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Bhima Koregaon case: SC grants Varavara Rao bail on medical grounds

SC deletes HC condition to surrender after three months

10 Aug 2022

Varavara Roa

In huge relief for Varavara Rao, the 84-year-old Telugu poet who is one of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case, the Supreme Court has granted him bail on medical grounds. Granting him further relief, the court also did away with the Bombay High Court's condition for him to surrender after three months.

Rao had filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) challenging a Bombay High Court order that denied him permanent bail on medical grounds. Rao had been granted temporary bail on medical grounds in April this year, but there was a requirement for him to surrender at the end of the bail duration. Though extensions had been granted previously, Rao had not been granted permanent bail.

This despite the fact that he is not only elderly, but his medical condition has been declining behind bars. He has suffered from a bout Covid-19, and was once even taken to JJ Hospital in an unconscious state. His family have often mentioned that his memory has become foggy, and speech has turned incoherent.

Submissions by Rao’s advocate and NIA

Senior Advocate Anand Grover appeared for Rao and submitted that Rao had many underlying comorbidities including Parkinson’s Disease. However, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju denied that Rao’s scan showed any evidence of Parkinson’s Disease, and also claimed that Rao’s medical condition was not very serious.

According to LiveLaw, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) had opposed the grant of permanent bail to Rao submitting his acts have “a direct impact on the unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of India,” and were “against the interest of state and society.”

Court’s observations

However, today, a bench of Justices UU Lalit, Aniruddha Bose and Sudhanshu Dhulia, took into account Rao’s age, his ailments and the fact that he had already spent two and a half years in captivity. The bench also noted that though the chargesheet has been filed, charges against him are yet to be framed and the trial is yet to begin.

According to LiveLaw, the bench observed, “The medical condition of the appellant has not improved to such an extent over a period of time that the facility of bail which was granted earlier be withdrawn. Considering the totality of circumstances, the appellant is entitled to bail on medical grounds.” The court also deleted the condition imposed by the Bombay High Court for Rao to surrender after three months.

The court allowed Rao to seek medical attention as per his choice and keep the NIA authorities informed of his medical condition. The court also ordered Rao to not leave the area of Greater Mumbai without express permission from the Special NIA Court. The court also forbade him from contacting any witnesses or doing anything to influence the investigation. The court clarified that the grant of bail was not to be misconstrued as a reflection on the merits of the matter.

Brief Background

Rao was arrested in August 2018 but was remanded to house arrest until November 2018, when he was taken to Pune. It was alleged that Rao was a member of banned organisation - Communist Party of India (Maoist) and was actively involved in arranging funding and providing arms and ammunition to the organisation to wage war against the established Government.

In February 2021, the Bombay High Court had granted medical bail to Rao owing to his deteriorating health in the past one year and while also taking into consideration his advanced age. He was admitted to the hospital multiple times for various reasons including contracting Covid-19 and some infections, and he was finally granted bail after the court took a humanitarian view towards his condition.

While the court, when it granted bail for six months, had stated that he was free to be discharged from Nanavati Hospital, it directed that Rao cannot leave the jurisdiction of Mumbai.

On April 13, 2022, the Bombay High Court extended the temporary bail of Telugu poet Varavara Rao by three months, while refusing the petition seeking permanent bail and disallowing permission to stay in his Telangana home in Hyderabad.

In his current plea he had mentioned that he couldn’t afford to live in Mumbai with his 72-year-old wife away from his home in Telangana.

In July 2022, the Supreme Court had extended the interim protection to the activist and poet, till further orders.

It is pertinent to note that out of all the accused in Bhima Koregaon case, Rao is the only one who had been granted temporary bail on medical grounds, while other elderly and ailing accused continue to languish in prison. Readers would recall that 84-year-old Fr. Stan Swamy who had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and had never fully recovered from a bout of Covid-19, died on July 5, 2021, incidentally on a day when his bail plea was being heard.

The copy will be updated with a copy of the bail order when it becomes available.

 

Related:

Bhima Koregaon case: Supreme Court extends Varavara Rao’s interim bail until further orders

Revolutionary poet activist Varavara Rao’s medical bail extended by 3 months

Varavara Rao granted interim bail in Surajgar arson case

Bombay HC order on medical bail for Varavara Rao sets an imp precedent

Varavara Rao seeks extension of medical bail

Varavara Rao tests Covid-19 positive!

Varavara Rao is in hospital today, but the risk to his life is not over: Family

Bhima Koregaon case: SC grants Varavara Rao bail on medical grounds

SC deletes HC condition to surrender after three months

Varavara Roa

In huge relief for Varavara Rao, the 84-year-old Telugu poet who is one of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case, the Supreme Court has granted him bail on medical grounds. Granting him further relief, the court also did away with the Bombay High Court's condition for him to surrender after three months.

Rao had filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) challenging a Bombay High Court order that denied him permanent bail on medical grounds. Rao had been granted temporary bail on medical grounds in April this year, but there was a requirement for him to surrender at the end of the bail duration. Though extensions had been granted previously, Rao had not been granted permanent bail.

This despite the fact that he is not only elderly, but his medical condition has been declining behind bars. He has suffered from a bout Covid-19, and was once even taken to JJ Hospital in an unconscious state. His family have often mentioned that his memory has become foggy, and speech has turned incoherent.

Submissions by Rao’s advocate and NIA

Senior Advocate Anand Grover appeared for Rao and submitted that Rao had many underlying comorbidities including Parkinson’s Disease. However, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju denied that Rao’s scan showed any evidence of Parkinson’s Disease, and also claimed that Rao’s medical condition was not very serious.

According to LiveLaw, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) had opposed the grant of permanent bail to Rao submitting his acts have “a direct impact on the unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of India,” and were “against the interest of state and society.”

Court’s observations

However, today, a bench of Justices UU Lalit, Aniruddha Bose and Sudhanshu Dhulia, took into account Rao’s age, his ailments and the fact that he had already spent two and a half years in captivity. The bench also noted that though the chargesheet has been filed, charges against him are yet to be framed and the trial is yet to begin.

According to LiveLaw, the bench observed, “The medical condition of the appellant has not improved to such an extent over a period of time that the facility of bail which was granted earlier be withdrawn. Considering the totality of circumstances, the appellant is entitled to bail on medical grounds.” The court also deleted the condition imposed by the Bombay High Court for Rao to surrender after three months.

The court allowed Rao to seek medical attention as per his choice and keep the NIA authorities informed of his medical condition. The court also ordered Rao to not leave the area of Greater Mumbai without express permission from the Special NIA Court. The court also forbade him from contacting any witnesses or doing anything to influence the investigation. The court clarified that the grant of bail was not to be misconstrued as a reflection on the merits of the matter.

Brief Background

Rao was arrested in August 2018 but was remanded to house arrest until November 2018, when he was taken to Pune. It was alleged that Rao was a member of banned organisation - Communist Party of India (Maoist) and was actively involved in arranging funding and providing arms and ammunition to the organisation to wage war against the established Government.

In February 2021, the Bombay High Court had granted medical bail to Rao owing to his deteriorating health in the past one year and while also taking into consideration his advanced age. He was admitted to the hospital multiple times for various reasons including contracting Covid-19 and some infections, and he was finally granted bail after the court took a humanitarian view towards his condition.

While the court, when it granted bail for six months, had stated that he was free to be discharged from Nanavati Hospital, it directed that Rao cannot leave the jurisdiction of Mumbai.

On April 13, 2022, the Bombay High Court extended the temporary bail of Telugu poet Varavara Rao by three months, while refusing the petition seeking permanent bail and disallowing permission to stay in his Telangana home in Hyderabad.

In his current plea he had mentioned that he couldn’t afford to live in Mumbai with his 72-year-old wife away from his home in Telangana.

In July 2022, the Supreme Court had extended the interim protection to the activist and poet, till further orders.

It is pertinent to note that out of all the accused in Bhima Koregaon case, Rao is the only one who had been granted temporary bail on medical grounds, while other elderly and ailing accused continue to languish in prison. Readers would recall that 84-year-old Fr. Stan Swamy who had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease and had never fully recovered from a bout of Covid-19, died on July 5, 2021, incidentally on a day when his bail plea was being heard.

The copy will be updated with a copy of the bail order when it becomes available.

 

Related:

Bhima Koregaon case: Supreme Court extends Varavara Rao’s interim bail until further orders

Revolutionary poet activist Varavara Rao’s medical bail extended by 3 months

Varavara Rao granted interim bail in Surajgar arson case

Bombay HC order on medical bail for Varavara Rao sets an imp precedent

Varavara Rao seeks extension of medical bail

Varavara Rao tests Covid-19 positive!

Varavara Rao is in hospital today, but the risk to his life is not over: Family

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Gyanvapi case: Plea moved before SC challenging Allahabad HC’s order dismissing PIL to verify “Shivling” claims

Allahabad HC had dismissed a plea to appoint a commission headed by a judge to determine nature of structure found in the Gyanvapi mosque’s ablution tank

08 Aug 2022

Gyanvapi

In latest developments in the Gyanvapi case, a plea has been filed before the Supreme Court challenging an order by the Allahabad High Court that had dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) demanding that a commission be set up under a serving or retired Supreme Court or High Court judge to examine the structure found in the Gyanvapi mosque’s Wazu Khana (ablution tank) to determine if it is indeed a “Shivling”, or just a defunct fountain.

In July this year, a Bench of Justices Rajesh Singh Chauhan and Subhash Vidyarthi had dismissed the plea moved by seven people. The petitioners included five residents of Varanasi, namely Sarve Shri Sudhir Singh, Baba Balak Das, Shivendra Pratap Singh, Markande Tiwari, and Rajan Rai, as well as two lawyers practicing at the High Court’s Lucknow bench, namely Ravi Mishra and Atul Kumar. They had moved HC through Advocate Ashok Pande. According to LiveLaw, while dismissing the plea the HC had observed that the petition had been filed merely to gain publicity, and the court nipped the attempt in the bud by dismissing it at the admission stage itself. The HC had also observed that the plea was not maintainable as the Court in Lucknow did not have jurisdiction because Varanasi was not in the Oudh region.    

Now, the seven petitioners have moved SC through Advocate Satyajeet Kumar against the HC order. According to LiveLaw, they have not only submitted that the HC had erred in dismissing the plea on merits, but also that the pendency of civil suits regarding subject matter of the case cannot be grounds for dismissal of the PIL. They have also questioned the propriety of the Bench itself calling it “a bench of two unequal judges” as one of the judges was appointed under Article 217 of the Constitution, and another was an Additional Judge appointed under Article 224 of the Constitution.

Pending suits

Readers would recall that a case to determine the maintainability of the suit itself is pending before the court of Varanasi district judge Ajay Krishna Vishvesha, is hearing arguments pertaining to Order 7 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). Due to the sudden death of Advocate Abhay Nath Yadav, who was representing the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM), which is the committee that manages the Gyanvapi mosque, proceedings in the case have been adjourned to August 18.

Meanwhile, the Allahabad HC is also hearing the AIM and Sunni Central Waqf Board’s plea to stay the proceedings before a lower court in Varanasi. They had argued that the lower court should not be allowed to conduct proceedings, given how judgment in the title suit pertaining to the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Gyanvapi mosque dispute has been reserved by the Allahabad High Court in March 2021. Moreover, they argued that as per the Places of Worship Act, the character of a place of worship cannot be changed from what it was on Indian Independence Day i.e August 15, 1947.

During the hearing on August 3, the petitioners i.e AIM and the Waqf Board, also argued that the land is Waqf land and therefore a civil dispute cannot be made part of a civil dispute. Meanwhile, according to the Nav Bharat Times the Hindu parties argued that the land was never Waqf land and was part of the Kashi Vishwanath temple, a portion of which was razed to build the mosque. They say the land therefore remains eternally vested in the deity, and therefore cannot be called Waqf land.  

The Allahabad High Court has now adjourned that case to August 17.

Readers would recall that the title suit in the case was filed as far back as in 1991. On March 15, 2021, judge Prakash Padia of the Allahabad High Court had reserved his judgment in the case. It is the same judge who is now hearing a plea for a stay on proceedings before the lower court.

The above proceedings are distinct from the petition for banning entry of Muslim devotees to the Gyanvapi mosque and conducting prayers as per Hindu tradition, a matter that is being heard by a fast-track court in Varanasi. The court had permitted the petitioners to make some corrections to their petition during the last hearing.

Case in the Supreme Court

On July 21, the Supreme Court announced that it has decided to wait for the Varanasi district court’s decision pertaining specifically to the maintainability of the case under Order 7, Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). The court, accordingly, adjourned the matter till the first week of October.

The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and PS Narasimha was hearing a petition by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM) which is the mosque management authority of the Gyanvapi mosque, challenging the lower courts order to conduct a survey of the mosque.

Related:

Gyanvapi case: Arguments continue in Allahabad HC

Gyanvapi case: SC to wait for Varanasi district court’s decision on suit maintainability

Gyanvapi case: Fast-track court permits corrections to petition

Gyanvapi case: Allahabad HC resumes hearing plea against proceedings in lower court

Gyanvapi case: Hindu petitioners submit that the mosque stands on land owned by Hindu deity

Gyanvapi case: Plea moved before SC challenging Allahabad HC’s order dismissing PIL to verify “Shivling” claims

Allahabad HC had dismissed a plea to appoint a commission headed by a judge to determine nature of structure found in the Gyanvapi mosque’s ablution tank

Gyanvapi

In latest developments in the Gyanvapi case, a plea has been filed before the Supreme Court challenging an order by the Allahabad High Court that had dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) demanding that a commission be set up under a serving or retired Supreme Court or High Court judge to examine the structure found in the Gyanvapi mosque’s Wazu Khana (ablution tank) to determine if it is indeed a “Shivling”, or just a defunct fountain.

