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Sharjeel Usmani moves Bombay HC against FIR for Elgar Parishad speech

The former AMU student said that his speech was not offensive, and was taken “out of context”

06 Mar 2021

Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

Former Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) student leader, Sharjeel Usmani has approached the Bombay High Court for quashing the FIR registered against him, in Pune, for his speech at the Elgar Parishad, reported LiveLaw.

The Swargate Police Station, Pune, registered an FIR against Usmani under section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place) of the Indian Penal Code on a complaint by Pradeep Gawade, the Secretary of the Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha.

As per a Bar & Bench report, he has contended that the FIRs of such nature are “protracted modus operandi” of misrepresenting what is said and culminates by initiating the criminal justice system. His plea states, “Such FIRs are designed to vitiate communal harmony and curb free speech and in effect redefine what is acceptable free speech.”

Sharjeel Usmani has denied all allegations of his speech being anti-Hindu, anti-judiciary and anti-Parliament, stating that there was not an iota of disharmony, violence or discomfort that occurred at the venue before or after his speech, as reported by some media sources.

LiveLaw reported that in his petition filed though advocate Aditi Saxena, the former student leader has said that on January 30, 2021 he gave a speech at a peaceful gathering organised to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, in Pune in the presence of former Justice BG Kolse Patil, author Arundhati Roy and journalist Prashant Kanojia.

Further, his petition submitted before the High Court reads, “The petitioner in his speech has identified a problem in the social construct of this day, and has concluded with a solution to the problem…it is a settled position of law that the effects of that words must be judged from the standards of reasonable, strong-minded, firm and courageous men and not those who scent danger in every hostile point of view”, reported the legal website LiveLaw.

Usmani had been earlier arrested in July 2020 after being charged with attempt to murder, rioting, carrying deadly weapons and causing hurt to public servants, after the violence that broke out on AMU campus on December 15, 2019, during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest.

He was eventually granted bail in September 2020 by the District court stating that Usmani was not arrested from the scene of the crime, and no incriminating evidence was found on him at the time of arrest.

Related:

Sharjeel Usmani charged with Sedition for Elgar Parishad speech
AMU alumni Sharjeel Usmani arrested for allegedly clashing with cops during anti-CAA protests

Sharjeel Usmani moves Bombay HC against FIR for Elgar Parishad speech

The former AMU student said that his speech was not offensive, and was taken “out of context”

Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

Former Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) student leader, Sharjeel Usmani has approached the Bombay High Court for quashing the FIR registered against him, in Pune, for his speech at the Elgar Parishad, reported LiveLaw.

The Swargate Police Station, Pune, registered an FIR against Usmani under section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place) of the Indian Penal Code on a complaint by Pradeep Gawade, the Secretary of the Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha.

As per a Bar & Bench report, he has contended that the FIRs of such nature are “protracted modus operandi” of misrepresenting what is said and culminates by initiating the criminal justice system. His plea states, “Such FIRs are designed to vitiate communal harmony and curb free speech and in effect redefine what is acceptable free speech.”

Sharjeel Usmani has denied all allegations of his speech being anti-Hindu, anti-judiciary and anti-Parliament, stating that there was not an iota of disharmony, violence or discomfort that occurred at the venue before or after his speech, as reported by some media sources.

LiveLaw reported that in his petition filed though advocate Aditi Saxena, the former student leader has said that on January 30, 2021 he gave a speech at a peaceful gathering organised to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, in Pune in the presence of former Justice BG Kolse Patil, author Arundhati Roy and journalist Prashant Kanojia.

Further, his petition submitted before the High Court reads, “The petitioner in his speech has identified a problem in the social construct of this day, and has concluded with a solution to the problem…it is a settled position of law that the effects of that words must be judged from the standards of reasonable, strong-minded, firm and courageous men and not those who scent danger in every hostile point of view”, reported the legal website LiveLaw.

Usmani had been earlier arrested in July 2020 after being charged with attempt to murder, rioting, carrying deadly weapons and causing hurt to public servants, after the violence that broke out on AMU campus on December 15, 2019, during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protest.

He was eventually granted bail in September 2020 by the District court stating that Usmani was not arrested from the scene of the crime, and no incriminating evidence was found on him at the time of arrest.

Related:

Sharjeel Usmani charged with Sedition for Elgar Parishad speech
AMU alumni Sharjeel Usmani arrested for allegedly clashing with cops during anti-CAA protests

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Speech against political party, not unlawful activity under UAPA: J&K Court

The ASJ granted bail to NC leader Hilal Lone, noting that he did not call for cessation from the Union of India

06 Mar 2021

Image Courtesy:thewire.in

Additional Sessions Judge Sanjay Parihar of Jammu and Kashmir court has held that words that cause disaffection towards another community or political party cannot be termed “unlawful activity” under Section 2(o) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), reported Bar & Bench.

The court was hearing a bail plea filed by National Conference Leader Hilal Akbar Lone who has been accused of indulging in “anti-social, anti-government activities” by delivery of unlawful speech against government institutions.

According to an order uploaded by Bar & Bench, the State had argued that Hilal Lone’s speech was anti-establishment, highly provocative and instigated the general public against the integrity and security of the State.  

The ASJ said, “There is no allegation that he (Hilal) called for cessation of a territory of the State from the Union of India or that his words were intending to cause disaffection towards the country. At the most he had a certain diversion of opinion against policies of the present establishment which being part of politics, he is entitled to frame. That cannot be termed as amounting to causing disaffection against the country at large.”

The court accepted that the petitioner Hilal’s speech in the video could at the most, attract the offence of promoting enmity between various classes or questioning policies of the Government but it cannot be branded as an unlawful activity under UAPA.   

According to a report in The Wire, the Court observed that the allegation against the petitioner was not that he was exhorting people to overthrow the government by using force and violence. Bar & Bench quoted the ASJ as saying, “What is alleged therein is regarding the policies of the government of the day which according to the petitioner is branding Muslims as terrorists, whereas its own people are terrorising others and preventing them from discharging their religious beliefs.”

Thereafter, the court noted that he is not linked to any banned organisations and ordered for his release from jail. Hilal Akbar Lone was reportedly directed to furnish surety bonds worth Rs. 2 lakhs with one surety in the like amount and on the condition that he shall remain present for trial and not harass or intimidate prosecution witnesses.

Related:

Does the new SC judgment offer hope for bail under UAPA?
Repeal UAPA: End targeting of minorities and dissenters
Understanding the right to default bail

Speech against political party, not unlawful activity under UAPA: J&K Court

The ASJ granted bail to NC leader Hilal Lone, noting that he did not call for cessation from the Union of India

Image Courtesy:thewire.in

Additional Sessions Judge Sanjay Parihar of Jammu and Kashmir court has held that words that cause disaffection towards another community or political party cannot be termed “unlawful activity” under Section 2(o) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), reported Bar & Bench.

