, Dt.17: 03:2018
Against the state repression on the dissent voices as well as attack on the professional right and independence of lawyers a mass protest has been organised on today by different human rights organisation and mass organizations at Bhubaneswar. They demanded unconditional release of senior lawyer Upendra Nayak of Paralakhemundi under Gajapati district who was picked up late at night of 20th February from his home by Paralakhemundi Police and sent to the R.Udaygiri jail. He has been charged with allegedly serious offences such as sedition, waging war against the State and activities that come under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Advocate Nayak is a regular legal practitioner who has been defending the poor Adivasis and dalits in Gajapati district, including those innocent people who have been put behind bars for years for their alleged links with Maoist activities. But for his legal assistance as a defence lawyer many poor Adivasi and dalit men and women, falsely accused by the police, would perhaps be languishing in jail. Ironically, now Shri Nayak has been sent to jail for his alleged involvement in 10 cases – the cases in which he was the defence lawyer and the accused have been acquitted at the end of trial! Some of the said cases include those of Arati Majhi, Basanti Patamjhi, Munita, Lakshmi – registered way back in 2009 and 2010 (GR Case No- 260/2009, 261/2009, 262/2009, 263/2009, 264/2009 and GR Case 14/2010, 168/2010, 73/2010, 105/2010 and 221/2010 ).
The present issue not only relates to the harassment of an individual Advocate like Upendra Nayak, but also raises larger issue of fundamental rights of the lawyers in general to freely and fearlessly choose their profession guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. It also does affect the fundamental rights of the persons to have free choice for a legal counsel to defend themselves in the court of law.
The protesters accused that the arrest of Advocate Nayak is a deliberate attempt to create a sense of fear amongst the lawyer community not to defend any innocent person implicated in sedition and such other offences against state. Institution of fabricated cases against a defence lawyer and sending him to languish in jail is not only meant to harass him, but also to undermine the administration of criminal justice system. Moreover, it is against the very foundation of democratic values and rule of law as the investigating agency like police has been used by the state as a weapon to silence the dissenting voices.
In this context by the call of different human right organisations like Campaign Against Fabricated Cases(CAFC), Committee for Release of Political Prisoners(CRPP), Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakshya Sangathan(GASS), People’s Union for Civil Liberties(PUCL), Lokshakti Abhijan, People’s Watch/Annie was organised a mass protest at state capital where hundreds of lawyers including right activists from different cross sections were gathered and joined in the protest.
News By: Narendra Mohanty, Mob: 9437426647
State Convener, Campaign Against Fabricated Cases, Odisha.