Hot Off The PressNews

UN experts called on India to immediately release human rights defenders who have been arrested for protesting against changes to the nation’s citizenship laws.

“These defenders, many of them students, appear to have been arrested simply because they exercised their right to denounce and protest against the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), and their arrest seems clearly designed to send a chilling message to India’s vibrant civil society that criticism of government policies will not be tolerated,” the experts said.

One of the most alarming cases concerns pregnant Delhi student Safoora Zargar, who was detained for over two months having allegedly been kept in conditions equating to solitary confinement, denied regular contact with her family and legal representative, and having not been provided adequate medical care or diet. She was finally granted bail on 23 June 2020, in her sixth month of pregnancy, on humanitarian grounds.

The CAA provides expedited and simplified access to citizenship for people from specific religious minorities from several neighbouring countries but it excludes Muslims. Its adoption in December 2019 provoked nationwide protests by Indians from diverse faiths – including Hindus – who believe it violates the secular foundations of India’s constitution.

Many of the 11 individual cases include serious allegations of human rights violations, several relating to due process failings during arrest and detention, as well as allegations of torture and ill-treatment.

“Authorities should immediately release all human rights defenders who are currently being held in pre-trial detention without sufficient evidence, often simply on the basis of speeches they made criticising the discriminatory nature of the CAA,” they said.

The experts also highlighted their concern that the authorities’ response to the protests seemed discriminatory. It appears they have not similarly investigated allegations of incitement to hatred and violence made by CAA supporters, some of whom are reported to have chanted “shoot the traitors” at counter-rallies.

The experts further flagged their concern that authorities were invoking counter-terrorism or national security legislation, and using procedural police powers, to deny bail to protesters and issue charges carrying heavy sentences.

“Although demonstrations ended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and India’s Supreme Court issued a recent order to decongest jails because of health concerns related to the pandemic, protest leaders continue to be detained. The reported spread of the virus in Indian prisons makes their immediate release all the more urgent,” the experts said.

They are in contact with the Government on this matter.

Link to the source: News

United Nations

Hot Off The PressNews

Expressing grief over loss of life and property in Delhi violence, in Rajya Sabha today, Union Home Minister Amit Shah reassured the Nation that Modi Government is committed to bring the perpetrators to justice regardless of their religion, caste, creed or political affiliation.

He emphasized that the due procedure of law would be followed and justice would be delivered to the victims. The Home Minister said that no culprit would be pardoned and the punishment would instill fear of law in the hearts of perpetrators of violence in the future. He said that the government’s priority is to prevent any kind of violence and ensure relief to the victims. All the loss of property during the riots would be recovered from those responsible for it, he added.

Talking about the progress of investigation, Shri Shah informed the House that 1922 perpetrators have been identified from video footage received from the public, on the basis of facial recognition. Commenting on the alleged violation of right to privacy, he said that Delhi Police has not used Aadhar data for facial recognition of perpetrators, and while the Government respects the right to privacy, it cannot supersede the quest for bringing perpetrators of riots to justice. He further added that Delhi Police has abided by the Supreme Court’s guidelines on right to privacy during the course of the investigation. He informed that 3 SITs have been formed under the supervision of DIG and IG rank officers to handle 50 serious cases of violence.

Shri Shah said that while the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border had been sealed on the night of 24th February, completely shutting down borders was not possible. He further informed the House that most arms used in the riots were non-licensed and country made, and 49 cases of illegal arms have been registered for the same. He noted that 52 people have been arrested and the arms used in riots recovered on the basis of investigations. He added that more than 1100 people have been identified, and 40 teams have been formed to arrest those rioters who have been identified. He also informed that 5 people have been arrested for engaging in hawala transactions to finance the riots, which points towards the planned nature of the conspiracy.

Shri Shah emphasized the role played by certain social media accounts on fomenting hate and said that the Special Cell was investigating the issue. He informed the House that many social media accounts were created a day before the beginning of the riots and were shut down once the riots ended. He resolved to bring all those who instigated riots on social media to justice. The Home Minister further noted that the two people who had been receiving propaganda material from ISIS to incite riots have now been arrested. He also informed the House that the killers of both security officials – Head Constable Ratan Lal and Intelligence Bureau official Ankit Sharma – have also been arrested.

Commenting on setting up of an impartial Claims Commission, Shri Shah said that Delhi Police has written to the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court to appoint an impartial judge and the Government has no role in the appointment. He added that the Modi Government is taking the investigation very seriously and wants to ensure the logical conclusion of the investigation based on scientific analysis. Shri Shah urged all political parties to refrain from making baseless accusations. He said that while the lives lost and property damaged in the riots is a serious issue, the work done by Delhi Police to contain the riots to a small area (4% of Delhi’s geographical area) is commendable, and to acknowledge this is important for the morale of the force.

Shri Shah said that vested interests are misguiding and instilling a fear in Indian Muslims that CAA would take away their citizenship. The hate speeches delivered in the last two months were the main reason behind anti-CAA protests culminating into Delhi riots. Talking about the transfer of the High Court Judge hearing the Delhi riots case, Shri Shah said that the due procedure was followed based on the recommendation of the Supreme Court Collegium and the Judge was transferred after obtaining his consent for the same.

The Home Minister also reassured the people that no document will be demanded during NPR exercise and that nobody will be classified as doubtful on citizenship grounds, on the basis of NPR. He urged the opposition to stop misleading people on the issues of CAA and NPR and appealed to assist the police and administration in ensuring justice for the perpetrators and relief and rehabilitation for the victims. The Home Minister requested all political parties to rise above politics and allay all fears from the minds of common people in this regard.

[Source: PIB]

[Press Release dt. 12-03-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Govind Mathur, CJ and Ramesh Sinha, J. directed the District Magistrate, Lucknow and the Commissioner of Police, Lucknow Commissionerate, Lucknow to remove the banners from the roadside containing personal data of individuals who were accused of destroying the public property during Anti-CAA Protests in December 2019.

Privacy is a fundamental human right recognized in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. In our country, where privacy is not explicitly recognized as funamental right in the constitution, the Courts have found such right protected as an intrinsic part of life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

In the present public interest writ, undertaken by the Court at its own, simple question is, the legitimacy of the display of photographs, name and address of certain persons by the district administration and police administration of the Lucknow through banners. It has been further stated that, banners came up at a major roadside with personal details of more than 50 persons accused of vandalism during a protest in December, 2019. 

Chief Justice of this Court on noticing the injury to right to privacy, directed the registry to register a petition for the writ in public interest.

The main issue about the unwarranted interference in the privacy of people, it would be appropriate to state that admittedly no statutory provisions in that regard were available with the State.

Supreme Court in Malak Singh v. State of Punjab and Haryana, (1981) 1 SCC 420 held that even for history sheeters who have the necessary criminal history the information about the history sheet and the surveillance has to be kept discreet and confidential that cannot be shared with public and there is no question of posting the photographs of history sheeters even at police stations.

Bench stated that, on scaling, the act of the State, there was no necessity required for a democratic society for a legitimate aim to have the publication of personal data and identity.

Thus, in entirety, the action of the State was an unwarranted interference in the privacy of people and the same in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.[In-Re Banners Placed On Road Side In the City of Lucknow v. State of U.P.,  2020 SCC OnLine All 244, decided on 09-03-2020]