The ‘NCHRO 20th Anniversary’ – Inaugural Seminar hosted by NCHRO Karnataka Chapter was held at, SCMI House, Bengaluru. The theme for this inaugural seminar was “Terror Laws & their implications”. The seminar was inaugurated by Former Supreme Court Justice N Santosh Hegde.
NCHRO secretary Reny Ayline delivered welcome remarks and briefed about NCHRO.
Adv. S Balan, Senior Lawyer Karnataka High Court and NCHRO Karnataka Chapter President gave keynote speech. The keynote addressed “Terror laws and their implications”, provided an excellent overview of the topic.
In his keynote speech, Adv.S Balan details that Human rights are not primarily about law and legislators, judges and court, good and bad – it’s about people and the nature of being human. It is expected that the state is a legal entity which is duty-bound to protect its citizens to ensure that it acts and behaves within the purview of the Constitution. Otherwise, the very foundation of a democratic polity is at stake.
In the name of countering “terrorism” the state is becoming a grossly powerful by itself through indiscriminate authority or to intimidate any member of the public.
Terminologies in the Black laws like UAPA, TADA, POTA, GUJCOC, MCOCA, MISA, AFSPA, NSA etc. are both broad and vague at the same time, introduce further extra-judicial measures, increasing the impunity of the state, and reinforcing the powers of authorities to impose restrictive measures and use violence against individuals.
The Jeevan Reddy Committee had recommended that the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 should be repealed. Justice Verma Committee had also recommended: “Due to the number of reports of sexual offences committed by the armed forces in India’s conflict areas such as Kashmir and the North East, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) – a controversial law that gives sweeping powers to and often confers immunity on security forces – must be reviewed. Security forces must be brought under the purview of ordinary criminal law rather than under army law.”
University of Maryland Terrorism Database (GTD) shows most of the terrorist attacks committed in our country not related to Religion. Europol, the European Union’s law-enforcement agency, noted in its report, the vast majority of terror attacks in Europe were perpetrated by separatist groups. An FBI study looking at terrorism committed on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 found that 94 percent of the terror attacks were committed by Non-Muslims.
State government supported and formed a militia called Salwa Judum an armed civilian vigilante group in 2005 which was declared anti-constitutional by Supreme Court in 2011. State has violated Constitutional principles in arming youth who had passed only fifth standard and conferring on them the powers of police.
Big projects are determined without fully assessing the nature of communities at risk, the available land for resettlement, community dependencies on common property resources, and livelihood activities and social cohesion patterns. When citizens reject such projects peacefully and tirelessly, should the state be allowed to bulldoze ahead with its agenda? Should the rights of the people trump the interests of industry or vice versa? Ignoring the voices of affected communities is likely to result in forced evictions.
Justice Santhosh N Hegde, Inaugural Speech:-
No society cannot live without rule of law. No society can succeed without a proper social order and no successful society has ever existed without the rule of law, which is a necessary and sufficient perquisite for growth and development.
I don’t think I am a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian; I am all of them and a Human Being First.
The Preamble to the constitution embodies the essence of our constitution. It explains the purposes and objectives with which the constitution has been written and hence provides the guideline to the constitution. Preambles of Constitution describe Indian State as Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, and Democratic Republic.
I have high regard for India, Indian Constitution and Indian Army.
During the five years that I served as the Lokayukta in Karnataka, exposed three chief ministers and several other high-ranking authorities in the mining corruption scam. Corruption is widespread: it exists at every level of our administration. We live in a society that respects corrupt people. If society respects the corrupt, everything collapses, the system crumbles. Unless Indian society changes and accepts moral values, it is impossible to fight corruption.
Supreme Court-appointed commission to probe alleged extra-judicial killings in Manipur, headed by me including the former Chief Election Commissioner, J.M. Lyngdoh, and the former DGP, Karnataka, Ajay Kumar Singh. We found that these were not genuine encounters and the victims did not have any criminal records. Every one of them “had not been an encounter’’ and had not been carried out by the security forces in self-defence. The killings were undertaken “with impunity” and had a “certain pattern” to indicate that they were all stage-managed. Despite the apex court issuing specific guidelines from time to time for states and the Centre to prevent such fake encounters, the extra judicial killings continued to take place.
It is the duty of the State to protect fundamental rights of the citizens as well as the right to property. The State has constituted the criminal justice system to protect the rights of the innocent and punish the guilty. To ensure the supremacy of the rule of law and to ensure security and order in society, it is important to ensure that criminals do not go unpunished. While every single innocent should be protected, every single criminal should also be punished.
We cannot allow mob rule or a handful of people to take the laws into their own hands. Undemocratic institutions like Khap which want to create a parallel administrative judicial process should also scrap-heaped. Nobody is above the law. There should be no dereliction of duties by authorities entrusted to enforce the laws when there is a ‘clear breach’ of law or disruption of public order.
I defend the death sentence as if it is removed there will be more murders. It is very easy to say abolish the death sentence, but I strongly feel it should be retained. I fully believe in human rights. There should be independent institutions and Rule of law is the fundamental thing to be in the society.
Contemptuous behavior towards all levels of law enforcement can be the root of violence and anarchy. Ultimately, if the trust in our legal system is eroded, the consequences will be severe.
Advocate Bhavani Mohan
Adv. Bhavani Mohan delivered a speech, in which he made a deep analysis on the seminar theme.
Although we have many laws and covenants to promote human rights, violations in various level are still going on. There is a wide gap between the ‘promise’ and ‘performance’ because of the absence of any effective implementation machinery.
