At the inauguration of the K G KANNABIRAN MEMORIAL LECTURE organized by the Chhattisgarh unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Mrs. Vasanth Kannabiran remembered her husband with whom she had spent rich and fulfilling thirty years of her life in partnership. She recalled how K G Kannabiran worked for the protection of democracy and the Constitution, and fought against repression of innocent and well-meaning human rights defenders carried out by the state in the name of curbing naxalism and terrorism.
Delivering the Memorial Lecture, Prashant Bhooshan, a leading Supreme Court activist lawyer said that the entire judiciary and other parliamentary institutions were flooded with people of one specific ideology influenced by fascism, which is not only violating the human rights but also posing grave threats to the civilization of this country. From the Election Commission to the Media were virtually under the control of Sangh Parivaar. As a result, the basic tenets of Indian Constitution and India’s democratic traditions were under threat such as Secularism, Socialism, Liberty, Equality and Dignity, etc.
Prashant Bhooshan targeted Modi-led BJP-Government for belittling the democratic values and parliamentary institutions. He categorically accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being involved in the scam in the purchase of Rafale jets from France. He also said that the Government had made definite attempts to take the judiciary under its control. Media has been bought through their favorite business tycoons.
Elaborating on the Rafale jets scam, he said that in 2007, the UPA Government had invited tenders for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircrafts, and a deal was struck with Dassault Aviation in 2012 to provide 126 aircraft at the base price of US Dollars 10.2 billion for 18 aircrafts; and Indian Public Sector Undertaking (PSU), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was to make 108 aircrafts. However, post election, the Modi-Government pursued a different course of action. In April 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited France and announced a deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft, and in September 2016 the Modi-Government signed the US DOLLARS 8.7 billion deal with Dassault, the same company, for only 36 airtcraft. Only about a week later, in October 2016, Reliance Defence Limited too entered into a joint venture with Dassault aviation. This was done without following proper Defence Procurement Protocol, India’s Defence Minister was not present, instead Reliance Defence Limited’s owner Anil Ambani was in France during Modi’s visit.
Prashant Bhooshan also accused the government for imposing economic restrictions on common people’s day-to-day transactions, but weakening the system of accountability and transparency in the donations to the political parties. So much so that it has made much more convenient for political parties to receive donations from Foreign Companies; and has relaxed the provisions for anonymous donations, including donations through bonds. He also accused the Central Government of appointing the tainted officials at the prime posts in the CBI.
Thereafter, talking to the Media, Prashant Bhooshn gave a call to the public to come forward to protect democracy and human rights. He said that the bogey of development has failed to fool the public, so the Prime Minister Narnedra Modi has, once again, raised the issue of Mandir-Mazjid. He also pointed out that the Central Government and the Delhi Government are indulged in shadow boxing, and both governments are not willing to implement the Lok Pal Bill.
Prominent Socialist Thinker of the country, Ravi Nair criticized the Indian Government’s policy on Rohingya Refugees. He pointed out that India had always provided home to the refugees be they of any country, religion or race; and that actually was the call of a civilized society. More than a crore refugees came from Bangladesh, but the entire population of India provided shelter to them by paying five paise in tax. Out of these, seventy lakhs have returned to Bangladesh, but even today some thirty lakhs are still residing in India. Most of these are Hindus. Historically, various groups of people including Dalai Lama, Hoons, Parsis, Aryans etc., came to India in search of shelter, and the Indian cultural traditions and humanitarian values granted them the refugee status. If the Modi Government was opposing the Rohingyas only because of their being Muslims, then it was against the principles of giving refugee status enshrined in the International Treaties, National Laws and even against the Humanitarian values.
“I do not know what the government is thinking when it is talking of deportation,” Nair said. “If refugees are sent back forcibly, they will certainly face torture and might face possible death. Clearly, this is a violation of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. This is the main ground on which the Supreme Court will hear the petition”.
Speaking on the UID/ADHAAR, Dr. Gopal Krishna, a public policy and law researcher, Convener of the Citizens Forum for Civil Libertieds (CFCL) said that “linking of ADHAAR number to all public services makes ‘WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA’ worse than slaves. It marks the beginning of the end of right to human dignity recognised and promised by the Constitution.”
