The Judiciary And The Human-Right Violations Of ‘Democratic’ States
By Sukumaran C. V.
04 January, 2016
“One set of atrocities is called Terrorism and the other, Progress.”—Arundhati Roy
2000 years ago there lived a man in Athens in ancient Greece. His name was Socrates and he often discussed difficult questions with his friends and acquaintances. The Athenian Government didn’t like the methods of Socrates and they held a trial and condemned him to death. When Socrates was told that he would be let off if he promised to stop his discussions with people or else he had to drink hemlock and die, Socrates addressed his accusers and judges and said:
“If you propose to acquit me on condition that I abandon my search for truth, I will say: I thank you, O Athenians, but as long as I have breath and strength I will never cease from my occupation with philosophy. I will continue the practice of accosting whomever I meet and saying to him, ‘Are you not ashamed of setting your heart on wealth and honours while you have no care for wisdom and truth and making your soul better?’ I know not what death is—it may be a good thing, and I am not afraid of it. But I do know that it is a bad thing to desert one’s post and I prefer what may be good to what I know to be bad.”
He drank the poison (the sap of the plant called hemlock) calmly and died. But as long as there are humans on earth, Socrates will continue to live in the human minds, and the accusers and judges who persecuted him had been consigned to oblivion long since. Everybody knows Socrates, but nobody knows the judges who condemned him to death.
Just like the Athenian Government didn’t like the methods of Socrates, the Indian Government doesn’t like those who fight for the rights of the Adivasis and the less privileged who are robbed of their lands and livelihood by the corporate mining giants with the help of the ‘Democratic’ state of India and its draconian laws. Dr. Binayak Sen exposed the heinous human-right violations perpetrated on the hapless Adivasis by the Indian State and the State sponsored militia Salwa-Judum in the name of anti-Naxalite operations. And Binayak Sen was hunted down by the Indian Sate with the help of the judiciary merely for being a human-rights activist.
See the terrible activities of Salwa Judum. Arundhati Roy writes in her “Broken Republic”:
“In June 2005, Mahendra Karma called a secret meeting of Mukhiyas and announced the Salwa Judum (Purification Hunt). A lovely mélange of tribal earthiness and Nazi sentiment. Salwa Judum was a ground clearing operation, meant to move people out of their villages into roadside camps, where they could be policed and controlled. Villagers who did not move into camps would be considered Maoists. So in Bastar, for an ordinary villager, just staying at home, living an ordinary life, became the equivalent of indulging in dangerous terrorist activity. Between June and December 2005,Salwa Judum burned, killed, raped and looted its way through hundreds of villages of south Dantewada. The centre of its operations were the Bijapur and Bhairamgarh blocks near Bailadila, where Essar Steel's new plant was proposed.”
“The Judum came to Korseel, Ajitha’s village, and killed three people by drowning them in a stream. Ajitha was with the militia, and followed the Judum at a distance to a place close to the village called Paral Nar Todak. She watched them rape six women and shot a man in his throat.”
“Comrade Laxmi tells me she watched the Judum burn thirty houses in her village Jojor.”
“Salwa Judum—the dreaded government-sponsored vigilante group responsible for rapes, killings, burning down villages and driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes—is led by Mahendra Karma, a Congress MLA…”
The Police personnel and the politicians who organised Salwa-Judum and allowed them to terrorise the hapless people of Bastar and other areas were not arrested and charged with sedition and treason, but Binayak Sen who tried to expose the State-sponsored atrocities perpetrated on the unprivileged people of India was arrested and jailed and denied bail. The same thing happened to Dr. Saibaba for the same reasons.
In her article titled “Professor, P.O.W” published in the ‘Outlook’ magazine dated 18 may, 2015, Arundhati Roy wrote:
“May 9, 2015, marks one year since Dr. G.N. Saibaba, lecturer of English at Ramlal Anand College, Delhi University, was abducted by unknown men on his way home from work. When her husband went missing and his cellphone did not respond, Vasantha, Dr Saibaba’s wife, filed a missing person’s complaint in the local police station. Subsequently the unknown men identified themselves as the Maharashtra Police and described the abduction as an arrest.... Dr Saibaba is what is known as “90 per cent disabled”. In order to prevent his physical condition from further deteriorating, he needs constant care, physiotherapy and medication. Despite this, he was thrown into a bare cell (where he still remains) with nobody to assist him even to use the bathroom. He had to crawl around on all fours.”
“He has been charged under the UAPA, Sections 13 (taking part in/advocating/abetting/inciting the commission of unlawful activity), Section 18 (conspiring/attempting to commit a terrorist act), Section 20 (being a member of a terrorist gang or organisation), Section 38 (associating with a terrorist organisation with intention to further its activities) and Section 39 (inviting support and addressing meetings for the purpose of encouraging support for a terrorist organisation.) ...
“Dr Saibaba’s trial has not begun. When it does, it is likely to take months, if not years. The question is, can a person with a 90 per cent disability survive in those abysmal prison conditions for so long?