The court was hearing a bail plea filed by National Conference Leader Hilal Akbar Lone who has been accused of indulging in “anti-social, anti-government activities” by delivery of unlawful speech against government institutions.

According to an order uploaded by Bar & Bench, the State had argued that Hilal Lone’s speech was anti-establishment, highly provocative and instigated the general public against the integrity and security of the State.  

The ASJ said, “There is no allegation that he (Hilal) called for cessation of a territory of the State from the Union of India or that his words were intending to cause disaffection towards the country. At the most he had a certain diversion of opinion against policies of the present establishment which being part of politics, he is entitled to frame. That cannot be termed as amounting to causing disaffection against the country at large.”

The court accepted that the petitioner Hilal’s speech in the video could at the most, attract the offence of promoting enmity between various classes or questioning policies of the Government but it cannot be branded as an unlawful activity under UAPA.   

According to a report in The Wire, the Court observed that the allegation against the petitioner was not that he was exhorting people to overthrow the government by using force and violence. Bar & Bench quoted the ASJ as saying, “What is alleged therein is regarding the policies of the government of the day which according to the petitioner is branding Muslims as terrorists, whereas its own people are terrorising others and preventing them from discharging their religious beliefs.”

Thereafter, the court noted that he is not linked to any banned organisations and ordered for his release from jail. Hilal Akbar Lone was reportedly directed to furnish surety bonds worth Rs. 2 lakhs with one surety in the like amount and on the condition that he shall remain present for trial and not harass or intimidate prosecution witnesses.

Related:

Does the new SC judgment offer hope for bail under UAPA?
Repeal UAPA: End targeting of minorities and dissenters
Understanding the right to default bail

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Labour activist Shiv Kumar granted bail by Haryana court

He was arrested on January 16 in connection with three FIRs related to extortion, theft and attempt to murder

04 Mar 2021

Image Courtesy:siasat.com

Shiv Kumar, a labour activist and associate of Dalit labour activist Nodeep Kaur, has been granted bail by a local Sonipat court in all three cases registered against him, reported LiveLaw.

While he was granted bail in two cases registered under extortion charges yesterday on March 3, the local court let him off in connection with the third FIR on March 4.

President of Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Kumar was arrested on January 16, a few days after the arrest of Nodeep Kaur, for allegedly violently protesting the harassment of factory workers in the Kundli Industrial Area in Sonipat on January 12.

According to a report in the IE, on February 19, the court had directed the SP, Sonipat Jail, to get Kumar examined at a hospital, after his father, Rajbir, told the court that Kumar had been subjected to “police torture”. The Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Chandigarh, had submitted its findings to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on February 25, concluding that he had multiple fractures.

The GMCH has put on record that Shiv Kumar’s medical examination “showed multiple injuries, including at least two fractures on his left hand and right foot, caused by blunt object / weapon”. The injuries are noted to be “more than two weeks old”, in the report. Shiv Kumar was arrested on January 16, since then, not much news was reported about his condition, nor was it known if he had been allowed medical care, access to a lawyer etc. 

Three Human Rights organisations, Human Rights Defenders Alert, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and National Dalit Movement for Justice have written to the National Human Rights Commission over Shiv Kumar’s “abduction, illegal detention, arbitrary arrest and custodial torture”. The matter related to Kumar’s alleged custodial torture will be heard on March 16.

Meanwhile, his co-accused Nodeep Kaur was granted bail on February 26 by the Punjab and Haryana High Court while hearing her application clubbed with the suo motu case registered in connection with her alleged illegal confinement. The High Court will continue to hear the matter about her illegal detention and alleged custodial torture.

Speaking to the media after her release from Karnal jail, Kaur had said “Shiv Kumar’s condition is very bad. He wasn't even there on the 12th (January). Yet he was arrested and thrashed brutally. He has not been shifted to a hospital despite orders.” 

The order may be read here:

Related:

Jailed labour rights activist Shiv kumar has multiple injuries: Medical report
Nodeep Kaur case: NHRC seeks report from Haryana Police over alleged custodial torture
Will return to sit with farmers at Singhu protest site: Nodeep Kaur
Punjab and Haryana HC grants bail to Nodeep Kaur

Labour activist Shiv Kumar granted bail by Haryana court

He was arrested on January 16 in connection with three FIRs related to extortion, theft and attempt to murder

Image Courtesy:siasat.com

Shiv Kumar, a labour activist and associate of Dalit labour activist Nodeep Kaur, has been granted bail by a local Sonipat court in all three cases registered against him, reported LiveLaw.

While he was granted bail in two cases registered under extortion charges yesterday on March 3, the local court let him off in connection with the third FIR on March 4.

President of Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Kumar was arrested on January 16, a few days after the arrest of Nodeep Kaur, for allegedly violently protesting the harassment of factory workers in the Kundli Industrial Area in Sonipat on January 12.

According to a report in the IE, on February 19, the court had directed the SP, Sonipat Jail, to get Kumar examined at a hospital, after his father, Rajbir, told the court that Kumar had been subjected to “police torture”. The Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Chandigarh, had submitted its findings to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on February 25, concluding that he had multiple fractures.

The GMCH has put on record that Shiv Kumar’s medical examination “showed multiple injuries, including at least two fractures on his left hand and right foot, caused by blunt object / weapon”. The injuries are noted to be “more than two weeks old”, in the report. Shiv Kumar was arrested on January 16, since then, not much news was reported about his condition, nor was it known if he had been allowed medical care, access to a lawyer etc. 

Three Human Rights organisations, Human Rights Defenders Alert, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and National Dalit Movement for Justice have written to the National Human Rights Commission over Shiv Kumar’s “abduction, illegal detention, arbitrary arrest and custodial torture”. The matter related to Kumar’s alleged custodial torture will be heard on March 16.

Meanwhile, his co-accused Nodeep Kaur was granted bail on February 26 by the Punjab and Haryana High Court while hearing her application clubbed with the suo motu case registered in connection with her alleged illegal confinement. The High Court will continue to hear the matter about her illegal detention and alleged custodial torture.

Speaking to the media after her release from Karnal jail, Kaur had said “Shiv Kumar’s condition is very bad. He wasn't even there on the 12th (January). Yet he was arrested and thrashed brutally. He has not been shifted to a hospital despite orders.” 