In July this year, a Bench of Justices Rajesh Singh Chauhan and Subhash Vidyarthi had dismissed the plea moved by seven people. The petitioners included five residents of Varanasi, namely Sarve Shri Sudhir Singh, Baba Balak Das, Shivendra Pratap Singh, Markande Tiwari, and Rajan Rai, as well as two lawyers practicing at the High Court’s Lucknow bench, namely Ravi Mishra and Atul Kumar. They had moved HC through Advocate Ashok Pande. According to LiveLaw, while dismissing the plea the HC had observed that the petition had been filed merely to gain publicity, and the court nipped the attempt in the bud by dismissing it at the admission stage itself. The HC had also observed that the plea was not maintainable as the Court in Lucknow did not have jurisdiction because Varanasi was not in the Oudh region.    

Now, the seven petitioners have moved SC through Advocate Satyajeet Kumar against the HC order. According to LiveLaw, they have not only submitted that the HC had erred in dismissing the plea on merits, but also that the pendency of civil suits regarding subject matter of the case cannot be grounds for dismissal of the PIL. They have also questioned the propriety of the Bench itself calling it “a bench of two unequal judges” as one of the judges was appointed under Article 217 of the Constitution, and another was an Additional Judge appointed under Article 224 of the Constitution.

Pending suits

Readers would recall that a case to determine the maintainability of the suit itself is pending before the court of Varanasi district judge Ajay Krishna Vishvesha, is hearing arguments pertaining to Order 7 Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). Due to the sudden death of Advocate Abhay Nath Yadav, who was representing the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM), which is the committee that manages the Gyanvapi mosque, proceedings in the case have been adjourned to August 18.

Meanwhile, the Allahabad HC is also hearing the AIM and Sunni Central Waqf Board’s plea to stay the proceedings before a lower court in Varanasi. They had argued that the lower court should not be allowed to conduct proceedings, given how judgment in the title suit pertaining to the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Gyanvapi mosque dispute has been reserved by the Allahabad High Court in March 2021. Moreover, they argued that as per the Places of Worship Act, the character of a place of worship cannot be changed from what it was on Indian Independence Day i.e August 15, 1947.

During the hearing on August 3, the petitioners i.e AIM and the Waqf Board, also argued that the land is Waqf land and therefore a civil dispute cannot be made part of a civil dispute. Meanwhile, according to the Nav Bharat Times the Hindu parties argued that the land was never Waqf land and was part of the Kashi Vishwanath temple, a portion of which was razed to build the mosque. They say the land therefore remains eternally vested in the deity, and therefore cannot be called Waqf land.  

The Allahabad High Court has now adjourned that case to August 17.

Readers would recall that the title suit in the case was filed as far back as in 1991. On March 15, 2021, judge Prakash Padia of the Allahabad High Court had reserved his judgment in the case. It is the same judge who is now hearing a plea for a stay on proceedings before the lower court.

The above proceedings are distinct from the petition for banning entry of Muslim devotees to the Gyanvapi mosque and conducting prayers as per Hindu tradition, a matter that is being heard by a fast-track court in Varanasi. The court had permitted the petitioners to make some corrections to their petition during the last hearing.

Case in the Supreme Court

On July 21, the Supreme Court announced that it has decided to wait for the Varanasi district court’s decision pertaining specifically to the maintainability of the case under Order 7, Rule 11 of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC). The court, accordingly, adjourned the matter till the first week of October.

The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and PS Narasimha was hearing a petition by the Anjuman Intezamia Masjid (AIM) which is the mosque management authority of the Gyanvapi mosque, challenging the lower courts order to conduct a survey of the mosque.

Related:

Gyanvapi case: Arguments continue in Allahabad HC

Gyanvapi case: SC to wait for Varanasi district court’s decision on suit maintainability

Gyanvapi case: Fast-track court permits corrections to petition

Gyanvapi case: Allahabad HC resumes hearing plea against proceedings in lower court

Gyanvapi case: Hindu petitioners submit that the mosque stands on land owned by Hindu deity

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Gauri Lankesh Assassination Trial: Hearings to resume before KCOCA Court today

The case is being heard in the second week of every month for five days; last time Gauri’s sister Kavitha and a few eye-witnesses had given their testimony and been cross examined 

08 Aug 2022

Gauri Lankesh
Image: The News Minute

On Monday, August 8, a special Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act (KCOCA) court is all set to resume hearings in the trial surrounding the assassination of Gauri Lankesh, a fearless journalist known for speaking truth to power and calling out right-wing extremists. 

When hearings began on July 4, Special Judge CM Joshi had set some ground-rules according to which hearings will take place every second week of the month for five days. As SabrangIndia had reported previously, Gauri Lankesh’s sister Kavita Lankesh, who is a filmmaker and poet, made her statement before the court, and said that just days before her murder, Gauri Lankesh had seen some men “loitering suspiciously” near her home in Bengaluru. She also said that it was she who discovered Gauri’s bullet ridden body in a pool of blood.

But the counsel for the defence wanted to spin an entirely different narrative. During her cross examination, Kavita was asked about family feuds instead. She was also asked about Gauri’s alleged “Naxalite connections”. At one point the defence counsel also mentioned Gauri Lankesh’s connections to the activists who have been dubbed the “tukde-tukde gang”, namely Jignesh Mewani and Kanhaiya Kumar. But this line of questioning was shot down by the court.

Last month, the court also examined other witnesses including a cable operator who had been called to rectify the cable in Lankesh’s home, but found her dead outside her door instead. Another eye-witness, a mason whose wife was employed as a security guard in the building opposite Lankesh’s residence was also examined. He told the court, he heard gun shots when he came back home from work that day, and rushed to the spot, reported The New Indian Express

When the hearing ended on July 8, the counsel for the accused told the court that they had not been given footage from CCTV cameras outside Lankesh’s residence yet. It was this footage that had helped the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to identify and apprehend the shooters. On Monday, July 18, the Special Public Prosecutor handed over the footage from two CCTV cameras outside slain journalist Gauri Lankesh’s house to the legal team of the accused. 

Brief background of the case

Journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh was snatched away from friends, family and her fellow journalists when the fearless journalist was gunned down outside her home on September 5, 2017. Since then, 17 people have been arrested in connection with the case, and one accused is still missing.

The said incident came under the jurisdiction of Rajarajeshwari Nagar police station of Bangalore City and on the same day an FIR was registered under Sections 302, 120(B), 114, 118, 109, 201, 203, 204, 35 of I.P.C. and Sections 25(1), 25(1B), 27(1) of the Indian Arms Act, 1959 and Sessions 3(1)(i), 3(2), 3(3) and 3(4) of the COCA Act, 2000 (Order No.C.R.M./01/158/BC/2017-18 dated 06-09-2017 of the D.G. and I.G.P.) as Crime No. 221/2017. Gauri Lankesh’s sister, Kavitha Lankesh is the first informant in the case.

The Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) began probing the case. Two chargesheets were filed in the case. The primary chargesheet was filed against KT Naveen Kumar, a 37-year-old member of the Hindu Yuva Sena on May 30, 2018. On November 23, 2018 the supplementary chargesheet running into 9,235 pages was filed. 18 people have reportedly been named in the chargesheet. These include shooter Parashuram Waghmare, masterminds Amol Kale, Sujith Kumar alias Praveen and Amit Digwekar. It was in this chargesheet that the Sanatan Sanstha was mentioned for the first time.

The chargesheet also mentions 26 other people who were on a hit list of sorts. These are eminent journalists, educationists and intellectuals who are perceived to be anti-Hindu by the Sanatan Sanstha. These include Siddharth Varadrajan (Editor, The Wire), journalist Antara Dev Sen, JNU professor Chaman Lal, Punjabi playwright Atamjit Singh among others.

According to the Karnataka SIT, the plot to kill Lankesh was hatched a year before the assassination. Amol Kale, a former Hindu Janjagruti Samiti convener, allegedly hired killer Parshuram Waghmare. Waghamare was allegedly a member of the Sri Ram Sene. Kale took him to an isolated spot in Khanapur, Belgaum to practice using an air pistol. Waghmare allegedly did a recce of Lankesh’s house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar in July 2017. On September 5, he and another back-up gunman Ganesh Miskin arrived outside Lankesh’s house on a black motorcycle. Waghmare fired four times at Lankesh and the duo fled the scene.

However, the group responsible came together in 2010-11 suggesting that this was a wider conspiracy planned over a longer period aiming to eliminate more rationalists, journalists and activists. In a press release the SIT had said, “The investigation so far has revealed that all the 18 accused are active members of an organised crime syndicate. This syndicate was formed in 2010-11, under the leadership of Virendra Tawade alias Bade Bhaisaab. One former editor of ‘Sanatan Prabhat’ provided financial support to this syndicate. The members of this organisation targeted people who they identified to be inimical to their belief and ideology. The members strictly followed the guidelines and principles mentioned in ‘Kshatra Dharma Sadhana’, a book published by Sanatan Sanstha.” The statement further added, “In August 2016, in a meeting of the syndicate, the main members identified Ms. Lankesh as a “durjan” as told in the ‘Kshatra Dharma Sadhana’, based on her speeches and writings. They jointly hatched a conspiracy to murder her.”

The arrests

On March 2, 2018, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating Lankesh’s assassination made its first arrest, apprehending right-wing activist K. T. Naveen Kumar, of Maddur, who in 2015 founded the Hindu Yuva Sene. Kumar who reportedly confessed to Lankesh’s murder had previously been arrested in February 2018 in relation to a case involving illegal arms.

On May 30, 2018, when the SIT filed a 650-page chargesheet in the Lankesh murder case, KT Naveen Kumar was named in it. Kumar allegedly obtained the bullets that were used to kill Gauri Lankesh, and that he allegedly supplied logistical support to her killers and directed them to her residence and office in Bengaluru. It alleges that the bullets were from an ammunition store called Bangalore Armoury, and that Kumar purchased them around eight years ago. Syed Shabeer, who works at City Gun House in Kalasipalya, claimed to the SIT that he sold Kumar 18 bullets for Rs. 3,000 about eight years ago.

The SIT, in the chargesheet, stated, “The accused were angry with her for speaking against Hindu dharma, Gods of Hindu dharma and insulting Hindu dharma”. Kumar’s wife, Roopa C. N., gave the SIT a statement, which indicated that Kumar was associated with the Sanatan Dharma Sanstha, largely in 2017.

In late May 2018, the SIT arrested four more people with ties to right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha for a January 2018 conspiracy to kill K. S. Bhagwan. The four individuals also had ties to Sanatan Sanstha’s sister outfit, the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), and were also connected to Kumar, in 2017 had attended multiple HJS meetings. The four individuals are named Amol Kale alias Bhaisab, an HJS activist from Maharashtra, Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep, a Sanatan Sanstha activist from Goa, Manohar Edave of Karnataka, and Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, an activist with Sanatan Sanstha and the HJS from Mangalore.

On June 11, 2018 the sixth accused in the case, Parashuram Waghmare, 26, was arrested. On Thursday, June 14, police reportedly interrogated Waghmare and the previously arrested Amol Kale. Waghmare had allegedly claimed that Kale instructed him to carry out the killing, and gave him a country-made pistol.

Sharad Kalaskar was arrested on August 10, 2018 by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) after a tip off from the Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) which was probing the Gauri Lankesh murder case. The ATS claims that Kalaskar was also one of the two gunmen who shot and killed Narendra Dabholkar in August 2013. According to the ATS, the weapon used to kill Gauri Lankesh and other rationalists was also procured and manufactured by Kalaskar.

A note on how to make bombs was also recovered from him. Kalaskar was arrested along with Vaibhav Raut and Sudhanwa Gondhalekar from the Nallasopara home of Raut who is the convener of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti. 20 crude bombs and two gelatin sheets were recovered during this raid. Meanwhile, Gondhalekar is a member of Shiv Shivapratishthan Hindustan, an organisation run by none other than Shambhaji Bhide, one of the two main accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence.

In July 2019, Uma Devi, wife of slain rationalist MM Kalburgi identified the gunman who shot her husband. Earlier the SIT had arrested Praveen Chatur, a Belgavi resident who had allegedly ferried this gunman in the Kalburgi murder. While police had initially suspected Amit Baddi, a friend of Ganesh Miskin, of being the biker, sketches prepared by police artists did not match eye witness descriptions. When the SIT probed the matter again, interrogation of Amol Kale pointed them towards Chatur. Chatur was also wanted in a petrol bomb attack on a theater screening Padmavat in Belgavi in January. He has now turned state’s witness in the Gauri Lankesh case. In his statement he has reportedly admitted to attending training camps in Jalna and Mangaluru.

Rishikesh Dewarkar was the last one to be arrested in the case so far. Dewarkar who also went by the alias Rajesh was arrested from Katras town in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand in January 2020. He had been on the run ever since the assassination and had been laying low, working at a petrol pump in Katras for several months under an assumed identity.

CJP assists Kavita Lankesh

In June 2021, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) assisted Gauri Lankesh’s sister Kavita move a Special Leave Petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court against an order by the Karnataka High Court dropping charges under Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act (KCOCA) against accused Mohan Nayak, who is is a close associate of Amol Kale and Rajesh Bangera, two men who are key accused in planning and committing the assassination of Gauri Lankesh. 

Nayak had approached the Karnataka high court for bail on grounds of the ruling dropping the KCOCA charges against him. He had contended that on April 2, 2021, the court had quashed the FIR in relation to offence under KCOCA and therefore he could not be charged for the offence under KCOCA. For this reason, he argued that the chargesheet against him should have been filed before expiry of 90 days from the date of his arrest and remand to judicial custody. Admittedly there was no chargesheet and hence he contended that he should be entitled to statutory bail under Section 167(2) of Cr.PC. 

But on July 13, the High Court’s Single-judge Bench of Justice Sreenivas Harish Kumar ruled that Nayak cannot seek bail on the grounds that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) filed a chargesheet against him, only on November 23, 2018, more than 90 days following his arrest on July 19, 2018, since the bail application was moved only after the chargesheet was filed.

Lankesh’s SLP, filed with CJP’s assistance, details the nature and extent of Mohan’s involvement saying that investigations had found that he had been “actively involved in providing shelter to the killers prior to and after committing the offence and has participated in a series of conspiracies, abetting, planning, providing logistics.”

