The Binayak Sen Judgement 2010

Binayak Sen, and the co-accused Pijush Guha and Narayan Sanyal, have been sentenced to life imprisonment, under Sec. 124(A) of CrPC and Sec 39 of UAPA. Sign a petition in protest

Jan 11, 2010: A video: why is Binayak Sen in jail?

Dec 29, 2010. Statement from Sanhati on the Judgement

Dec 28, 2010. Upcoming protests in 20 cities: time and place.
Page 1: protests1.jpg Page 2: protests2.jpg

Dec 26, 2010. CRPP Statement on the Judgement
Dec 26, 2010. Critique of the Binayak Sen Judgment
Dec 25, 2010. Join Citizen’s Protest in Delhi on December 27th, 2010
Dec 25, 2010. Message from Sudha Bharadwaj
Dec 25, 2010. PUDR Statement on the Judgement
Dec 24, 2010. PUCL Statement on the Judgement
Dec 24, 2010. Press Release from Amnesty International
Dec 24, 2010. Binayak Sen’s Statement at the Conclusion of the Trial
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Dec 29, 2010.
Sanhati Statement on the Binayak Sen Judgement

We are deeply anguished by the convictions and sentences of Dr. Binayak Sen, Piyush Guha, and Narayan Sanyal by the additional district and sessions judge of Raipur for sedition. We also note that in a separate case, Asit Sengupta was convicted and sentenced to eight years imprisonment for his work as magazine editor and publisher. Sanhati strongly condemns their convictions and sentences.

Convicting Dr. Sen of sedition and treason against the country, when he has devoted his life to service for the poorest citizens of India, yet again illustrates the disdain of the state towards its citizens and democracy. The real crime of Dr. Sen in the eyes of the government has been his protest against the state-sponsored vigilante force of Salwa Judum, and his efforts to bring to light the atrocities committed by this vigilante army on the indigeneous population of Chattisgarh. The state has attempted to make an example of Dr. Sen to all dissenting against its policies or protesting repression. Nevertheless, the state will fail in its attempt to create a fear psychosis among political and social activists; its efforts will only lead to the strengthening of resistance against state repression.

The charge made out by the prosecution against Dr. Sen was that he was responsible for passing letters from Narayan Sanyal lodged to Piyush Guha. Examination of witnesses and evidence presented by the defence demonstrated that the meetings in prison between Dr. Sen and Narayan Sanyal, the jailed Maoist leader, followed all legal norms and were based on the capacity of Dr. Sen as a physician and a human rights activist. When the accusations against Dr. Sen could not be supported by evidence in court, the government brought up other trumped-up charges and falsified evidence, much of which was glaring in its absurdity. That the court chose to overlook all this, has exposed the nature of our judicial system to the entire world.

It is necessary at this juncture to also mention that numerous undertrial political and social activists are today incarcerated in various prisons in India or languishing in jail for prolonged periods without trial, charged under various draconian state or central laws. These laws, and various draconian provisions of the criminal penal code, are being used to clamp down upon resistance movements against various anti-people policies pursued by the Indian state. The charges against Dr. Binayak Sen, and the travesty of justice in the name of his trial, have brought this hard truth to the fore.

We strongly condemn the convictions and sentences against Binayak Sen, Piyush Guha, Narayan Sanyal, and Asit Sengupta. We demand that the injustice meted out to them in the name of dispensing justice be rectified immediately. We also demand that the state immediately stops the systematic usage of various draconian laws and charges of sedition against activists to silence all voices of dissent.

Sanhati, 29th December, 2010

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Dec 26, 2010. CRPP Statement on the Judgement

COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-25
24/12/10

PRESS RELEASE

CONDEMN UNEQUIVOCALLY THE MURDER OF JUSTICE BY THE SESSIONS COURT IN RAIPUR IN THE BINAYAK SEN CASE!

LET US UNITEDLY FIGHT TO REPEAL ALL FASCIST DRACONIAN LAWS INCLUDING UAPA AND THE CHHATTISGARH SPECIAL PUBLIC SECURITY ACT!

The Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) condemns unequivocally the murder of justice in the case of Dr. Binayak Sen, a people’s doctor and one of the first civil libertarians to expose the state sponsored Salwa Judum that was undertaken by the BJP government on the tribal people in Chhattisgarh and ably supported by the Congress which is the opposition party in the state. In fact Dr. Sen while also exposing one of the worst cases in post-47 India of malnutrition and total neglect of the everyday life of the tribal people in the region showed the world the shocking story that was slowly unfolding—a slow genocide of the people in this region. And along with this slow genocide was the barbaric onslaught of the state sponsored Salwa Judum. Yes it was the voice of conviction of Dr. Binayak Sen against this murder, rape and loot of the tribal people that arouse the conscience of the people of the subcontinent as well as all democratic
and freedom loving people of the world. To condemn such a person to life imprisonment u/s of 120(B), 124(A) of the IPC and 1,2,3,5, Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and Sec 39 (2) of the UAPA (2004 amended) without even an iota of evidence brings once again forth the real face of Indian democracy with the judiciary reflecting the abysmal nadir to which the system has convoluted iself to.

