Posts Tagged ‘chhattisgarh
New Delhi, May 7, 2012
The Supreme Court on Monday suspended the life sentence of CPI (Maoist) activist Narayan Sanyal, held guilty of committing sedition by a Chhattisgarh court in 2010, and granted bail to him.
A bench of justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhaya gave bail to 78-year-old Sanyal, considering his age and the fact that he has already spent over six years in jail since his arrest in 2006.
The bench said the concerned trial court would impose the condition to its satisfaction for Mr. Sanyal’s release on bail.
Mr. Narayan Sanyal was convicted along with People’s Union of Civil Liberties’ Vice President Binayak Sen and a Kolkata businessman Piyush Guha for colluding with the Maoists in expanding their network to fight the state.
Mr. Sen was granted bail and his sentence was suspended by the apex court on April 15 last year.
They were held guilty by a Raipur court on December 24, 2010 of committing sedition and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code as well as offences under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.
The three were also found guilty under the provisions of Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act and sentenced to five years jail term. Mr. Sanyal was also awarded 10 years imprisonment for being member of a terrorist outfit, in violation of the UAP Act.
All three had moved the Chhattisgarh High Court against their conviction and their appeals are still pending there.
Shiv Sahay Singh, The Hindu
Human rights activist Binayak Sen has appealed to the Communist Party of India (Maoist) on Monday to release the abducted District Collector of Sukma in Chhattisgarh, Alex Paul Menon, “unconditionally and as soon as possible.”
Expressing his grief at the killing of two security guards during the adduction, Mr. Sen in a written statement issued here said Mr. Menon should “remain unharmed until his release and all medical facilities extended to him.”
Mr. Menon, a 2006 batch IAS officer, was abducted by a group of Maoists on April 21 from Manjhipara.
Mr. Sen said the way forward for restoration of peace is the cessation of armed conflict and militarisation in the area. “Restoration of dialogue and the legitimisation of dissent are essential and my appeal is for this to be effected as early as possible.”
Mr. Sen, who is also the vice-president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, said the region’s issues could not be resolved in an atmosphere of violence “whether the violence comes from the State or those opposing the State.”
When will the Indian public rise up by the millions against its corrupt rulers a la Egypt or Tunisia? When will the Indian sub-continent witness a mass upsurge against exploitation of the majority by a decadent minority elite? How long will the Indian people continue to put up with rising prices, grinding poverty, rampant disease and loot of the country by its leaders?
These are some of the questions being repeatedly asked by thousands of Indians clued into international news, in universities, colleges on internet chat sessions ever since the inspiring winds of change started blowing in the Arab world early this year.
The questions are quite natural, given the great discontent that has been swelling up among the people of India for many years now. Problem is, they may be way off the mark in their hopes about what is happening in the Arab world as also their understanding of what India is really all about.
To begin with, though there is no doubt the ouster of dictators from both Egypt and Tunisia are historical events; it is too early to say whether they are really revolutions that will transform the lives of their ordinary folk. The devil as they say lies in the details and doubts remain as to what the current upheaval will mean in specific terms of social welfare or democratic and political rights.
In both countries for example the transition to new regimes have been quite carefully orchestrated by the military, the same institution holding power behind the previous one. The history of betrayal of revolutions by clever generals spouting populist rhetoric, while forging a new dictatorship, is too long in the region for anyone to forget.
Secondly, the United States has welcomed the changes in both countries, another bad sign, given the evil role it has played in propping up one dictator after the other in the region. US politicians championing ‘Liberty and freedom’, have as much credibility as say MacDonald’s promoting a healthy and balanced diet. The truth is that Uncle Sam does not mind – as Henry Kissinger’s colourfully put it once- any bastard in power as long as it is ensured he is ‘our bastard’.
Thirdly, even if Egypt and Tunisia transform into liberal democracies with regular elections, separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary at best they will start looking like the many democracies in the developing world. As long as the rules governing accumulation and inheritance of wealth are not radically changed to ensure more equitable distribution of resources, power too will always remain concentrated in a few hands.
Civil society groups, academics and human rights activists have come together and appealed to the Chhattisgarh High Court to reverse the “injustice” meted out to human rights activist Binayak Sen.
In an appeal sent to the Chief Justice of the High Court, they said that if this was not ensured, India’s already dented credentials as a democracy and an upholder of human rights would be irreversibly damaged.
“While hearing the appeal for bail and reversal of the judgment of the Raipur sessions court, we urge the Chhattisgarh High Court to consider this case in the light of the complete lack of concrete and independent evidence against Dr. Sen, and his demonstrated commitment to promote human rights through non-violent means. It would be highly desirable to ensure speediest possible hearings in this case, enabling an early decision,” the appeal said. It expressed confidence that given the entire background, timely justice would be done.
The appeal was issued at the end of the annual meeting of the Medico Friend Circle held in Nagpur.
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The conviction of doctor and human-rights activist, Binayak Sen, could have implications for India’s attempts to achieve universal health-care coverage. Patralekha Chatterjee reports.
At a time when India is working towards making access to health-care universal, a 61-year-old medical doctor, nationally and internationally acclaimed for running health clinics for poor tribal communities in remote parts of central India, is fighting a grim battle to prove he is not a threat to the country’s security.
Doctor and civil-rights activist Binayak Sen, the first Indian recipient of the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, is in jail. On Dec 24, 2010, a trial court in Raipur, capital of Chhattisgarh state in central India, sentenced Sen to life imprisonment for sedition on the charge that he carried a letter between two members of a banned left-wing extremist outfit.