The SLP further reiterated what the investigation agency has revealed, that they have collected sufficient evidence “to connect him with the case and establish his intimate nexus with the mastermind behind the entire event i.e., Accused No.1 Amol Kale and master arms trainer Accused No. 8 Rajesh D. Bangera who are part and parcel of an “organised crime syndicate” from its inception.”

On September 21, the matter was heard by a bench comprising Justices A.M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar. In October 2021, the SC restored KCOCA charges against Mohan Nayak.

 

Related:

Gauri Lankesh case: CCTV footage shared with counsel for the accused

Gauri Lankesh case: Why is the Defence harping on alleged “Naxalite connections”, family fued?

Gauri Lankesh case: SC restores KCOCA charges against Mohan Nayak

Gauri Lankesh case: SC reserves order on plea to keep KCOCA charges against accused

Gauri Lankesh case: SC to decide on keeping KCOCA charges against accused

Gauri Lankesh case: CJP assists sister Kavitha move SC

‘Meticulous’ investigation yet little headway in Gauri Lankesh murder case

 

Gauri Lankesh Assassination Trial: Hearings to resume before KCOCA Court today

The case is being heard in the second week of every month for five days; last time Gauri’s sister Kavitha and a few eye-witnesses had given their testimony and been cross examined 

Gauri Lankesh
Image: The News Minute

On Monday, August 8, a special Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act (KCOCA) court is all set to resume hearings in the trial surrounding the assassination of Gauri Lankesh, a fearless journalist known for speaking truth to power and calling out right-wing extremists. 

When hearings began on July 4, Special Judge CM Joshi had set some ground-rules according to which hearings will take place every second week of the month for five days. As SabrangIndia had reported previously, Gauri Lankesh’s sister Kavita Lankesh, who is a filmmaker and poet, made her statement before the court, and said that just days before her murder, Gauri Lankesh had seen some men “loitering suspiciously” near her home in Bengaluru. She also said that it was she who discovered Gauri’s bullet ridden body in a pool of blood.

But the counsel for the defence wanted to spin an entirely different narrative. During her cross examination, Kavita was asked about family feuds instead. She was also asked about Gauri’s alleged “Naxalite connections”. At one point the defence counsel also mentioned Gauri Lankesh’s connections to the activists who have been dubbed the “tukde-tukde gang”, namely Jignesh Mewani and Kanhaiya Kumar. But this line of questioning was shot down by the court.

Last month, the court also examined other witnesses including a cable operator who had been called to rectify the cable in Lankesh’s home, but found her dead outside her door instead. Another eye-witness, a mason whose wife was employed as a security guard in the building opposite Lankesh’s residence was also examined. He told the court, he heard gun shots when he came back home from work that day, and rushed to the spot, reported The New Indian Express

When the hearing ended on July 8, the counsel for the accused told the court that they had not been given footage from CCTV cameras outside Lankesh’s residence yet. It was this footage that had helped the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to identify and apprehend the shooters. On Monday, July 18, the Special Public Prosecutor handed over the footage from two CCTV cameras outside slain journalist Gauri Lankesh’s house to the legal team of the accused. 

Brief background of the case

Journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh was snatched away from friends, family and her fellow journalists when the fearless journalist was gunned down outside her home on September 5, 2017. Since then, 17 people have been arrested in connection with the case, and one accused is still missing.

The said incident came under the jurisdiction of Rajarajeshwari Nagar police station of Bangalore City and on the same day an FIR was registered under Sections 302, 120(B), 114, 118, 109, 201, 203, 204, 35 of I.P.C. and Sections 25(1), 25(1B), 27(1) of the Indian Arms Act, 1959 and Sessions 3(1)(i), 3(2), 3(3) and 3(4) of the COCA Act, 2000 (Order No.C.R.M./01/158/BC/2017-18 dated 06-09-2017 of the D.G. and I.G.P.) as Crime No. 221/2017. Gauri Lankesh’s sister, Kavitha Lankesh is the first informant in the case.

The Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) began probing the case. Two chargesheets were filed in the case. The primary chargesheet was filed against KT Naveen Kumar, a 37-year-old member of the Hindu Yuva Sena on May 30, 2018. On November 23, 2018 the supplementary chargesheet running into 9,235 pages was filed. 18 people have reportedly been named in the chargesheet. These include shooter Parashuram Waghmare, masterminds Amol Kale, Sujith Kumar alias Praveen and Amit Digwekar. It was in this chargesheet that the Sanatan Sanstha was mentioned for the first time.

The chargesheet also mentions 26 other people who were on a hit list of sorts. These are eminent journalists, educationists and intellectuals who are perceived to be anti-Hindu by the Sanatan Sanstha. These include Siddharth Varadrajan (Editor, The Wire), journalist Antara Dev Sen, JNU professor Chaman Lal, Punjabi playwright Atamjit Singh among others.

According to the Karnataka SIT, the plot to kill Lankesh was hatched a year before the assassination. Amol Kale, a former Hindu Janjagruti Samiti convener, allegedly hired killer Parshuram Waghmare. Waghamare was allegedly a member of the Sri Ram Sene. Kale took him to an isolated spot in Khanapur, Belgaum to practice using an air pistol. Waghmare allegedly did a recce of Lankesh’s house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar in July 2017. On September 5, he and another back-up gunman Ganesh Miskin arrived outside Lankesh’s house on a black motorcycle. Waghmare fired four times at Lankesh and the duo fled the scene.

However, the group responsible came together in 2010-11 suggesting that this was a wider conspiracy planned over a longer period aiming to eliminate more rationalists, journalists and activists. In a press release the SIT had said, “The investigation so far has revealed that all the 18 accused are active members of an organised crime syndicate. This syndicate was formed in 2010-11, under the leadership of Virendra Tawade alias Bade Bhaisaab. One former editor of ‘Sanatan Prabhat’ provided financial support to this syndicate. The members of this organisation targeted people who they identified to be inimical to their belief and ideology. The members strictly followed the guidelines and principles mentioned in ‘Kshatra Dharma Sadhana’, a book published by Sanatan Sanstha.” The statement further added, “In August 2016, in a meeting of the syndicate, the main members identified Ms. Lankesh as a “durjan” as told in the ‘Kshatra Dharma Sadhana’, based on her speeches and writings. They jointly hatched a conspiracy to murder her.”

The arrests

On March 2, 2018, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating Lankesh’s assassination made its first arrest, apprehending right-wing activist K. T. Naveen Kumar, of Maddur, who in 2015 founded the Hindu Yuva Sene. Kumar who reportedly confessed to Lankesh’s murder had previously been arrested in February 2018 in relation to a case involving illegal arms.

On May 30, 2018, when the SIT filed a 650-page chargesheet in the Lankesh murder case, KT Naveen Kumar was named in it. Kumar allegedly obtained the bullets that were used to kill Gauri Lankesh, and that he allegedly supplied logistical support to her killers and directed them to her residence and office in Bengaluru. It alleges that the bullets were from an ammunition store called Bangalore Armoury, and that Kumar purchased them around eight years ago. Syed Shabeer, who works at City Gun House in Kalasipalya, claimed to the SIT that he sold Kumar 18 bullets for Rs. 3,000 about eight years ago.

The SIT, in the chargesheet, stated, “The accused were angry with her for speaking against Hindu dharma, Gods of Hindu dharma and insulting Hindu dharma”. Kumar’s wife, Roopa C. N., gave the SIT a statement, which indicated that Kumar was associated with the Sanatan Dharma Sanstha, largely in 2017.

In late May 2018, the SIT arrested four more people with ties to right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha for a January 2018 conspiracy to kill K. S. Bhagwan. The four individuals also had ties to Sanatan Sanstha’s sister outfit, the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), and were also connected to Kumar, in 2017 had attended multiple HJS meetings. The four individuals are named Amol Kale alias Bhaisab, an HJS activist from Maharashtra, Amit Degwekar alias Pradeep, a Sanatan Sanstha activist from Goa, Manohar Edave of Karnataka, and Sujeet Kumar alias Praveen, an activist with Sanatan Sanstha and the HJS from Mangalore.

On June 11, 2018 the sixth accused in the case, Parashuram Waghmare, 26, was arrested. On Thursday, June 14, police reportedly interrogated Waghmare and the previously arrested Amol Kale. Waghmare had allegedly claimed that Kale instructed him to carry out the killing, and gave him a country-made pistol.

Sharad Kalaskar was arrested on August 10, 2018 by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) after a tip off from the Karnataka Special Investigation Team (SIT) which was probing the Gauri Lankesh murder case. The ATS claims that Kalaskar was also one of the two gunmen who shot and killed Narendra Dabholkar in August 2013. According to the ATS, the weapon used to kill Gauri Lankesh and other rationalists was also procured and manufactured by Kalaskar.

A note on how to make bombs was also recovered from him. Kalaskar was arrested along with Vaibhav Raut and Sudhanwa Gondhalekar from the Nallasopara home of Raut who is the convener of the Hindu Govansh Raksha Samiti. 20 crude bombs and two gelatin sheets were recovered during this raid. Meanwhile, Gondhalekar is a member of Shiv Shivapratishthan Hindustan, an organisation run by none other than Shambhaji Bhide, one of the two main accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence.

In July 2019, Uma Devi, wife of slain rationalist MM Kalburgi identified the gunman who shot her husband. Earlier the SIT had arrested Praveen Chatur, a Belgavi resident who had allegedly ferried this gunman in the Kalburgi murder. While police had initially suspected Amit Baddi, a friend of Ganesh Miskin, of being the biker, sketches prepared by police artists did not match eye witness descriptions. When the SIT probed the matter again, interrogation of Amol Kale pointed them towards Chatur. Chatur was also wanted in a petrol bomb attack on a theater screening Padmavat in Belgavi in January. He has now turned state’s witness in the Gauri Lankesh case. In his statement he has reportedly admitted to attending training camps in Jalna and Mangaluru.

Rishikesh Dewarkar was the last one to be arrested in the case so far. Dewarkar who also went by the alias Rajesh was arrested from Katras town in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand in January 2020. He had been on the run ever since the assassination and had been laying low, working at a petrol pump in Katras for several months under an assumed identity.

CJP assists Kavita Lankesh

In June 2021, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) assisted Gauri Lankesh’s sister Kavita move a Special Leave Petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court against an order by the Karnataka High Court dropping charges under Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act (KCOCA) against accused Mohan Nayak, who is is a close associate of Amol Kale and Rajesh Bangera, two men who are key accused in planning and committing the assassination of Gauri Lankesh. 

Nayak had approached the Karnataka high court for bail on grounds of the ruling dropping the KCOCA charges against him. He had contended that on April 2, 2021, the court had quashed the FIR in relation to offence under KCOCA and therefore he could not be charged for the offence under KCOCA. For this reason, he argued that the chargesheet against him should have been filed before expiry of 90 days from the date of his arrest and remand to judicial custody. Admittedly there was no chargesheet and hence he contended that he should be entitled to statutory bail under Section 167(2) of Cr.PC. 

But on July 13, the High Court’s Single-judge Bench of Justice Sreenivas Harish Kumar ruled that Nayak cannot seek bail on the grounds that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) filed a chargesheet against him, only on November 23, 2018, more than 90 days following his arrest on July 19, 2018, since the bail application was moved only after the chargesheet was filed.

Lankesh’s SLP, filed with CJP’s assistance, details the nature and extent of Mohan’s involvement saying that investigations had found that he had been “actively involved in providing shelter to the killers prior to and after committing the offence and has participated in a series of conspiracies, abetting, planning, providing logistics.”

The SLP further reiterated what the investigation agency has revealed, that they have collected sufficient evidence “to connect him with the case and establish his intimate nexus with the mastermind behind the entire event i.e., Accused No.1 Amol Kale and master arms trainer Accused No. 8 Rajesh D. Bangera who are part and parcel of an “organised crime syndicate” from its inception.”

On September 21, the matter was heard by a bench comprising Justices A.M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar. In October 2021, the SC restored KCOCA charges against Mohan Nayak.

 

Related:

Gauri Lankesh case: CCTV footage shared with counsel for the accused

Gauri Lankesh case: Why is the Defence harping on alleged “Naxalite connections”, family fued?

Gauri Lankesh case: SC restores KCOCA charges against Mohan Nayak

Gauri Lankesh case: SC reserves order on plea to keep KCOCA charges against accused

Gauri Lankesh case: SC to decide on keeping KCOCA charges against accused

Gauri Lankesh case: CJP assists sister Kavitha move SC

‘Meticulous’ investigation yet little headway in Gauri Lankesh murder case

 

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Unless society’s mindset changes, neither law nor society can be changed: Kapil Sibal

The Rajya Sabha Member and Senior Advocate was speaking at a People’s Tribunal in New Delhi

08 Aug 2022

Kapil Sibal

It is a sign of the times when one of the nation’s most experienced and respected legal luminaries expresses lack of hope in the country’s highest court. Which is why when Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal expresses lack of faith in the Supreme Court, it should be a cause for concern.

Sibal was speaking at a People’s Tribunal organised by different civil rights groups in the Constitution Club of India, Delhi on Saturday, August 6, 2022. The Tribunal saw discussions on Judicial Rollback of Civil Liberties with special emphasis on Himanshu Kumar and Zakia Jafri Judgements of the Supreme Court.

The Tribunal’s jury comprised Justice AP Shah (Former Chief Justice, High Court of Delhi and former chairperson, Law Commission of India), Justice Anjana Prakash (Former Judge, Patna High Court), Justice Marlapalle (Former Judge, Bombay High Court), Professor Virginius Xaxa (Chair of the 2014 High Level Committee to Examine the Status of Scheduled Tribes) and Dr. Syeda Hameed (Former Member of the Planning Commission).