All supposed pillars of democracy of the Indian state are increasingly proving to be hollow for the common people fighting for their livelihoods and those who raise the issues of the most exploited, and oppressed being the target of ire of a state that is day by day churning out more and more anti-people policies and supplementing it with a penal system teethed with the worst draconian laws. The case of Dr. Binayak Sen is a reminder to every democratic and freedom loving people of the subcontinent to once again raise their voice unitedly against such a penal state that is assuming fascist proportions. Notwithstanding the fact that about 22 noble prize winners from all over the world had sought his immediate freedom and lauded the exemplary work Dr. Sen had in the medical sciences, in popularising it among the poorest of the poor, and in providing the best of treatment to the impoverished adivasis in Central India, what the state could give him in return
was life imprisonment for a case that hardly has any evidence!

This is the same state that has given blanket protection for all the scamsters and looters, be it the politician, bureaucrat, coporate honchos, and last but not the least judges right from the sessions court to the highest seat of justice in India.

And naturally what can a doctor who is stubborn enough to go to the most impoverished regions of ‘Shining India’ and work among the poorest of the poor for their betterment, let alone survival expect from a system which was always living in a world of denial about the existence of such a world! And his only crime—that he had dared the criminal negligence of a state which had blood in its hands of a slow, but cold and calculated genocide of a people through systematically denying any opportunity to live a life of dignity!

It is high time that all democratic and freedom loving people should join hands to raise their voice against the mockery of justice and once again fight to put an end to all such draconian laws of colonial vinatage. Today it is Dr. Binayak Sen. Tomorrow it can be anyone of us.

In Solidarity,

Gurusharan Singh
President

Amit Bhattacharyya
Secretary General

SAR Geelani
Working President

Rona Wilson
Secretary, Public Relations

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Dec 26, 2010. Critique of the Binayak Sen judgment
Received from Sudha Bharadwaj, Chhattisgarh PUCL

The Second Additional Sessions Judge, Raipur B.P. Verma has sentenced human rights defender Dr. Binayak Sen, Kolkata businessman Pijush Guha and Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal for rigorous life imprisonment and shorter prison terms, to run concurrently under Sections 124A read with Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, Sections 8(1), 8(2), 8(3) and 8(5) of the Chhattisgarh Vishesh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam, 2005 (Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act) and Section 39(2) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. Narayan Sanyal has been additionally sentenced under Section 20 of the UAPA Act, 1967. Briefly put Section 124A read with Section 120B of IPC pertains to sedition and conspiracy for sedition; CSPSA, 2005 makes culpable membership of, association with, and furthering the interests, financially or otherwise, of organizations notified and banned under the Act as unlawful. UAPA, 1967 seeks to penalize membership of a terrorist gang or association, holding proceeds of terrorism, or support given to a terrorist organization.

To hold the three accused guilty under the above mentioned laws, the judgment had to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the accused were either directly indulging in seditious activities as individuals or as members of an organization, or conspiring to abet and further seditious activities of individuals or organization. Also, the judgment was to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the accused were either members of organizations notified as unlawful under CSPSA or/ and UAPA, or conspiring to abet and further the activities of such unlawful organizations. Judge Verma’s verdict weaves a flawed legal narrative trying to establish the aforementioned links.

Judge Verma’s narrative hinges on the following points:

* Narayan Sanyal is a member of the highest decision making body, Politburo, of CPI (Maoist) a seditious organization and notified as unlawful under the CSPSA and UAPA. As a basis for this, the judgment cites the content of certain journals purported to be organs of the CPI (Maoist) and certain cases lodged against him for Maoist activities in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand. The above-mentioned magazines have been reportedly seized from co-accused Pijush Guha who has contended that they were planted on him by the police. The judge has unquestioningly accepted the version of the police on the basis of the supposed testimony of the seizure witness Anil Singh, ignoring the objections of Pijush Guha and co-accused Binayak Sen to the effect that the seizure witness had claimed to overhear a conversation between Guha and the police in a situation where the police had Guha in their custody, and any statement made by Guha to the police in a custodial situation is inadmissible as evidence under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. It should not be forgotten that the seizure witness Anil Singh did not accompany the police when they came to apprehend and search Guha, but was supposedly a passerby, who was stopped by the police when Guha was already in their custody. The judge has held Narayan Sanyal to be a member of CPI (Maoist) on the basis of cases against him in other states in which he has not yet been pronounced guilty.