The order may be read here:

Related:

Jailed labour rights activist Shiv kumar has multiple injuries: Medical report
Nodeep Kaur case: NHRC seeks report from Haryana Police over alleged custodial torture
Will return to sit with farmers at Singhu protest site: Nodeep Kaur
Punjab and Haryana HC grants bail to Nodeep Kaur

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New FT members to work exclusively on NRC exclusion cases in Assam?

Policy decision taken by government in light of upcoming FT cases of NRC-excluded people

04 Mar 2021

NRC in Assam

RC Borpatragohain, the Advocate General of Assam, has informed the Guwahati High Court that the government has taken a policy decision to not assign regular work to the 200 newly appointed members of Foreigners’ Tribunals (FT) as it is likely that rejections slips could be issued very soon.

It may be recalled that after over 19 lakh people were excluded from the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) published on August 31, 2019, the next step for them was to defend their citizenship before an FT. 200 new FT members had been recruited and trained to add to the existing strength of the FTs.

Guwahati HC February 12, 2021 order

Justice Suman Shyam of the Guwahati High Court records the AGs submission on the newly recruited FT members, in an order dated February 12 as follows:

“Also heard Mr. R.C. Borpatragohain, learned Advocate General, Assam who has appeared in this case today for the first time, on being instructed by the Government and submits that a policy decision has been taken by the State not to assign regular work to the 200 newly appointed Members of the Foreigners Tribunal since the possibility of NRC rejection slip being issued in near future is very bright. The learned A.G. submits that as soon as rejection slips are issued the newly appointed Members of the Foreigners Tribunals would be required to decide appeals arising there-from and hence, the Government is of the view that they should not be assigned any other duty for now. Mr. Borpatragohain submits that the stand of the Govt. has been brought on record by filing an affidavit on 12-02-2021. However, the said affidavit is not on record.”

The AG further submitted “that the decision making process on the above issue is still under progress and therefore, some more time will be required to take a concrete view in the matter.”

But it is noteworthy, that the affidavit submitted by the Union of India appeared to be in conflict with the Assam government’s stand, and this was pointed out to the HC by amicus curia HK Das, who asked for a resolution of the matter by judicial order.

Meanwhile, the Assistant Solicitor General of India RK Dev Choudhury submitted before the court that he had no instructions on how soon the NRC rejection slips will be issued in Assam. He sought three weeks to seek specific instructions. The HC granted this prayer, and adjourned the case to March 17, 2021. It also asked the February 12 affidavit, that was not on record on the date of passage of the order to be tagged with the case, thus ensuring it was put on record.

Delays and hurdles

It is noteworthy that the process of issuing rejection slips has been repeatedly delayed in Assam. The rejection slips were issued after a painstaking claims and objections process, and are based on reasons provided in the speaking order. At first, there was a delay in printing the speaking orders, then the Covid-19 pandemic brought the entire process to a grinding halt.

Meanwhile the Registrar General of India (RGI) is yet to notify the NRC, which is rather bizarre given how the NRC was a process monitored by the Supreme Court itself! Then, there is the entire matter of reverification of the NRC as demanded by the state government with the backing of the Centre. Though the Supreme Court had shot down this demand previously, the NRC State-coordinator issued a in October 2020 related to the reverification process prompting two contempt petitions filed by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH) and All Assam Minorities Students Union (AAMSU).

It is also noteworthy, that the BJP-led Assam government has repeatedly refused to accept the NRC, alleging it has included names of ‘foreigners’.

The entire order of the Guwahati HC may be read here: 

Related:

NRC Reverification: SC responds to contempt petition, issues notice to Hitesh Dev Sarma

BJP will prepare NRC again if it comes to power in 2021: Himanta Biswa Sarma

New FT members to work exclusively on NRC exclusion cases in Assam?

Policy decision taken by government in light of upcoming FT cases of NRC-excluded people

NRC in Assam

RC Borpatragohain, the Advocate General of Assam, has informed the Guwahati High Court that the government has taken a policy decision to not assign regular work to the 200 newly appointed members of Foreigners’ Tribunals (FT) as it is likely that rejections slips could be issued very soon.

It may be recalled that after over 19 lakh people were excluded from the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) published on August 31, 2019, the next step for them was to defend their citizenship before an FT. 200 new FT members had been recruited and trained to add to the existing strength of the FTs.

Guwahati HC February 12, 2021 order

Justice Suman Shyam of the Guwahati High Court records the AGs submission on the newly recruited FT members, in an order dated February 12 as follows:

“Also heard Mr. R.C. Borpatragohain, learned Advocate General, Assam who has appeared in this case today for the first time, on being instructed by the Government and submits that a policy decision has been taken by the State not to assign regular work to the 200 newly appointed Members of the Foreigners Tribunal since the possibility of NRC rejection slip being issued in near future is very bright. The learned A.G. submits that as soon as rejection slips are issued the newly appointed Members of the Foreigners Tribunals would be required to decide appeals arising there-from and hence, the Government is of the view that they should not be assigned any other duty for now. Mr. Borpatragohain submits that the stand of the Govt. has been brought on record by filing an affidavit on 12-02-2021. However, the said affidavit is not on record.”

The AG further submitted “that the decision making process on the above issue is still under progress and therefore, some more time will be required to take a concrete view in the matter.”

But it is noteworthy, that the affidavit submitted by the Union of India appeared to be in conflict with the Assam government’s stand, and this was pointed out to the HC by amicus curia HK Das, who asked for a resolution of the matter by judicial order.

Meanwhile, the Assistant Solicitor General of India RK Dev Choudhury submitted before the court that he had no instructions on how soon the NRC rejection slips will be issued in Assam. He sought three weeks to seek specific instructions. The HC granted this prayer, and adjourned the case to March 17, 2021. It also asked the February 12 affidavit, that was not on record on the date of passage of the order to be tagged with the case, thus ensuring it was put on record.

Delays and hurdles

It is noteworthy that the process of issuing rejection slips has been repeatedly delayed in Assam. The rejection slips were issued after a painstaking claims and objections process, and are based on reasons provided in the speaking order. At first, there was a delay in printing the speaking orders, then the Covid-19 pandemic brought the entire process to a grinding halt.

Meanwhile the Registrar General of India (RGI) is yet to notify the NRC, which is rather bizarre given how the NRC was a process monitored by the Supreme Court itself! Then, there is the entire matter of reverification of the NRC as demanded by the state government with the backing of the Centre. Though the Supreme Court had shot down this demand previously, the NRC State-coordinator issued a in October 2020 related to the reverification process prompting two contempt petitions filed by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (JUH) and All Assam Minorities Students Union (AAMSU).

