Posts Tagged ‘Right to equality’

ASCW issues notice to SP, Cachar concerning a case of domestic violence

May 3, 2011

Press Statement

For immediate release

03 May, 2011, Silchar

ASCW issues notice to SP, Cachar concerning a case of domestic violence

Assam State Commission for Women (ASCW) issued notice to the district Superintendent of Police in Cachar asking him to submit a report to the commission regarding the case. The letter signed by Monidipa Borkotoki, the member secretary of the commission said that the legal advisory committee of the ASCW heard the complaint forwarded to it by the National Commission for Women (NCW) and passed an order. The order asked for a report from the concerned SP regarding the details of the complaint and for notice to the complainant for her appearance on the next date to hear the complaints in detail for further action.

 The case involves allegations of extortion and harassment of Sharmista Das, daughter of late Rishikesh Dutta, resident of Narsing Road, Shibam Apartment Ground, Ambicapatty, Silchar, (Cachar, Assam) the victim. She alleged that she and her mother had been forced to pay bribes by the police when she lodged complaints about harassment and cruelty allegedly meted out to her by her husband and other in-laws for dowry. According to the victim the cases have been registered but no effective actions have been taken. Instead, the victim alleges, they harassed her and her relatives and forced her to pay rupees 30,100.00 (thirty thousand and one hundred) and attempted to get another Rs. 50,000.00 (fifty thousand) by virtual detention and threat of dire consequences between 3 November, 2009 and 20 March, 2010. (See the detail here)

 Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) documented the case and wrote to the authorities including the NCW urging for their intervention for the sake of justice. No information was received by BHRPC after several reminders, except a letter from the NCW that the case was forwarded to the ASCW. In response of BHRPC letter dated 28 March 2011 the ASCW informed about the order of their legal advisory committee and notice to the SP.

 According to BHRPC the action of the ASCW is a good gesture but too late and too little.

In a letter to the member-secretary fo the ASCW BHRPC stated that the complaint of the victim involves three cases vide 1. Silchar PS Case No. 2126/2009 dated 3 November, 2009 under section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), 2. Silchar PS Case No. 509/10 under sections 379 and 406, IPC, 3. Case No. 155 M/2010 in the Court of Executive Magistrate under section 94 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) and serious allegations of extortion and forcing the victim to pay bribes. But the ASCW asked for reports concerning only one case, viz., Silchar PS Case No. 2126/2009. BHRPC is doubtful whether this partial inquiry can reveal the whole truth. More importantly an independent inquiry should be conducted into the allegations of extortion and harassment of the victim by the investigating officers of the police.

 BHRPC also wrote that police in Assam often disregards the proviso to sub-section (1) of section 160 of the CrPC while conducting investigation/inquiry. The proviso says “that no male person under the age of fifteen years or women shall be required to attend at any place other than the place in which such male person or woman resides”.

 BHRPC further said that the order of the legal advisory committee of the ASCW directs the ASCW office to issue notice to the complainant for her appearance on the next date to hear the complaint in details for further action. But the BHRPC has not received any such notice and information of the next date. The complainant/victim needs to know the date of the hearing and whether her presence is required or not giving her enough time to make preparations for journey from Silchar to Guwahati and other matters.

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Information Officer, BHRPC

Rongpur Part-IV (Near Uco Bank)

Silchar- 788009, Assam, India

PIL concerning deployment of teachers in non-teaching duties

April 24, 2011

The issues raised in this Public Interest Litigation pertains to frequent deployment of teachers of Government and Govt. aided schools in nonteaching duties thereby disrupting the academic schedule of these schools leading to violation of the fundamental rights of universal education to children as enshrined in the Article 14 , Article 21 A and Article 45 of the Constitution of India .

Petition in the Gauhati High Court

Order/judgment of the Gauhati High Court

Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court of India

Order/judgment of the Supreme Court of India

Para-military forces run amock in Silchar with impunity

March 15, 2011

Assam Rifles personnel belonging to the 5th battalion camping at Jiribam, Manipur came to Silchar in Assam, a town known as the heart of Barak Valley, on 2 August, 2009, bought ‘pan’ from a panwala, pushed a pistol into the mouth of panawala who had shown the audacity of demanding money for his pan and then created a mayhem establishing the reign of terror for the whole night.

According to the reports, some ‘jawans’ in plain clothes belonging to the 5th battalion of Assam Rifles visited the College Road area in Silchar around 4pm on 2 August and kept loitering there for a few hours. They bought ‘pans’ from a ‘panshop’ owned by one Trinath Dhar of the same locality and started to go away without making payment for the ‘pans’. They got angry when the ‘panwala’ demanded money for his ‘pans’ and started to hurl abuses and threats at him. At further entreaties for the payment the ‘jawans’ beat him, tried to strangle him and one of the ‘jawans’ put his service pistol into the mouth of the ‘panwala’. When people gathered the ‘jawans’ went away but warned him that he would be dealt with appropriately later.