* The central point around which the verdict’s narrative is woven is the arrest and seizure of certain articles, including the abovementioned journals and three letters supposedly written by Narayan Sanyal to his party comrades, handed over to Binayak Sen when he met Sanyal in jail, and then handed over by Sen to Pijush Guha who was supposed to pass it on to Sanyal’s party comrades. This supposedly establishes a chain binding the three in a conspiratorial relationship. According to this supposed conspiratorial chain, Narayan Sanyal is a leader of a seditious organization also notified as unlawful and as such banned; Binayak Sen conspires with Sanyal to pass on his letters to his party comrades through Guha, thus both Sen and Guha assist in the activities of a seditious and unlawful organization. In constructing this conspiratorial chain, the Judge has relied on forensic evidence testifying that the letters were indeed written by Sanyal, but for them being in possession of Pijush Guha, he has relied solely on the evidence of police officers and seizure witness Anil Singh whose versions have been contested by Guha but ignored by the Judge. Guha’s testimony says that he was arrested on 1.5.2007 from Mahindra Hotel, kept in illegal custody blindfolded for six days and finally produced before a Magistrate only on 6.5.2007. The Judge has ignored even Guha’s statement to this effect made before the Magistrate as soon as he was produced. Judge Verma has said in his verdict that Guha has failed to produce any evidence in favour of his statement, thereby putting the onus of proof on the accused and not the prosecution, which is bad in law. The Judge has also ignored the contradiction between the police affidavit filed before the Supreme Court while opposing the bail application of Binayak Sen and the police version presented in the charge sheet filed in the sessions court. In the Supreme Court the police said that Guha had been arrested from Mahindra Hotel (which Guha has alleged in his testimony) but in the sessions court the police have said that Guha was arrested from Station Road where the police supposedly seized the aforementioned incriminating articles in the presence of seizure witness Anil Singh. The police’s flimsy argument, that the discrepancy was because of a typographical error in the affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, has been accepted by Judge Verma. Actually, the police officer responsible should be tried for either filing a false affidavit in the Apex Court, or lying in the sessions court under oath. Accepting Guha’s testimony would have rendered the seizure witness’s statement implausible on which the Judge has centrally relied for his narrative. This would have in turn resulted in a complete collapse of the case against all the accused, especially so against Guha and Binayak Sen, against whom there was no material evidence of either being a member of CPI (Maoist) or being in conspiratorial relationship with Narayan Sanyal, the principal Maoist character in Judge Verma’s narrative.

* Once the central conspiratorial point and incident has been constructed in the judicial narrative, conspiratorial linkages between the three accused and their common causes and actions before the incident also needed to be established. This has been attempted in Pijush Guha’s case by a reference to his frequent visits to Raipur and a case pending in district Purulia, West Bengal. Judge Verma has ignored the fact that Guha was made an accused in the Purulia case after 6.5.2007, the date on which he is said to have been arrested in Raipur. This fact strongly generates a suspicion of afterthought by the police of the two states acting in collusion. Judge Verma’s verdict also naturally ignores the fact that Pijush Guha’s frequent visits are explained by his being a tendu leaf trader trading in the areas of Chhattisgarh.

* Binayak Sen’s supposed conspiratorial relationship with Narayan Sanyal and his seditious Maoist causes is sought to be established by the following:

1. Deepak Choubey’s testimony that he accepted Narayan Sanyal as a tenant in his house on the recommendation of Binayak Sen a few months before Sanyal’s arrest.

– The Judge has ignored the fact that Deepak Choubey did not own the house but acted on behalf of his brother in law. More crucially, the Judge set aside Sen’s objection that Choubey’s assertion came in response to a leading question by the Public Prosecutor. Judge Verma’s verdict makes no reference as to why he rejected Sen’s contention that Choubey’s statement was made under duress because the police threatened to implicate him. It also does not take into account the contradiction with the police’s own version that Narayan Sanyal was arrested from Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh to which effect police officers of Andhra Pradesh have testified.

2. Binayak Sen’s 33 meetings in 1.5 years with jailed Narayan Sanyal.

– The judge without giving any reason has ignored Sen’s contention that he was merely performing his duty as a human rights activist and a physician in addressing the legal and health issues of an ailing undertrial prisoner on the request of the undertrial’s family. Instead, Judge Verma’s verdict makes a convoluted argument by holding that Sanyal’s sister-in-law’s (Bula Sanyal’s) phone calls to Binayak Sen in this regard proved a conspiratorial relationship between him and Narayan Sanyal. Since the prosecution failed to produce even a single jail official or any other eye witness testifying to any letter or message, oral or written, being passed by Narayan Sanyal to Binayak Sen in their jail meetings, the verdict makes much fuss about certain entries in jail registers referring to Sen being Sanyal’s relative, ignoring the defence contention that these entries were filled in by the jail officials, and not by either the visited or visitor, as apparent from the face of the record. On the contrary, all the applications Binayak Sen submitted to the jail officials, requesting a meeting with Sanyal, were written on the letterhead of his organization – PUCL (a Civil Liberties and Democratic Rights organization founded by leading Sarvodaya leader Jayprakash Narayan). These visits were duly permitted by the jail officials and transpired in their full view and hearing.

3. That Binayak Sen had a close relationship with CPI (Maoist) is sought to be established by the unsubstantiated testimonies of police officials claiming that Sen and his wife Ilina Sen had assisted alleged hard core Maoists Shankar Singh and Amita Srivastava. Sen has not disputed that Shankar was employed by Rupantar – an NGO founded by his wife Ilina. Nor has he disputed that he and Ilina knew Amita Srivastava whom the latter, on the recommendation of a friend, had helped find a job in a school. But the Judge has just accepted the police’s word, without any other testimony or material evidence whatsoever that Shankar and Amita were Maoists.