“Despite the fact that India is party to international covenants on disability rights, and Indian law expressly forbids the incarceration of a person who is disabled as an undertrial for a prolonged period, Dr Saibaba has been denied bail twice by the sessions court....For the sake of argument, let’s leave the decision about whether Dr Saibaba is guilty or innocent of the charges levelled against him to the courts. And let’s, for just a moment, turn our attention solely to the question of bail, because for him that is quite literally a question of life and death.
“No matter what the charges against him are, should Professor Saibaba get bail? Here’s a list of a few well-known public figures and government servants who have been given bail. On April 23, 2015, Babu Bajrangi, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre in which 97 people were murdered in broad daylight, was released on bail by the Gujarat High Court for an “urgent eye operation”. This is Babu Bajrangi in his own words speaking about the crime he committed: “We didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire, we set them on fire and killed them—hacked, burnt, set on fire.... We believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don’t want to be cremated. They’re afraid of it.”—‘After killing them, I felt like Maharana Pratap’ in Tehelka, September 1, 2007.
“On July 30, 2014, Maya Kodnani, a former minister of the Modi government in Gujarat, convicted and serving a 28-year sentence for being the ‘kingpin’ of that same Naroda Patiya massacre, was granted bail by the Gujarat High Court. Kodnani is a medical doctor and says she suffers from intestinal tuberculosis, a heart condition, clinical depression and a spinal problem. Her sentence has been suspended.
“Amit Shah, also a former minister in the Modi government in Gujarat, was arrested in July 2010, accused of ordering the extrajudicial killing of three people—Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati. The CBI produced phone records showing that Shah was in constant touch with the police officials who held the victims in illegal custody before they were murdered, and that the number of phone calls between him and those police officials spiked sharply during those days. Amit Shah was released on bail three months after his arrest. (Subsequently, after a series of disturbing and mysterious events, he has been let off altogether.) He is currently the president of the BJP, and the right hand man of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
I have quoted in detail from Arundhati Roy’s article, and, dear readers, have you seen any ‘scandalous and scurrilous allegations against the judiciary’ in the arguments of Arundhati Roy? But I am surprised to see the judgement of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court in which Justice A. B. Chaudhari says that “scandalous and scurrilous allegations are made by the author Arundhati Roy in the said article against the judiciary. Not only that, she has indirectly questioned the sanctity of the order made by the learned Judge of this Court (Hon’ble Shri S.B. Shukre)for rejecting the bail application filed by the applicant....by comparing the case of the present applicant with Babu Bajrngi, Maya Kodnani and Amit Shah. It is not in dispute that by making the above allegations and remarks about the rejection order made by this Court as above and then asking as to why the applicant should not also get relief of bail by scandalizing the Court, in my opinion, amounts to interfering in the administration of justice and lowering down the image of the judiciary without any basis and with selfish motives.”
How can expressing one’s opinion on the Court’s denial of bail to a person with 90 per cent disability be ‘interfering in the administration of justice’? Who is lowering down the image of the judiciary—the judges who deny bail to a completely disabled person even when India is party to international covenants on disability rights, and Indian law expressly forbids the incarceration of a person who is disabled as an undertrial for a prolonged period or writers like Arundhati Roy? And what is the selfish motive of Arundhati Roy?
And the judge further says: “This, prima facie, constitutes criminal contempt and, therefore, it is a fit case where an order of issuance of notice for criminal contempt against author Arundhati Roy is required to be made.”
Elsewhere in the judgement the judge says: “The language used by the author in her article against the Government and the police machinery is as nasty as it could be and one really wonders whether the same would befit to the prestigious awards the author is said to have won.”
Is the language of the article is ‘as nasty as it could be’? And can you believe that the ideas such as the following can be there in the order of a High Court Bench in the largest democracy of the world, when freedom of expression is smothered in the country by spreading bullets against the writers and thinkers?
The order says: “This Court is also surprised that despite the intemperate and humiliating language used against the Central Government, the State Government, the police machinery and the armed forces, they have not taken any action against the author who, in the name of freedom of speech, is exploiting the situation.”
Of the 22 page judgement which denies bail to Dr. Saibaba, more than 8 pages are spent on Arundhati Roy and her article! The readers can see themselves whose language is as nasty as it could be—Arundhati Roy’s or ....
In the largest democracy of the world, those who justify the killing of innocent people get bail; those who organise atrocious gangs like the Salwa-Judum to terrorise people by raping, killing and torturing them go scot-free; the corporate world is allowed to plunder the natural resources that provide livelihood to a vast majority of the people, and to devastate the Environment that sustains the poor (and the rich too).
But when somebody speaks for those whose human-rights are violated, they are hunted down by the State and the judiciary is not offended by the cold-blooded cruelties the State and its police machinery inflict upon the innocent, but by a writer who writes for the oppressed millions of the country. Certainly, ‘it is not in dispute’, such judgments lower down the image of the judiciary in the largest democracy of the world.
Sukumaran C. V. is a former JNU student and his articles on gender, communal, environemenatl and other socio-political issues are published in The Hindu, Mainstream etc. Email id: firstname.lastname@example.org