PUCL Bulletin, October 2001

Diminishing Human Rights
K.G. Kannabiran

We have been seeing on the electronic and print media the demands made by police men and officers and men demanding withdrawal of all prosecutions against some of these for human rights violations, which is euphemism for large scale violence against people resulting in murders and maiming of innocent people in the unfortunate region of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. They are threatening to return the Awards given to them whether by the state or the centre. If it were in collective repentance for the deaths caused, it would be appreciated. But it is not. It is a blackmail held out to a Government who don't know what governance is all about.

Their demanding immunity from redressal process appears to be a natural corollary to the impunity granted for wiping out terrorism in Punjab and the continuing human rights violations in J&K. People who suffered loss of limb and human dignity and the parents, wives and children whose father, parent and husband are killed by the police and other security forces, in exercise of their rights have filed criminal complaints. In short the police led by KPS Gill ARE ASKING FOR EXEMPTION from Rule of law and Article 21 of the Constitution. The tough Home Minister has almost acceded to this request, thereby negating all the covenants ensuring civil and political rights, Covenant against violence against women and the covenants against torture. Quite a few bodies were fished out of Sirhind canal and Advocate Kalra meticulously collected details of burials and cremations of dead bodies running to quite a few thousands and the Supreme Court has referred this case to NHRC for ascertaining the compensation to the dependents of the victims. For undertaking this very human task Kalra was killed. Advocate Andrabi was killed for seeking to enforce Rule of Law.

In Andhra Pradesh of course the last time a police officer was prosecuted was somewhere in 1964 where the state having lost the appeal in the High Court engaged A.S. Chari in the Supreme Court. These killings destroyed the fabric of Rule of Law and reneged on all the International Covenants to which we are signatories. The Home Minister's grant of amnesty to these human rights violators amounts to refuting the Covenants we are signatories to and amounts to setting aside the Constitution in our governance. It may become an administrative precedence to granting amnesty to criminals inside their own party. This amnesty has a parallel in respect of criminals in this country who enjoy similar impunity as these who are claiming immunity now.
Shahabuddin of Bihar is an instance in point. He has 300 warrants of arrest pending against him. He roams the streets of the capital in board day light. He is an inevitable invitee to all states functions which is attended by all officials including high police officials. I am sure the warrants would have been returned to the courts where he will be shown as absconding. Official version under the law of evidence has the seal of verity. Political parties compete with each other for his murderous help. Police Officers and MLAs have been slapped or beaten. His types are around in every state.

In Mumbai they have grown to the stature of a Ruling party. Bal Thackeray and Chota Rajan have emerged as defenders of the Hindu faith. Chota Rajan is currently supervising Ganesh festival. This role adds to their advantage and it is this role which colours the perception of the court if at all they are brought before them for trial. These also enjoy impunity by defying and defeating law. The impunity enjoyed are the same. Their attitude to law is the same. The one is the guardian of law and the other is wrongly perceived as Robinhood who plunders Peter and subjugates poor Paul.

The problem is defiers of law and authority, democratic and constitutional values and persons with no vision are becoming role models for future governance

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