People’s Organizations demand immediate release of Adv. Upendra Nayak, Odisha

Various human rights organisations in Odisha namely PUCL, CRPP, CAFC, GASS, Lokshakti Abhijan, People’s Watch and others have come together demanding immediate release and withdrawal of fabricated cases against Advocate Upendra Nayak. They have decided to launch a mass protest on March 17, 2018 at Master Canteen Square, Bhubaneswar at 4 pm and have called for like-minded, democratic, mass and political organisation to join them.

Adv Upendra Nayak
The Paralakhemundi police in Odisha arrested lawyer Upendra Nayak on February 20, late night in the capacity of a non-bailable warrant issued by the R Udayagiri JMFC Court. Nayak was arrested from his residence at Badagouda Sahi in Bhubaneshwar. After his arrest he was presented at the JMFC Court at R Udayagiri as per reports available.
The People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) had expressed its deep concern on his arrest. He was arrested on serious charges of sedition, waging war against the State and UAPA.

Adv. Upendra Nayak is a regular practitioner who was defending poor Adivasis and Dalits in Gajapati district, especially in a precarious situation where hundreds of innocent people are behind bars for an alleged Maoist link and have no access to legal aid. He had helped in the past to provide legal aid to these very people, which included women too.

However, presently Adv. Nayak is behind bars for his services, in a similar trend following that of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, where people’s lawyers are being hounded and prosecuted for the assistance they are providing to marginalized sections, empowering them to fight legal battles.

Mr. Nayak has been sent to jail for his alleged ‘involvement’ in as many ten cases especially the cases in which he was the defence lawyer and the accused have been acquitted at the end of trial! Some of the said cases include those of Arati Majhi, Basanti Patamjhi, Munita, Lakshmi – registered way back in 2009 and 2010 (GR Case No- 260/2009, 261/2009, 262/2009, 263/2009, 264/2009 and GR Case 14/2010, 168/2010, 73/2010, 105/2010 and 221/2010 ).

Questioning this method of harassment, the PUCL statement had noted, “The present issue not only relates to the harassment of an individual Advocate like Upendra Nayak, but also raises larger issue of fundamental rights of the lawyers in general to freely and fearlessly choose their profession guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. It also does affect the fundamental rights of the persons to have free choice for a legal counsel to defend themselves in the court of law. “

Human rights organizations expressed that the arrest of Advocate Nayak is an attempt to create a sense of fear amongst the lawyer community so that they do not defend any innocent persons implicated in serious charges such as sedition and other offences against the state. This undermines the tenets of the criminal justice system which says that lawyers should not be identified with their clients or the causes their clients take up as a result of discharging their functions. [Basic Principles of the Role of Lawyers, 1990 (Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders.)]
Rule of law has been severely compromised in this case and the state is using the police as a weapon to silence dissenting voices who speak in favour of innocent, marginalized voices.

The PUCL, apart from demanding immediate and unconditional release of Adv. Nayak, had also demanded that strong voice must be raised to protest the high handedness of the state. It strongly resists the tendency of the state to identify the lawyers with their clients.

Narendra Mohanty, the Convenor of Campaign against Fabricated Cases (CAFC), Odisha requested the participation of all democratic forces to express solidarity against the attack upon professional independence and rights of lawyers.



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