The final session of the tribunal was titled Judicial Assaults on Civil Liberties and the panel comprised Advocate Warisha Farasat (Supreme Court and Delhi High Court), Senior Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan (Supreme Court of India), and Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal (Supreme Court of India). They spoke on different issues and judgements regarding how cases were dealt with on questions regarding liberty.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal spoke about why the Supreme Court, which should be protecting the individual rights, has been allegedly rendering judgements and orders that are antithetical to individual liberty.

“Iss saal mujhe pachaas saal ho jayenge Supreme Court mein vakalaat karte-aur pachaas saal ke baad mujhe aisa lagta hai ki mujhe iss samshta se koi umeed hai (Translation: This year, I will complete 50 years for my practice at the Supreme Court, and I think I don't have any hope left in the institution.)” said Sibal, mincing no words.

“I have come to the conclusion that until society’s mindset changes, neither law nor society can be changed,” he added. He stated that when hate speeches were taken to the court, no material action was taken and they (the hate speeches) kept on continuing. He stated that in a society where ‘mai-baap’ culture is prevalent, no institution can be independent.

Independence can only be there when we stand up and say that we want independence. We are not independent. This is the reality of India,” he said. He highlighted how the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was constituted to investigate the cases of Gujarat Riots, went on to take the statements of accused on face value to close the investigation and how the Supreme Court has agreed to this kind of investigation. Sibal had represented Zakia Jafri in the Special Leave Petition (SLP) moved before the Supreme Court, which was dismissed by the court in June this year.

“Truth is that whenever sensitive matters go to court, they go before certain judges and we know the result of those cases even before the judgement comes out, he alleged, referring to a case where a man was in jail under charges of Criminal Conspiracy (Section 120 B of the IPC), where bail was not given by the court, as he expected. “If the Supreme Court itself has given undue importance to PMLA act without recognising its penal nature,” he asked, “how will the lower courts go beyond the Supreme Court’s understanding?”

Warisha Farasat gave an overview of Supreme Court’s and different High Courts’ jurisprudence regarding civil rights and emphasised on the need to going back to the basics of constitutional rights, and the checks and balances the constitution envisaged for a smooth functioning of the state and democracy. “Political Opposition has been significantly diminished and voices of dissent from the civil society have been crushed. Naturally, in such a situation the only place where the citizen can look up to is the judiciary to uphold its rights,” she said, indicating the importance of the judiciary in the current political climate.

If courts are not cognisant of the reality of inequality power dynamic between an individual and the state, she said, justice cannot be served. “In many other judgements the Supreme Court has literally given the central government a walkover and arbitrary state action has been left unchecked,” she said. She highlighted the use of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for any and every offence and the Delhi High Court’s remarks on how UAPA cannot be used in ordinary penal cases; delaying and keeping cases of constitutional importance pending like revocation of article 370, electoral bonds case, the challenged to CAA, the post 370 habeas corpus petitions - indicating that the Supreme Court seems to have taken a side.

“Again, we forget, needless to say that Habeas Corpus is the highest writ of the land and it is an important safeguard under the constitution which is given not only to citizens but also to non-citizens and to take it away and to do nothing, to delay these cases is in itself an act of omission,” said Adv. Farasat, adding, “Therefore, it appears that whenever a significant matter that truly bothers the central government is at issue, the Supreme Court seems to have done something or nothing but it seems to have caved in.”

Senior Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan spoke about Supreme Court’s dichotomy regarding its judgements on personal liberty with changing times. “In fact, it will be seen that at times of crises, the court generally stood by the executive and other times it has been expansive about liberty and accountability,” she said. According to Adv Ramakrishnan, the law is not being applied, and courts are accepting the distortion of narratives and facts.

The jury of the people’s tribunal will release its report within a week’s time based on the arguments and documents presented during the day. The full session may be viewed here.

 

Related:

SIT was only ‘SIT’ting, not investigating: Kapil Sibal in Zakia Jafri SLP

Communal violence is like lava, leaving ground fertile for revenge: Kapil Sibal in Zakia Jafri SLP

 

 

Unless society’s mindset changes, neither law nor society can be changed: Kapil Sibal

The Rajya Sabha Member and Senior Advocate was speaking at a People’s Tribunal in New Delhi

Kapil Sibal

It is a sign of the times when one of the nation’s most experienced and respected legal luminaries expresses lack of hope in the country’s highest court. Which is why when Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal expresses lack of faith in the Supreme Court, it should be a cause for concern.

Sibal was speaking at a People’s Tribunal organised by different civil rights groups in the Constitution Club of India, Delhi on Saturday, August 6, 2022. The Tribunal saw discussions on Judicial Rollback of Civil Liberties with special emphasis on Himanshu Kumar and Zakia Jafri Judgements of the Supreme Court.

The Tribunal’s jury comprised Justice AP Shah (Former Chief Justice, High Court of Delhi and former chairperson, Law Commission of India), Justice Anjana Prakash (Former Judge, Patna High Court), Justice Marlapalle (Former Judge, Bombay High Court), Professor Virginius Xaxa (Chair of the 2014 High Level Committee to Examine the Status of Scheduled Tribes) and Dr. Syeda Hameed (Former Member of the Planning Commission).

The final session of the tribunal was titled Judicial Assaults on Civil Liberties and the panel comprised Advocate Warisha Farasat (Supreme Court and Delhi High Court), Senior Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan (Supreme Court of India), and Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal (Supreme Court of India). They spoke on different issues and judgements regarding how cases were dealt with on questions regarding liberty.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal spoke about why the Supreme Court, which should be protecting the individual rights, has been allegedly rendering judgements and orders that are antithetical to individual liberty.

“Iss saal mujhe pachaas saal ho jayenge Supreme Court mein vakalaat karte-aur pachaas saal ke baad mujhe aisa lagta hai ki mujhe iss samshta se koi umeed hai (Translation: This year, I will complete 50 years for my practice at the Supreme Court, and I think I don't have any hope left in the institution.)” said Sibal, mincing no words.

“I have come to the conclusion that until society’s mindset changes, neither law nor society can be changed,” he added. He stated that when hate speeches were taken to the court, no material action was taken and they (the hate speeches) kept on continuing. He stated that in a society where ‘mai-baap’ culture is prevalent, no institution can be independent.

Independence can only be there when we stand up and say that we want independence. We are not independent. This is the reality of India,” he said. He highlighted how the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was constituted to investigate the cases of Gujarat Riots, went on to take the statements of accused on face value to close the investigation and how the Supreme Court has agreed to this kind of investigation. Sibal had represented Zakia Jafri in the Special Leave Petition (SLP) moved before the Supreme Court, which was dismissed by the court in June this year.

“Truth is that whenever sensitive matters go to court, they go before certain judges and we know the result of those cases even before the judgement comes out, he alleged, referring to a case where a man was in jail under charges of Criminal Conspiracy (Section 120 B of the IPC), where bail was not given by the court, as he expected. “If the Supreme Court itself has given undue importance to PMLA act without recognising its penal nature,” he asked, “how will the lower courts go beyond the Supreme Court’s understanding?”

Warisha Farasat gave an overview of Supreme Court’s and different High Courts’ jurisprudence regarding civil rights and emphasised on the need to going back to the basics of constitutional rights, and the checks and balances the constitution envisaged for a smooth functioning of the state and democracy. “Political Opposition has been significantly diminished and voices of dissent from the civil society have been crushed. Naturally, in such a situation the only place where the citizen can look up to is the judiciary to uphold its rights,” she said, indicating the importance of the judiciary in the current political climate.

If courts are not cognisant of the reality of inequality power dynamic between an individual and the state, she said, justice cannot be served. “In many other judgements the Supreme Court has literally given the central government a walkover and arbitrary state action has been left unchecked,” she said. She highlighted the use of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for any and every offence and the Delhi High Court’s remarks on how UAPA cannot be used in ordinary penal cases; delaying and keeping cases of constitutional importance pending like revocation of article 370, electoral bonds case, the challenged to CAA, the post 370 habeas corpus petitions - indicating that the Supreme Court seems to have taken a side.

“Again, we forget, needless to say that Habeas Corpus is the highest writ of the land and it is an important safeguard under the constitution which is given not only to citizens but also to non-citizens and to take it away and to do nothing, to delay these cases is in itself an act of omission,” said Adv. Farasat, adding, “Therefore, it appears that whenever a significant matter that truly bothers the central government is at issue, the Supreme Court seems to have done something or nothing but it seems to have caved in.”

Senior Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan spoke about Supreme Court’s dichotomy regarding its judgements on personal liberty with changing times. “In fact, it will be seen that at times of crises, the court generally stood by the executive and other times it has been expansive about liberty and accountability,” she said. According to Adv Ramakrishnan, the law is not being applied, and courts are accepting the distortion of narratives and facts.

The jury of the people’s tribunal will release its report within a week’s time based on the arguments and documents presented during the day. The full session may be viewed here.

 

Related:

SIT was only ‘SIT’ting, not investigating: Kapil Sibal in Zakia Jafri SLP

Communal violence is like lava, leaving ground fertile for revenge: Kapil Sibal in Zakia Jafri SLP

 

 

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‘Grave Injustice’: People’s Tribunal on SC Judgements in Zakia Jafri, Himanshu Kumar’s Petitions

Speakers, including former judges, at the People’s Tribunal criticised the Supreme Court for putting down those who dared to raise questions over the government’s actions.

08 Aug 2022

People Tribunal

New Delhi: Noted individuals and organisations working for civil liberties and human rights held a people’s tribunal in Delhi on Saturday to address the concerns over the implications of two recent Supreme Court judgements in petitions filed by Zakia Jafri and Himanshu Kumar.

The members of the tribunal on “Judicial Rollback of Civil Liberties” consisted of Justice AP Shah (former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court), Justice Anjana Prakash (Former judge of Patna High Court), Justice Marlepalle (former judge of Bombay High Court), Professor Virginius Xaxa (Chair of the 2014 High Level Committee to examine the status of scheduled tribes), Dr Syeda Hameed (former member of Planning Commission).

In the case of activist Himanshu Kumar, the Supreme Court on July 14 dismissed a petition filed in 2009 seeking an independent probe into the alleged extra-judicial killings of adivasis by security forces in Chhattisgarh. Additionally, the top court also imposed a fine worth Rs 5 lakh on the main petitioner, Himanshu Kumar. However, the tribal rights activist has refused to pay the fine.

 Counsels on behalf of the Union government claimed that the petitioners depicted killings carried out by Naxals as being done by the security forces. The division bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and J.B. Pardiwala left it to the government of Chhattisgarh to take any action against the petitioners for allegedly making “false charges” under Section 211 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and even for “criminal conspiracy”.

Speaking to NewsClick, Kumar said: “The order said that Himanshu Kumar’s petition is false, fine should be imposed on it and it was filed to help Naxalites. Supreme Court has also permitted NIA and CBI to file FIRs against us and probe us. However, the current DIG of NIA, Amresh Kumar, was the responsible Superintendent of Police during the massacres in Chhattisgarh. There’s not only a conflict of interest, but he is an accused. The court is telling us that we should rely on their investigation.” he added, “The Supreme Court also accepted an affidavit of the Centre that claimed all those who go to the courts against the security forces are trying to help Naxalite. This means all the human rights activists are criminals and can be jailed.”

 He further said: “Based on what the adivasi petitioners said under pressure while in police custody, that they did not know the perpetrators, the Supreme Court says our petition is false. But instead, they should get it investigated that who actually killed those people.”

 The petition, which was moved by Himanshu Kumar and 12 others, alleged that security forces had shot about 15 tribals from Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district in the guise of anti-Naxal operations in 2009. Their plea sought an independent investigation into the killings and asked the court to direct the government to provide compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased.

Collin Gonsalves, counsel for the petitioners, pointed out that while not in police custody, every adivasi petitioner has named the security forces as the perpetrators of the 2009 killings in Gompad and Gachhanpalli villages and even identified police officials involved in it. But the Supreme Court said it found no evidence against the police, Gonsalves added. His statement was corroborated by the victims’ families cum petitioners who spoke at the tribunal.

“The petitioners did not even know whether an investigation took place. How will they? The investigators did not even come and take their statements. And not a single tribal has said that those were attacks by Naxalites,” Gonsalves said.

The adivasis whose kin died or were injured during these alleged operations in 2009, narrated their stories before the tribunal. One of them, Markam Muke, said her husband Markam Sula was dragged out of the house by the police and killed along with two other villagers. After she signed the petition for the probe, the police allegedly picked her up and kept her in custody for a month, she said. “They brought us to Delhi to give statements at the court (Tis Hazari) and told us not to take the police’s name. The police said if we did as they said, they would pay us but if not, they would kill us,” Markam Muke said. She added that she has not received any compensation till now.

In view of this, Justice AP Shah said, “The tribals who are even scared of going to the tehsildar, somehow reached the apex court to seek justice for their people who died. But instead of ordering an independent investigation into the incident, the tribals were told their petition is false, there should be criminal proceedings against them and the main petitioner should pay Rs 5 lakh fine. This is shocking.”

Zakia Jafri Case: ‘SC Failing in its Duty’

In the case of Zakia Jafri, a victim of 2002 Gujarat Riots whose husband and Congress leader Ehsan Jafri was killed in the Gulberg Society massacre, the Supreme Court dismissed her challenge to the closure report filed by the special investigation team (SIT); the order thus dismissed the allegations of a larger conspiracy by high state functionaries. It also slammed the petitioner and Teesta Setalvad, who was a co-petitioner but was not accepted as one by the court, by saying that some people kept “the pot boiling” of the case “for ulterior design” and “all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with the law." This was followed by the arrest of human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and R.B. Sreekumar, the former additional director general police, by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad on the basis of an FIR that reportedly draws from the Supreme Court judgement.

Nizam Pasha, Advocate at the Supreme Court, said: “If you want to summarise Article 32 of the Constitution, it says the role of the Supreme Court to question the government’s actions and motivations. But if the Supreme Court starts reprimanding those who are raising questions then is it doing its duty?  It’s failing in its duty. Then we are living in a Banana Republic.” He added, “We are not afraid of the government but the failure of constitutional safeguard on governments powers. What I find problematic in this judgment is the approach ‘how dare you (the petitioners)’.

