Monday, July 17, 2006

Activists languishing in prison in Chhattisgarh

How the Police & SDM Can Make A Mockery of the 'Rule of Law'?
-- A Test Case for Human Rights Organisations

June 23, 2006

Dear Friends,
Greetings from the struggling and suffering people of Chhattisgarh!

15 days have lapsed, yet the people's leaders and social activists are languishing in Raipur Central Jail.

The BJP Government is ensuring to make a mockery of the "rule of law", by resorting to age-old tactics to block the Bail of those "accused" in serious offences like "attempt to murder". This should become a "test case" for human rights organisations as to how the Police officials and the SDM have flouted every single provision of the law dealing with the "rights of the accused" and their "personal liberty, dignity and human rights. If this could be done by the Police and the SDM in the case of workers and activists of mass-based organisations like Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, a national forum like INDIAN SOCIAL ACION FORUM (INSAF), and Gram Panchayat leaders, then one could imagine as to what is the fate of the ordinary citizens in this State/country.

However, this is nothing new. During the BJP rule in 1991, Shaheed Com Shanker Guha Niyogi was kept in Jail for two months after having been declared "absconder" in 17 cases in one single day, although he has been attending reconciliation meeting with the officials, addressing public meeting and press conferences, etc. The M P High Court at Jabalpur had order to release him on personal bond of Rs. 5000 each, and had also noted that keeping such a trade union leader in prison on such grounds was totally unjustified, who was committed to the cause of the poor and oppressed.

In the present case, 19 citizens are being detained in Raipur Central Jail. Those arrested include Com Shiv Kumar Patel (District Convenor of CMM), Akshay Sail, State Convenor of INSAF, Toop Singh Nishad, Janpad Panchayat Member, Pooran Sahu and Rohit Kumar, both members of Gram Panchayat, and Bhuwan Kuldip, President of KN Oil Mill Worker's Union.

Firstly, they were detained u/s 151 of the Cr. P.C., and later sent to Jail on 8th June, by the SDM, Mahasamund initiating proceedings u/s 107 & 116 of the Cr. P. C. Although, the SDM has issued order u/s 111, and demanded sureties of Rs. 10,000 each from the "accused", he is dilly-dallying accepting the same although presented to him every day, on the pretext that he is busy in maintaining "law and order". The Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) has held them in "illegal custody" by misusing the provisions of Section 107 & 116 of the Cr P C, although these are preventive in nature and are to be used sparingly, as these affect the personal liberty of the person, clearly spelt out in the landmark judgment delivered on 28.10.1970 by the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court of India in Madhu Limaye Vs. Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Moghyr & Ors. (1971 AIR 2486).

Secondly, the Police uses various "excuses" in either not presenting the "accused" in the Court in spite of the production warrant from the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Mahasamund or fails to provide the "Diary" in the Court on time.

Thirdly, in his application for production warrant and seeking judicial custody of the "accused", the Station House Officer (SHO) has written that although the offences are "bail-able" in two out of three cases framed against the 'accused", they could not produce "bail in the jail".

Kindly note that all sections except Section 307 of the Cr. P. C. under which the "accused" have been charged are "bail-able", they are being illegally held in the Raipur Central Jail.

In this regard, the police has clearly violated the provisions of the landmark judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India (D K Basu Vs State of W.G. AIR 1997 SC 610), in which the Apex Court, having noticed constitutional provisions contained in Articles 21 & 22 of the Constitution safeguarding the life and personal liberty of the citizen and also having taking note of the provisions contained in the Code providing protection to the personal liberty, dignity and basic human rights of the citizen, issued directions to be followed in all cases of arrest or detention. The 11 directions issued by the Apex Court in the cases of arrest or detentions, one clearly directs that the family or friend of the arrestee must be informed immediately so that they may take recourse to legal provisions.

Thus, it is interesting that the police official has written in his application that bail could not be given as the "accused" could not provide "Bail in the Jail". How can one provide "Bail in the Jail" is a subject matter for the Apex Court to ponder over.

We are now planning to raise this entire issue during the forthcoming National Convention on Chhattisgarh Black Law & Human Rights ( In the context of Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005) to be held on 24th and 25th June 2006 at Raipur, C.G.

A Press Statement issued by Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) on 22nd June 2006 is enclosed herewith. This also puts in perspective the entire incident at Birkoni.

Looking forward to your continued support and solidarity,

In Solidarity,

Rajendra K Sail
People's Union for Civil Liberties PUCL
H-12, Anupam Nagar, P O Shanker Nagar, Raipur, 492007, Chhattisgarh
Phone: 07723-223946; Fax: 07723-223289
Mobile: 98268-04519


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