4. Judge Verma has also wrongly concluded, on the basis of hearsay by the police, that one Malati employed by Rupantar was the same person as Shantipriya, also using the alias Malati, a Maoist leader’s wife convicted for 10 years in a case tried in another court in Raipur. The judge has not even mentioned or verified the defence evidence put on record that the Malati employed by Rupantar was actually Malati Yadav.

5. Judge Verma’s narrative seems to have a particular fondness for police hearsay as he has blindly accepted, without any corroboration by another witness or any material evidence, wild allegations made by police officials Vijay Thakur and Sher Singh Bande, officer in charge of Konta and Chhuria police stations respectively that Binayak Sen, his wife Ilina Sen and other PUCL members and human rights activists attended the meetings of Maoists in their respective areas. These officials have gone well beyond their Section 161 statements introducing documents not earlier annexed with the charge sheet, and all defence objections in this regard were overruled by the Judge.

6. But a certain planted letter, exhibit A-37, takes the cake in Judge Verma’s narrative. This unsigned letter, supposedly written by the Central Committee of CPI (Maoist) to Binayak Sen, was claimed by the police to have been seized from Sen’s house when the police ran a search there. But this letter finds no mention in the seizure list, neither has it been signed by Sen nor the investigating officers nor the search witnesses as per proper procedural requirement. The said letter was also not part of the copy of the charge sheet received by Sen in the court. But the Judge has completely overlooked this obvious planting of evidence, accepting the ridiculous explanation provided by investigating officers BS Jagrit and BBS Rajput that the Article A-37 probably stuck to another article (chipak gaya tha) and hence could not get signed by either Sen or the investigating officer or search witnesses. It is no surprise that the judge has also ignored the very valid testimonies of defence witnesses Amit Bannerji and Mahesh Mahobe in this context.

7. The verdict lets the cat of its ideological bias out of the bag , however, when it accepts above the Supreme Court’s wise judicial pronouncements which were brought on record in the case by Sen, the testimony of a mere district collector KR Pisda in charge of Dantewada district that Salwa Judum was a peaceful and spontaneous protest movement of the tribals against the atrocities committed by the Maoists, and not a brutal and armed vigilante operation sponsored by the state. Later in his judgment Judge Verma insinuates that Binayak Sen’s principled opposition as a human rights defender to such a non-legal, repressive, brutal vigilante operation indulging in mayhem and violence put him in the Maoist camp against whom the Salwa Judum was targeted.

While weaving a narrative of sedition against Binayak Sen and other accused in the case, the sessions court verdict violates a well laid judicial principle of the Supreme Court in matters of sedition. In Kedarnath Singh Vs State of Bihar the Supreme Court has held that the provision of sedition in the Indian Penal Code must be interpreted in a manner consistent with the fundamental freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. In this regard the Supreme Court held that the offence of sedition, which is defined as spreading disaffection against the state, should be considered as having been committed only if the said disaffection is a direct incitement to violence or will lead to serious public disorder. No speech or deed milder than this should be considered seditious. The sessions court verdict in the case against Binayak Sen and others fails to establish that the words or deeds of the accused were a direct incitement to violence or would lead to serious public disorder. This would be the case even if it was established beyond doubt that Binayak Sen had passed on Narayan Sanyal’s letters to Pijush Guha, or Pijush Guha was likely to pass on these letters to other members of the CPI (Maoist), or that Narayan Sanyal was a politburo member of the CPI (Maoist).

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Dec 25, 2010. Join Citizens’ Protest Against Travesty of Justice in Conviction of Binayak Sen

Monday, 27 December
2.30 pm
Jantar Mantar

Scamsters, Mass murderers and killers Roam Free
While Dr. Binayak Sen is sentenced for Life WITHOUT Evidence

RISE up against INJUSTICE

AISA, PUDR, PUCL, PUCL Delhi, Anhad, HRLN, Delhi Film Archive, JTSA, Delhi Solidarity Group, AIPWA, Saheli, CAVOW, Foundation for Media Professionals, Jan Sanskriti Manch, The Group, Arundhati Roy, Kamal Chenoy, Swami Agnivesh, Harsh Mandar and many other organizations and individuals

Manisha (9811625577), Farah (9818461817), Sohaib (9899462042)

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Dec 25, 2010. Message from Sudha Bharadwaj

Dear Friends,

By now all of you are aware of the outrageous judgement sentencing the President of Chhattisgarh PUCL – Dr. Binayak Sen to life imprisonment on the charge of sedition despite lack of any legally admissible evidence.

Dr. Sen’s unjust incarceration is also symbolic of the extremely difficult situation in our state of Chhattisgarh
which is becoming a fascist police state intolerant of any dissent
where the judicary is becoming incapable of protecting constitutional rights to life and liberty
where social activists are being persecuted and prosecuted on trumped up charges
where a repressive law like the Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act is being used to criminalise dissent
where thousands of adivasis are languishing in jails as “Naxalite undertrials” without hope of a fair trial
where the corporates are reigning supreme and have a stranglehold over the state’s rich resources
where state sponsored bhagwa goondas attack democrats and minorities
where independent journalists are threatened
where hundreds of adivasis are being killed in “collateral damage” and thousands displaced in a war on people

Even earlier many of you have organised campaigns and demonstrations protesting these situations and demanding the release of Dr. Binayak Sen and other prisoners of conscience.

