In Memory of Justice Hosbet Suresh, First Chairperson of NCHRO.
14 June 2020
Justice Hosbet Suresh (91), one of the most respected judges of the Bombay High Court , who led many commissions that investigated human rights violations, passed away at his Andheri residence at 10:45 pm on 11-June-2020, Thursday night. He was cremated at the Santacruz crematorium at 1 am on Friday morning.
Born on July 20, 1929, Justice Suresh grew up in Karnataka and enrolled as an advocate in Mumbai after completing his LLM from Bombay University. He taught law in the Government Law College, Bombay. He became a judge in the Bombay City Civil and Session’s Court in 1968 and subsequently of the Bombay High Court in 1986.
One of the flag-bearers of the human rights movement in the country, Justice Hosbet Suresh was the first chairperson of NCHRO (National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations) from 2007 to 2012.
He, amongst others, helped change the jurisprudence of human rights in our country through his landmark judgments and by introducing the concept of people’s tribunals and public hearings. Such interventions reshaped the formal justice when it started showing creaking signs of lethargy. He had always associated himself with all public, pro-people, secular and humanist causes. In fact, he was in demand wherever there were outcries for justice. He was committed to the rule of law and the republican values like equality, dignity and non-discrimination.
Justice Suresh had responded to the calls of various social action groups and travelled to the remotest corners of the country and other parts of Asia, and headed several people’s inquiry commissions and brought out reports highlighting the rampant violation of basic human rights.
He participated or headed investigations including the Cauvery Waters Dispute, Bangalore riots (1991); The Mumbai riots following the demolition of the Babri Masjid (1992 -93) ; Forced evictions of slum-dwellers by the civic authorities in Mumbai (1994); Harmful effects of prawn farming on the eastern coast that led the Supreme Court to order a ban on prawn cultivation (1995) and the Gujarat riots in 2002.
He was also part of the commission that investigated the drowning of Dalits by the Tamil Nadu Police; The shooting of Tribals in Devas, Madhya Pradesh (1999); Food scarcity in the military junta-ruled Myanmar (1999). He was also joined the enquiry that looked at the public food distribution system and the human rights violations in the Kashmir Valley. Justice Suresh was also involved in drafting the proposed Prevention of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity Act 2004.
He was categorical and minced no words for the protection for people’s rights at the bar and the bench. He strongly criticized the 2002 Gujarat Genocide, expressed similar views about the 1984 Genocide against the Sikh community. He lamented that no proper justice was rendered in both these calculated massacres of minorities.
He was the judge who introduced involving counsellors to solve perennial marital disputes and that became one of the key additives for the functioning of the Family courts.
Justice Suresh had the deep connect with the masses and unwavering concern for individual human rights which brought him in front of different issues. Be it BT Brinjal, Judicial integrity , Incarceration of Abdul Nasser Madany, Police atrocities in Muthanga Kerala, or Manipur Extrajudicial killings.
Justice Suresh foresaw the far-reaching implications of draconian laws like UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act). He actively cooperated with concerned citizen groups such as “Peoples Movement Against UAPA”.
Prof A Marx , NCHRO Chairperson condoled the passing away of Justice Hosbet Suresh and said he had lived a full life fighting for the protection of human rights. Justice Suresh would always be remembered as one of the brightest lights of the legal fraternity and a true defender of human rights.
Prof P Koya, General Secretary of NCHRO said, Justice Hosbet Suresh would be fondly remembered by the NCHRO, an organization he was glad to head with a rare sensitivity and decency. Among many accomplishments in his life, Justice Suresh played a critical role in expanding NCHRO’s national presence and ensuring that NCHRO served the most vulnerable in the society.
Recalling his association with Justice Suresh, NCHRO Treasurer, Adv KP Muhammed Shareef said, he had shown that ‘human rights’ could have real positive effect in defending the under privileged and the poor. He played a crucial role in transforming rights activism from fine aspirations expressed in conversations over a cup of coffee to something useful to the people. It was an honour to work with him, the man who had an unwavering dedication to the rule of law and fidelity to the spirit of the Constitution.
Reny Ayline, NCHRO National Secretary said Justice Suresh would be remembered most of all for his selflessness, his remarkable lucidity and deep commitment to the cause.
For those who were privileged to know and work with Justice Suresh, there was a wide range of issues related to human rights and social justice where his unswerving commitment helped to open new insights and methodologies, Muhammed Yusuff, the NCHRO National Secretary noted.