Gopal Krishna said that the fact is becoming clearer that UID scheme is a naked declaration of war on civil liberties and natural resources like land and water. It is noteworthy that before launching UID idea, Nandan Nilekani got India Water Portal launched. Civil liberties and natural resources like land and water will undergo massive commodification due to UID for it promotes property based democracy and holds progressive constitutional amendments in the preamble and on abolition of right to property regressive. He finds rights of citizens an impediment to blind industrial development because industrial development in the West happened in the absence of citizenship rights.
According to him, their opposition to the CIDR of UID/Aadhaar numbers of Indian residents can be linked to more than a century old world famous Satyagraha of Mahatma Gandhi in order to oppose the identification scheme of the government in South Africa. On August 22, 1906, the South African government published a draft Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance. It required all Indians in the Transvaal region of South Africa, eight years and above, to report to, a certificate which would then have to be produced upon demand. The move proposed stiff penalties, including deportation, for Indians who failed to comply with the terms of the ordinance. Knowing the impact of the ordinance and effective criminalisation of the entire community, Mahatma Gandhi then decided to challenge as it undermined human dignity. Calling the ordinance a ‘Black Act’ he mobilised around 3,000 Indians in Johannesburg who took an oath not to submit to a degrading and discriminatory piece of legislation.
The UID/Aadhaar case demonstrates how ‘those who forget history are condemned to repeat it’. This amounts to normalisation of cruelty towards Indian residents, which creates a compelling logic for scrapping this biometric identification exercise. Now that the Constitution bench has recognised the right to privacy, the original three-judge bench of the Supreme Court which is to pronounce its verdict on UID/Aadhaar should also ponder similar questions linked to the imposition of ADHAAR.
Artists belonging to the RELA COLLECTIVE – a street theatre group drawn from various states – produced liberation songs and drama. Members of the Jan Mukti Morcha from Dalli-Rajhara also sang songs from the people’s struggles .
CANDLE LIGHT MARCH
In the evening, a Candle March was taken out from the venue of the meeting to Devakinandan Chawk in Bilaspur. In the midst of slogans and songs, speakers at the peaceful demonstration highlighted the gross violation of human rights in Chhattisgarh, repression of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and social and political workers by the State and Corporate World. Growing fascist violence in Chhattisgarh under the protection of the State Machinery, especially on Christians, Muslims and dalits were also referred to with a resolve to fights these forces of death and destruction, and renew the resolve to defend democracy and human rights.
Those who addressed the meeting were: Sukul Prasad Nag (Sukma), Degree Prasad Chauhan (Raigarh), Goldy George (Raipur), Son Singh Jhaali (Jagdalpur), Janak Lal Thakur (Dalli-Rajhara), Akhilesh Edgar (Raipur), Anand Mishra (Bilaspur), Amar Nath Pandey , (Sarguja), prabhat singh (dantevada )Junus Tirkey (Jashpur), Jacob Kujur(Jashpur), Kamal Shukla (Kanker), Rakesh Pratap Singh Parihar (Bilaspur), Nikita (Bilaspur). Isha Khandelwal and Priyanka Shukla coordinated the evening programme.
THE KG KANNABIRAN MEMORIAL award
(FOR LEGAL ACTIVISM IN HUMAN RIGHTS)
Conferred on 13 Lawyers in Chhattisgarh
At this HUMAN RIGHTS DAY on 10th December, 2017 at Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, Thirteen Lawyers were felicitated with the K G KANNABIRAN MEMORIAL AWARD (For Legal Activism in Human Rights) for carrying on brave and bold tradition of K G Kannabiran in fighting against the combined might of the State-Corporate-Fascists, who are out-and-out to demolish the secular-socialist-democratic fabric of the Indian Constitution. These are: Adv Arjun Singh Nag (Dantewada), Adv Sonsingh Jhaali (Jagdalpur), Adv Mohd. Ashraf (Durg), Adv Amarnath Pandey (Sarguja), Adv Shitij Dubey (Sukma), Former Dist. & Sessions Judge, Prabhakar Gwal (Mahasamund), Adv S C Verma, Adv Rajni Soren, Adv Nirupama Shail Bajpayee, Adv Kishore Narayan (Bilaspur), Adv Gayatri Suman (Masturi), Adv Satyendra Chaubey (Sarguja), Adv Shobha Ram Gilhare (Masturi). The Awards to the lawyers felicitated were handed over by Vasanth Kannabiran, Prashant Bhooshan, Ravi Nair, Gopal Krishna and Dr. V Suresh.
