Tag Archive for PUCL

In the land of Buddha and Gandhi, death penalty has no place, PUCL

death penalty India

By Team FI

People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has strongly condemned the hanging of Afzal Guru in New Delhi on Saturday.

Afzal Guru was convicted in the 2001 parliament attack and was hanged and buried on Saturday in a secret operation raising severe criticisms from human rights and civil rights organisations in the country.

According to PUCL, the tearing hurry with which Afzal Guru was hanged, accompanied by the flouting of all established norms by not giving his family their legal right to meet him before taking him to the gallows, clearly indicates that there were political considerations behind taking this step.

“More shameful is the explanation of the Home department that the wife and family of Afzal Guru were intimated of the hanging by a mail sent by Speed Post and Registered Post. Decency and humanity demanded that the Union Government give prior intimation to the family and an opportunity to meet him. Such a surreptitious action of the government also deprives the family of Afzal Guru to right to seek legal remedy”.

PUCL also condemned the Delhi police for detaining activists who were protesting against the hanging. Activists alleged that the right-wing goons were permitted by the police to use violence against the peaceful protestors.

PUCL reiterated its demand for the abolition of the death penalty. “India must not retain in its statute book something so abhorrent to human rights as the death penalty. More especially, when more than 150 countries have banned or put a moratorium on it”.

PUCL feels that starting with Kasab, now with Afzal Guru, the country is going to witness a spate of executions and have a given a call to the nation to break this spiral of executions.

Seema Azad Case: Incarceration of Human Rights

File photo of Seema Azad

PUCL and human rights organisations protest against the silencing of civil rights activists in the country as shown in the recent conviction of activists Seema Azad and her husband Vishwavijay Kamal

By Team FI

The arrest and sentencing of civil rights activists Seema Azad and her husband Vishwavijay Kamal to life imprisonment has led the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and other human rights organisations in the country to call for a nationwide protest on 26th of June against alleged state sponsored crackdowns on human rights activists in India.

“The conviction of civil rights activist Seema Azad for terrorism, unlawful activities, sedition and waging war against the state is a glaring travesty of justice,” stated the press release by PUCL of the press conference held last week. According to the PUCL, academics, journalists, and representatives of various social organisations have already pledged their support to campaign for the immediate and unconditional release of Seema Azad and her husband.

Seema Azad, the Organising Secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in Uttar Pradesh and her husband Vishwavijay Kamal were arrested in Allahabad on February 6, 2010. The accusation leveled against them was that they were members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) – they were charged under Sections 121, 121A and 120B of IPC and under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for possessing objectionable literature. The couple was fined Rs 20,000 and sentenced to rigorous life imprisonment.

According to the PUCL, the arrest and conviction is a bid to silence Seema Azad’s protests on behalf of mining workers and farmers. The press release presented arguments by Justice Sachar and Senior Advocate Ravi Kiran that indicated that the judgement was based on flimsy grounds and was premeditated.

Justice Sachar argued that “the only allegation against her is that she was in the possession of literature that the prosecution argued was illegal. But between possessing literature and committing an offence is a wide chasm that cannot be bridged by the flimsy arguments brought forth by the prosecution and accepted by the judge.” Justice Sachar pointed out that it is within the powers of the state government to withdraw prosecution. He urged the new government in Uttar Pradesh to nullify the wrongdoings of the predecessor government and withdraw the false charges against activists’ lodges by that government.

Senior Advocate Ravi Kiran pointed out that the literature ostensibly seized from Seema Azad which had been sealed as evidence, was opened by the prosecution without any authorization. In normal circumstances this would make the entire evidence suspect. But the judge continued to rely on this evidence.

It was also pointed that Seema Azad was given on police remand after the completion of the statutory period of 90 days. It is in this illegal custody that the police claim to have two cell phones which are also being used as evidence against her. Given the delay and the circumstances of this custody, the possibility of wrongdoing by the prosecution cannot be ruled out.

Senior Journalist Anand Swaroop Verma who is heading a campaign in support of Seema Azad argued that the judgment was prejudiced and an attempt to silence protest against government policy. He felt that Seema was being targeted since she was a bold voice against the takeover of farmer’s lands and livelihood and exposing the reality of the witch-hunt of Muslim youth promoted by the government and its security establishment in Azamgarh.