It is also noteworthy, that the BJP-led Assam government has repeatedly refused to accept the NRC, alleging it has included names of ‘foreigners’.

The entire order of the Guwahati HC may be read here: 

Related:

NRC Reverification: SC responds to contempt petition, issues notice to Hitesh Dev Sarma

BJP will prepare NRC again if it comes to power in 2021: Himanta Biswa Sarma

Related Articles


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Freedom House report deems India to be ‘partly free’

Key reasons for the reduced score include; Delhi violence, invoking sedition charges against dissenters, plight of migrant workers during lockdown, and the acquittals in Babri Masjid demolition case.

04 Mar 2021

sedition law

American think tank Freedom House has released its ‘Freedom in the World’ figures for 2021 and has deemed India’s score to be 67/100 putting it in the category of ‘partly free’, which is 4 points lower than previous year’s score of 71/100. In 2019, India had scored 75/100 and until last year was under the “free” category.

The report states that India’s status declined from Free to Partly Free due to a multi-year pattern in which the Hindutva nationalist government and its allies have presided over rising violence and discriminatory policies affecting the Muslim population and pursued a crackdown on expressions of dissent by the media, academics, civil society groups, and protesters. The key developments of 2020 highlighted in the report include:

- the North East Delhi violence of February

- students, journalists and activists being charged with sedition

- plight of migrant labourers during the lockdown

- acquittal of all accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case

The final score is based on political rights and civil liberties indicators, and these individually are also assigned scores. India scored 34/40 in political rights and 33/60 in civil liberties. While the country seems to be doing fairly in protecting its political rights; the civil liberties have taken a massive hit in the past year. The civil liberties indicators include Freedom of Expression and Belief; Associational and Organisational Rights; rule of law; and Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights.

India scored poorly on each of the following questions related to civil liberties:

  • Are there free and independent media?

  • Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private?

  • Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination?

  • Is there freedom of assembly?

  • Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations, particularly those that are engaged in human rights– and governance-related work?

  • Is there an independent judiciary?

  • Does due process prevail in civil and criminal matters?

  • Is there protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies?

  • Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population?

  • Do individuals enjoy freedom of movement, including the ability to change their place of residence, employment, or education?

  • Do individuals enjoy personal social freedoms, including choice of marriage partner and size of family, protection from domestic violence, and control over appearance?

  • Do individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation?


How is a country scored?

Freedom in the World is an annual global report on political rights and civil liberties, composed of numerical ratings and descriptive texts for each country and a select group of territories. The report’s methodology is derived in large measure from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is based on the premise that these standards apply to all countries and territories, irrespective of geographical location, ethnic or religious composition, or level of economic development.

Freedom in the World uses a two-tiered system consisting of scores and status. A country or territory is awarded 0 to 4 points for each of 10 political rights indicators and 15 civil liberties indicators. The political rights indicators include electoral process, political pluralism and participation as well as functioning of the government while the civil liberties indicators include Freedom of Expression and Belief; Associational and Organizational Rights; rule of law; and Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights.

The combination of the overall score awarded for political rights and the overall score awarded for civil liberties, after being equally weighted, determines the status of Free, Partly Free, or Not Free.

Related:

HRDA appeals to NHRC over illegal arrest of journalist Saleem Khan

Expression of dissent not seditious: SC

Tandav case: Allahabad HC denies pre-arrest bail to Amazon India Originals Head 

Freedom House report deems India to be ‘partly free’

Key reasons for the reduced score include; Delhi violence, invoking sedition charges against dissenters, plight of migrant workers during lockdown, and the acquittals in Babri Masjid demolition case.

sedition law

American think tank Freedom House has released its ‘Freedom in the World’ figures for 2021 and has deemed India’s score to be 67/100 putting it in the category of ‘partly free’, which is 4 points lower than previous year’s score of 71/100. In 2019, India had scored 75/100 and until last year was under the “free” category.

The report states that India’s status declined from Free to Partly Free due to a multi-year pattern in which the Hindutva nationalist government and its allies have presided over rising violence and discriminatory policies affecting the Muslim population and pursued a crackdown on expressions of dissent by the media, academics, civil society groups, and protesters. The key developments of 2020 highlighted in the report include:

- the North East Delhi violence of February

- students, journalists and activists being charged with sedition

- plight of migrant labourers during the lockdown

- acquittal of all accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case

The final score is based on political rights and civil liberties indicators, and these individually are also assigned scores. India scored 34/40 in political rights and 33/60 in civil liberties. While the country seems to be doing fairly in protecting its political rights; the civil liberties have taken a massive hit in the past year. The civil liberties indicators include Freedom of Expression and Belief; Associational and Organisational Rights; rule of law; and Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights.

India scored poorly on each of the following questions related to civil liberties:

  • Are there free and independent media?

  • Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private?

  • Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination?

  • Is there freedom of assembly?

  • Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations, particularly those that are engaged in human rights– and governance-related work?

  • Is there an independent judiciary?

  • Does due process prevail in civil and criminal matters?

  • Is there protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies?

  • Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population?

  • Do individuals enjoy freedom of movement, including the ability to change their place of residence, employment, or education?

  • Do individuals enjoy personal social freedoms, including choice of marriage partner and size of family, protection from domestic violence, and control over appearance?

  • Do individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation?


How is a country scored?

Freedom in the World is an annual global report on political rights and civil liberties, composed of numerical ratings and descriptive texts for each country and a select group of territories. The report’s methodology is derived in large measure from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is based on the premise that these standards apply to all countries and territories, irrespective of geographical location, ethnic or religious composition, or level of economic development.

Freedom in the World uses a two-tiered system consisting of scores and status. A country or territory is awarded 0 to 4 points for each of 10 political rights indicators and 15 civil liberties indicators. The political rights indicators include electoral process, political pluralism and participation as well as functioning of the government while the civil liberties indicators include Freedom of Expression and Belief; Associational and Organizational Rights; rule of law; and Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights.

The combination of the overall score awarded for political rights and the overall score awarded for civil liberties, after being equally weighted, determines the status of Free, Partly Free, or Not Free.

Related:

HRDA appeals to NHRC over illegal arrest of journalist Saleem Khan

Expression of dissent not seditious: SC

Tandav case: Allahabad HC denies pre-arrest bail to Amazon India Originals Head 

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Nodeep Kaur case: NHRC seeks report from Haryana Police over alleged custodial torture

A complaint has also been filed before NHRC over labour rights activist Shiv Kumar’s release, who has been allegedly tortured in custody

04 Mar 2021

Nodeep kaur

The National human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought a report from Haryana Police to respond to complaints that Dalit activist Nodeep Kaur was harassed and tortured in custody. Nodeep was arrested on January 12 and was granted bail on February 26. In her bail plea before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the 24-year-old Dalit activist claimed that she was “severely beaten up at a police station after her arrest by the Sonipat police last month.” Kaur was also taken to the police station allegedly in the absence of any woman police official and was beaten up by police officials.