Once again this is the need of the hour.

Particularly since preparations are afoot for escalation of war with direct deployment of army and airforce in anti-Naxal operations and the grave humanitarian crisis intensifying, and at the same time all human rights activists, journalists, lawyers and social activists working in these areas are under severe threat after this judgement.

Your solidarity is most important for us at this time.
Let us try to co-ordinate the spontaneous outrage against the judgement into a powerful nationwide protest

Sudha Bharadwaj
On behalf of Chhattisgarh PUCL

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Dec 25, 2010. PUDR statement on the Judgement

People’s Union for Democratic Rights
25 December 2010
Press Statement

People’s Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi (PUDR) strongly protests against the conviction order of the Sessions Court at Raipur sentencing Dr. Binayak Sen, Piyush Guha and Narayan Sanyal to life imprisonment.

The reason for the institution of this case by the Chhattisgarh police was to prevent the growing opposition to the government policy of creating and arming of the Salwa Judum, an opposition that the PUCL, Chhattisgarh was leading. The PUCL and its General Secretary, Dr. Binayak Sen organised fact-finding missions and brought to light the untold misery being caused to the tribal people by the Salwa Judum mobs through hitherto unrecorded murders, rapes, arson and looting that led to the total evacuation of around 700 villages. Such efforts were not to be taken kindly by the police and civil administration and Dr. Sen had been threatened that he would be booked. Being the conscientious civil liberties activist, Dr. Sen continued in his work unmindful of the threats. That such were the designs of the Chhattisgarh government is made amply clear through the demolition of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram and hounding of the noted Gandhian, Himanshu Kumar, till he was forced to flee.

The charge made out by the prosecution against Dr. Binayak Sen was that he was responsible for passing letters from Narayan Sanyal lodged in jail to Piyush Guha. During the trial, not a single witness testified to this. The charge was wholly demolished. Hence a number of additional flimsy charges were made against Dr. Sen. These include receiving a letter from Narayan Sanyal duly stamped by jail authorities, visiting Narayan Sanyal in jail to assist in his medical treatment, receiving a letter from another jail inmate regarding appalling conditions of jail inmates, helping to organise a fact-finding in Nagpur into the attacks on dalits at Khairlanji, among others. While each of these is a legitimate activity taken up by every civil rights organisation in the country, a sinister colour was sought to be given to it by the prosecution. All of these charges were found utterly baseless during the course of the trial.

Lies were resorted to at various levels. First of these concerns the arrest. Piyush Guha’s arrest was shown many days after he had been arrested. His return ticket to Kolkata and the reservation chart with the Indian Railways shows this amply. Thus he was already in police custody and had been tortured for many days before he was shown to have been arrested with the letters ostensibly given to him by Dr. Sen. Lies were submitted on record by the prosecution to the highest courts in the case of Dr. Sen’s arrest. Dr. Sen was in Kolkata when the Chhattisgarh police started making insinuating statements against him. Dr. Sen publicly criticized these statements and proceeded to Bilaspur and went straight to the police to confront them. He was told that he was under arrest at the police station. Police has however stated that Dr. Sen was nabbed by the police, implying that he was evading arrest. The courts consistently failed to see through this web of lies and Dr. Sen was denied bail for two whole years.

Most recently, during the final stages of the trial, a letter was brought before the court and was attributed to having been seized from Dr. Sen’s house. All articles seized from his house were signed by him at the time of the seizure. This one did not bear his signature, but the judge allowed it to be taken on record. During the final arguments, he was sought to be linked through emails to the Pakistan ISI by the prosecution, a charge that turned out to be comic since the ISI turned out to be the Indian Social Institute at Delhi. The judge did not deem it fit to even chastise such glaring mal-prosecution.

Far from being rejected by the court and the prosecution reprimanded, the huge number of such blatantly false accusations have finally paid off for the prosecution. This has been made possible by charges being made under the UAPA, the CSPSA and the provision relating to sedition in the IPC. All of these laws define politics as a crime. And in doing so, these laws enable the state to choose and target the politics, the organisation and the individual and to hit them with legislated violence. It is for this reason that human rights organisations across the globe have opposed such laws.

In another case Asit Sengupta, editor and publisher of a communist magazine, A World to Win was convicted for his work and sentenced to eight years imprisonment. His conviction is also based on charges under the CSPSA and UAPA, based solely on possession of literature of banned organisation. This conviction is a direct attack on the freedom of the press and the freedom to inform our self and read literature.

PUDR strongly protests against the verdict of the Sessions Court at Raipur. We demand that the judiciary take suo moto notice of this grave miscarriage of justice and take measures to undo the misdeed that this verdict involves. PUDR also demands that governments stop taking recourse the use of sedition and special laws for silencing dissent and criminalising human rights activity to cover up their own crimes.
PUDR calls upon all people who stand by democracy, rule of law and political freedoms to join the protest at Jantar Mantar on Monday, 27 December 2010 at 2 p.m.