Around 10.30 pm that night 5 ‘jawans’ led by a major named R Gupta came back in a jeepsy car without number plate. They were in plain clothes. Most of the shops were closed at that time. They looked for Trinath Dhar, but his shop was also closed and he hid himself somewhere nearby. The ‘jawans’ entered a nearby saloon named ‘Ajoy Hair Cutting’, which was still open, and started to break things and to beat people inside the shop. The reports alleged that the ‘jawans’ hurled Sumon Sheel, a worker in the saloon, through the window into a drain several feet down. He sustained severe injuries.

According to the reports, at the hue and cry people of the locality started to gather at the spot and the ‘jawans’ kept beating indiscriminately whoever they could catch including women and rickshaw pullers creating a mayhem. They also allegedly opened fire. Ten persons including Ajoy Sheel, the owner of the saloon, Sumon Sheel, a worker in the saloon, Trinath Dhar, the panwala who came out from his hiding when people gathered and Rapon Bhattacharya of Subhash Nagar were injured.

At that time the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Headquarter, Cachar and the Officer-in-Charge of Silchar police station came to the spot with a large police force and brought the situation under control. The police took the ‘jawans’ including the major and the injured to the police station. The injured were sent to the hospital for treatment. But no First Information Report (FIR) was registered.

The Assam Rifles major told the media persons that they were in an ambush there and the local people attacked them even after the ‘jawans’ revealed their identity. He claimed that Assam Rifles personnel were acting in self defence. But there is no answer to the question why Assam Rifles did not inform the local police about their operation in a thick residential area which they are bound to do.

Members of the BHRPC visited the area next day (3 August) in order to find out the facts about the incident. They encountered with an eerie silence. Witnesses refused to talk. Victims were trying to avoid the team members. Fear and terror were visible in the eyes and faces of the people of the locality. After much persuasion and guarantee of protection of identity some victims and witnesses spoke out. Their accounts corroborated each and every facts stated above.

They added that they were asked not to speak with the media and human rights groups except that the matter was ‘settled amicably’ and that they had no grievances against the Assam Rifles personnel or Assam Police members. But the grievances were so acute and deep that one of them went on to say that ‘talks of human rights have meanings only in independent democratic countries’ and out of frustration he declared that ‘India is neither independent nor democratic in actual sense of the terms’. ‘If you try to fight for your rights legally they will kill you ‘legally’’, he claimed. He went on, ‘if you file a complaint with the police the investigation will be biased and at the end of the day the accused will not be prosecuted or if prosecuted will be acquitted for lack of evidence.’ According to him, this is the best expectable situation. At the worst you will be encountered, he claimed. According to him, it is a practice of the security forces to make terrorist of a person who dares to point his fingers against them by planting arms and ammunitions at his residence and then they will kill him in a staged encounter. ‘No human rights group will be able to save him’, he declared.

The statement said, BHRPC could not persuade the terrified victims to lodge a complaint with the police regarding the incident. It reveals their lack of trust in Indian justice delivery system, which is very dangerous.

One of leading local daily news paper carried the story of ‘mutual settlement’ on 4 August. The report informed that the matter was settled in a tripartite meeting among victims, Assam Rifles personnel and officials of Assam Police held at Silchar police station on 3 August. The news paper planted a new version of the incident completely contradicting what it told the day before. More over, it did not make any reference to the earlier story by way of refutation or corrigendum or whatever may be. The paper owes an explanation to its readers and the public. All other papers kept mum on the matter.

It shows a conspiracy of silence. BHRPC thinks that there are ample grounds to conclude prima facie that the Assam Rifles, Assam Police, local media and some other local elements are in collusion with each other to protection the accused ‘jawans’ from legal consequences. In effect, rights of the victims of crimes to justice, remedies and reparation are being denied.

BHRPC concludes that the incident and the subsequent efforts to hush it up amount to vaiolations of fundamental rights laid down in Artiles 21 and 14 of the Constitution of India. Article 21 guarantees right to life and personal liberty, which includes, inter alia, right to live with human dignity, right to physical and psychological integrity and right to justice, remedies and adequate reparation in case of violations of any fundamental rights. Article 14 guarantees equality before and law and equal protection of law. The officials of the Assam Police violated this right of victims by not registering an FIR and by not initiating prosecution against the accused personnel.

The actions of the Assam Rifles personnel and officials of Assam police also violated international human rights obligation of the State of India in respect of the right to life, security of persons and property, right to physical and psychological integrity and right to justice, remedies and adequate reparation in case of violations as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and other instruments.