Kolkata : Human Rights activists under threat – Discussion meeting

April 8, 2010

Organized by MASUM

Date – 19th April
Time – 5pm
Venue – Bengal Theosophical Society Hall, College Square

Click here for the Bengali pamphlet for the meeting

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Statement from MASUM
Eminent Human Rights defender Kirity Roy arrested

Well-known human rights activist Mr. Kirity Roy, Secretary of Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) and National Convenor, Program Against Custodial Torture and Impunity (PACTI) was arrested illegally, harassed and indicted in frivolous charges on 07th April 2010 in connection with holding People’s Tribunal on Torture

Background

MASUM organized a People’s Tribunal on Torture (PTT) at Moulali, Kolkata on 9th and 10th of June, 2008 a programme as part of the project of NPTTI (National Project on Preventing Torture in India). Nearly 1200 victims and their families were present and 82 victims of torture narrated their plight before the panel members, consisting of illustrious persons of national repute in the public tribunal.

Though it is a well-known practice all over the world since past half a century, MASUM has been framed for the same questioning the legality of doing same, quite unknown incident to this effect by Kolkata police.

The quashing for the above FIR is scheduled to be heard by Hon’ble High Court Calcutta on 08/04/2010. The said case was initiated for holding People’s Tribunal on Torture, a project under National Project on Preventing Torture in India on 09/06/2008 and 10/06/2008 at Kolkata.

Today’s (07th April 2010) Harassment

Today (on 07 April 2010), a huge contingent of police consisting at least 25 plain cloth police personnel led by Inspector S. Ghosal, Inspector Biswas and Sub-Inspector Pervez except only three uniformed police personal of local police station with rifles & revolvers appeared at the residence of Mr. Kirity Roy at Srirampore, District – Hooghly, West Bengal, India at about 09:45 AM and arrested him in connection with Taltala PS case No.134 of 2008 dated 09/06/2008 and GR 1487/08 under sections 120B/170/229 of Indian Penal Code by Anti Terrorist Cell, Detective Department, Kolkata Police. The arresting police officials disguised themselves by not wearing uniform, thus violating the DK Basu judgement. Though a ‘Memo of Arrest’ was issued, it was evident that they arrived at Mr. Kirity Roy’s residence with a pre-set ‘Memo of Arrest’. It was not prepared at the place of arrest again violating DK Basu judgement guidelines. It is only on demand by the arrestee that the address of arresting place was included in the ‘Memo of Arrest’ by a different person than who had earlier prepared the ‘Memo of Arrest’ amounting to fabrication of official document as per their whims. It is to be noted that he was deprived to even attend nature’s call before arresting him and later even not allowed to contact any lawyer of his choice, which is in contradiction to the rights ensured under Article 22 of Indian Constitution. Mr. S Dhar, the Investigating Officer of the abovementioned criminal case was not present at the place of arrest amongst the arresting police personnel while Mr. Roy was arrested.

Later, at about 1:45 PM he was brought in the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM), Bankshall Court, Kolkata court lock-up. Even upto this time, despite pleading repeatedly, Mr. Roy was not allowed to contact lawyer of his choice. He was detained in the lock-up purposefully without forwarding the required documents by the police to the court. In consequence hearing on the bail petition for the arrestee, Mr. Kirity Roy got delayed. It is only at about 4:35 PM that the appearing advocates brought the CMM’s attention to this matter. Then, after few minutes the records and documents in connection with this case was produced by the prosecution before the CMM. The public prosecutor vehemently objected to granting bail in favour of the arrestee. Notwithstanding his objections, the learned court heard at length the submissions made by the defending advocates and granted the arrestee ad-interim bail. During this course, the arrestee was never been produced physically before the CMM, which is again a sheer violation of rights assured as per Indian Constitution.

After completing due formalities, the arrestee was released from the court lock-up at about 6 PM. It is relevant here to mention that the charge-sheet is submitted by the police on 07 April 2010 in connection with the abovementioned criminal case against eight accused persons naming (1) Mr. Kirity Roy, State Director of National Programme on Prevention of Torture in India (NPPTI), (2) Mr. Abhijit Dutta, Advocate, SLO of NPPTI, (3) Mr. Henry Tiphagne, Advocate, National Director of NPPTI, (4) Mr. Subhasis Dutta, Advocate, SLA NPPTI, (5) Mr. Subhrangsu Bhaduri, SPA NPPTI, (6) Ms. Sushmita Roy Chowdhury, DHRM NPPTI, (7) Ms. Tanusree Chakraborty, DHRM NPPTI, and (8) Ms. Aditi Kar, DHRM NPPTI under sections 120B (Criminal Conspiracy), 170 (Personating a public servant), 229 (Personation of a juror), 467 (Forgery of a valuable security …. or to receive a money), 468 (Forgery for the purpose of cheating) and 420 (cheating) of Indian Penal Code. Though police initially started the proceeding, as mentioned in the FIR, with first three sections (i.e 120B, 170, 229), later they added the other three penal provisions (i.e 467, 468 and 420) in the charge-sheet. The court took this fact into judicial observation that those three penal sections were added in the charge-sheet by police without the prior knowledge and permission of the court. It is to be mentioned that the said NPPTI was implemented by MASUM in West Bengal, India during 2006-2008.