Harish Dhawan

Paramjeet Singh

Secretaries
Contact: Harish Dhawan: 9811667776 Email: pudrdelhi[at]yahoo[dot]com

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Dec 24, 2010. PUCL Statement on the Judgement

Press Release
Delhi/ Raipur,

24th December, 2010

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties is deeply disappointed at the miscarriage of justice reflected in the judgement of Raipur Additional District and Sessions Judge B. P Verma sentencing our National Vice President Dr. Binayak Sen to life imprisonment under charges of sedition 124 (A) of the IPC read with conspiracy (120-B IPC) along with convicting him concurrently u/s 8-(1), (2), (3) and (5) of the Chhattisgarh Vishesh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam,2005 (Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act, 2005) and u/sec 39 (2) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2004 (amended). It is a sad day for the PUCL and all human rights defenders in the country and a black day for the Indian Judiciary.

Dr. Binayak Sen was charged with being a courier of letters from co-accused Narayan Sanyal to Piyush Guha. All through the trial not a single Jail authority appearing as prosecution witness confirmed this. In fact, there was no substantive evidence to confirm any of the allegations of the prosecution.

The PUCL holds that Dr Binayak Sen is a victim of the vendetta of the Chhattisgarh government for his bold and principled opposition to state sponsored vigilante operation Salwa Judum, which has been held unacceptable even by the Supreme Court. His conviction is one more example of the state succeeding in securing the conviction of an innocent person on the basis of false evidence. It is an occasion for the nation to demand drastic reform of the criminal justice system to ensure that it is not manipulated by the state to persecute, prosecute and victimize innocent persons.*

The PUCL will continue to work towards Dr. Binayak Sen release and take all legal measures in this regard. It will also work towards building public opinion against the ongoing persecution of activists and Human Rights Defenders in the country.

Prabhakar Sinha ( President)
Pushkar Raj ( General Secretary)
Mahipal Singh ( National Secretary)
Kavita Srivastava ( National Secretary)

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Dec 24, 2010. Press Release from Amnesty International

India: Dr Binayak Sen’s conviction and life sentence mock justice

The life sentence handed down against Dr Binayak Sen by a court in the India state of Chhattisgarh violates international fair trial standards and is likely to enflame tensions in the conflict-affected area, Amnesty International said today.

“Life in prison is an unusually harsh sentence for anyone, much less for an internationally recognized human rights defender who has never been charged with any act of violence,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director. “State and federal authorities in India should immediately drop these politically motivated charges against Dr Sen and release him.”

Dr Binayak Sen was convicted of sedition and conspiracy under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act, 2005, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2004.

He was immediately taken into custody after the announcement of the sentence, having been out on bail since May 2009.

“Dr Sen, who is considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, was convicted under laws that are impermissibly vague and fall well short of international standards for criminal prosecution,” Sam Zarifi said. “Instead of persecuting Dr Sen, authorities in Chhattisgarh should be acting to protect the people of the region from the abuses committed by the Maoists, as well as state security forces and militias.”

“This sentence will seriously intimidate other human rights defenders who would provide a peaceful outlet for the people’s grievances, especially for the indigenous Adivasi population,” Sam Zarifi said.

India’s central government has acknowledged that the intensifying armed conflict with the Maoists in central India is a reflection of serious inequities and a history of human rights violations in the area. Amnesty International believes that the charges against Dr Sen are baseless and politically motivated.

Dr Binyak Sen is a pioneer of health care to marginalized and indigenous communities in Chhattisgarh, where the state police and armed Maoists have been engaged in clashes over the last seven years. He has reported on unlawful killings of Adivasis (Indigenous People) by the police and by Salwa Judum, a private militia widely held to be sponsored by the state authorities to fight the armed Maoists.

Dr Binyak Sen was first detained without proper charges for seven months, denied bail, and kept in solitary confinement for three weeks. He spent two years in jail before his release on bail in May 2009. Many of the charges against him stem from laws that contravene international standards. Repeated delays in the conduct of his trial have cast doubts about its fairness.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Indian authorities to immediately drop all the charges against Dr Binyak Sen.

Public Document
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For more information please call Amnesty International’s press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: press[at]amnesty[dot]org
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

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Dec 24, 2010. Binayak Sen’s statement at the conclusion of the trial.

I am a trained medical doctor with a specialization in child health. I completed my MBBS from the Christian Medical College, Vellore in 1972, and completed studies leading to the award of the degree of MD (Paediatrics) of the Madras University, from the same institution in 1976. After this, I joined the faculty of the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and worked there for two years, before leaving to join a field based health programme at the Friends Rural Centre, Rasulia in Hoshangabad, MP. During the two years I worked there, I worked intensively in the diagnosis and treatment of Tuberculosis and understood many of the social and economic causes of disease. I was also strongly influenced by the work of Marjorie Sykes, the biographer of Mahatma Gandhi, who lived at the Rasulia centre at that time.

