KOCHI, February 25, 2008
Marad bail conditions are miscarriage of justice
Women narrate trauma at Public hearing headed by Justice Suresh
NCHRO concern at free hand to Sangh Parivar in Orissa
A Public hearing headed by former Mumbai High Court Justice H. Suresh, human rights activist Dr John Dayal and CHRO Chairperson A Vasu has criticized as a ‘miscarriage of justice’ the Kerala High Court conditions for grant of bail to 30 of the 139 Muslims currently in Kozhikode district jail facing trial for their alleged involvement in the death of nine persons killed in the second of twin communal incidents in the Marad fishing village five kilometers from the city if Kozhikode.
Kerala High Court Justice R Basant had last month set a bail of Rs 6.00 Lakh for each person through three sureties of Rs 2.00 lakh each, and further conditions that one surety must be a close relative and that the under trials live within three kilometers of the Special trial court in the city.
“These are impossible conditions and affectively mean a denial of bail to the incarcerated fishermen who are poor, whose wives and mothers have barely enough food for survival and have no employment,” justice Suresh said on behalf of the Public hearing jury. The families cannot afford three sureties of Rs 2.00 lakh, nor can they uproot themselves and find living accommodation in Kozhikode city town within the stipulated distance. The situation remains communally charged and all too often, members of the Sangh Parivar attempt to coerce he victims and he justice delivery systems by carrying out agitations against the minority community.
Quoting legal luminaries including former Supreme court judge V R Krishna Iyer, Justice Suresh said in cases of long trials, the courts should support bail rather than jail in the interests if justice.
Over 50 women of Marad came to the Kozhikode hall where the hearing was being held, the first time such a large number of veiled women had appeared in a public Human rights process. The Marad cases are of the killing of three Muslims and two Hindus in an incident in the village after a local altercation. Subsequently, a group of people massacred eight Hindus — and a Muslim was also killed — in what was believed to be revenge violence. 139 Muslims men and six boys were arrested.
The women, wives and mothers of under trials of the 2003 communal violence, told the Public hearing headed by Justice Suresh of their harrowing experience since their male relatives were taken into custody while some of them were actually praying in a local mosque. The women also complained of irrational and inequitable official behaviour in the matter of relief and rehabilitation.
In their remarks, Justice Suresh and Dr John Dayal also expressed concern at the voices heard from the highest courts in the land which were posing grave restrictions on Human rights and civil society movements and activists. This posed a danger to the dignity and rights of the Indian citizen and their need to be heard when faced with injustice, tyranny, complicity of official machinery and immunity that seemed to be enjoyed by the police forces who had been now given the license to kill in the guise of containing terrorism and extreme left activities ins several states.
We do not condone violence by any group. We also do not condone extra judicial violence by the state machinery clothed as encounters, custodial deaths and disappearances of young men and women lifted from their homes in searches that extend through a wide swatch of India including the states of Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra ad even parts of Kerala.
We also abhor the tendency of communalize poverty, and to indict social movements and protests against exploitation.
The Higher judiciary must recall the Golden Age of the Supreme Court which had such luminaries as Justices Bhagwati and Krishna Iyer whose judgments enlarged the field of human rights and human dignity not only in India but across the world.
Referring to the incidents in Orissa, Dr Dayal condemned the immunity apparently accorded by the State government to the Sangh Parivar which is in absolute control of the governance. The condition in the refugee camps continues to be pitiable, especially for women. The Christian community continues to face a daily threat. The Centre and State government must act immediately in this matter, bring the culprits to book irrespective of their political and religious affiliations and ensure that peace and communal harmony based on justice and the Constitution of India is restored.
Released to the media by Dr Abdul Salam, Secretary, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations. Mobile 9847320011.