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PUCL Bulletin, January 2005

National Council Meeting:

General Secretary’s Report to National Council: December 4 & 5 2004, Ahmedabad

Dear Colleagues,
The National Council is meeting after a gap of more than 3 years. We had last met at Allahabad on August 18 and 19 2001. That was the first meeting of National Council formed according to the amended Constitution. This is the second meeting.

During this period, the PUCL lost 20 of its members. The biggest loss was the death of V.M. Tarkunde on March 22, 2004. His death was deeply mourned by all the branches of the PUCL all over the country. For me it is a personal loss as I had known to depend on him for sound advice whenever I needed it. I propose that we institute some memorial programme on a suitable date every year on the lines of J.P. memorial function that we hold every year on March 23.

Amongst the other nineteen members that we lost some were founder members of the PUCL. Their names are as follows:

N.Y. Dole - October 2001, President of the Maharashtra PUCL;
Pramila Dandawate one of the founder members of the PUCL - December 31, 2001;
M.A. Latheef - Convenor of West Bengal State branch, founding member - February 2002;
P.G. Mavalankar - Founding member and President of Gujarat State branch - March 2002;
J.R. Sahni – Delhi PUCL, June 2002;
Prem Kumar Srivastava of Muzaffarpur PUCL was murdered on June 9, 2002;
Krishan Kant – Founding General Secretary of PUCLDR, July 2002;
Anand Shankar Ray - Founder member, First President of West Bengal PUCL, October 2002;
Kaloji Narayan Rao - member, Andhra Pradesh PUCL, a revolutionary poet, November 2002;
Prem Bhasin-Founder Member, January 2003;
Nani Palkhiwala- 2003;
W.A. Siddique – September 2003;
Tulsi Boda – Gujarat, October 2003;
N. Krishnaswami – founding member, died in Chennai, August 25, 2003;
Rajendra Bhardwaj - Delhi, Printer of PUCL Bulletin, December 2003;
Dr. B.D. Prasad – Patna, December 2003;
Ramakrishna Hegde – January 2004, Bangalore;
Nissim Ezekiel – January 2004, Bombay;
Prof. K.P. Saxena, Delhi – June 2004;
Kissen Patnaik, Orissa – September 2004.

I propose that we stand in silence for one minute to respect their memory after I finish reading this report.

By the time of the National Council Meeting at Allahabad on August 18, 19, 2001 the States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Uttaranchal had come into existence and they were represented in the National Council. After that untiring efforts of Rajindar Sachar have resulted in the establishment of Himachal Pradesh State branch. The President and the General Secretary of the branch have been invited to attend the meeting.

Prabhakar Sinha and Nishant Akhilesh have made a number of trips to Orissa and West Bengal for reactivating the branches there. I am happy to report that a few District branches have started working in Orissa. The efforts are continuing in West Bengal. Our efforts in Assam, Haryana, J&K, and Madhya Pradesh are continuing.

Now, before we proceed any further I would like to explain a point or two about the amendments to the Constitution that came into force at the Jaipur National Convention on April 24, 25 1999. According to the present provisions of the Constitution this meeting has to, on the basis of consensus, and if necessary, by vote select the office bearers for the next term. It has also to formalise the new National Executive whose members are mentioned in the Constitution. This meeting has also to decide the place and date of the next National Convention. This will be held under the team of office bearers put in place in this meeting, in three months time.

The national Council had discussed at Allahabad the suggestions of the auditors to get the PUCL registered with the Income Tax department as a Charitable Institution for obtaining Income Tax exemption. The National Council had entrusted the President, the past Presidents, Vice Presidents in Delhi, and Prabhakar Sinha to discuss the matter. Prabhakar Sinha pointed out to the General Secretary that this might require all the State branches to maintain and get audited their accounts. The auditors agreed with this problem and the matter was not pursued.

The 25th Anniversary of the PUCL was observed according to the decision of the National Council at Allahabad. The founding General Secretary of the PUCLDR, the then Vice President of India, Krishan Kant was the Chief Guest. The first volume of the Selections from PUCL Bulletin was also released on the occasion.

