adivasi rights over land
Stone quarrying, development projects threatening Jharkhand’s sacred groves
Dewas Adivasi family massacre: There’s more to it than a failed ‘love affair’
A 2020 Report of 10 Worst Victims of apathy: Dalits, Adivasis
Over 1,75,174 acres of Forest Land diverted to Industry between 2014-2019: Madhuribehn

Related Articles


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