While felicitating the first batch of lawyers, Dr. Lakhan Singh, President of the CG PUCL stated that this AWARD recognizes the contributions of activists, organizations and institutions who have actively demonstrated their passion for human rights through legal activism with dedication to the values and principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
Briefly talking ab-out the life and contribution of Adv K.G. Kannabiran, Dr. V Suresh said that Kannabiran was the face of the human rights movement in India, and he himself had the privilege of working with Kannabiran for twenty years. Kannabiran was a lawyer of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, and cofounder and National President of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). His legal career saw him fighting against extra-judicial killings.
Born: November 9, 1929, Madurai ;
Died: December 30, 2010, Hyderabad
Kannabiran authored The Wages of Impunity: Power, Justice and Human Rights, which was published by Orient Longman in 2004 and is known to be his best and most read book. The Bangalore-based film-maker Deepa Dhanraj made a 130-minute part-biography, part-history film on Kannabiran, called The Advocate. It documents his contribution to challenging the Indian state and upholding the rule of law in institutions of governance and justice.
Dr. Suresh added that Kannabiran’s legal career saw him fighting against extrajudicial killings, “police encounters” as they later came to be known. His role in defending numerous political detainees brought him into the limelight during the pre- and post-Emergency years. His wife, Vasanth Kannabiran worked with him to fight for the rights of political dissidents, sometimes at great risk to herself and her family.
Dr. Advocate V Suresh, National General Secretary of PUCL said that Lawyers in Chhattisgarh have demonstrated courageous commitment to the struggles for justice and human rights, in spite of adverse environment and systematic and deliberate harassment by the State and various non-state agencies representing the corporate loot and plunder of the people’s resources in the region. He congratulated the Chhattisgarh Unit of PUCL for their concerted campaign against blatant violation of human rights.
K. G. Kannabiran
List of rewarded Advocates who is committed to Social Justice
1 Arjun Singh Nag
Arjun Singh Nag is the first Adivasi Lawyer practising in Bastar and the President of the District Minor Forest Produce Cooperative Union, Central Bastar. He is also the President of the Legal and Environmental Action Forum (LEAF). At present, with over 20 years of legal experience, he deals with issues relating to forests and adivasi people, especially encroachment and tribal rights. Nag ji is an active advocate of conservation, promoting forest protection from fire, the protection of sacred groves and, most importantly, the restoration of degraded forests by planting native plant species. He works on these issues with his colleagues at Legal and Environment Action Forum (LEAF), a forum which also provides health support and shelter for village people when they come to the town of Jagdalpur. Through LEAF, Nagji builds para-legal capacity amongst youngsters of the adivasi community.
2 Prabhakar Gwal
He qualified the Civil Judge Class-II Entrance Examination in 2006 with extreme hard work and was appointed as Civil Judge, Class-II, Durg. Later he was promoted as Special CBI Magistrate. He was known to be an honest Judge and gave some important judgments such as in the Bhadora Land Scam Case and PMT Leak Case. He bravely recommended registration of FIR against then SP of Durg in PMT Leak case for which he was threatened by a sitting BJP MLA who also was an ex policeman and subordinate of the then SP Durg. He also complained about other Juicial officers in Chhattisgarh High Court to expose their corruption. During carrying out of his Judicial Duties, he made enquiries about warrants which did not mention father’s name, age and residence and were used by police to arrest innocent Adivasi people of Bastar. He gave orders of granting bail and acquittal to many innocent adivasis who were arrested by Police in fake cases of Naxalism without any proof. He also demanded appointment of one Gondi interpreter in court by which arrested Gondi speaking adivasis can be heard and Justice can be done after hearing all parties but Police didn’t like these revolutionary Judicial works of Prabhakar Gwal and SP, Sukma made his complaint to District Court. Prabhakar Gwal was terminated from his post for all these revolutionary steps and for following his duties with full honesty which is very painful.
