Acts of judicial harassment against Mr. Kirity Roy - IND 007 / 0608 / OBS 097.3

07/04/2010
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), a Kolkata-based human rights organisation, and People’s Watch about acts of judicial harassment against Mr. Kirity Roy, Secretary of MASUM.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.

According to the information received, on April 7, 2010, at 9.45 a.m, policemen of the Anti Terrorist Cell of Kolkata in plainclothes arrested Mr. Kirity Roy at his residence at Seyrampore, Hooghly, under sections 120B (“punishment of criminal conspiracy”), 170 (“personating a public servant”) and 229 (“personation of a juror or assessor”) of the Indian Penal Code. Those charges were initiated following a People’s Tribunal on Torture that was conducted by MASUM under the National Project on Preventing Torture in India on June 9 and 10, 2008 in Kolkata (See background information).

Mr. Kirity Roy was first brought to the headquarters of Kolkata police and then to the Kolkata Medical College for medical examination. At 2.30 p.m. he was produced before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate for remand and, at 5 pm on the same day, he was released on bail. The case has been scheduled to be taken up before the Kolkata High Court on April 8, 2010.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the judicial proceedings against Mr. Kirity Roy, as it seems to merely sanction his human rights activities, and urges the Indian authorities to put an end to the judicial harassment against him.

Background information:

On June 9 and 10, 2008, MASUM coordinated the People’s Tribunal on Torture (PTT) in Moulali, Kolkata, during which 1,200 victims and their families were present and 82 victims provided testimonies before the tribunal. This public hearing formed part of the National Project on Preventing Torture in India (NPPTI). The Project’s implementation was overseen by People’s Watch, Madurai, and undertaken by local organisations such as MASUM.

Yet, on June 7, 2008, the police visited MASUM’s office, and refused to accept the written explanation of Mr. Kirity Roy, State Director of the Project, on the legality of the public tribunal. However, the Public Tribunal continued in spite of this uncertainty.

At the hearings before the public tribunal on June 9 and 10, 2008, victims of torture by the police and by the Border Security Forces recounted their stories in panels before the audience.

After successful conclusion of the public tribunal, on June 10, 2008, a plain-clothed police officer trespassed into the venue and took photographs without permission. On questioning, he revealed that he had come under the instructions of the Detective Department. Commissioner of Police Mr. Gautam Mohan Chakrabarty was contacted, and he informed Mr. Kirity Roy that a criminal investigation had been opened against him at Taltolla police station for organising the Public Tribunal. The Commissioner refused to disclose further information. People’s Watch then contacted Taltolla police station for details, but they refused to provide any information beyond the confirmation of the existence of charges against Mr. Kirity Roy. It is worth noting that Mr. Kirity Roy was at no time a member of the panel of the public tribunal.

Furthermore, on June 12, 2008, police officers from the Detective Department raided the offices of MASUM. Between ten and twelve officers led by the Assistant Commissioner of Police searched the MASUM premises, while ten armed officers waited outside. They did so with a warrant issued by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Kolkata, but without indicating the motive.

On September 18, 2008, MASUM filed a Writ Petition No. 25022(W)/ 2008 challenging the authority of the police to institute investigation No.134/2008 dated June 9, 2008 under Sections 120(B), 170, 179 (“refusing to answer public servant authorised to question”) and 229 of the Indian Penal Code against Mr. Kirity Roy, MASUM and others for organising a PTT on June 9 and 10, 2008 in Moulali, Kolkata.

On September 27, 2008, at about 4 p.m., a police team entered MASUM’s office in plain clothes, in search of Mr. Kirity Roy, who at that time was not in the office. The police team ultimately served a notice under Section 91 of the Criminal Procedural Code (“summons to produce document or other thing”), ordering MASUM to produce three documents to Mr. S. Dhar, Detective Department, Kolkata, on October 1, 2008 in the latter’s office in connection with Taltolla police investigation No. 134/2008. The documents requested by the police concern three victims of police torture, who produced testimonies before the PTT.

On August 26, 2009, the High Court of Kolkata dismissed the Writ Petition on the ground that police investigation was necessary to find out whether the petitioner (Mr. Kirity Roy) wished to organise a parallel judiciary or not. MASUM then 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.

On March 10, 2010, the matter was fixed for hearing before the Division Bench, which decided to fix the final hearing of the appeal on April 8, 2010.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of India, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Kirity Roy as well as of all human rights defenders in India;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Kirity Roy as well as against all human rights defenders in India so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrances;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as with Article 12.2 (“the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”);

iv. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by India.

Addresses

· Shri Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Room number 152, South Block, New Delhi, India. Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857 / +91 11 23019545. Email: pmosb@pmo.nic.in

· Mr. P. Chitambaram, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 104-107 North Block, New Delhi 110 001, India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979

· Justice K. G. Balkrishnan, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, Tilak Marg, New Delhi -1, Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in

· Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, Tel: +91 11 230 74448, Fax: +91 11 2334 0016, Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

· Mr. T. Theethan, IAS, The Joint Secretary, National Commission for SC, 5th Floor, ‘B’ Wing, Lok Nayak Bhavan, Khan Market, New Delhi 110103, India. Email: jointsecretary-ncsc@nic.in

· Chairman, West Bengal Human Rights Commission, Bhabani Bhaban, Alipur, Kolkata –27, Phone +91-33-24797727, 24791629, Fax - 24799633, Email: wbhrc@cal3.vsnl.net.in

· Governor of West Bengal, Raj Bhaban, Kolkata – 62, Phone: +91 33-2200 1641, Fax: +91 33 – 2200 2444 / 2200 1649, E-mail: secy-gov-wb@nic.in

· Principal Secretary (Home) of the Government of West Bengal, Fax- +91-33-22143001, E-mail: sechome@wb.gov.in

· Commissioner of Police Kolkata Police, Lalbazar Kolkata-7000, West Bengal, Fax: +913322145424, Email:-cp@kolkatapolice.gov.in

· Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative to the United Nations (Geneva), Rue du Valais 9, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: +41 22 906 86 86, Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int

· Embassy of India in Brussels, 217 Chaussée de Vleurgat, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 (0)2 6489638 or +32 (0)2 6451869

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of India in your respective countries.

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