Mar 19: The Illegal Arrest Of Debaranjan Sarangi

March 19, 2016

The Illegal Arrest Of Debaranjan Sarangi

Biswapriya Kanungo & Trijeeb Nanda

The extent of dissent permitted is the best parameter to judge the
democraticness of a country. But the government enslaved by
neo-liberal ideology treats dissent as the devil. Extra-judicial
execution, implication in false and fabricated cases, illegal arrest
and detention has become an integral part of governance for silencing
any kind of dissent. The poor tribals of Odisha fighting for their
land and life and the poor human rights activists supporting their
fights are the perpetual victims of this technique of governance.

In the early morning of 18th March 2016, Debaranjan Sarangi, a Human
Rights Activist, was picked up by plainclothes police from the
Kucheipadar village of Rayagada District, Odisha. Debaranjan was in
Kucheipadar to attain a funeral ceremony of one of his friends’

The police claims of arresting Debaranjan while executing a
non-bailable warrant issued by the court of JMFC, Kashipur, in
pursuance of a criminal case registered in the Tikri police station of
Raygada District in 2005. Everyone including his advocate was clueless
about the whereabouts of Debaranjan, till he was produced before the
court of JMFC, Kashipur, in the evening. Without considering his bail
application the court extended his remand till 22nd March 2016.

Debaranjan is a friend of poor, dalit, tribal and many ongoing human
rights struggles within and outside Odisha. He is well known as a
writer, filmmaker, and human rights activists. He has consistently
criticized and exposed policies of destructive development, rampant
mining practices, displacement, police impunity, the ugly politics of
Hindutva and recently issues of farmers’ suicide in Odisha. Debaranjan
was also a part of Prakrutika Sampad Surakhya Parisad (PSSP), which
strongly resisted against the operation of mining by Utkal Aluminium
International Limited (UAIL) in Kashipur. For which probably this case
was labeled against him by the state police as a gift for supporting
the cause of innocent adivasi. We condemn this illegitimate attempt of
state to silence the voice of an activist.

We also condemned the issue of Non-bailable Warrant (NBW) by the court
and the execution of the same by the police. Right to life and liberty
is a non-derogable fundamental right guaranteed under the Indian
constitution, the deprivation of which must be in accordance with due
process of law (Art.21). Further as per the apex court, for
deprivation of liberty the due process of law requires both ‘the
procedure’ as well as ‘the law’ to be just, fair and reasonable
(Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India).

In the instant case, the issue of NBW by the concern judicial
magistrate is not in consonance with the guidelines issued by the
Supreme Court (SC). In Inder Mohan Goswami & Anr. Vs. State of
Uttaranchal while dealing with the question:- how and when warrants
should be issued by the Court? The top court held that:

“Non-bailable warrant should be issued to bring a person to court when
summons or bailable warrants would be unlikely to have the desired
result. This could be when: it is reasonable to believe that the
person will not voluntarily appear in court; or the police authorities
are unable to find the person to serve him with a summon, or it is
considered that the person could harm someone if not placed into
custody immediately”

Again in Raghuvansh Dewanchand Bhasin vs State Of Maharashtra & Anr
the SC issued guidilines on issuance of NBW, this inter alia says;

“The Courts should not give a long time for return or execution of
warrants, as experience has shown that warrants are prone to misuse if
they remain in control of executing agencies for long.”

In this decade-old case the only non-bailable charge labeled against
Debaranjan is under Section.506 of IPC. Furthermore, he was never
informed about the submission of charg-sheet in the case, no notice
for appearance by police or court was served to him on any earlier
occasion. Furthermore, since Debaranjan is a socially active person
and a law abiding citizens the court could have issued a bailable
warrant against him.

In addition to this, even the procedure followed by the police is also
unjust, unfair and unreasonable. The SC Directives issued in D.K Basu
v State of West Bengal (AIR 1997 SC 610), which was later incorporated
in Criminal Procedure Code, inter alia requires that: the police
personnel carrying out arrest must bear accurate, visible and clear
identification/ name tags with their designation. The arrest memo must
be attested by the family members or a respectable person of the
locality, which should be counter-signed by the accused. The arrested
person is entitled to inform a person interested in his welfare about
his arrest and to meet an advocate during interrogation. The SC has
further directed that departmental action and contempt of court
proceeding should be initiated against those who failed to follow
above-mentioned directives.

In the instant case, the police came in plain clothes, neither with
uniform nor any name tag with the designation. The relatives or family
members were also not informed; even he was not given any opportunity
to meet his advocate. Hence, we demand appropriate action against the
police personnel for violating the safeguards for arrest and the
rights of Debaranjan.