Now we come to the agenda as circulated already:
1. Discussion on ways and means to strengthen the finances of the organisation.
2. Future programmes and expansion.
3. A suitable memorial programme in the name of V.M. Tarkunde.
4. Resolution as per the suggestion of the auditors.
5. Suggestion of the General Secretary for curtailing expenses.
6. Election and other Constitutional requirements.
7. Any other item with the permission of the chair.

The financial health of the organisation is in bad shape. We are literally living from hand to mouth. This State of affairs has to be tackled on a war footing. We have to realise that the PUCL is a network and all the members, all the branches, at every level have to contribute towards building a corpus fund. Unless, the national structure is supported by every individual member and all the branches we can not survive. The National Council has more than 90 members. There are 10 to 12 State branches. If all the elected members of the National Council follow the old resolution of contributing one thousand rupees per year and if all the State branches contribute 100 rupees a month, we can have a steady income of about one lakh per year. During the past two months I have sent letters to all the members of the National Council but only about 20 members have responded.

We have survived since March this year because of the efforts of the Bombay branch, K.G. Kannabiran, Rajinder Sachar, and a few others. Rajindar Sachar has suggested that we should debar the members of the National Council from attending its meetings if they are in arrears. If members approve of this suggestion, the constitution can be amended to this effect. Similarly, branches in addition to the above suggestions, can procure advertisements for the PUCL Bulletin.

I would urge all the members to realise that funds raising has to be every one’s responsibility and is to be treated as an ongoing process.
With the permission of the members I would like to club item number 5 also with this discussion. Members are aware that we have been organising a ‘Journalism for Human Rights’ Award every year since 1981. The Award function organised on March 23, 2003 at Nainital was 23rd in the series. On the same day we organise a JP Memorial Lecture also. I propose that we discontinue the ’Award from this year. We have been observing that for many years now the journalists have been losing interest in this Award. The number of entries has gone down and the whole exercise has become localized in two or three States. The expenditure on this function is quite disproportionate to the achievement. We can continue to hold the JP memorial Lecture though.

Taking up item number 3 with this discussion I suggest that we start organising a Tarkunde Memorial Lecture on October 17, every year (the date on which PUCLDR was established in 1976). It is for the members to suggest whether the lecture should rotate amongst different State branches or be held at one place every year.

Our Auditors have pointed out that we need to pass a resolution to merge the silver jubilee fund with the corpus funds. I presume I can take this as approved.

For our future programmes I would suggest that we devote the next two years to strengthening the existing branches and to reviving the non-functional branches. The State branches where revival is necessary are Assam, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Mumbai, and Punjab. It is also necessary that State and local branches catch the attention of the people. We should enroll new members who understand the importance of the movement and we should also organise workshops, etc., for enhancing the commitment of the members. We should target Universities and Colleges for holding discussion and seminars and we should approach institutional libraries to subscribe to the PUCL Bulletin.
In the context of putting in place a team of office bearers for the next term and searching for a new General Secretary and place to locate the office with necessary infrastructure a meeting of the National Executive was held at Delhi on October 31. I have already circulated to the members of the National Council the proceedings and discussions of that meeting.

In brief the meeting decided that:
1. Kannabiran should continue as the President;
2. Ajit Jha and Pushkar Raj should be made Secretaries;
3. The National office has to operate for Delhi; and
4. A rented accommodation in the neighbourhood of the present office should be searched. Till another accommodation is found Y.P. Chhibbar should be paid @ Rs.5000/- a month to use his premises.

Now I would like to open the agenda and the General Secretary’s report to discussion. – Y.P. Chhibbar, General Secretary

Proceedings:
Proceedings of the twelfth meeting of the National Council, held at Ahmedabad on December 4 & 5, will be published in the next issue of the ‘Bulletin. We are, however, publishing some documents, etc., which were part of the proceedings: General Secretary

M.A. Rane’s Letter:
M.A. Rane President of Mumbai PUCL could not attend the meeting due to ill health. He sent a letter with his comments and suggestions and requested that the letter be read out in the meeting of the Council. The letter is reproduced below “I received with thanks minutes of meeting of the national executive held at Delhi on 31.10. 2004. Subsequently I received your letter of 14.11.2004 alongwith stamped receipt for Rs. 5000/- as donation by Chief Justice Chagla Memorial trust. I think it is desirable that you should sent a letter of thanks to the trustees of the said trust instead of it being done by me or Yogesh. I will send your letter of thanks alongwith the receipt to Mr. Iqbal Chagla Senior Advocate to whose chamber the office of the trust is now shifted.