Let Humour Remain in Indian Public Life: PUCL

Cartoon Controversy PUCL

PUCL (Rajasthan) protests against the removal of the Nehru-Ambedkar cartoon from the textbook stating that it is not objectionable by itself and that the text gets students to question cartoonist’s presentation of the “snail’s pace”

By Team FI

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan branch has issued a press statement expressing shock over the uproar in the parliament and subsequent removal of the cartoon of Nehru and Ambedkar from Class XII School text book. The issue was raised by Thol Thirumavalavan of Liberation Panthers Party, Tamil Nadu  in the Lok Sabha on last Friday. He was soon joined by politicians cutting across party lines. Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal apologized over the “objectionable” content and told the media that he has directed removal of the material and stoppage of distribution of books. Here is the statement from PUCL;

The PUCL, Rajasthan branch and other intellectuals in the city are shocked at the unnecessary controversy created by a section of the Indian Parliamentarians with regard to  the cartoon of 1949 on Nehru and Ambedkar, on the pace of the making of the Indian Constitution, made by the eminent cartoonist Shankar Pillai and published in the Standard XI Political Science Text Book of the NCERT. What is extremely disturbing is the manner in which education minister Mr. Kapil Sibal apologised in Parliament and conceded to the demands of these Parliamentarians by stating that he has directed the NCERT to remove the material and stop the distribution of books. Not stopping there, he also stated that he had taken action by setting up a committee to look at the entire gamut of cartoons in textbooks and their content to ensure material of this nature is taken out of textbooks, before the next session.

We are absolutely certain that there is nothing objectionable in the Nehru-Ambedkar cartoon by itself and the text presented with it if at all is extremely laudatory of the hard work and democratic process that the constituent assembly had adhered to under the leadership of Sh. BR Ambedkar. And the question asked of the students in the context of the cartoon actually is getting students to question Shankar’s presentation of the “snail’s pace” represented. We would like to ask whether parties have really read the text with the cartoon or is it merely criticising to appease the Dalit vote bank which they represent.

In the past also texts have been deleted and books have been tampered with, and people have had cases filed against them merely in the name of upsetting public opinion. It is important to know that the endeavour of education is not to indoctrinate the minds of the young or teach them any one ideology. According to us the primary objective of education is to create a quest for enquiry and learning to think. Providing diverse points of view becomes essential to the educational process. Education essentially means having openness towards all points of views and also the young must know that there are many dimensions to any issue.

We all are well aware that both from the point of view of content and presentation the NCF 2005 and the books that were produced by the NCERT were a milestone in the history of education in India.  These books are also of high quality,  hardly seen before in our Government schools. These books create a questioning and critical mind in the children.  In terms of pedagogy these books are extremely innovative.

The PUCL strongly condemns the move of tampering with the content of these books and in particular the decision of removing the cartoons from the books, this needs to be opposed strongly.


Paraplegic Woman Deserves Dignity Not Custody: Supreme Court

Paraplegic Seema

Survivor of sexual assault by Rajathan Police, Seema, whose subsequent suicide attempt resulted in 80 percent paraplegia has been granted bail by the Supreme Court of India

By Team FI

Paraplegic woman, Seema who has spent the last 63 days in police custody after her arrest in a kidnapping and sexual abuse case has been granted interim bail on May 1st by the Supreme Court. According to the People’s Union for Civil Liberties‘s (PUCL), Rajasthan, press release, Justice CS Thakur and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra said that Seema was a living corpse and she deserved dignity and not custody.

Seema’s story begins on 23rd January 2011, when she was brought into the Pratap Nagar police station (Jaipur) for questioning in an alleged kidnapping and sexual abuse case. Even as her father Shivdan Singh, a constable, was waiting outside, she was beaten and sexually assaulted by the SHO Ramniwas Bishnoi, head constable Babru Khan and constable Lal Chand. The next day, Seema, in an attempt to commit suicide jumped in front of train. She survived but spinal cord damage left her paraplegic. Her left leg had to be amputated above the knee.

Public uproar and protests by women organisations resulted in the arrest of the three policemen who are currently in jail, their bail applications having being rejected by both lower and higher courts. However in what activists and Seema’s parents believe is a bid to silence Seema, she was implicated in the kidnapping case and arrested on 29th of February, 2012. It was alleged that the victim of the sexual abuse case was forced to include Seema’s name as a conspirator.

Judicial magistrate Chandra Kala Jain sent Seema to the same jail where her abusers were being kept. She was shifted later to Sawai Man Singh hospital by jail authorities. According to Seema’s lawyer Ajay Kumar Jain, her bail plea was rejected by additional judicial magistrate Anita Sharma of the special court for women’s atrocities on the grounds that her pulse and her blood pressure were normal.