Giving a clean chit to PM Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court held that the riot was not pre-planned, Pasha said, adding, “However, that was not our argument. We argued such a situation was created by the Sangh and its affiliated organisations that only a matchstick was needed for a riot. And the Godhra incident became that matchstick. The creating of that situation was the conspiracy.”

Advocate Mihir Desai said, “The judgement was not only wrong on merits but also for making observations against Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar, and others. This is her (Teesta’s) life’s work. There was a huge amount of groundwork done, including staying in camps for days to collect information.” He further said, “The SC says the pot has been kept boiling for 16 years. But on March 1, 2002, the NHRC first took suo motu cognisance and visited Gujarat, and made a report. It said the entire law and order had broken down there. In 2004, the NHRC said eight key trials (of the riots) should be moved out of Gujarat.”

Desai said that Jafri first went to high court with her petition and when that was rejected, she went to the Supreme Court as that is the process. Commenting further on the judgement, he added that “Even in 2008, the Supreme Court while not moving the trials outside Gujarat said it did not want Gujarat police to investigate the cases… We did not start boiling the pot…the pot had been boiling since then.”

Commenting on the two judgements, Justice Anjana Prakash said, “Everyone in the court knows that just because one cannot prove the case for lack of evidence, it does not mean the case is false. This behaviour does not suit the court, it is not by standard procedure and rules. It is very unfortunate.”

At the end of the event, passing observation, tribunal member Justice Prakash said, “The question is not how injustice is being practised, the larger question is how to deal with it. What we heard today is not new. We went to the court for justice, but what has happened is a grave injustice.”

Virginius Xaxa also observed that the recent judgements of the Supreme Court have given immunity to the State and strengthened the executive.

The tribunal was organised by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform, People's Union for Civil Liberties, and National Alliance of People's Movements.


Courtesy: Newsclick

 

 

‘Grave Injustice’: People’s Tribunal on SC Judgements in Zakia Jafri, Himanshu Kumar’s Petitions

Speakers, including former judges, at the People’s Tribunal criticised the Supreme Court for putting down those who dared to raise questions over the government’s actions.

People Tribunal

New Delhi: Noted individuals and organisations working for civil liberties and human rights held a people’s tribunal in Delhi on Saturday to address the concerns over the implications of two recent Supreme Court judgements in petitions filed by Zakia Jafri and Himanshu Kumar.

The members of the tribunal on “Judicial Rollback of Civil Liberties” consisted of Justice AP Shah (former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court), Justice Anjana Prakash (Former judge of Patna High Court), Justice Marlepalle (former judge of Bombay High Court), Professor Virginius Xaxa (Chair of the 2014 High Level Committee to examine the status of scheduled tribes), Dr Syeda Hameed (former member of Planning Commission).

In the case of activist Himanshu Kumar, the Supreme Court on July 14 dismissed a petition filed in 2009 seeking an independent probe into the alleged extra-judicial killings of adivasis by security forces in Chhattisgarh. Additionally, the top court also imposed a fine worth Rs 5 lakh on the main petitioner, Himanshu Kumar. However, the tribal rights activist has refused to pay the fine.

 Counsels on behalf of the Union government claimed that the petitioners depicted killings carried out by Naxals as being done by the security forces. The division bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and J.B. Pardiwala left it to the government of Chhattisgarh to take any action against the petitioners for allegedly making “false charges” under Section 211 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and even for “criminal conspiracy”.

Speaking to NewsClick, Kumar said: “The order said that Himanshu Kumar’s petition is false, fine should be imposed on it and it was filed to help Naxalites. Supreme Court has also permitted NIA and CBI to file FIRs against us and probe us. However, the current DIG of NIA, Amresh Kumar, was the responsible Superintendent of Police during the massacres in Chhattisgarh. There’s not only a conflict of interest, but he is an accused. The court is telling us that we should rely on their investigation.” he added, “The Supreme Court also accepted an affidavit of the Centre that claimed all those who go to the courts against the security forces are trying to help Naxalite. This means all the human rights activists are criminals and can be jailed.”

 He further said: “Based on what the adivasi petitioners said under pressure while in police custody, that they did not know the perpetrators, the Supreme Court says our petition is false. But instead, they should get it investigated that who actually killed those people.”

 The petition, which was moved by Himanshu Kumar and 12 others, alleged that security forces had shot about 15 tribals from Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district in the guise of anti-Naxal operations in 2009. Their plea sought an independent investigation into the killings and asked the court to direct the government to provide compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the deceased.

Collin Gonsalves, counsel for the petitioners, pointed out that while not in police custody, every adivasi petitioner has named the security forces as the perpetrators of the 2009 killings in Gompad and Gachhanpalli villages and even identified police officials involved in it. But the Supreme Court said it found no evidence against the police, Gonsalves added. His statement was corroborated by the victims’ families cum petitioners who spoke at the tribunal.

“The petitioners did not even know whether an investigation took place. How will they? The investigators did not even come and take their statements. And not a single tribal has said that those were attacks by Naxalites,” Gonsalves said.

The adivasis whose kin died or were injured during these alleged operations in 2009, narrated their stories before the tribunal. One of them, Markam Muke, said her husband Markam Sula was dragged out of the house by the police and killed along with two other villagers. After she signed the petition for the probe, the police allegedly picked her up and kept her in custody for a month, she said. “They brought us to Delhi to give statements at the court (Tis Hazari) and told us not to take the police’s name. The police said if we did as they said, they would pay us but if not, they would kill us,” Markam Muke said. She added that she has not received any compensation till now.

In view of this, Justice AP Shah said, “The tribals who are even scared of going to the tehsildar, somehow reached the apex court to seek justice for their people who died. But instead of ordering an independent investigation into the incident, the tribals were told their petition is false, there should be criminal proceedings against them and the main petitioner should pay Rs 5 lakh fine. This is shocking.”

Zakia Jafri Case: ‘SC Failing in its Duty’

In the case of Zakia Jafri, a victim of 2002 Gujarat Riots whose husband and Congress leader Ehsan Jafri was killed in the Gulberg Society massacre, the Supreme Court dismissed her challenge to the closure report filed by the special investigation team (SIT); the order thus dismissed the allegations of a larger conspiracy by high state functionaries. It also slammed the petitioner and Teesta Setalvad, who was a co-petitioner but was not accepted as one by the court, by saying that some people kept “the pot boiling” of the case “for ulterior design” and “all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with the law." This was followed by the arrest of human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and R.B. Sreekumar, the former additional director general police, by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad on the basis of an FIR that reportedly draws from the Supreme Court judgement.

Nizam Pasha, Advocate at the Supreme Court, said: “If you want to summarise Article 32 of the Constitution, it says the role of the Supreme Court to question the government’s actions and motivations. But if the Supreme Court starts reprimanding those who are raising questions then is it doing its duty?  It’s failing in its duty. Then we are living in a Banana Republic.” He added, “We are not afraid of the government but the failure of constitutional safeguard on governments powers. What I find problematic in this judgment is the approach ‘how dare you (the petitioners)’.

Giving a clean chit to PM Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court held that the riot was not pre-planned, Pasha said, adding, “However, that was not our argument. We argued such a situation was created by the Sangh and its affiliated organisations that only a matchstick was needed for a riot. And the Godhra incident became that matchstick. The creating of that situation was the conspiracy.”

Advocate Mihir Desai said, “The judgement was not only wrong on merits but also for making observations against Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar, and others. This is her (Teesta’s) life’s work. There was a huge amount of groundwork done, including staying in camps for days to collect information.” He further said, “The SC says the pot has been kept boiling for 16 years. But on March 1, 2002, the NHRC first took suo motu cognisance and visited Gujarat, and made a report. It said the entire law and order had broken down there. In 2004, the NHRC said eight key trials (of the riots) should be moved out of Gujarat.”

Desai said that Jafri first went to high court with her petition and when that was rejected, she went to the Supreme Court as that is the process. Commenting further on the judgement, he added that “Even in 2008, the Supreme Court while not moving the trials outside Gujarat said it did not want Gujarat police to investigate the cases… We did not start boiling the pot…the pot had been boiling since then.”

Commenting on the two judgements, Justice Anjana Prakash said, “Everyone in the court knows that just because one cannot prove the case for lack of evidence, it does not mean the case is false. This behaviour does not suit the court, it is not by standard procedure and rules. It is very unfortunate.”

At the end of the event, passing observation, tribunal member Justice Prakash said, “The question is not how injustice is being practised, the larger question is how to deal with it. What we heard today is not new. We went to the court for justice, but what has happened is a grave injustice.”

Virginius Xaxa also observed that the recent judgements of the Supreme Court have given immunity to the State and strengthened the executive.

The tribunal was organised by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform, People's Union for Civil Liberties, and National Alliance of People's Movements.


Courtesy: Newsclick

 

 

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It is unfortunate that the petition was dismissed: Tanvir Jafri on Zakia Jafri case

The son of Zakia Jafri and slain Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri also lamented the Supreme Court’s observations about the NGO that helped them seek justice and whistleblower cops

08 Aug 2022

tanvir jafriFile Photo

On August 6, civil society groups such as Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform (CJAR), People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), organized a People’s Tribunal at the Constitution Club in New Delhi. Titled, People’s Tribunal: Judicial Rollback of Civil Liberties, the day-long event saw discussions with special emphasis on Himanshu Kumar and Zakia Jafri Judgements of the Supreme Court. 

The Tribunal’s jury comprised Justice AP Shah (Former CJ, High Court of Delhi and former chairperson, Law Commission of India), Justice Anjana Prakash (Former Judge, Patna High Court), Justice Marlapalle (Former Judge, Bombay High Court), Professor Virginius Xaxa (Chair of the 2014 High Level Committee to Examine the Status of Scheduled Tribes) and Dr. Syeda Hameed (Former Member of the Planning Commission). 

In the discussion regarding the Supreme Court judgment in the Zakia Jafri case, Tanvir Jafri, who is the son of Zakia Jafri and slain former Congress Member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri (who was killed during the communal violence in Gujarat in 2002), voiced his concerns about the judgment and its consequences. Other panelists in this discussion included Senior Advocate Mihir Desai (Bombay High Court) and Advocate Nizam Pasha (Supreme Court). 

Tanvir Jafri recounted how Gujarat, Gulberg Society, and his mother Zakia Jafri had seen communal riots from the late 1960s to 2002, and how Gulberg Society had always been a place of refuge at such times for the riot affected people. But all that changed on the day the society was attacked. “They set fire to the house. Those who were inside were burnt to death, those who stepped outside were attacked with knives,” said Jafri speaking about the fateful day. “My mother and about one hundred people took refuge on the higher floors and the roof, and were rescued only when the police arrived hours later, by which time my father had been killed brutally,” he said. 

Jafri is pained by the outcome of the Zakia Jafri case where his mother was the main petitioner, backed by Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) via its secretary Teesta Setalvad. “It is unfortunate that the petition was dismissed. What’s more shocking is how the court made remarks about police officials who were just doing their duty and the NGO that supported us. They are now in jail,” he said referring to Setalvad, who was named co-conspirator along with two whistle-blower cops - former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) RB Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt. The First Information Report (FIR) against the trio was registered just the day after the Supreme Court, while dismissing the petition moved Zakia Jafri, observed in the judgment, “As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.

Tanvir Jafri New

The FIR against Setalvad quoted the same line from the judgment, thereby confirming that it was the observations of the court in the judgment that had precipitated the arrest.   

Meanwhile, Advocate Nizam Pasha spoke about how the tone of the Supreme Court was to frown upon the audacity of petitioners in the case to question the state machinery. He spoke about the incidents leading up to riots across the state of Gujarat like the distribution of weapons, hate speeches and the public procession involving bodies of those killed in the Godhra train burning incident. He pointed out how these elements were presented as a part of conspiracy by the petitioners.

According to Pasha, the court not only ignored all the evidence presented by the petitioners, but also there was no relation between the Court's judgement and the petitioner's arguments. “We were given answers to questions we didn't ask, instead of answers to the ones we did ask,” he said, asking, “How does a conspiracy not become evident despite all the evidence presented?” 

Senior Advocate Mihir Desai cautioned about the fact that judgements of both Himanshu Kumar and Zakia Jafri cases have been given without any conviction or acquittal, and the people have been targeted as a result of or on the basis of judgement. He responded to the SC's observations on how the petitioners kept the 'pot boiling' for 16 years by citing different instances where institutions such as National Human Rights Commission(NHRC), and the Supreme court itself, allegedly “kept the pot boiling” rather than the petitioners. 

He cited an incident where Gujarat High Court called both himself and Teesta Setalvad 'anti-nationals' and on appeal, the Supreme Court struck down those remarks saying that there is no basis to use such terms without even giving an opportunity to hear them. He drew a contrast between SC of 2003 when the said incident took place, and the SC of today, which made observations, against the petitioners in the Zakia Jafri Case judgment. 

“Sreekumar is not before the Supreme Court. Teesta is before the Supreme Court but Supreme Court in its para no.2 says that we are not deciding the locus of Teesta; we will treat this as an appeal only by Zakia and not by Teesta. So technically, Teesta is also not before the Supreme Court,” he said, asking, “On what basis does the Supreme Court then, which gave an order in 2003 saying that you can't castigate people who are not present before you without giving them an opportunity of being heard as to why you are castigating them, on what basis is the SC doing it today?” 

He recalled that Zakia Jafri’s complaint was to ask the authorities to look at a larger conspiracy i.e. deliberate inaction and action by state authorities and persons in power in the administration, that allegedly allowed the violence, especially against the minority community, to continue unabated. 

Referring to Supreme Court forming the Special Investigation Team (SIT) for the investigation of some of the most important trials of the 2002 Gujarat violence, rather than let the Gujarat police continue investigating them, he added, “Even in 2008, please understand this - the Supreme Court is not trusting the Gujarat Police, the Supreme Court is not trusting the Prosecutors who are supposedly selected after advertisement and interview. The Supreme Court is not trusting anyone. Even in 2008. The pot is boiling already. Okay. We have not started boiling the pot.” It is noteworthy that the first complaint was filed by Zakia Jafri only in June 2008. He said that the SC asked the SIT to look into Zakia Jafri’s complaint and also ordered that Zakia Jafri be notified in case an accused is dropped. 