In a notice issued on February 18, the NHRC has given Sonipat SP four weeks to respond and file a report. According to the complaint, “The victim who is a social activist was illegally arrested in a false complaint, was harassed, sexually assaulted in the police custody, and was subjected to police torture,” reported The Hindu.

SabrangIndia had covered, in a detailed manner, the developments that finally led to Nodeep’s release by the High Court, while its sister organisation, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) initiated a public petition highlighting how the young activist was allegedly assaulted in Karnal jail and demanding her immediate release.

Now, a group of human rights’ organisations have appealed to the NHRC to intervene in the case of Shiv Kumar, a labour rights activist and co-accused in the case with Nodeep and his family has been allegedly beaten and tortured. Three organisations, Human Rights Defenders Alert, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and National Dalit Movement for Justice wrote to NHRC over Shiv Kumar’s “abduction, illegal detention, arbitrary arrest and custodial torture”.

It is alleged in the complaint that on January 16, Shiv Kumar was abducted by the staff of Crime Investigation Agency (CIA), Sonipat, from Singhu, where he was participating in the ongoing farmers’ protest. Further it is also alleged that while Shiv Kumar was arrested on January 16, his arrest was shown on January 23, a day before he was produced before a Magistrate. The complaint also cites a medical report submitted to the High Court which states that injuries on Shiv Kumar were more than two weeks old and were caused by a blunt object/weapon.

Related:

Will return to sit with farmers at Singhu protest site: Nodeep Kaur

Punjab and Haryana HC grants bail to Nodeep Kaur

Jailed labour rights activist Shiv kumar has multiple injuries: Medical report

Nodeep Kaur case: NHRC seeks report from Haryana Police over alleged custodial torture

A complaint has also been filed before NHRC over labour rights activist Shiv Kumar’s release, who has been allegedly tortured in custody

Nodeep kaur

The National human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought a report from Haryana Police to respond to complaints that Dalit activist Nodeep Kaur was harassed and tortured in custody. Nodeep was arrested on January 12 and was granted bail on February 26. In her bail plea before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the 24-year-old Dalit activist claimed that she was “severely beaten up at a police station after her arrest by the Sonipat police last month.” Kaur was also taken to the police station allegedly in the absence of any woman police official and was beaten up by police officials.

In a notice issued on February 18, the NHRC has given Sonipat SP four weeks to respond and file a report. According to the complaint, “The victim who is a social activist was illegally arrested in a false complaint, was harassed, sexually assaulted in the police custody, and was subjected to police torture,” reported The Hindu.

SabrangIndia had covered, in a detailed manner, the developments that finally led to Nodeep’s release by the High Court, while its sister organisation, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) initiated a public petition highlighting how the young activist was allegedly assaulted in Karnal jail and demanding her immediate release.

Now, a group of human rights’ organisations have appealed to the NHRC to intervene in the case of Shiv Kumar, a labour rights activist and co-accused in the case with Nodeep and his family has been allegedly beaten and tortured. Three organisations, Human Rights Defenders Alert, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and National Dalit Movement for Justice wrote to NHRC over Shiv Kumar’s “abduction, illegal detention, arbitrary arrest and custodial torture”.

It is alleged in the complaint that on January 16, Shiv Kumar was abducted by the staff of Crime Investigation Agency (CIA), Sonipat, from Singhu, where he was participating in the ongoing farmers’ protest. Further it is also alleged that while Shiv Kumar was arrested on January 16, his arrest was shown on January 23, a day before he was produced before a Magistrate. The complaint also cites a medical report submitted to the High Court which states that injuries on Shiv Kumar were more than two weeks old and were caused by a blunt object/weapon.

Related:

Will return to sit with farmers at Singhu protest site: Nodeep Kaur

Punjab and Haryana HC grants bail to Nodeep Kaur

Jailed labour rights activist Shiv kumar has multiple injuries: Medical report

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SC issues notice to NIA on Gautam Navlakha’s plea

He had moved the top court against Bombay HC’s order denying him default bail

03 Mar 2021

Image Courtesy:livelaw.in

The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on a plea filed by Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Elgar Parishad violence case, challenging a Bombay High Court order upholding the NIA court’s rejection of his default bail plea, reported The Leaflet.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for Navlakha. A three-judge Bench of Justices UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and KM Joseph have posted the matter for hearing on March 15.

A Bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik had rejected the senior journalist and activist’s bail application on February 8, more than six weeks after the matter was reserved for orders.

The Bombay High Court had held that the time spent in unlawful custody cannot be included while calculating the 90 days period prescribed for grant of default bail under section 167(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. Navlakha had sought default bail on the grounds that the NIA had failed to file their chargesheet against him within the stipulated period of 90 days.

Gautam Navlakha was placed under house arrest for 34 days which he contended should be added to calculate the mandated 90 days period. But the High Court observed that those 34 days between August 28, 2018 - October 10, 2018, cannot be used to calculate his total detention period, especially since his arrest, as well as the magistrate's transit remand, was found to be illegal by the Delhi High court.

The High Court Bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik had held that section 167 (2) of the CrPC, assumes the detention is authorised by a magistrate, and 90 days upward from that day can be used to calculate the period of custody for default bail.

“However, once the authorisation by the Magistrate is declared illegal consequently rendering the detention itself illegal, the said period (house arrest custody) cannot be construed to be an authorised custody within the meaning of Section 167(2) of CrPC,” the court had remarked.

Navlakha has been in custody since April 14, 2020 after the Supreme Court directed him to surrender before the NIA after rejecting his bail application. He has been booked under the stringent anti-terror law- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for the Elgar Parishad violence in 2018.

As reported by LiveLaw, the Maharashtra police, through the nationwide crackdown on activists and academics, connected to the Elgar Parishad event, have claimed to have busted a larger Maoist conspiracy.

Related:

Gautam Navlakha moves SC against Bombay HC’s order denying bail
Default bail period to commence only from remand date: Bombay HC in Gautam Navlakha Bail case
Elgar Parishad case: Bombay HC rejects default bail to Gautam Navlakha
SC orders Teltumbde-Navlakha to surrender in one week

SC issues notice to NIA on Gautam Navlakha’s plea

He had moved the top court against Bombay HC’s order denying him default bail

Image Courtesy:livelaw.in

The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on a plea filed by Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Elgar Parishad violence case, challenging a Bombay High Court order upholding the NIA court’s rejection of his default bail plea, reported The Leaflet.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for Navlakha. A three-judge Bench of Justices UU Lalit, Indira Banerjee and KM Joseph have posted the matter for hearing on March 15.

A Bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik had rejected the senior journalist and activist’s bail application on February 8, more than six weeks after the matter was reserved for orders.

The Bombay High Court had held that the time spent in unlawful custody cannot be included while calculating the 90 days period prescribed for grant of default bail under section 167(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code. Navlakha had sought default bail on the grounds that the NIA had failed to file their chargesheet against him within the stipulated period of 90 days.

Gautam Navlakha was placed under house arrest for 34 days which he contended should be added to calculate the mandated 90 days period. But the High Court observed that those 34 days between August 28, 2018 - October 10, 2018, cannot be used to calculate his total detention period, especially since his arrest, as well as the magistrate's transit remand, was found to be illegal by the Delhi High court.

The High Court Bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik had held that section 167 (2) of the CrPC, assumes the detention is authorised by a magistrate, and 90 days upward from that day can be used to calculate the period of custody for default bail.

“However, once the authorisation by the Magistrate is declared illegal consequently rendering the detention itself illegal, the said period (house arrest custody) cannot be construed to be an authorised custody within the meaning of Section 167(2) of CrPC,” the court had remarked.

Navlakha has been in custody since April 14, 2020 after the Supreme Court directed him to surrender before the NIA after rejecting his bail application. He has been booked under the stringent anti-terror law- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for the Elgar Parishad violence in 2018.

As reported by LiveLaw, the Maharashtra police, through the nationwide crackdown on activists and academics, connected to the Elgar Parishad event, have claimed to have busted a larger Maoist conspiracy.

Related:

Gautam Navlakha moves SC against Bombay HC’s order denying bail
Default bail period to commence only from remand date: Bombay HC in Gautam Navlakha Bail case
Elgar Parishad case: Bombay HC rejects default bail to Gautam Navlakha
SC orders Teltumbde-Navlakha to surrender in one week

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Delhi violence: Court drops attempt to murder charge against two accused

It held that 100 suspicions don’t make proof, but sent the case back to the Magisterial court as it found grounds against the two for rioting

03 Mar 2021

Image Courtesy:bignewsnetwork.com

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat has absolved Imran and Babu of attempt to murder charges in the North East Delhi riots that broke out last year in February.  

Quoting lines from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s book Crime and Punishment, ASJ Rawat said, “From a hundred rabbits you can’t make a horse, a hundred suspicion don’t make a proof. Thus, both the accused persons are discharged of the offences under section 307 IPC and Arms Act.”

Babu and Imran, were booked under section 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), 144 (joining unlawful assembly with deadly weapons), 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code and section 27 (use of arms) of the Arms Act.

The State alleged that both the accused Imran and Babu were members of the unlawful assembly, who were armed with weapons and participated in rioting on February 25, 2020 at Maujpur Red Light area. Despite warnings by the police, they did not leave the area and disobeyed the order promulgated by public servants after a prohibitory order under section 144 of CrPC was imposed. 

The court observed that there was a prima facie case and sufficient grounds for presuming that both accused persons were guilty of rioting with deadly weapons and being part of an unlawful assembly. However, the court noted that the alleged victim who suffered a gunshot injury has not revealed anything incriminating against Imran and Babu.

ASJ Rawat said, “That being the case, who is going to say that who shot whom and by whom and where. The alleged victim has never been seen by the police. He has never given any statement about any gunshot injury or about any mob/rioters. So how is Section 307 IPC made out against the accused persons when the victim is absent from even the police investigation. How is the gunshot injury established? There is no murmur of that.”

The court further held that section 307 of the Penal Code is “out of bounds with nothing in the charge sheet to dig in” and no ground for presuming that Imran and Babu have committed the offence of attempt to murder under the said provision.

Observing that “presumption can’t be stretched to take the shape of proof/evidence”, the sessions court transferred the case back to the Magisterial Court for trying the other offences as made out against the two accused persons.

The order may be read here: 

Related:

Delhi HC slams police for ‘half baked’ report in Asif Tanha case
Tenets of free and fair trial are sacrosanct: Delhi court on media leak of chargesheet in violence case
Delhi HC grants bail to Rashid, a rickshaw-puller accused in Delhi Riots
Shahid murder case: Delhi HC grants bail to three riot accused

Delhi violence: Court drops attempt to murder charge against two accused

It held that 100 suspicions don’t make proof, but sent the case back to the Magisterial court as it found grounds against the two for rioting

Image Courtesy:bignewsnetwork.com

Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat has absolved Imran and Babu of attempt to murder charges in the North East Delhi riots that broke out last year in February.  

Quoting lines from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s book Crime and Punishment, ASJ Rawat said, “From a hundred rabbits you can’t make a horse, a hundred suspicion don’t make a proof. Thus, both the accused persons are discharged of the offences under section 307 IPC and Arms Act.”

Babu and Imran, were booked under section 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), 144 (joining unlawful assembly with deadly weapons), 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code and section 27 (use of arms) of the Arms Act.

The State alleged that both the accused Imran and Babu were members of the unlawful assembly, who were armed with weapons and participated in rioting on February 25, 2020 at Maujpur Red Light area. Despite warnings by the police, they did not leave the area and disobeyed the order promulgated by public servants after a prohibitory order under section 144 of CrPC was imposed. 

The court observed that there was a prima facie case and sufficient grounds for presuming that both accused persons were guilty of rioting with deadly weapons and being part of an unlawful assembly. However, the court noted that the alleged victim who suffered a gunshot injury has not revealed anything incriminating against Imran and Babu.

ASJ Rawat said, “That being the case, who is going to say that who shot whom and by whom and where. The alleged victim has never been seen by the police. He has never given any statement about any gunshot injury or about any mob/rioters. So how is Section 307 IPC made out against the accused persons when the victim is absent from even the police investigation. How is the gunshot injury established? There is no murmur of that.”

The court further held that section 307 of the Penal Code is “out of bounds with nothing in the charge sheet to dig in” and no ground for presuming that Imran and Babu have committed the offence of attempt to murder under the said provision.

Observing that “presumption can’t be stretched to take the shape of proof/evidence”, the sessions court transferred the case back to the Magisterial Court for trying the other offences as made out against the two accused persons.