State has a fundamental role to play to construct a just society. We have a responsibility to uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice. This often means speaking up on issues of human rights and fighting injustice.
On 8th January 2017, Advocate Murugan, Secretary of Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties (CPCL), was arrested by the Tamilnadu Q branch police. Advocate Murugan was arrested for allegedly “instigating” two women Maoist accused who are his clients. The police arrested him under sections of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), booked with sections 18(a), 18(b), 20 and 38 & IPC 120(b).
Arrest of Adv.Murugan is a fundamental violation of the right of the advocate to counsel that is the bedrock principle of our jurisprudence that it predates the Constitution. Our law emphasize that even the most reviled defendants deserved a strong defense.
Section II of Bar Council of India 1975, in part VI chapter II provides for duties of advocates towards his clients. Rules 15 and rules 19 have relevance to the same. Rule 15 states that, “It shall be the duty of an advocate fearlessly to uphold the interest of his client by all fair and honorable means without regard to any unpleasant consequences to himself or any other. He shall defend the person accused of a crime regardless of his personal opinion as to the guilt of the accused, bearing in mind that his loyalty to the law which requires that no man should be convicted without adequate evidence”. Rules 19 states that “An advocate shall not act on the instructions of any person other than his client or his authorized agent”.
Is everybody equal before our courts? See how Kanchi Sankaracharyas in Sankararaman murder case and Abdul Nasar Madani in Coimbatore blast case treated. Court’s primary duty is to render or dispense justice. Procedure and technicalities are handmaids of law; they should never be made a tool, to deny justice or perpetuate injustice, by any oppressive or punitive use. They should not become tyrannical masters with which justice can be destroyed.
Right to be treated fairly, efficiently and effectively by the administration of justice is fundamental. The rights to due process place limitations on laws and legal proceedings, in order to guarantee fundamental fairness and justice.
The “encounter-killing” of 20 labourers in Seshachalam forests near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh by a state-level task-force is one of the most intense extra-judicial killings the country has witnessed in recent years. The action killed 20 unarmed people in about an hour. Killing 20 people is a massacre; you cannot call it an encounter.
Every encounter killing, fake or otherwise, is a blot on the country’s criminal justice system and a huge violation of human rights. In 2014, the Supreme Court had issued a 16-point guideline to be followed “as the standard procedure for thorough, effective and independent investigation” which includes the recording of the tip-off, filing of FIR and investigation by an independent CID and magisterial involvement. However, the history of delivering justice on encounter killings has been rather dismal. For instance, in the 555 cases recorded during four years till 2013, only 144 had been resolved.
So, in the end, it’s the combination of scant regard for human rights, the failure of our criminal justice system and a guaranteed impunity or possibly the lure of gallantry awards, which breed encounter killings. They are not mere encounters, but extra judicial killings in which Indian citizens are summarily executed even before being legally charged with a crime.
Torture persists today as one of the most widespread human rights crimes. A building situated in Madheswaran Malai which was known as a ‘workshop’ and where third degree torture was carried out on villagers in the name of nabbing Veerappan.
The role of the special task force came to the limelight when almost all womenfolk of the whole of Vachati village were gang raped by the STF personnel. The Sadasivam Commission, instituted to go into the excesses of the STF, has documented a large number of stories of horror and nightmare as testimonies of the poor and innocent victims. The STF was a ‘holy cow’ for a pretty long period and its operations were held like a defence secret. The best “remedy” for torture is its prevention.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau many people termed as under trial or without trial are being held in state-run jails across India. We need a strong remedial justice system to correct the harm done to a victim. Corrective justice generally aims at restitution or compensation for loss in order to help make things better for the victims and deter violators from engaging in future misconduct.
Professor A Marx
The seminar was chaired by Professor A Marx, NCHRO chairperson.
It’s easy to be an activist when times are good, when the rule of law is strong, when everyone agrees to play the game. But when that game changes our foundations shift, our professional complacencies and certainties are tested. That is why events such as this Seminar give us space to reflect again on our shared work, to understand the vital role we play in guiding the state in its work with its citizens, in reminding them that it is Government for the people and that every single one of those people is a human being – with rights by virtue of nothing else but that.
Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees that no person can be deprived of his or her life or personal liberty except under the procedure established by law. It strengthens human dignity inherent in the guarantee of right to life. In our Constitution’s fundamental rights chapter, three articles have been singled out for special attention:-
Article 14, which guarantees equality before law and equal protection of laws.
Article 19(1), which guarantees the freedoms of speech and expression, association, assembly and movement, and occupation, trade or business.
Article 21, which guarantees life and personal liberty. We lose constitutional governance if these articles violated.
It is essential for the proper functioning of democracy and the growth of national unity and solidarity that communalism should be eliminated from Indian life. Our rights to not be subjected to hate, or violence or discrimination. Our rights to not be coerced deprived of liberty, or to be denied voice, Prof A Marx added in his speech.
The opening seminar was an exciting beginning to NCHRO 20th Anniversary celebration. The year ahead will include a series of seminars throughout the country – culminating in an International Seminar in New Delhi.
The 20th anniversary of NCHRO is an opportunity to take stock of the conditions for promotion and protection of human rights in the country. It is equally an occasion to address current and future challenges for human rights work.
Muhammed Kakkinje, General Secretary, NCHRO Karnataka Chapter thank everyone who participated and made this event possible. A huge thank you goes out to our speakers. We express our gratitude to the scmi house and the volunteers for their warm hospitality.