Given that the SIT did not give notice to Zakia Jafri before dropping the accused, the current petition arose to make sure the Supreme Court’s order is complied with. He said that the petition was not to ask the Supreme Court to convict one person or another but to facilitate an investigation and trial regarding a conspiracy.

“We of course have to continue our battle; we have to continuously fight and hopefully Himanshu and others will never be put in Jail and Teesta and Sreekumar will be out of jail very soon. But that is not the end of our battle, that is just the beginning of our battle,” he said ending his address.

The jury of the People’s Tribunal will release its report within a week’s time based on the arguments and documents presented during the day.

 

Related:

SIT was only ‘SIT’ting, not investigating: Kapil Sibal in Zakia Jafri SLP

Communal violence is like lava, leaving ground fertile for revenge: Kapil Sibal in Zakia Jafri SLP

‘Grave Injustice’: People’s Tribunal on SC Judgements in Zakia Jafri, Himanshu Kumar’s Petitions

It is unfortunate that the petition was dismissed: Tanvir Jafri on Zakia Jafri case

The son of Zakia Jafri and slain Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri also lamented the Supreme Court’s observations about the NGO that helped them seek justice and whistleblower cops

tanvir jafriFile Photo

On August 6, civil society groups such as Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform (CJAR), People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), organized a People’s Tribunal at the Constitution Club in New Delhi. Titled, People’s Tribunal: Judicial Rollback of Civil Liberties, the day-long event saw discussions with special emphasis on Himanshu Kumar and Zakia Jafri Judgements of the Supreme Court. 

The Tribunal’s jury comprised Justice AP Shah (Former CJ, High Court of Delhi and former chairperson, Law Commission of India), Justice Anjana Prakash (Former Judge, Patna High Court), Justice Marlapalle (Former Judge, Bombay High Court), Professor Virginius Xaxa (Chair of the 2014 High Level Committee to Examine the Status of Scheduled Tribes) and Dr. Syeda Hameed (Former Member of the Planning Commission). 

In the discussion regarding the Supreme Court judgment in the Zakia Jafri case, Tanvir Jafri, who is the son of Zakia Jafri and slain former Congress Member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri (who was killed during the communal violence in Gujarat in 2002), voiced his concerns about the judgment and its consequences. Other panelists in this discussion included Senior Advocate Mihir Desai (Bombay High Court) and Advocate Nizam Pasha (Supreme Court). 

Tanvir Jafri recounted how Gujarat, Gulberg Society, and his mother Zakia Jafri had seen communal riots from the late 1960s to 2002, and how Gulberg Society had always been a place of refuge at such times for the riot affected people. But all that changed on the day the society was attacked. “They set fire to the house. Those who were inside were burnt to death, those who stepped outside were attacked with knives,” said Jafri speaking about the fateful day. “My mother and about one hundred people took refuge on the higher floors and the roof, and were rescued only when the police arrived hours later, by which time my father had been killed brutally,” he said. 

Jafri is pained by the outcome of the Zakia Jafri case where his mother was the main petitioner, backed by Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) via its secretary Teesta Setalvad. “It is unfortunate that the petition was dismissed. What’s more shocking is how the court made remarks about police officials who were just doing their duty and the NGO that supported us. They are now in jail,” he said referring to Setalvad, who was named co-conspirator along with two whistle-blower cops - former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) RB Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt. The First Information Report (FIR) against the trio was registered just the day after the Supreme Court, while dismissing the petition moved Zakia Jafri, observed in the judgment, “As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.

Tanvir Jafri New

The FIR against Setalvad quoted the same line from the judgment, thereby confirming that it was the observations of the court in the judgment that had precipitated the arrest.   

Meanwhile, Advocate Nizam Pasha spoke about how the tone of the Supreme Court was to frown upon the audacity of petitioners in the case to question the state machinery. He spoke about the incidents leading up to riots across the state of Gujarat like the distribution of weapons, hate speeches and the public procession involving bodies of those killed in the Godhra train burning incident. He pointed out how these elements were presented as a part of conspiracy by the petitioners.

According to Pasha, the court not only ignored all the evidence presented by the petitioners, but also there was no relation between the Court's judgement and the petitioner's arguments. “We were given answers to questions we didn't ask, instead of answers to the ones we did ask,” he said, asking, “How does a conspiracy not become evident despite all the evidence presented?” 

Senior Advocate Mihir Desai cautioned about the fact that judgements of both Himanshu Kumar and Zakia Jafri cases have been given without any conviction or acquittal, and the people have been targeted as a result of or on the basis of judgement. He responded to the SC's observations on how the petitioners kept the 'pot boiling' for 16 years by citing different instances where institutions such as National Human Rights Commission(NHRC), and the Supreme court itself, allegedly “kept the pot boiling” rather than the petitioners. 

He cited an incident where Gujarat High Court called both himself and Teesta Setalvad 'anti-nationals' and on appeal, the Supreme Court struck down those remarks saying that there is no basis to use such terms without even giving an opportunity to hear them. He drew a contrast between SC of 2003 when the said incident took place, and the SC of today, which made observations, against the petitioners in the Zakia Jafri Case judgment. 

“Sreekumar is not before the Supreme Court. Teesta is before the Supreme Court but Supreme Court in its para no.2 says that we are not deciding the locus of Teesta; we will treat this as an appeal only by Zakia and not by Teesta. So technically, Teesta is also not before the Supreme Court,” he said, asking, “On what basis does the Supreme Court then, which gave an order in 2003 saying that you can't castigate people who are not present before you without giving them an opportunity of being heard as to why you are castigating them, on what basis is the SC doing it today?” 

He recalled that Zakia Jafri’s complaint was to ask the authorities to look at a larger conspiracy i.e. deliberate inaction and action by state authorities and persons in power in the administration, that allegedly allowed the violence, especially against the minority community, to continue unabated. 

Referring to Supreme Court forming the Special Investigation Team (SIT) for the investigation of some of the most important trials of the 2002 Gujarat violence, rather than let the Gujarat police continue investigating them, he added, “Even in 2008, please understand this - the Supreme Court is not trusting the Gujarat Police, the Supreme Court is not trusting the Prosecutors who are supposedly selected after advertisement and interview. The Supreme Court is not trusting anyone. Even in 2008. The pot is boiling already. Okay. We have not started boiling the pot.” It is noteworthy that the first complaint was filed by Zakia Jafri only in June 2008. He said that the SC asked the SIT to look into Zakia Jafri’s complaint and also ordered that Zakia Jafri be notified in case an accused is dropped. 

Given that the SIT did not give notice to Zakia Jafri before dropping the accused, the current petition arose to make sure the Supreme Court’s order is complied with. He said that the petition was not to ask the Supreme Court to convict one person or another but to facilitate an investigation and trial regarding a conspiracy.

“We of course have to continue our battle; we have to continuously fight and hopefully Himanshu and others will never be put in Jail and Teesta and Sreekumar will be out of jail very soon. But that is not the end of our battle, that is just the beginning of our battle,” he said ending his address.

The jury of the People’s Tribunal will release its report within a week’s time based on the arguments and documents presented during the day.

 

Related:

SIT was only ‘SIT’ting, not investigating: Kapil Sibal in Zakia Jafri SLP

Communal violence is like lava, leaving ground fertile for revenge: Kapil Sibal in Zakia Jafri SLP

‘Grave Injustice’: People’s Tribunal on SC Judgements in Zakia Jafri, Himanshu Kumar’s Petitions

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Ahmedabad: Police detain man after meat-filled bags fall off his scooter

FSL confirms meat was not bovine, police say decapitated head was that of a goat

06 Aug 2022

Isanpur, Ahmedabad
Image Courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

The Isanpur area of Ahmedabad remained tense on Friday after residents of Bhagwan Nagar society in the Govindwadi area found a bag with the decapitated head of an animal at about 8:30 in the morning. Another bag containing around 50 kilograms of animal meat was also found outside a jewellery showroom near the Insanpur overbridge.

Suspecting the meat to be bovine, there was anxiety among residents, and the neighbourhood remained tense. According to the Indian Express, the Isanpur Police Station took cognisance of a complaint filed by one Rohit Desai, a resident of the neighbourhood who is involved in animal husbandry, and filed a First Information Report (FIR) under section 278 of the Indian Penal Code (making atmosphere noxious to health) and sections of the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals Act and Gujarat Animal Preservation Act.

Times of India reported that Desai’s FIR alleged that the man was on a scooter and fled from the spot after dumping the carcass-filled bag, and that Desai believed the decapitated head to belong to cow progeny.

On Friday evening, Ahmedabad Police’s Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) detained 26-year-old Mohammed Faizan Sheikh, from Rakhial based on CCTV footage and technical inputs. Meanwhile, the animal remains and meat were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory for examination.

Now, police say it was discovered that the meat was not that of cow progeny.

Police inspector DD Gohil told TOI, “Shaikh is a licensed seller. He used to ferry meat on his scooter from Rakhial to his shop in Vatva. On Friday morning, one of his bags dropped from his scooter. Some people saw this and began thrashing Shaikh.” He added, “In his bid to evade public fury, Shaikh hit a bumper and fell on the road,” and this was when “the head of a goat dropped on the road.”

The subject of meat consumption is extremely sensitive in Gujarat and attempts have been made to bring about varying forms and degrees of bans on the sale and consumption of non-vegetarian food.

SabrangIndia had reported previously that on November 12, 2021, Gujarat State Revenue Minister Rajendra Trivedi had said that open non-veg food stalls along the road serve as an act of “land grabbing”. Trivedi’s statement came around the time municipal corporations of Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Vadodara and Rajkot resolved to remove non-vegetarian food selling vendors from public places so as to not “hurt religious sentiments.” Following this, for days, footpath vendors of non-vegetarian food in these cities and even Ahmedabad, feared losing their well-established spots along city roads, after some municipal bodies declared that non-veg food should not be sold out in the open.

National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) Gujarat Coordinator Gurunath Sawant had at that time, told SabrangIndia that cities like Ahmedabad had declared that vendors within 100 metres of schools cannot sell non-veg food. This despite Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel assuring hawkers there would be no discriminatory action against non-veg food.

Then, in December 2021, Gujarat High Court came down heavily upon the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) for taking action against street vendors selling non-vegetarian food on the streets of Ahmedabad. The AMC claimed that this was done as selling non-vegetarian food on the streets creates a health hazard as it is unhygienic and also harmful to the environment. However, 20 street vendors moved the Ahmedabad High Court challenging the non-implementation of the Street Vendors [Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending] Act, 2014 and the rules. They also challenged how the AMC seized their carts, other equipment and raw material without following due process.

After hearing the matter, LiveLaw reported that the Bench of Justice Biren Vaishnav asked, “You don't like non-veg food, it is your lookout. How can you decide what people should eat outside? How can you stop people from eating what they want?”

Related:

Hate Watch: Hindutva group raises slogans outside Muslim-owned shop in Gujarat
Guj HC raps AMC for prohibiting sale of non-veg food on streets
Understanding the layers of “hate” in Gujarat’s non-veg ban
Gujarat Minister likens non-veg food vendors to land grabbers

Ahmedabad: Police detain man after meat-filled bags fall off his scooter

FSL confirms meat was not bovine, police say decapitated head was that of a goat

Isanpur, Ahmedabad
Image Courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

The Isanpur area of Ahmedabad remained tense on Friday after residents of Bhagwan Nagar society in the Govindwadi area found a bag with the decapitated head of an animal at about 8:30 in the morning. Another bag containing around 50 kilograms of animal meat was also found outside a jewellery showroom near the Insanpur overbridge.

Suspecting the meat to be bovine, there was anxiety among residents, and the neighbourhood remained tense. According to the Indian Express, the Isanpur Police Station took cognisance of a complaint filed by one Rohit Desai, a resident of the neighbourhood who is involved in animal husbandry, and filed a First Information Report (FIR) under section 278 of the Indian Penal Code (making atmosphere noxious to health) and sections of the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals Act and Gujarat Animal Preservation Act.

Times of India reported that Desai’s FIR alleged that the man was on a scooter and fled from the spot after dumping the carcass-filled bag, and that Desai believed the decapitated head to belong to cow progeny.

On Friday evening, Ahmedabad Police’s Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) detained 26-year-old Mohammed Faizan Sheikh, from Rakhial based on CCTV footage and technical inputs. Meanwhile, the animal remains and meat were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory for examination.

Now, police say it was discovered that the meat was not that of cow progeny.

Police inspector DD Gohil told TOI, “Shaikh is a licensed seller. He used to ferry meat on his scooter from Rakhial to his shop in Vatva. On Friday morning, one of his bags dropped from his scooter. Some people saw this and began thrashing Shaikh.” He added, “In his bid to evade public fury, Shaikh hit a bumper and fell on the road,” and this was when “the head of a goat dropped on the road.”

The subject of meat consumption is extremely sensitive in Gujarat and attempts have been made to bring about varying forms and degrees of bans on the sale and consumption of non-vegetarian food.

SabrangIndia had reported previously that on November 12, 2021, Gujarat State Revenue Minister Rajendra Trivedi had said that open non-veg food stalls along the road serve as an act of “land grabbing”. Trivedi’s statement came around the time municipal corporations of Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Vadodara and Rajkot resolved to remove non-vegetarian food selling vendors from public places so as to not “hurt religious sentiments.” Following this, for days, footpath vendors of non-vegetarian food in these cities and even Ahmedabad, feared losing their well-established spots along city roads, after some municipal bodies declared that non-veg food should not be sold out in the open.

National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) Gujarat Coordinator Gurunath Sawant had at that time, told SabrangIndia that cities like Ahmedabad had declared that vendors within 100 metres of schools cannot sell non-veg food. This despite Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel assuring hawkers there would be no discriminatory action against non-veg food.