The paradox of the police proceedings is that, Mr. Abhijit Dutta, assistant secretary of MASUM and a practicing lawyer had been summoned under section 160 of Criminal Procedure Code by the Officer-in-Charge, Anti-Terrorist Cell, Detective Department, Lalbazar, Kolkata on 04 April 2010 in connection with the abovementioned case. He duly attended the office and was examined by the investigating officer, Mr. S Dhar. However, quite surprisingly, he is also being framed in the charge-sheet as accused reflecting him an absconder. Similar proclamation has been made against other six accused in the charge-sheet.

We are drawing your attention as gross procedural violation and judicial misappropriation: –

  • Though the police investigation should have been completed within six months as per sections charged, it took around one year and ten months to submit the same.
  • Today’s arrest was an attempt by the police to hinder the high court case, intentionally arresting him on 07th April 2010, just a day before the high-court hearing date.
  • This is an attempt to curb the dissenting voice against the authoritarian approach of the police administration and the government. As MASUM has grown to be a reliable platform to voice the victim’s angst and anguish, now they are trying to suppress their democratic spirit of upholding the law and rights of people.
  • The very act of the state government shows that they want to combat human rights activities by the Anti-Terrorist Cell of police.
  • The guidelines on police arrest laid down by the apex court in DK Basu case are not followed in West Bengal.
  • The governments of India, in particular, the West Bengal government waged war against the peace loving and law abiding citizen and taking all undemocratic means to crush the democratic value.

MASUM wants to convey deep regards to all friends who rushed to Bankshall court in solidarity. Sramajibi Hospital, Bondi Mukti Committee, Ganatantrik Adhikar Raksha Samiti, HRLN, Ekhan Bisangbad, DISHA, Nagarik Mancha, Human Rights Law Network & Asian Centre for Human Rights, People’s Watch, SICHREM, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, OMCT (World Organisation Against Torture) & FIDH.

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Statement by Asian Centre for Human Rights

Arrest of prominent human rights activist, Kirity Roy, condemned
– UN Human Rights Chief and NHRC urged to intervene -

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) today condemned the arrest of Mr Kirity Roy, Secretary of Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) by the Anti Terrorist Cell of Kolkata Police this morning as a desperate act to silence dissent in West Bengal and demanded his immediate and unconditional release.

Mr Roy was arrested from his residence at Serampore, Hooghly in Kolkata at around 9 AM today in connection with Taltala Police Station case no. 134/2008 dated 9 June 2008 under Section 170 (Personating a public officer), Section 179 (refusing to answer public servant authorized to question), Section 229 (Personation of a juror or assessor) and Section 120B (Criminal Conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code against Mr. Kirity Roy and others of MASUM. This case was registered for organizing a People’s Tribunal on Torture on 9-10 June 2008 at Kolkata.

Mr Kirity Roy was only one of the organizers of the People’s Tribunal on Torture. The panelists included Ms. Pamela Philipose, Executive Director, Women Feature Service, Mr. Ashok Chakravarti, former Senior Director, NHRC, Justice Malay Sengupta, Ex- Chief Justice Sikkim High Court, Dr. Mohini Giri, former Chairperson, National Commission for Women, Mr. Ashutosh Mukherjee, ex-District & Sessions Judge, Dr. Tapas Bhattacharjya, Dr. Satyajit Ash, M.D., Psychiatrist, MON Foundation, Dr. Sreemantee Chaudhuri, Psychiatrist, Dr. A. K. Gupta, Head of Forensic Medicine, Calcutta Medical College, among others.

Mr Roy challenged the validity of FIR No. 134/2008 before the Calcutta High Court (Kirity Roy versus State of West Bengal & others vide WP No. 25022(W) of 2008) but on 26 August 2009 Justice Sanjib Banerjee of the Calcutta High Court dismissed the writ petition on the ground that police investigation is necessary to find out whether the petitioner organized a parallel judiciary. Mr Roy filed an appeal (MAT 1219/2009) along with a Stay Application (C.A.N. 10511/2009) in the Division Bench of Chief Justice Mohit Ranjan Shah and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghosh. The Division Bench of Calcutta High Court is scheduled to hear the case tomorrow i.e. 8 April 2010.

“The arrest of Mr Kirity Roy just one day ahead of the hearing on the validity of the FIR by the Calcutta High Court is a clear attempt to subvert justice and persecute the human rights defenders in this country. This is nothing but a desperate act to silence any form of dissent in West Bengal.” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

ACHR has urged the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay and National Human Rights Commission of India to intervene for the unconditional and immediate release of Mr Kirity Roy.