I came to Chhattisgarh in 1981 and worked upto 1987 at Dalli Rajhara (district Durg), where, along with the late Shri Shankar Guha Niyogi and the workers of the Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh, I helped to establish the Shaheed Hospital, that continues to practice low cost and rational medicine for the adivasis and working people of the surrounding areas upto the present. After leaving Dalli Rajhara, I worked to develop a health programme among the Adivasi population in and around village Bagrumnala, which today is in Dhamtari district. This work depended on a large group of village based health workers who were trained and guided by me. When the new state of Chhattisgarh was formed, I was appointed a member of the advisory group on Health Care Sector reforms, and helped to develop the Mitanin programme, which in turn, became the role model for the ASHA of the National Rural Health Mission. A copy of the Order of the Department of Health and Family Welfare of the Govt. of Chhattisgarh regarding my nomination to the advisory group mentioned above is attached. (Annexure 1.)

My work in the area of community health, as well as my work on Human Rights which is detailed below, has been nationally and internationally recognized. I have been awarded the Paul Harrison Award by the CMC Vellore in 2004; the RR Keithan Gold medal by the Indian Academy of Social Sciences in 2007; and have received the Jonathan Mann award for Health and Human rights from the Global Health Council in 2008. I am attaching notarized copies of the citations of these awards with this statement, and am carrying the originals for the perusal of the court. (Annexures 2, 3, 4 and 5)

I have been a member of the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) since 1981. The PUCL is an organization devoted to the preservation of
constitutional civil liberties and human rights that was founded by the late Shri Jayprakash Narayan during the years of the Emergency. In Chhattisgarh, as well as in many other parts of the country, the PUCL led the campaign for the preservation of the freedom of speech, prevention of custodial violence, and for the public accountability of the police. I became General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh unit of the PUCL in 2004, and am currently the President of the State unit, and Vice President of its National body.

In Chhattisgarh, the PUCL has been in the forefront of exposing the atrocities of the police. Atrocities by men in uniform against vulnerable
sections continue to be a serious problem in the state, as the front page news item in the “Sunday Times” dated 12th September 2010, annexed hereto as Annexure 6 shows. In this situation PUCL’s efforts were always directed towards the establishment of good governance and constitutional values. PUCL findings and investigations were always made available in the public domain through press releases and its own publications. One such Press Release reporting investigation into police atrocities in Village Jiramtarai, Thana Koylibeda is annexed hereto as Annexure 7. The report of one such investigation pertaining to police atrocities in Katgaon (Kanker district) was published in the “Navbharat” and “Deshbandhu” newspapers which are annexed hereto as Annexure 8 and 9 respectively. A PUCL publication on the
State of Human Rights in Chhattisgarh is appended to this statement. (Annexure 10). In this connection PUCL regularly corresponded with the
National and State Human Rights Commissions. Copies of some of the letters sent to the PUCL by the National Human Rights Commission (collectively) and the State Human Rights Commission are attached to this statement. (Annexure 11 and 12)

Apart from investigating and documenting many cases of Human Rights abuse involving the police, the PUCL has acted as a whistleblower in the matter of exposing the true nature of the Salwa Judum. The Salwa Judum, which began in the Dantewada district in 2005, has been represented by the state government as a spontaneous peoples’ movement against the Maoists active in the area. However, an investigation led by the PUCL and involving several other Human Rights organizations revealed that it was in reality a state sponsored and state funded as well as completely unaccountable vigilante force, to which arms were provided by the government. The activities of the Salwa Judum have
led to the emptying of more than 600 villages, and the forced displacement of over 60,000 people. Concerns regarding the activities of the Salwa Judum have been expressed by several independent organizations including the National Human Rights Commission. International organizations like the UNICEF have also voiced serious concern and have invited me to dialogue with them about the restoration of normalcy in the region affected by Salwa Judum. The Hon’ble Supreme Court has also, on several occasions, expressed its grave concern over the activities of the Salwa Judum and the deployment of armed vigilantes for the promotion of state policy. This has been widely reported in the press. A Table with an indicative list of agencies that have made critical observations on the Salwa Judum is attached (Annexure 13). A
copy of the report on the Salwa Judum by the Chhattisgarh PUCL and other organizations (Annexure 14), and copies of the investigation reports on the Salwa Judum brought out by the Independent Citizens Initiative and Asian Centre for Human Rights are being filed along with this statement (Annexure 15 and 16 respectively). An invitation from the UNICEF, Chhattisgarh Regional Office to participate in a dialogue to seek a resolution to the crisis in Dantewada as a fallout of the Salwa Judum is similarly attached to my statement (Annexure 17).Press reports in the Hitavada, dated 23.10.2010 pertaining to the Hon. Supreme Court’s critical observations are attached (Annexure no 29), as are Certified copies of Supreme Court orders that make critical observations on the Salwa Judum are also being attached (Annexure 18)

The PUCL has also, during 2006, organized two major conventions, opposing the proposal to enact the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, because it has been, and continues to be, our view that this Act contravenes the civil liberties assured to us in the constitution. I have expressed these views in the Press as well, and am attaching with this submission a copy of newspaper carrying a press report of such a convention (Annexure 19), as well as a copy of the newspaper “Chhattisgarh” dated 30th March 2006 in which my interview appears in this regard. (Annexure 20) A Civil Writ Petition (Writ Petition No 2163/2009) challenging the vires of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act has been filed by the PUCL in the Chhattisgarh High Court. Certified copies of the Court orders admitting this petition and issuing notice are being filed along with this statement (Annexure 21).