Then, in December 2021, Gujarat High Court came down heavily upon the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) for taking action against street vendors selling non-vegetarian food on the streets of Ahmedabad. The AMC claimed that this was done as selling non-vegetarian food on the streets creates a health hazard as it is unhygienic and also harmful to the environment. However, 20 street vendors moved the Ahmedabad High Court challenging the non-implementation of the Street Vendors [Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending] Act, 2014 and the rules. They also challenged how the AMC seized their carts, other equipment and raw material without following due process.

After hearing the matter, LiveLaw reported that the Bench of Justice Biren Vaishnav asked, “You don't like non-veg food, it is your lookout. How can you decide what people should eat outside? How can you stop people from eating what they want?”

Related:

Hate Watch: Hindutva group raises slogans outside Muslim-owned shop in Gujarat
Guj HC raps AMC for prohibiting sale of non-veg food on streets
Understanding the layers of “hate” in Gujarat’s non-veg ban
Gujarat Minister likens non-veg food vendors to land grabbers

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Tamil Nadu: 27 sentenced to life in Dalit triple murder case

Members of dominant community had attacked eight Dalit men, killing three, for getting “first respect” at a temple in 2018

06 Aug 2022

Dalit Triple Murder Case
Image Courtesy: ndtv.com

A Special Court for Exclusive Trial under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention Act) has found 27 men guilty of killing three Dalit men in Kachanatham village in Tamil Nadu's Sivagangai district in 2018. All convicts have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

The incident took place when a dispute originated when a group of Agamudayar (a dominant caste) felt offended when members of the Devendra Kulla Vellalar community received “first respect” at a temple festival, reported ABP News. They then attacked eight Dalit men in their homes with sickles, grievously injuring five and killing three men - Arumugam (65), Shanmuganathan (31) and Chandrasekar (34), on the night of May 28, 2018.

According to NDTV, police had filed a case against 33 accused, including four minors. Two accused died during the trial and a third has been absconding ever since.

The triple murders sent shockwaves across the region as they highlighted how caste inequality and caste-based violence were still prevalent. In 2019, Madurai bench of Madras High Court, while rejecting the bail of some of the accused, had reportedly observed that the triple murders were a “grim reminder of the ugly face of caste inequality in Sivaganga.”

While Special Court judge G Muthukumaran held all of the 27 remaining accused guilty and convicted them on August 1, the quantum of punishment was passed on Friday, August 5.

Related:

Farrukhabad: Dalit man allegedly beaten to death by UP cops
Hate Watch: Dalit, Covid health worker, killed for sporting moustache in Rajasthan
UP: Village head threatens Scheduled Caste community with ₹5,000 fine and 50 kicks!

Tamil Nadu: 27 sentenced to life in Dalit triple murder case

Members of dominant community had attacked eight Dalit men, killing three, for getting “first respect” at a temple in 2018

Dalit Triple Murder Case
Image Courtesy: ndtv.com

A Special Court for Exclusive Trial under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention Act) has found 27 men guilty of killing three Dalit men in Kachanatham village in Tamil Nadu's Sivagangai district in 2018. All convicts have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

The incident took place when a dispute originated when a group of Agamudayar (a dominant caste) felt offended when members of the Devendra Kulla Vellalar community received “first respect” at a temple festival, reported ABP News. They then attacked eight Dalit men in their homes with sickles, grievously injuring five and killing three men - Arumugam (65), Shanmuganathan (31) and Chandrasekar (34), on the night of May 28, 2018.

According to NDTV, police had filed a case against 33 accused, including four minors. Two accused died during the trial and a third has been absconding ever since.

The triple murders sent shockwaves across the region as they highlighted how caste inequality and caste-based violence were still prevalent. In 2019, Madurai bench of Madras High Court, while rejecting the bail of some of the accused, had reportedly observed that the triple murders were a “grim reminder of the ugly face of caste inequality in Sivaganga.”

While Special Court judge G Muthukumaran held all of the 27 remaining accused guilty and convicted them on August 1, the quantum of punishment was passed on Friday, August 5.

Related:

Farrukhabad: Dalit man allegedly beaten to death by UP cops
Hate Watch: Dalit, Covid health worker, killed for sporting moustache in Rajasthan
UP: Village head threatens Scheduled Caste community with ₹5,000 fine and 50 kicks!

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Honouring plurality key to sustenance of democracy: CJI Ramana at OU

Speaking at the 82nd convocation of Osmania University, Justice Ramana also said it is high time for all institutions to introduce a subject on the basic ideas about the Constitution and governance, irrespective of the stream of learning.

06 Aug 2022

CJI

Hyderabad: Driven by the winds of globalisation, people are moving towards a global culture which is emerging as a threat to local cultural symbols and identities, even as social media, television and pop culture glamourise a particular way of life that the people are sadly “blindly aping”, Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana said on Friday, at Osmania University.

Speaking at the 82nd convocation of Osmania University here, CJI Ramana also said it is high time for all institutions to introduce a subject on the basic ideas about the Constitution and governance, irrespective of the stream of learning. The ideas of the Constitution need to be simplified for everyone’s understanding and empowerment.

“With rapid globalisation and massive developments in science and technology, several cultures and identities are interacting with each other with increased frequency. Driven by the winds of globalisation, we are moving towards a global culture. As this global culture engulfs the world, the need for sustaining diversity assumes great significance,” said Justice Ramana.

“The global culture is emerging as a threat to local cultural symbols and identities. The social media, television and pop culture glamourise a particular way of life and sadly we are blindly aping the same,” CJI Ramana added.

Stating that his observations should not be taken as criticism of globalization per se, CJI Ramana said the prevalent issues definitely prove that something has gone wrong with the present model of globalisation.

“Although we have made significant achievements, our societies are becoming increasingly divided over access to wealth and resources,” he further said.

Quoting the 2021 UNESCO World Report of Languages, CJI Ramana said half of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken in the world today could disappear by the end of the century and with loss of each language, people are not only losing considerable literature and folklore, but also losing wisdom inherited through generations.

The march of globalisation has significant impact on genetic diversity as well and as a result the rapid loss of crop varieties, wild species and indigenous livestock are being witnessed, Ramana said.

As the market is driven by demands of the global economy, more and more farmers are moving beyond indigenous crops for short-term gains and this change in cropping pattern is altering the character of soils, thereby reducing its capacity to support biodiversity.

Similarly, climate change and environmental pollution are also affecting the wild varieties resulting in a huge ecological imbalance, said Ramana.

“Another aspect of globalisation is its impact on local handicrafts and artisans. With global brands flooding the markets, with mass produced designs and products, the local artisans are pushed to the corner,” he opined.

According to Ramana, true education is what nurtures true impulses and independent thinking. Instead of being prisoners of the status quo, the youth need to dive deep and bring transformation from within. “You cannot change the world with mere high principles and morals. You need to act,” he said.

Stating that honouring plurality is another aspect that is key to the sustenance of democracy, Ramana said, instead of fostering the feeling of “othering”, education should lead a country where the people can nurture diversity.

CJI Ramana who was conferred Honoris Causa doctorate by Osmania University recalled his memories with the varsity during his student days though he did not study in the institution.

The CJI Ramana said that Osmania University is one of those institutions where political participation and scholarly pursuits went hand-in-hand and it has produced one of the most remarkable prime ministers and statesmen of modern India in the form of P V Narasimha Rao.

Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan also spoke in the convocation.

Courtesy: The Siasat Daily

Honouring plurality key to sustenance of democracy: CJI Ramana at OU

Speaking at the 82nd convocation of Osmania University, Justice Ramana also said it is high time for all institutions to introduce a subject on the basic ideas about the Constitution and governance, irrespective of the stream of learning.

CJI

Hyderabad: Driven by the winds of globalisation, people are moving towards a global culture which is emerging as a threat to local cultural symbols and identities, even as social media, television and pop culture glamourise a particular way of life that the people are sadly “blindly aping”, Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana said on Friday, at Osmania University.

Speaking at the 82nd convocation of Osmania University here, CJI Ramana also said it is high time for all institutions to introduce a subject on the basic ideas about the Constitution and governance, irrespective of the stream of learning. The ideas of the Constitution need to be simplified for everyone’s understanding and empowerment.

“With rapid globalisation and massive developments in science and technology, several cultures and identities are interacting with each other with increased frequency. Driven by the winds of globalisation, we are moving towards a global culture. As this global culture engulfs the world, the need for sustaining diversity assumes great significance,” said Justice Ramana.

“The global culture is emerging as a threat to local cultural symbols and identities. The social media, television and pop culture glamourise a particular way of life and sadly we are blindly aping the same,” CJI Ramana added.

Stating that his observations should not be taken as criticism of globalization per se, CJI Ramana said the prevalent issues definitely prove that something has gone wrong with the present model of globalisation.

“Although we have made significant achievements, our societies are becoming increasingly divided over access to wealth and resources,” he further said.

Quoting the 2021 UNESCO World Report of Languages, CJI Ramana said half of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken in the world today could disappear by the end of the century and with loss of each language, people are not only losing considerable literature and folklore, but also losing wisdom inherited through generations.

The march of globalisation has significant impact on genetic diversity as well and as a result the rapid loss of crop varieties, wild species and indigenous livestock are being witnessed, Ramana said.

As the market is driven by demands of the global economy, more and more farmers are moving beyond indigenous crops for short-term gains and this change in cropping pattern is altering the character of soils, thereby reducing its capacity to support biodiversity.

Similarly, climate change and environmental pollution are also affecting the wild varieties resulting in a huge ecological imbalance, said Ramana.

“Another aspect of globalisation is its impact on local handicrafts and artisans. With global brands flooding the markets, with mass produced designs and products, the local artisans are pushed to the corner,” he opined.

According to Ramana, true education is what nurtures true impulses and independent thinking. Instead of being prisoners of the status quo, the youth need to dive deep and bring transformation from within. “You cannot change the world with mere high principles and morals. You need to act,” he said.

Stating that honouring plurality is another aspect that is key to the sustenance of democracy, Ramana said, instead of fostering the feeling of “othering”, education should lead a country where the people can nurture diversity.

CJI Ramana who was conferred Honoris Causa doctorate by Osmania University recalled his memories with the varsity during his student days though he did not study in the institution.

The CJI Ramana said that Osmania University is one of those institutions where political participation and scholarly pursuits went hand-in-hand and it has produced one of the most remarkable prime ministers and statesmen of modern India in the form of P V Narasimha Rao.

Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan also spoke in the convocation.

Courtesy: The Siasat Daily

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He had no work in Hathras: Allahabad High Court denies bail to journalist Siddique Kappan

Police claim that the accused were travelling to the region to disturb the harmony at the location of the rape of a Dalit woman

05 Aug 2022

Allahabad High Court denies bail to journalist Siddique Kappan

On August 2, 2022, the Allahabad High Court denied bail to Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan in connection with the Hathras conspiracy case where he has been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and other charges.

Justice Krishna Pahal of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court observed that based on the investigation on record, the journalist “had no work at Hathras.” According to him, “The State machinery was at tenterhooks owing to the tension prevailing due to various types of information being viral across all forums of media including the internet. The said sojourn of the applicant with co-accused persons who do not belong to media fraternity is a crucial circumstance going against him.”

Journalist Siddique Kappan was arrested by the Mathura police on October 5, 2020, along with three others - Ateeq-ur-Rehman, Masood Ahmed and Alam, and has been detained ever since on trumped up charges. He was arrested on an apprehension that he may cause a breach of peace but later on he was charged under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and till today he has not been granted bail.

It is the case of the prosecution that the co-accused persons with whom Kappan has been alleged to be travelling are said to have been collecting funds and running a website ‘Carrd.com’ which highlighted the incident of mob lynching, exodus of labourers and Kashmir issues on the website. It has also been said that the funds collected by them were used to disrupt social harmony and incite violence.

However, the Senior Learned Counsel for Kappan denied all such allegations, and submitted that the money transferred to his account was his hard earned money which has nothing to do with any offence whatsoever. He also submitted that Kappan had no prior association with co-accused Alam who happened to be the driver of the car.

It is the case of the AGA for the State, Shivnath Tilhari, that no proper cause has been shown by the applicant pertaining to his presence near Hathras at such crucial time when State was going through social unrest, and that Kappan merely used journalism as a cover to fulfill his ulterior motives.

Counsel for the applicant argued he had been falsely implicated in the case as he was going to Hathras only to discharge his duty as a professional journalist and was illegally detained by Mant Police, District Mathura in violation of his fundamental rights. He stated that he was not associated with any banned organization and that there is no criminal history of the applicant.

He further stated that the provisions of UAPA Act are not applicable to the applicant as the amended sanction under the Act has been taken by the Department on June 8, 2021. The said sanction is ipso facto illegal at the outset and has been challenged by the applicant by filing a petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. in the High Court which is still sub-judice.

After hearing both sides, the Court held, “The tainted money being used by the applicant and his colleagues cannot be ruled out.”

The Court cited the case of National Investigation Agency vs. Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali (2019) 5 SCC 1, where the Apex Court, while overturning the High Courts order of granting bail to the accused, has stated that Section 43(D)(5) prohibits a Court from granting bail to accused if on a perusal of a final report filed under Section 173 Cr.P.C., the Court is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accusations against such person are prima facie true. Justice Pahal further stated, “The Apex Court has also observed that the High Court had applied an altogether wrong approach by examining and evaluating the evidence in detail. The Court is not supposed to delve into the admissibility and inadmissibility of documentary and oral evidence at the stage of bail.”

Dismissing the bail application, the court held, “Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, submissions advanced by learned counsel for the parties, nature of offence, evidence on record, considering the complicity of accused, severity of punishment and the settled law propounded by the Apex Court in the case of Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali (supra), at this stage, without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, this Court is not inclined to release the applicant on bail.”

A copy of the order maybe read here: 

Brief Background

Siddique Kappan, is a Delhi-based journalist working with a Malayalam news portal Azhimukham. He is also secretary of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) Delhi unit, and a senior reporter and also a member of Press Club of India. He had gone to cover the Hathras horror of the alleged gangrape and murder of the 19-year old Dalit woman, that had made headlines all around the world. Siddique Kappan never reached the spot from where he had intended to write his news reports.