3 Son Singh Jhali
Son Singh Jhali has been advocating in District and Sessions Court, Bastar for many years. He has worked as coordinator in Chhattisgarh Legal Aid Center Jagdalpur and he has also served as legal advisor of various organisations such as Alliance Defending Freedom India, National Church mission association and Chhattisgarh State Christian Alliance. He has been working since 2004 for SC, ST, OBC, Minorities and other oppressed people to protect and promote their fundamental rights by documentation of incidents of atrocities and violence, reporting incidents of atrocities and violence to media, filing complaints to local authorities, concerned departments and commissions, providing immediate legal support and counselling to victims, networking with like-minded civil society organizations, etc. He has been consistently representing Christian adivasis in Court despite the opposition of many right-wing organizations. He has won many cases of this kind. In one of such case, Tribal persons belonging to Hindu religion were forcefully recovering fund from Tribals belonging to Christian religion in the name of construction of temples and hindu worship ceremonies and were not giving BPL Ration by sitting in Public Ration Shop with forcing them to do hindu worship. The officers who came to investigate in village after making complaint of incident to Collector, Bastar were send away from village by the villagers and the victims including children and women were beaten by the villagers but the police registered the case against both the parties. Son Singh Jhali helped all victims in their acquittal. He helped many tribals in their acquittal who were arrested in fake cases and helped them in registration of FIR against right wing fundamentalist organizations who carried out the assault against tribals and Clerics of Church. He filed petition in Chhattisgarh High Court against order of some Gram Sabhas which restricted the following of any religion other than Hinduism and High Court declared all orders null and void.
4. Amarnath Pandey
Amarnath Pandey has been constantly representing Adivasis arrested in fake cases of Naxalism and families of killed persons in fake encounters. Police had filed many fake cases against him for his brave work. One among these types of cases is related with the woman whose name is Ledha in which because Amarnath Pandey helped in bringing atrocities committed by then SP, SRP kalluri against Ledha and his family before Court, Police forced Ledha to file complaint against Amarnath Pandey and his brother. Police didn’t stop here to prevent growing steps of Amarnath Pandey towards justice rather Police filed an another fake case against him under SC,ST POA Act but Chhattisgarh High Court granted interim bail to him and gave order to dismiss the case. Amarnath Pandey also brought Narayan Khairval fake encounter before Court.
5 Rajni Soren
Rajni Soren started her law career with senior human rights advocate, Colin Gonzalves. He has been working as an advocate in the Chhattisgarh High Court since 2012. He filed a PIL in the Chhattisgarh High Court, Bilaspur for the release of prisoners who are facing life sentence and has lived in prison for more than 14 years. As a result, more than 70 prisoners have been released today and the case of release of 200 other prisoners is pending in Court. In the case of death of a tribal girl, Madkam Hidme in a fake encounter in Gompad, Sukma, she appeared for her mother, Madkam Lakshmi in which resulted in the formation of a judicial inquiry commission and report has also been prepared. She has filled various public interest litigations and writ petitions related to the women’s maternity rights and other health Rights in the Chhattisgarh High Court, in which she has received important orders from the court for the welfare of women. She filed a Public Interest Litigation on behalf of 10 special Bega tribes and challenged the order related to the ban on sterilization of Bega tribe. As a result of the said PIL, the amendment has been done in that order. She had submitted a PIL in Chhattisgarh High Court to improve the terms and conditions of the constables of Chhattisgarh Police, in which the Honorable High Court has given important instructions to Government in favor of the constables.
6 Gayatri Suman Narang
Gayatri Suman Narang started her journey as a volunteer with various civil society organisations working on different rights based thematics in Chhattisgarh. She had also worked as a fellow with Dalit Foundation. She actively engaged in dalit rights movement through legal awareness programmes & advocacy on just and fair mechanisms for adequate response against atrocities on woman and dalits. She started representing oppressed section of Society in Courts after getting his degree of Law. She also became the first woman lawyer from Masturi block (Bilaspur). In 2012, she started working as a state coordinator with Kanooni Marg Darshan Kendra, a law clinic set up by the Centre for Social Justice. In 2013, she was involved in collating documents & conceptualizing the PIL for adequate implementation of PWDV Act, 2005 in the State of Chhattisgarh which has led to the appointment of protection officers, and medical & shelter facilities for survivors of domestic violence. In 2014-15, she represented victims before the judicial probe commission which was constituted to look into medical negligence that took place at a mass sterilisation camp ( for laparascopic tubectomies) at Takhatpur Block of Bilaspur district, Chhattisgarh. Since 2016, she has been working with family members of a dalit man killed during police custody and has been helping them make representations before the judicial probe commission constituted subsequently.