For all the reasons mentioned above, the Chhattisgarh police and the state government have harboured a grudge against me, and the then DGP of Chhattisgarh, Mr OP Rathore, has gone on record threatening to take action against the PUCL and its office bearers. Copies of a newspaper of 3rd January 2006 carrying a report to this effect are attached to my statement. (Annexure 22) I have been concerned with the rights of prisoners in my capacity as a Human Rights worker and was approached by the family of Mr Narayan Sanyal to look after his health and well being after he was brought to Raipur jail in 2006. My first visit to him in jail was in the company of his family and lawyer. Subsequently, I obtained permission from the police authorities for visiting him in jail, and visited him several times, each time applying to do so in my capacity as a PUCL office bearer. After my visits, I informed his family members about his condition over the telephone. During the course of these visits, it was brought to my notice that the surgery on his hands that was necessary for medical purposes, was being delayed due to communication problems between the jail and the doctors in the Raipur Medical College. I played a role in facilitating his surgery and kept his family informed about the process. During this period there was considerable correspondence between the prisoner’s family, jail administration and medical authorities, of which copies were marked to me. I attach along with this statement copies of the letter written by Mr Radha Madhav Sanyal (brother of Narayan Sanyal) to the Jail Superintendent with a copy to me (Annexure 23); copies of my applications to visit Mr Narayan Sanyal in jail which were obtained through an application under the RTI (Annexure 24); copy of the written permission given to me by Shri BS Maravi, Senior Superintendent of Police, Raipur (Annexure 25) and copies of the correspondence from the Jail authorities to the medical doctors mentioned above with copies marked to me (Annexure 26).

It was with similar concern for the situation of prisoners that I acted upon the letter received in the post from one Madanlal Barkhade about prison conditions in the Raipur Central Jail. I released his letter to the press in Raipur and attach the newspaper in which the aforesaid letter was published. (Annexure 27) The documents seized from my house during the house search on 19.5.2007 were those of concern to me in the ordinary and transparent conduct of my work. Human rights organizations from all over the country used to send me books, pamphlets and documents, and there were thousands of these lying in my residence, which I also used as my office. None of the seized documents had been secretly or clandestinely obtained. Document No. A 19 was sent to me by post by Shri Govindan Kutty, Editor, Peoples’ March. Document no A 20, purported to be written by Madanlal Barkhade was similarly received by me in the regular post. The document A 21 was sent to me by Dr Kalpana Kannabiran, one of the authors of the article, then Professor at the National Law School Hyderabad, by e-mail. Article A 22, photocopy of a hand written document, and Articles A 23 and A 36 were available for distribution at a seminar on the Salwa Judum organized by the Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi in January, 2007, to which I was invited , and were picked up by me there. Article A 24 was received by me in the post. Newspaper clippings A 25 to A 35 are newspaper clippings that I had maintained in furtherance of my interest in the emerging situation in Chhattisgarh.

Several policemen in the search party were involved in the process of the search at my house. Having found a document, the person finding it would hand it over to Mr Rajput. Mr Rajput would first read it, and then hand it over to me for my signature. He would also sign it himself. After we had both put our signatures on the document, he would dictate to TI Jagrit what was to be written in the seizure memo. Mr Jagrit would then make the entry, following which Mr Rajput would then hand over the document to Mr Jagrit. In this manner, each document was seized, signed, and entered in the seizure memo. None of the documents were signed by the public witnesses in my presence. Nor were the documents sealed in my presence. At the end of the search process the documents were carried away in a paper bag in an unsealed
condition. Document A37 was never received by me to sign. It was not in my office, and was not seized during the search. It was fabricated after the search by the police to implicate me falsely. When the challan in my case was filed, my advocate, Mr Amit Banerjee was present in court and received the chargesheet on my behalf. A copy of the chargesheet is annexed hereto as Annexure 28. Upon going through the charegesheet, we noticed that in the copies of articles A 19 to A 24, the signatures of the panch witnesses were not present in the documents. Copies of articles A 25 to A 37 were not supplied to us at the time. Despite a court order, the contents of the computer were copied onto DVDs without the presence of my advocate, and only DVDs of selected material from the computer were supplied later during the
course of the trial. Out of the DVDs supplied, three relate to investigation of police atrocities / fake encounters in Golapally, Jiramtarai and Katgaon. My images on these tapes are in conversation with the villagers who are affected by these atrocities. I have never seen Deepak Chaubey (PW7) until the time he testified in the court. I did not introduce Narayan Sanyal to him and his story that Narayan Sanyal was arrested from his house is patently untrue as, in fact, Sanyal was arrested in Bhadrachalam.

I submit that my prosecution is malafide; in fact it is a persecution. I am being made an example of by the state government of Chhattisgarh as a warning to others not to expose the patent trampling of human rights taking place in the state. Documents have been fabricated by the police and false witnesses introduced in order to falsely implicate me.