Soon after his arrest in October 2020, the KUWJ issued a statement expressing that they could not get in touch with Siddique and that neither the Hathras Police Station nor the State Police Department could provide any information on taking him into custody.

Since the day of arrest, Kappan has been treated inhumanly, has been allegedly tortured in custody, and was denied even his fundamental rights to get access to his lawyer. The Hindu reported that the Delhi-based journalist was among four people arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police when they were on their way to Hathras. They were arrested after the State police claimed that a “conspiracy to defame the State government and trigger caste riots over the Hathras incident” was afoot. The four were taken into custody at a toll plaza in Mathura when they were travelling in a car from Delhi to Hathras. The car was stopped after “police found their activities suspicious,” following which they were taken into custody, according to the Mathura police, said the news report.

Chargesheet

The First Information Report (FIR) against Kappan, registered on October 7, 2020 in Mathura, charges him under Section 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, etc) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and under sections 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorism act), 18 (punishment for conspiracy etc.) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, (UAPA) and also under sections 65 (Tampering with computer source documents), 72 (Penalty for Breach of confidentiality and privacy) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act).         

In April 2021, the police filed a chargesheet against Kappan listing more than 50 witnesses to support the police charges. In this 5,000-page chargesheet, the UP police alleged that Kappan and others received funds totalling almost Rs. 80 lakhs from financial institutions in Doha and Muscat to create unrest in the state. The police claimed that they were all Popular Front of India (PFI) activists and their student wing (Campus Front of India) leaders were going to Hathras under the garb of journalism with a very “determined design to create a caste divide and disturb law and order situation.”

KUWJ’s petition

A day after Kappan’s arrest on October 5, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) had filed a habeas corpus petition, challenging his custody. The petition argued that the arrest was illegal and unconstitutional and contended that Kappan’s detention violates his fundamental rights under articles 14 (right to equality), 19 (freedom of speech and expression) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution. An intervention application was also moved by the petitioner union seeking directions from the top court to permit Siddique to speak to his lawyers and family members. 

The petition first came up a week later, on October 12, 2020, before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde. The court, however, expressed its disinclination to entertain the petition and nudged senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for KUWJ, to approach the high court instead. The bench then listed the matter after four weeks and also refused to issue notice to the UP government on the matter.

Meanwhile, on October 29, 2020 an application was filed alleging multiple attempts from KUWJ and Adv. Mathews to meet Kappan since his arrest had failed. A bail application was also filed. It was after 43 days in custody, on 17 November, that Kappan finally spoke to Adv. Mathews (his Advocate) on the phone for five minutes.

In early January 2021, KUWJ had moved an urgent application in the Supreme Court, seeking Kappan’s immediate release from Mathura jail to meet his 90-year-old ailing mother, Kadija Kutty.

On February 15, the court granted him bail and said, “Mother is said to be in a critical situation and that she is likely not to survive for many days. In these circumstances, we consider it appropriate to permit the detenu to visit his mother and return to prison at the end of the 5th day.” However, the court imposed strict conditions on Kappan.

Deteriorating health

When the country was reeling under the second wave, Kappan had collapsed in the bathroom with serious injuries and eventually tested positive for Covid-19. He was hospitalised in a Mathura hospital, when the KUWJ prayed for the top court to take cognisance of his deteriorating health condition and in the interest of justice, they sought for his transfer to New Delhi for treatment. The Supreme Court ordered his transfer to a hospital in Delhi for treatment, but in May 2021, SabrangIndia reported that Siddique was “secretly discharged” from AIIMS and was taken to Mathura Jail. Raihanath, Kappan's wife, had at that time told SabrangIndia, "I only learnt about it late last night that he may have been discharged. I did not know any updates nor was his lawyer informed and he was shifted secretly at night. He was brought to hospital and since May 1 when I came to Delhi, I had been trying to see him once."

Mathura Court dropped some charges

In June 2021, the Mathura court also dropped the proceedings against Siddique Kappan and three other persons in connection with a case registered against them under charges related to apprehension of breach of peace while they were on their way to Hathras. They had been discharged of the charges under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc) sections 151(Arrest to prevent the commission of cognisable offences), 107 (Security for keeping the peace in other cases) and 116 (Inquiry as to truth of information).

Bail rejected by Sessions Court

In July 2021, Kappan’s bail plea was rejected by Additional Sessions Judge Anil Kumar Pandey who ruled that there was prima facie case that the journalist and other co-accused were trying to disturb the law and other situation when they were heading to cover the gang-rape incident in Uttar Pradesh. The Mathura court also observed that Kappan’s financial transactions in his bank account revealed that he was provided with the funds to conduct “anti-national” and illegal activities. The judge ruled that they damaged the integrity of the nation by provoking a particular community.

Related:

Siddique Kappan: A journalist who has spent 500+ days in prison, for just doing his job

10 months on, Siddique Kappan still in jail!

Delhi: Journalists demand release of Siddique Kappan who completed one year behind bars

Siddique Kappan not a “responsible journalist”, incites Muslims: UP Special Task force  

Fr Stan Swamy, Khurram Parvez, Siddique Kappan on USCIRF’s Freedom of Religion or Belief victims list

He had no work in Hathras: Allahabad High Court denies bail to journalist Siddique Kappan

Police claim that the accused were travelling to the region to disturb the harmony at the location of the rape of a Dalit woman

Allahabad High Court denies bail to journalist Siddique Kappan

On August 2, 2022, the Allahabad High Court denied bail to Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan in connection with the Hathras conspiracy case where he has been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and other charges.

Justice Krishna Pahal of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court observed that based on the investigation on record, the journalist “had no work at Hathras.” According to him, “The State machinery was at tenterhooks owing to the tension prevailing due to various types of information being viral across all forums of media including the internet. The said sojourn of the applicant with co-accused persons who do not belong to media fraternity is a crucial circumstance going against him.”

Journalist Siddique Kappan was arrested by the Mathura police on October 5, 2020, along with three others - Ateeq-ur-Rehman, Masood Ahmed and Alam, and has been detained ever since on trumped up charges. He was arrested on an apprehension that he may cause a breach of peace but later on he was charged under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and till today he has not been granted bail.

It is the case of the prosecution that the co-accused persons with whom Kappan has been alleged to be travelling are said to have been collecting funds and running a website ‘Carrd.com’ which highlighted the incident of mob lynching, exodus of labourers and Kashmir issues on the website. It has also been said that the funds collected by them were used to disrupt social harmony and incite violence.

However, the Senior Learned Counsel for Kappan denied all such allegations, and submitted that the money transferred to his account was his hard earned money which has nothing to do with any offence whatsoever. He also submitted that Kappan had no prior association with co-accused Alam who happened to be the driver of the car.

It is the case of the AGA for the State, Shivnath Tilhari, that no proper cause has been shown by the applicant pertaining to his presence near Hathras at such crucial time when State was going through social unrest, and that Kappan merely used journalism as a cover to fulfill his ulterior motives.

Counsel for the applicant argued he had been falsely implicated in the case as he was going to Hathras only to discharge his duty as a professional journalist and was illegally detained by Mant Police, District Mathura in violation of his fundamental rights. He stated that he was not associated with any banned organization and that there is no criminal history of the applicant.

He further stated that the provisions of UAPA Act are not applicable to the applicant as the amended sanction under the Act has been taken by the Department on June 8, 2021. The said sanction is ipso facto illegal at the outset and has been challenged by the applicant by filing a petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. in the High Court which is still sub-judice.

After hearing both sides, the Court held, “The tainted money being used by the applicant and his colleagues cannot be ruled out.”

The Court cited the case of National Investigation Agency vs. Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali (2019) 5 SCC 1, where the Apex Court, while overturning the High Courts order of granting bail to the accused, has stated that Section 43(D)(5) prohibits a Court from granting bail to accused if on a perusal of a final report filed under Section 173 Cr.P.C., the Court is of the opinion that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accusations against such person are prima facie true. Justice Pahal further stated, “The Apex Court has also observed that the High Court had applied an altogether wrong approach by examining and evaluating the evidence in detail. The Court is not supposed to delve into the admissibility and inadmissibility of documentary and oral evidence at the stage of bail.”

Dismissing the bail application, the court held, “Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, submissions advanced by learned counsel for the parties, nature of offence, evidence on record, considering the complicity of accused, severity of punishment and the settled law propounded by the Apex Court in the case of Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali (supra), at this stage, without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, this Court is not inclined to release the applicant on bail.”

A copy of the order maybe read here: 

Brief Background

Siddique Kappan, is a Delhi-based journalist working with a Malayalam news portal Azhimukham. He is also secretary of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) Delhi unit, and a senior reporter and also a member of Press Club of India. He had gone to cover the Hathras horror of the alleged gangrape and murder of the 19-year old Dalit woman, that had made headlines all around the world. Siddique Kappan never reached the spot from where he had intended to write his news reports.

Soon after his arrest in October 2020, the KUWJ issued a statement expressing that they could not get in touch with Siddique and that neither the Hathras Police Station nor the State Police Department could provide any information on taking him into custody.

Since the day of arrest, Kappan has been treated inhumanly, has been allegedly tortured in custody, and was denied even his fundamental rights to get access to his lawyer. The Hindu reported that the Delhi-based journalist was among four people arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police when they were on their way to Hathras. They were arrested after the State police claimed that a “conspiracy to defame the State government and trigger caste riots over the Hathras incident” was afoot. The four were taken into custody at a toll plaza in Mathura when they were travelling in a car from Delhi to Hathras. The car was stopped after “police found their activities suspicious,” following which they were taken into custody, according to the Mathura police, said the news report.

Chargesheet

The First Information Report (FIR) against Kappan, registered on October 7, 2020 in Mathura, charges him under Section 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy), 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, etc) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and under sections 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorism act), 18 (punishment for conspiracy etc.) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, (UAPA) and also under sections 65 (Tampering with computer source documents), 72 (Penalty for Breach of confidentiality and privacy) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act).         

In April 2021, the police filed a chargesheet against Kappan listing more than 50 witnesses to support the police charges. In this 5,000-page chargesheet, the UP police alleged that Kappan and others received funds totalling almost Rs. 80 lakhs from financial institutions in Doha and Muscat to create unrest in the state. The police claimed that they were all Popular Front of India (PFI) activists and their student wing (Campus Front of India) leaders were going to Hathras under the garb of journalism with a very “determined design to create a caste divide and disturb law and order situation.”

KUWJ’s petition

A day after Kappan’s arrest on October 5, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) had filed a habeas corpus petition, challenging his custody. The petition argued that the arrest was illegal and unconstitutional and contended that Kappan’s detention violates his fundamental rights under articles 14 (right to equality), 19 (freedom of speech and expression) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution. An intervention application was also moved by the petitioner union seeking directions from the top court to permit Siddique to speak to his lawyers and family members. 

The petition first came up a week later, on October 12, 2020, before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde. The court, however, expressed its disinclination to entertain the petition and nudged senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for KUWJ, to approach the high court instead. The bench then listed the matter after four weeks and also refused to issue notice to the UP government on the matter.

Meanwhile, on October 29, 2020 an application was filed alleging multiple attempts from KUWJ and Adv. Mathews to meet Kappan since his arrest had failed. A bail application was also filed. It was after 43 days in custody, on 17 November, that Kappan finally spoke to Adv. Mathews (his Advocate) on the phone for five minutes.

In early January 2021, KUWJ had moved an urgent application in the Supreme Court, seeking Kappan’s immediate release from Mathura jail to meet his 90-year-old ailing mother, Kadija Kutty.

On February 15, the court granted him bail and said, “Mother is said to be in a critical situation and that she is likely not to survive for many days. In these circumstances, we consider it appropriate to permit the detenu to visit his mother and return to prison at the end of the 5th day.” However, the court imposed strict conditions on Kappan.

Deteriorating health

When the country was reeling under the second wave, Kappan had collapsed in the bathroom with serious injuries and eventually tested positive for Covid-19. He was hospitalised in a Mathura hospital, when the KUWJ prayed for the top court to take cognisance of his deteriorating health condition and in the interest of justice, they sought for his transfer to New Delhi for treatment. The Supreme Court ordered his transfer to a hospital in Delhi for treatment, but in May 2021, SabrangIndia reported that Siddique was “secretly discharged” from AIIMS and was taken to Mathura Jail. Raihanath, Kappan's wife, had at that time told SabrangIndia, "I only learnt about it late last night that he may have been discharged. I did not know any updates nor was his lawyer informed and he was shifted secretly at night. He was brought to hospital and since May 1 when I came to Delhi, I had been trying to see him once."

Mathura Court dropped some charges

In June 2021, the Mathura court also dropped the proceedings against Siddique Kappan and three other persons in connection with a case registered against them under charges related to apprehension of breach of peace while they were on their way to Hathras. They had been discharged of the charges under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc) sections 151(Arrest to prevent the commission of cognisable offences), 107 (Security for keeping the peace in other cases) and 116 (Inquiry as to truth of information).

Bail rejected by Sessions Court

In July 2021, Kappan’s bail plea was rejected by Additional Sessions Judge Anil Kumar Pandey who ruled that there was prima facie case that the journalist and other co-accused were trying to disturb the law and other situation when they were heading to cover the gang-rape incident in Uttar Pradesh. The Mathura court also observed that Kappan’s financial transactions in his bank account revealed that he was provided with the funds to conduct “anti-national” and illegal activities. The judge ruled that they damaged the integrity of the nation by provoking a particular community.

Related:

Siddique Kappan: A journalist who has spent 500+ days in prison, for just doing his job

10 months on, Siddique Kappan still in jail!

Delhi: Journalists demand release of Siddique Kappan who completed one year behind bars

Siddique Kappan not a “responsible journalist”, incites Muslims: UP Special Task force  

Fr Stan Swamy, Khurram Parvez, Siddique Kappan on USCIRF’s Freedom of Religion or Belief victims list

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