The order may be read here: 

Related:

Delhi HC slams police for ‘half baked’ report in Asif Tanha case
Tenets of free and fair trial are sacrosanct: Delhi court on media leak of chargesheet in violence case
Delhi HC grants bail to Rashid, a rickshaw-puller accused in Delhi Riots
Shahid murder case: Delhi HC grants bail to three riot accused

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HRDA appeals to NHRC over illegal arrest of journalist Saleem Khan

Khan was allegedly harassed by a vegetable vendor and falsely accused when he reported on the inadequate amenities to shopkeepers in MP

03 Mar 2021

journalist arrest

Human Rights Defenders’ Alert India (HRDA) is a Tamil Nadu based Human Rights forum that works towards initiating actions on behalf of Human Rights Defenders under threat or with security concerns.

This forum of Human Rights Defenders has written to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), expressing concern regarding the harassment, fabricated charges and wrongful arrest of journalist Saleem Khan by police officials in Madhya Pradesh.

They have alleged that on October 25, 2020, Saleem Khan visited the mandi in Panna district, where he witnessed an ongoing dispute between the vegetable vendors and other shopkeepers over slots in the mandi. Local TV journalist Durgesh Shishvhare from Sadhana News was also present to cover a story at the mandi and as they were doing their work, both were stopped by one Mohammad Iliyas, a vegetable vendor, and his friends.

The two journalists did not wish to enter into an altercation and hence, stopped taking photographs and video footage. Later that day, Saleem Khan published an article about the lack of amenities to shopkeepers at the mandi on his news portal including comments of the mandi secretary Rajkumar Dwivedi.

As he sent links of the story on WhatsApp, he received threatening messages from Iliyas, and complained about it to the then Superintendent of Police (SP) Mayank Awasthi. He was later called to the Police Station on December 27 last year and was made to wait for around five hours.

Eventually, around 3 PM, Sub-Inspector at the Panna police station Balveer Singh took Saleem to the officer in charge, Inspector Arun Soni who told him that they were placing him under arrest and confiscated his mobile phone.

Soni informed him that there were several complaints against him. The HRDA complaint states how Khan was denied to speak to his lawyer. He was arrested on the basis of an FIR filed by Mohammad Iliyas who alleged that Saleem Khan had abused, assaulted and threatened him on December 23, 2020, in the presence of several eyewitnesses.

Saleem Khan, who was initially booked for causing voluntary hurt, uttering obscene words in public and criminal intimidation was granted bail but the police withheld his mobile phone and gave it only after several calls from his lawyers. The police subsequently added section 386 (extortion) of the Indian Penal Code to his FIR, which is a non-bailable offence.

The complaint filed by HRDA alleged that neither an arrest memo was created at time of the arrest, nor a seizure memo was given to the jailed journalist for seizure of his phone. Further the complaint states that, “Mr. Khan was not allowed to call his lawyer despite his request, a violation of his right as mentioned in the DK Basu guidelines. He was asked to come to the police station under the false pretext of picking up a copy of his FIR, not told of the charges or questioned the entire day.”

The case against Khan seems to be a case of abuse of power and fabricated charges on him due to his reportage, as per HRDA. They have also questioned as to why the charges of extortion were added to his FIR later, despite there being no mention in the complaint.

Emphasising on the important work journalists do, the complaint to NHRC states that Journalists are human rights defenders as they face major risks as a result of their work both from the state and out of state actors. “The protection of journalists and human rights defenders, and ending impunity for attacks against them, is a global priority for safeguarding freedom of expression,” read the complaint.

Observing that the fourth pillar of the democracy will crumble if journalists are charged in fake cases every time, they try to bring a story to light, the human rights forum appealed the Commission to undertake an urgent, transparent and impartial investigation into the flouting of arrest procedures and the fabricated charges on Human Rights Defender Mr. Saleem Khan.

Directions have been sought from the Director General of Police of Madhya Pradesh, to take urgent and strict actions against the Mr. Mayank Awasthi, (the then) Superintendent of Police, Panna, Inspector Arun Soni, Sub-Inspector Balveer Singh, and other police personnel of the Panna police station.

They have also sought directions to the Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh to provide compensation of Rs. 1,00,000 to Mr. Saleem Khan for the mental trauma inflicted upon him by the personnel of the Panna police station.

The entire complaint to NHRC may be read here:

 

Related:

Indian journalists decry attack on freedom of press amidst Covid-19

Delhi HC quashes defamation case against Mitali Saran over RSS article

J&K journalists allege soldiers assaulted them during a show

Kaimur firing: HRDA appeals to NHRC for urgent action

HRDA appeals to NHRC over illegal arrest of journalist Saleem Khan

Khan was allegedly harassed by a vegetable vendor and falsely accused when he reported on the inadequate amenities to shopkeepers in MP

journalist arrest

Human Rights Defenders’ Alert India (HRDA) is a Tamil Nadu based Human Rights forum that works towards initiating actions on behalf of Human Rights Defenders under threat or with security concerns.

This forum of Human Rights Defenders has written to National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), expressing concern regarding the harassment, fabricated charges and wrongful arrest of journalist Saleem Khan by police officials in Madhya Pradesh.

They have alleged that on October 25, 2020, Saleem Khan visited the mandi in Panna district, where he witnessed an ongoing dispute between the vegetable vendors and other shopkeepers over slots in the mandi. Local TV journalist Durgesh Shishvhare from Sadhana News was also present to cover a story at the mandi and as they were doing their work, both were stopped by one Mohammad Iliyas, a vegetable vendor, and his friends.

The two journalists did not wish to enter into an altercation and hence, stopped taking photographs and video footage. Later that day, Saleem Khan published an article about the lack of amenities to shopkeepers at the mandi on his news portal including comments of the mandi secretary Rajkumar Dwivedi.

As he sent links of the story on WhatsApp, he received threatening messages from Iliyas, and complained about it to the then Superintendent of Police (SP) Mayank Awasthi. He was later called to the Police Station on December 27 last year and was made to wait for around five hours.

Eventually, around 3 PM, Sub-Inspector at the Panna police station Balveer Singh took Saleem to the officer in charge, Inspector Arun Soni who told him that they were placing him under arrest and confiscated his mobile phone.

Soni informed him that there were several complaints against him. The HRDA complaint states how Khan was denied to speak to his lawyer. He was arrested on the basis of an FIR filed by Mohammad Iliyas who alleged that Saleem Khan had abused, assaulted and threatened him on December 23, 2020, in the presence of several eyewitnesses.

Saleem Khan, who was initially booked for causing voluntary hurt, uttering obscene words in public and criminal intimidation was granted bail but the police withheld his mobile phone and gave it only after several calls from his lawyers. The police subsequently added section 386 (extortion) of the Indian Penal Code to his FIR, which is a non-bailable offence.

