PUCL Bulletin, 2001

PUCL Formed


In November 1980, a National Convention of civil rights workers converted the People's Union for Civil Liberties into a membership organisation. The National Convention elected Mr. V.M. Tarkunde as President and Mr. Arun Shourie as the General Secretary of PUCL. Since then the PUCL has undertaken work on several fronts-from commencing work towards preparing a new Prisons Act and Jail Manual under the leadership of Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer to agitating on specific issues like the release of trade unionists arrested under the National Security Act in Madhya Pradesh. Most of the effort has been devoted to setting up State and Local Units which alone can effectively pursue specific issues.

The Delhi Unit has been set up. Prof. Rajni Kothari has been elected its President and Mr. Inder Mohan its Secretary. The Bombay Unit was inaugurated by Mr. H.M. Seervai, the constitutional jurist, at a widely attended public meeting presided over by Justice J.C. Shah. Dada Dharmadhikari delivered the first Jayaprakash Narayan Memorial Lecture on the occasion. The Bihar Unit has been set up with Mr. Radha Raman, senior advocate, Patna High Court, as its President. The M.P. Unit was inaugurated by Mr. V.M. Tarkunde on March 8, 1981. It elected the noted Hindi writer, Bhawani Prasad Mishra as its President and Mr. Rajendra Sail, the moving spirit behind the Raipur civil liberties movement, as its Secretary. The U.P. Unit was inaugurated on April 12 at Allahabad with Mr. Lakshmi Kant XTerma as its President and Prof. K.C. Gupta as its Secretary. On the same day, the Gujarat Unit was inaugurated in Abmedabad by Mr. V.M. Tarkunde and it elected Justice Sakal Chand Sheth as its President, and Prof. Dinesh Shukla as its Secretary.

Considerable progress has also been made towards organising State Units in Orissa, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, and Kerala. Shri Man Mohan Chowdhury, the Sarvodaya leader, and Mr. P.K. Bal, Editor of Pragativadi, are organising the Unit in Orissa. Mr Cho Ramaswamy, the well-known literateur and journalist, is the Convenor for the Unit in Tamilnadu. Under the guidance of Rev. MA. Thomas, an organising committee has been set up in Karnataka with Mr. Khadri Shamanna as its President, an& Prof. UR. Anantha Murthy as Secretary. The State
Conference at Bangalore will be held on Sunday, May 10, 1981, to determine the programme, and elect the State council and the St?ite executive committee. In Kerala, a meeting of the civil rights activists was held at Kottayam under the Chairmanship of the noted scholar and social worker, Dr. M.M. T~omas. It set up an organising committee and decided that the State Unit would be formally constituted at a Convention in the first week of August.

Work has also been initiated towards setting up State Units in Andhra, Rajasthan, and Jammu & Kashmir by Mr. K.G. Kannabiran, leading advocate, Andhra Pradesh High Court, Mr. Siddharaj Dhadda, Sarvodaya leader, and Mr. Balraj Pun, Director of the Institute of Jammu &
Kashmir Affairs, respectively.

The members of the National Executive of the PUCL are as follows:
1. V.M. Tarkunde, senior advocate, Supreme Court, Delhi.
2. K.G. Kannabiran, leading advocate, Andhra High Court.
3. Asghar Au Engineer, author and crusader for Islamic reform, Bombay.
4. Cho Ramaswamy, Tamil author, journalist, dramatist.
5. M.M. Thomas, social worker, Kerala.
6. Girish Karnad, film producer,author, journalist, Karnataka.
7. P.G. Mavlankar, ex-M.P., Abmedabad.
8. Siddharaj Dhadda, Sarvodaya leader, Rajasthan.
9. Dinesh Goswami, M.P., Assam.
10. Shibu Soren, M.P., Bihar.
11. S. Abul Hasan Ali, Darululoom Nadwatulama, Lucknow.
12. Navantara Sehgal, author, Delhi.
13. Raj Krishna, Professor of Economics, University of Delhi.
14. N.A. Palkhivala, senior advocate, Supreme Court.
15. Nikhil Chakravarty, Editor, Mainstream, Delhi.
16. Banka Behari Das, General Secretary, AICC.
17. Arun Shounie, Executive Editor, Indian Express.
18. Surendra Mohan, M.P., U.P.
19. Ram Jethmalani, M.P., Bombay.
20. Madhu Limaye, political worker.
21. Balraj Pun, Director, Institute of Jammu & Kashmir Affairs, Jammu.
22. B.K. Acharya, retired civil servant and diplomat, Calcutta.
23. Aloo Dastur, Bombay.
24. Pritish Chanda, political worker.
25. Mukundan Menon, political worker and civil rights activist, Madras.
26. P.K. Bal, Editor, Pragativadi, Orissa.
27. Jyoti Shah, social worker, Bombay.

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