A civil society initiative styled as All-India Campaign against Sedition and Other Repressive Laws will be launched in New Delhi on January 31, 2012.
This was decided upon at a meeting convened by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties on December 16, 2011.
Members from various branches of PUCL and representatives of several other democratic rights organizations like the PUDR, APDR, CPDR, CDRO, APCLC, Masum, Human Rights Alert, Manipur and NAPM had met on May 7 and 8 to consider the situation arising from the widespread use of sedition and other repressive laws by the authorities. The meeting decided to collect a million signatures on a petition demanding repeal of Sec. 124A IPC and Sec. 2(o) (iii) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967 and other anti-sedition laws and submit it to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
Over 40 persons including members of PUCL and other democratic, human rights and people’s organizations attended the December 16 meeting.
The decisions taken are as follows:
1. To launch the `All India Campaign against Sedition and other repressive Laws’ as a collective campaign of all democratic rights and human rights organisations, mass movements, rights bodies, professionals and concerned citizens. This campaign should be launched on the 31st of January, 2011 at the Gandhi Peace Foundation in Delhi (originally we had planned 30th January Martyr’s day, but due to the non availability of the hall, the launch has been shifted to the 31st with a press conference in Delhi on the 30th of January, 2011).
2. A Steering group would be formed with representatives of different organizations which had participated in the May and Dec, 2011 meetings, with state level coordination to be undertaken in different states. Even organizations that were unable to attend the 16th December, 2011 meetings would be invited to be part of the Steering Committee. Gautam Navalakha of PUDR and Asish Gupta of CDRO undertook to contact other human rights organisations with the invitation to participate.
3. On behalf of the PUCL, the 4 national Secretaries Kavita, Mahipal Singh, Chittaranjan Singh and Suresh would coordinate with PUCL state units to participate in this effort. Similarly other concerned individuals would also be invited to be part of the campaign.
4. Pushkar Raj, PUCL National Secretary would continue with the coordination of the All India campaign along with the support of the PUCL national secretaries and representatives other member organization till the steering committee is formally launched.
5. The planning meeting for the All India convention will take place at Gandhi Peace Foundation at 4 pm on the 9th of January, 2012 to chart out the strategy and plan for the January 31st, 2012 All India launch. (Pushkar Raj, Kavita Srivastava, Mahipal Singh, Parmajit to coordinate among others)
6. It was felt that the campaign must work in different groups:
(a) A group which works on the documentation and research side of the law. On the basis of the format given below, information and case studies should be provided to this committee so that a report could be consolidated and released on the 31st of January, 2011. ( Proposed names Pushkar Raj, V. Suresh and Gautam Navlakha, Venkatesh to coordinate with others)
(b) A group will coordinate the public education campaign on the subject with students, farmers, workers, tribals, dalits, minority groups and other human rights workers and members of other organizations, through public meetings and signature campaigns. (Proposed names Chittranjan Singh, Anil Chaudhary, Subhash Gatade among others)
(c) Outreach work, especially with the legal fraternity. (Justice Sachar, Usha Ramanthan, Ravi Kiran Jain and others)
(d) A group would simultaneously also begin addressing legal support needs with the local organisation which would have identified victims along with it working on the social support and rehabilitation side of the victims. ( Colin Gonsalves, Himanshu, N D Pancholi and others)
(e) A media group which through alternative and main stream media, web based and otherwise, would aggressively highlight this issue. ( Ajit Sahi, Anand Panini and others)
7. The All India documentation study of the use and abuse of sedition laws should be on the following parameters:
(i) State wise / District wide / Police Station specific list of Cases (FIRs) in which sedition charges u/s 124A IPC and Sec. 2(o)(iii) Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967 were invoked along with other criminal law sections in the last 10 years;
(ii) Description of status of each of the cases listed above in terms of (a) still pending investigation; (b) whether a charge sheet has been filed, if so what are the charges; (c) status of trial, and number of years pending; (iv) if trial concluded, whether the accused is/are convicted for offence u/s 124A IPC and UAPA, and other charges with details of sentence; (v) whether appeal filed and pending or decided.
(iii) Even if it is not possible to get details of all cases described in (ii) above, attempt should be made to collect details in as many cases as possible.
(iv) To sub-categorize the list of cases in (i), (ii) and (iii) above in terms of the following categories of cases where sedition charges were invoked: (a) workers’ strikes, (b) farmers’ agitations, (c) dalit struggles, (iv) tribal rights groups, (v) minority rights issues, (vi) students’ agitations (vii) rights defenders, (viii) women’s movements, (ix) protests against development projects / displacement (x) others.
(v) List out the background of the accused in all cases involving sedition charges.
(vi) Prepare case studies of major cases invohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.giflving sedition charges highlighting the details of (a) glaring absurdity of the case, (b) human interest,
(c) political vendetta, (d) impact on families, (e) length of arrest and difficulties in bail.
A planning meeting of the All-India Campaign will take place at the Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi, tomorrow (January 9) at 4 p.m.
All queries and emails should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org with copies to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, with 'sedition' as the subject.
Postal communications may be sent to: Pushkar Raj, General Secretary, PUCL,
270-A, Patparganj, Opp. Anandlok Apartments, Mayur Vihar-I, Delhi-110 091.