I have noted that the meeting of the National Council of the PUCL will be held at Ahmedabad on 4/5 December 2004. You are aware that I am unable to move out of Mumbai. Please, therefore, excuse my absence. Yogesh will be attending the same. Therefore, I am sending this letter with him personally to be handed over to you, so that National Council may consider the views expressed by me herein below.

Shri Kannabiran as President of the PUCL and yourself of General Secretary have done very valuable work for the PUCL. I am glad that Kannabiran has agreed to continue as President of the PUCL for a year more. We will have to find his successor. I am of the opinion that Shri Prabhakar Sinha is a proper person to be elected as President of PUCL, as he is with the PUCL since its inception.

As regards office of the General Secretary I think it is high time that you are received in view of your delicate health. It is difficult to substitute you as the General Secretary. I agree that the office of the PUCL should be located in Delhi, because having office in the capital of the country is always necessary. You may therefore choose two persons i.e., Ajit Jha or Pushkar raj as Secretary as proposed during the meeting of the national executive. Your association with the PUCL should continue as….. Vice Presidents.

I have to make one suggestion to the national Council about which I have already written to you in the past. I am of the opinion that the next year we would discontinue the PUCL Award for Journalism because of heavy expenses required to be borne by the PUCL for giving the Award of a paltry sum of Rs. 20,000/- we are required to collect about Rs. 75,000/- for that purpose. The PUCL the pioneer in encouraging investigative journalism among the young journalists dealing with the problems of deprived sections of the people. We have done it for more than 20 years. Now there are several Awards instituted for encouraging journalists. In view of the heavy costs I am of the view that it should be discontinued from the next year. The money that we raised for the function may be utilized for building a corpus for the PUCL as discussed by the National Executive.

However, I am of the view that the Annual J.P. Memorial Lecture should be held on 23rd March of every year as usual. To the best of my knowledge it was on this day when Mrs. Gandhi withdrew the notification of emergency, which she had kept hanging on the heads of Indian people even though she declared election. If she was elected she would continue the emergency.
I request you or Yogesh to read this letter of mine to the National Council at Ahmedabad”. – M.A. Rane

Y.P. Chhibbar:
Following resolution was moved by the President of the Gujarat PUCL, Prof. Dev Vrat N. Pathak and was adopted by the house unanimously. Dr. Chhibbar was presented a shawl as a token of honour.

“The National Council would like to appreciate the dedicated manner in which for the last twenty-five years Dr. Y.P. Chhibbar has worked as General Secretary for the PUCL. We would like to especially recognize how Dr. Y.P. Chhibbar gave all his time, his house, and all other material support needed for keeping the PUCL going. We greatly and warmly appreciate his devotion and dedication to the great cause of human rights.

Dr. Chhibbar has been pressing the Council to relieve him from the office of the General Secretary. Though we realise the strain on him for all these years, the Council denies his request and urges him to continue for another term as General Secretary.”

Elections:
Following were elected office bearers for the next term to begin with the next National Convention. President: K.G. Kannabiran; General Secretary: Y.P. Chhibbar; Vice Presidents: (In alphameric order) Binayak Sen; Mathew Mamkattu; Prabhakar Sinha; Ravi Kiran Jain; Sudha Ramalingam (Ms); Yogesh Kamdar.
Secretaries: Ajit Jha; Kavita Srivastava (Ms); Pushkar Raj; Organising Secretaries: Chittaranjan Singh; Gautam Thaker; Himanshu Borai (Ms); N. Kotishwar Singh; Nishant Akhilesh; P.B.D’sa. Treasurers: D. Jagannathan & S.A.A. Pinto

 

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