The complaint filed by HRDA alleged that neither an arrest memo was created at time of the arrest, nor a seizure memo was given to the jailed journalist for seizure of his phone. Further the complaint states that, “Mr. Khan was not allowed to call his lawyer despite his request, a violation of his right as mentioned in the DK Basu guidelines. He was asked to come to the police station under the false pretext of picking up a copy of his FIR, not told of the charges or questioned the entire day.”

The case against Khan seems to be a case of abuse of power and fabricated charges on him due to his reportage, as per HRDA. They have also questioned as to why the charges of extortion were added to his FIR later, despite there being no mention in the complaint.

Emphasising on the important work journalists do, the complaint to NHRC states that Journalists are human rights defenders as they face major risks as a result of their work both from the state and out of state actors. “The protection of journalists and human rights defenders, and ending impunity for attacks against them, is a global priority for safeguarding freedom of expression,” read the complaint.

Observing that the fourth pillar of the democracy will crumble if journalists are charged in fake cases every time, they try to bring a story to light, the human rights forum appealed the Commission to undertake an urgent, transparent and impartial investigation into the flouting of arrest procedures and the fabricated charges on Human Rights Defender Mr. Saleem Khan.

Directions have been sought from the Director General of Police of Madhya Pradesh, to take urgent and strict actions against the Mr. Mayank Awasthi, (the then) Superintendent of Police, Panna, Inspector Arun Soni, Sub-Inspector Balveer Singh, and other police personnel of the Panna police station.

They have also sought directions to the Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh to provide compensation of Rs. 1,00,000 to Mr. Saleem Khan for the mental trauma inflicted upon him by the personnel of the Panna police station.

The entire complaint to NHRC may be read here:

 

Related:

Indian journalists decry attack on freedom of press amidst Covid-19

Delhi HC quashes defamation case against Mitali Saran over RSS article

J&K journalists allege soldiers assaulted them during a show

Kaimur firing: HRDA appeals to NHRC for urgent action

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Forest ranger faces show cause notice after fighting for labourers’ wages

Officer asserts that he acted in public interest when asked about his PIL against the state government

03 Mar 2021

Anil Kumar Singh

Jharkhand forest officer Anil Kumar Singh received a show cause notice from the state government asking why he should not be given compulsory retirement after filing a public interest litigation (PIL) regarding pending dues of labourers, said the Indian Express on February 21, 2021.

In December 2020, Singh filed a PIL seeking the High Court’s intervention in paying labourers, employed by the forest department, dues worth Rs 10 lakh. At the time, around 250 workers, responsible for the upkeep of a part of the Pakur Forest Division, held a protest outside the division office demanding wages. Labourers stated they had not been paid wages for over nine months despite talking to authorities several times.

Accordingly, Singh wrote in his petition that payments were stuck because the Divisional Forest Officer’s post had remained vacant. He said he was “compelled” to give labourers advances and that was creating “great hardships” for him and the labourers. As the issue received media attention, a Divisional Forest Officer was transferred to Pakur and payments were made.

However, two months later on February 17, Singh received the January 29 show cause notice signed by Under Secretary Santosh Kumar Chaubey that demanded his response on compulsory retirement by March 17.

The notice quoted findings of a departmental inquiry against Singh, citations from the PIL, and mentioned his “indiscipline while doing his duty.” It stated that although Singh was punished in two previous instances his conduct has not changed and questions his continuity in the job.

The first instance involved an allegation against Singh of filling fake vouchers of around 2.41 lakh. Singh said that while the person who filled the vouchers was not affected, he was punished for refusing to give his superiors commission. Similarly, in the second instance, Singh was hauled up for not following biometric attendance while on field. He mentioned that his superiors inquiring into the matter also did not have biometric attendance.

Singh asserted that he filed his PIL in “public interest.” However, according to an unnamed Secretary in the Forest Department, “Singh is a habitual troublemaker. He cannot and should not go to court for any issue, howsoever good the cause may be. As a government employee, he has to follow service conduct rules.”

Related:

Jharkhand: Unpaid for 9 months, Pakur forest labourers move HC

Allahabad HC has not ordered evictions of Surma villagers of Dudhwa Forest

Maharashtra’s fishing community fights to protect its 'golden belt' coast

Tribal leader V.K Geetha leads struggle against destructive development

Forest ranger faces show cause notice after fighting for labourers’ wages

Officer asserts that he acted in public interest when asked about his PIL against the state government

Anil Kumar Singh

Jharkhand forest officer Anil Kumar Singh received a show cause notice from the state government asking why he should not be given compulsory retirement after filing a public interest litigation (PIL) regarding pending dues of labourers, said the Indian Express on February 21, 2021.

In December 2020, Singh filed a PIL seeking the High Court’s intervention in paying labourers, employed by the forest department, dues worth Rs 10 lakh. At the time, around 250 workers, responsible for the upkeep of a part of the Pakur Forest Division, held a protest outside the division office demanding wages. Labourers stated they had not been paid wages for over nine months despite talking to authorities several times.

Accordingly, Singh wrote in his petition that payments were stuck because the Divisional Forest Officer’s post had remained vacant. He said he was “compelled” to give labourers advances and that was creating “great hardships” for him and the labourers. As the issue received media attention, a Divisional Forest Officer was transferred to Pakur and payments were made.

However, two months later on February 17, Singh received the January 29 show cause notice signed by Under Secretary Santosh Kumar Chaubey that demanded his response on compulsory retirement by March 17.

The notice quoted findings of a departmental inquiry against Singh, citations from the PIL, and mentioned his “indiscipline while doing his duty.” It stated that although Singh was punished in two previous instances his conduct has not changed and questions his continuity in the job.

The first instance involved an allegation against Singh of filling fake vouchers of around 2.41 lakh. Singh said that while the person who filled the vouchers was not affected, he was punished for refusing to give his superiors commission. Similarly, in the second instance, Singh was hauled up for not following biometric attendance while on field. He mentioned that his superiors inquiring into the matter also did not have biometric attendance.

Singh asserted that he filed his PIL in “public interest.” However, according to an unnamed Secretary in the Forest Department, “Singh is a habitual troublemaker. He cannot and should not go to court for any issue, howsoever good the cause may be. As a government employee, he has to follow service conduct rules.”

Related:

Jharkhand: Unpaid for 9 months, Pakur forest labourers move HC

Allahabad HC has not ordered evictions of Surma villagers of Dudhwa Forest

Maharashtra’s fishing community fights to protect its 'golden belt' coast

Tribal leader V.K Geetha leads struggle against destructive development

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