7 Kishore Narayan
Kishore Narayan started working as an advocate in Human Rights Law Network, Delhi since april 2009. Since then till now he has been working as an Advocate in Chhattisgarh High Court, Bilaspur. He has been constantly practicing on matters related to human rights in Chhattisgarh High Court. He played his important role in providing bail to journalist Prabhat Singh and Santosh Yadav in Chhattisgarh High Court and Supreme Court who was charged in a fake case by Chhattisgarh Government. He appeared for two advocates of Telangana and four social workers and helped them in getting bail. With his efforts, the notice of the Railway to break the house of more than 300 Dalit slum dwellers in Bapu Upnagar Bilaspur was suspended by the High Court. He also played his important role in terminating an FIR against Senior advocate Amarnath Pandey in Chhattisgarh High Court.
8 Satish Chand Verma
Satish Chandra Verma started his practice in Raipur and after a year he moved to High Court of Madhya Pradesh at Jabalpur and joined chamber of Senior advocate Mr. SC Datt. In 2000 after formation of Chhattisgarh he shifted to Bilaspur and practices in High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur. Satish Chandra Verma is a respected member of Bar and has taken up many cases of social cause and Human Rights in which Gagan Das Case is an important one. In this case, Court declared the act of Chhattisgarh Police of arresting some residents of Orrisa bad in eyes of law and has ordered SIT inquiry into the matter. Among many other PILs, he appeared in Gaurav Path case. He also appeared in Antagarh Election Bribery case.
9 Sobharam Gilhare
Shobharam Gilhare became involved in the field of Human Rights as a young journalist writing about atrocities against dalits, adivasis & woman. Subsequently, he started working with civil society organisations on the same issues. It was at one of these organisations that he also worked as a block coordinator on the rights of primitive tribes in Dhamtari. At the time he was the 2nd dalit person from Arang Block, Raipur to practice litigation. In 2011, he started working as a unit coordinator with Kanooni Marg Darshan Kendra, Raipur, Centre for Social Justice’s second law centre in Chhattisgarh. He has secured a large number of favourable orders under PWDV Act & section 125 of CrPC for aggrieved women. He has also facilitated claims of victims under SC/ST POA & has secured many convictions by assisting prosecution. He has conducted hundreds of legal awareness shivirs in Raipur & Baloda Bazaar which has led to identification of violations of human rights later taken up at appropriate forums. He has also developed KMK, Raipur centre into a platform for discourses where people especially from vulnerable groups strategize to achieve their aspirations with the help of legal advocacy. He is instrumental in creating a cadre of women & dalit paralegals, laywers with an objective of making the community sustainable in responding to the human rights violations.
10 Mohammad Arshad Khan
Mohammad Arshad Khan has been regularly practising for 17 years. He has appeared in almost all District and Session Courts of Chhattisgarh. When a Kashmiri Youth Tausif Ahmad Bhatt who was arrested by Police in fake sedition case for liking so called anti-National post on Facebook and no lawyer was coming to take his case because of fear from Police and government, that time he came in front with bravery and took case in his hand. He got success in getting bail for Tausif Ahmad Bhatt.
11 Nirupama Shail Bajpayi
Nirupama Shail Bajpayi started her practice in 1990 because she always wanted to do something meaningful against exploitation of poor and women. She is constantly supporting the exploited people against the atrocities committed by the famed people. She is making women of villages and towns and prisoners aware about their rights through legal literacy programs. Awareness programs are also being conducted by her to prevent superstitions
12 Kshitiz Dubey
Kshitiz Dubey is a resident of Dantewara and he has worked as public prosecutor for many years. He did his work with full transparency. He joined Human Rights Law Network in 2016 and has been constantly representing adivasis of Bastar who have been booked under false cases of Naxalism despite of growing repression of Police. He has appeared in many cases of illegal detention and assault of adivasis.
13 Satyendra Kumar Chaubey
Satyendra Kumar Chaubey has been practising since 1996 and he has appeared in many important cases in courts of Ambikapur, Surajpur, Balrampur, Sarguja and Baikanthpur. During this period, he appeared in approximately 300 cases in which persons were booked with false charges of Naxalism without any proof. He has won in all these cases. In 1998, he was appointed by villagers to appear for them who were arrested by Police in fake case of attacking Bargaon Police Station for which fake FIR was registered by Police against Satyendra Kumar Chaubey and hence he was arrested. He had to live in Jail for 3 months because of his passion to provide Justice to innocent villagers and presently his case is pending before NIA Court Bilaspur.