A brief and solemn function was organised jointly by the National PUCL
and the Delhi State branch of the PUCL on October 17th at the Constitution
Club, Delhi to mark the completion of 25 ears of the PUCL. Shri Krishan
Kant, the first General Secretary of the PUCLDR, as the PUCL was known
at that time, was the Chief Guest. Shri Krishan Kant is at present the
Vice President of India. Shri K. G. Kannabiran presided over the function
in the absence of Shri VM Tarkunde. Shri Tarkunde who completed 92 years
on July 9 last could not attend in spite of his best intensions due to
his frail health. He sent his good wishes to the General Secretary.
Sitting on the dais were Ms. Gopa Joshi, General Secretary, Delhi PUCL;
Shri Rajindar Sachar, Former President of the PUCL; Shri Rajni Kothari,
former President of the PUCL; Shri Krishan Kant; Shri K.G. Kannabiran;
Y.P. Chhibbar; and Shri R.B. Mehrotra, President, Delhi PUCL. Dr. Ms.
Gopa Joshi, the General Secretary of the Delhi State PUCL, initiated the
function. Dr Y.P. Chhibbar spoke briefly about the PUCLDR and the PUCL.
He said that during the life of its 25 years, it had become an effective
defender of the rights of the people and grown in size and its area of
work. It has branches in 18 states and in many districts.
It works in cooperation
with various National Commissions for the redressal of the grievances
of the victims of the atrocities perpetrated by the police and other arms
of the State or by one section of the society over another. He informed
that the first copy of the 4th edition of the collection of JP memorial
Lectures brought out specially to coincide with the start of the JP Centenary
celebrations was presented to Shri Krishan Kant today. He also said that
the Constitution of the PUCL bars members of political parties from holding
any office in the PUCL and that the PUCL does not involve itself in political
questions. He mentioned that the activities of the PUCL stretch from the
street to the highest court in the country. He said that presently the
Supreme Court is hearing a petition by the Rajasthan State branch on the
prevailing famine conditions in many States in spite of the overflowing
stocks or food-grains with the government.
Shri K.G. Kannabiran, welcoming the Chief Guest, stated that in a plural
society like ours there were different religions, languages and cultures
and yet we have to be together respecting the rights of the others. Violations
of Human Rights of minorities ands and Dalits have to be stopped. Gender
related biases and violence have to be eradicated and the rights of the
children established. Over the years, he said, the PUCL has played an
important role in protecting these rights against their infringement by
the State and State agencies and also by different sections of the society.
Shri Krishan Kant, addressing the meeting, expressed his happiness to
be present on this important day. He recalled how on the suggestion of
Shri Ashok Mehta in a meeting in the Constitution Club, the words Democratic
Rights (DR) were added to PUCL. He expressed his happiness on seeing that
over the years the PUCL had won the adherence of intellectuals and activists
alike (see the full text of the addresses by Shri Krishan Kant elsewhere).
(Justice) RB Mehrotra, President Delhi PUCL, and national Vice-President,
thanked the Chief Guest and all others who had spared their valuable time
to participate in the function. He sated how since its inception under
the leadership of late Shri Jayaprakash Narayan, Shri Krishan Kant, Justice
Tarkunde the organisation was working successfully with the active and
constructive support of its members and sympathisers. He specially mentioned
the name of Dr. Y.P. Chhibbar who, in spite of his ill health was devoting
all his energies to the organisation.
Prominent among those who attended the function were Amrik Singh, Vice-President
PUCL; D. Jagannathan, National Treasurer PUCL; Ravi Kiran Jain, President,
UP PUCL; RP Dhasmana, Uttaranchal PUCL; Rabi Ray Former Speaker, Lok Sabha;
Chaman Lal, special Rapporteur NHRC; D.S. Tewatia Former Judge, Syeda
Saiyidain Hameed formerly of the National Commission for Women, Gauri
Bazaz-Malik, Radical humanist and many other judges Lawyers, Academics
and activists attended the function.
-- Inputs by Y.P.
Chhibbar, Chief Editor and General Secretary, and Mahi Pal Singh.