The doctor vehemently denies any wrongdoing and has appealed to the High Court, which will take up the matter on Jan 24. His family and legion of supporters inside and outside India point to the many glaring loopholes in the prosecution’s evidence.
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India’s growth rate cannot be made a national objective
While there will be general agreement that the judgment in Binayak Sen’s case represents a gross miscarriage of justice, most people will attribute it to the overzealousness of a lower judicial functionary, or, at the most, to the prevailing atmosphere in the state of Chhattisgarh. If the trial had been held elsewhere, they would argue, Sen would not have got the verdict he did. They are probably right, just as those who attribute the bringing of sedition charges against Arundhati Roy and Syed Ali Shah Geelani to the overzealousness of the Delhi police, and against Sudhir Dhawale to the overzealousness of the Maharashtra police, may well be right. But such overzealousness, instances of which are multiplying alarmingly, thrives within, and derives sustenance from, a certain ambience. This consists of the increasing tendency, under the current neo-liberal dispensation, to see any basic ideological opposition to the parameters of official policy as anti-national. The tendency, in short, is to criminalize ideological dissent. Of course, one must not cry wolf, but one must not ignore this tendency either. To do so will be fatal.
The Irish Times – Thursday, January 13, 2011
Opinion & Analysis
THE CONVICTION for sedition and the life sentence imposed on renowned Indian paediatrician and human rights activist Binayak Sen is a serious stain on India’s democratic credentials. It also appears to be a flagrant breach of legal precedent established by the country’s own supreme court.
The trial has prompted widespread concern from rights groups, the media, academics, and medical colleagues in India and internationally. The British medical journal, the Lancet , has rightly described the trial as “Kafkaesque”, the sentence, “a travesty”. The latter is “so over the top and outrageous that it calls into question the fundamentals of the Indian justice system,” India’s the Hindu newspaper argued.
Dr Sen, an outspoken critic over three decades of both rebel violence and state repression, particularly against the tribal Adivasi people, was convicted on December 24th by a Chhattisgarh state court under the vague terms of penal code provisions prohibiting words or actions which promote “hatred or contempt, or excite or attempt to excite disaffection” towards the government. A legacy of colonial times, the clause was used to convict Mahatma Gandhi, and Nobel-laureate Arundhati Roy was recently threatened under it for a speech on Kashmir. The offence was ostensibly curtailed, however, when the supreme court ruled in 1962 that, given a constitutional protection of free speech, unless violence was incited sedition could not be found.
Prosecutors produced no evidence of incitement by Dr Sen but instead relied on dubious claims that he acted as a courier between an ailing, jailed Maoist leader he had been visiting and a supporter outside prison. The meetings, which took place in the presence of officials, were undertaken in Dr Sen’s capacity as both medical doctor and local representative of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. Defence lawyers claim a “smoking gun” letter, purportedly from the Maoists and urging Dr Sen to investigate police atrocities in a Maoist stronghold, was forged by police.
Dr Sen’s real “offence”, and that of many others under arrest in the Chhattisgarh region, appears to have been to try to draw attention to brutal government-backed vigilantes, the Salwa Judum, who raided rebel-dominated villages in the mid-2000s, forcing tens of thousands to abandon their homes. The “if you’re not with us you’re against us” paranoia of the state government has produced a serious injustice. Dr Sen must be freed and the role of the authorities investigated.
The life sentence awarded to Binayak Sen would only accelerate the process of debasement of democracy and the rule of law.
THE Raipur Sessions Court has shocked the citizen’s conscience by delivering a judgment that makes a mockery of fundamental rights. The judgment against human rights defender and health activist Binayak Sen has brought unprecedented disgrace and ignominy upon India’s judicial system, and more generally, upon Indian society and politics. It will take a Herculean effort to roll back the personal, institutional, social and political damage that the verdict has caused. Merely overturning it in a higher court will not be enough.
Awarding life imprisonment to someone charged with an offence no greater than that of passing on letters from an undertrial prisoner to an allegedly extremist group’s leaders should appear altogether revolting to a civilised mind. This violates the principle of proportionality between crime and punishment (or provocation and reprisal).
NEW DELHI: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Saturday said the verdict of a Chhattisgarh court sentencing doctor-activist Binayak Sen to life on sedition charges smacked of ”political motivation” and hoped that it would be struck down by a higher court.
”The matter is sub judice. But as an Indian citizen and a human being, I must exercise my own judgment to ask if this is correct. Sedition means pulling the state down by violence. It cannot be suggested Binayak did this,” he said at an event to release a book on Binayak Sen.
”On the contrary, his writing indicates violence is wrong. There is a deep moral argument against sedition here,” he said.
Sen said he was amazed by the judgment that is now being challenged by the jailed doctor who’s been accused of conspiring with Maoists. ”It has a threatening nature and seems to have political motivation. Any intelligent person would find that the judiciary acted very peculiarly. I hope the high court or Supreme Court quashes this.”
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PRESS RELEASE ON HEARING OF SALWA JUDUM MATTER
7th January 2011
The Salwa Judum matter was heard in Court 9 of the Supreme Court today by Justice Sudershan Reddy and Justice SS Nijjar. This time all the main parties to the court were present – the last few times, the Solicitor General had asked for adjournments. The petitioners were represented by Senior Counsel, Mr. Ashok Desai (who is arguing the case pro-bono), the Centre by the Solicitor General, Mr. Gopal Subramanium and the State of Chhattisgarh by Mr. Harish Salve and Mr. Manish Singhvi.
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