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Citizens for Justice and Peace

2003report

08, May 2017


Report of Activities for the period

April 2002 and March 31, 2003

 

As Secretary I have filed regular reports and
updates for members of CJP. These have been updates on legal
action, analysis of the situation in Gujarat as well as sanctions for
administrative expenditure, legal expenditures and sanctions for relief
and rehabilitation.

 

Annexure 1 to this report briefly
details legal action briefs. Annexure 2 gives us all in a nutshell the
relief and rehabilitation disbursals by CJP.
(These are not
complusory reads but may be useful to each one of you for ready
reference).

 

LEGAL ACTION

1.     
Relief Camps. Two
Petitions Ensuring State liability for Food/Water/Heath and Daily Expenses
to the Refugees forced into Relief Camps by the Violence all over Gujarat.
An estimated 1,75,000 persons were brutally displaced out of home and
hearth due to  the carnage last year and unable to return back until
August 2002. Some Over 25,000 are among the permanently displaced. These
two petitions, the first hearing for which Senior Counsel, Aspi Chinoy
flew down from Mumbai, accrued in a total monetary relief, for the camps
of Rs. 10 crores. Shri Aspi Chinoy, Shri Suhel Tirmizi and Shri Nirupam
Nanavati appeared in these and related matters.

 

2.     
Petition for Impartial
Investigation:

The CJP filed a PIL in the Supreme
Court in March 2003 demanding transfer of investigation of nine crucial
carnage cases to the CBI. Senior counsel, Shri Anil Doivan appeared for
the CJP. Mihir Desai assisted us in the case. Since filing the case
and notices being issued to the State of Gujarat, Muslims aparna Bhatt on
behalf of CJP has filed four written applications urging urgent
hearing but the SC unfortunately kept shunting it off.  It has now been
clubbed along with the NHRC-CJP  special leave petitions in the
BEST Bakery case. The unfortunate reality is that if the SC had taken
adequate and immediate cognisance of this matter, for which I kept filing
extensive and deeply researched status reports and affidavits (eight have
been filed in the Hon. Supreme Court of India) showing the subversive
process of trials in Gujarat, the shocking acquittals like in the BEST
Bakery case,  Kidiad and Pandharwada cases would not have taken place.

 

3.   CitizensÂ’
Tribunal: Gujarat 2002
: A CitizensÂ’ Tribunal consisting of
retired judges and prominent citizens from different walks of life
investigated the incident of arson at Godhra and the subsequent statewide
violence that took lives, destroyed property and attacked cultural symbols
and places of worship of sections of the population.The
Tribunal sat for a fortnight beginning early May 2002 and conducted it’s
hearings in four locations cities of the violence-ridden state. Justice
V.R. Krishna Iyer, Justice P.B. Sawant, Justice Hosbet Suresh constituted
the Tribunal among others Teesta Setalvad was Convenor of the Tribunal.
The two-volume report of the Tribunal, Crimes Against Humanity—Gujarat
2002,
was released in Ahmedabad on November 21, 2002. It created a
nationwide impact and also made waves internationally. The deposition
made, in confidence,  before the Tribunal by a senior functionary of the
Gujarat government regarding a confidential meeting held by chief minister
Narendra Modi with a few ministers, the DGP, Ahmedabad and senior IAS men
(on the evening of February 27, 2002, the day of the Godhra tragedy) where
clear instructions were given to the law and order machinery not to
contain or stop the anticipated Hindu reaction to Godhra
has had wide
ramifications. We have only 69 copies of the report left; have returned
money for orders received since we need it for our legal action and need
to consider a re-print urgently.

 

4.   

Intervention before the Gujarat-govt. appointed
official commission of inquiry:

To assist the team of lawyers formed
to highlight before the commission the case of the victims and survivors
of violence, the CJP, has since early 2003 been supporting a junior
lawyer to watch the proceedings of the Commission. The CJP, CC
along with six other groups helped 3,100 affidavits to be filed before the
Nanavaty-Shah Commission of Inquiry. The presence of our independent
lawyers gives confidence to the victim survivors who continue to be
threatened in broad daylight.

 

5.   Intervention
in Criminal Trials:
A
t
least three criminal trials saw a direct intervention by CJP. These
include the Gulberg trial, the Naroda Patia massacre and the Ghodasar and
trials. Since the start of the Gulberg Society trial, CJP 
supported the appointment of Shri Dawood Desai as the watching advocate.
From the start, the chargesheet was faulty (we filed applications
complaining of this) and another application was made by us for proper
investigation to the Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad. Witnesses have
also put on record the fact that attempts are being made to intimidate
witnesses through the inspector KG Erda. [Thereafter in this year,June
2003, the public prosecutor appointed by the state was one Chetan Shah,
chargesheeted of burning alive 9 Muslims in 1985 –he was thereafter
acquitted for lack of evidence. The State of Gujarat took no cognisance of
this until after the BEST Bakery sensation in the SC and Chief Justice VN
KhareÂ’s remarks on September 12 this year sharply pulling up the
government.]

 

6.   Written
Arguments in SC in Opposing Gujarat Elections Before a Constitutional
Bench:
CJP intervened in the Constitutional Bench Hearing
on the matter of early elections in Gujarat in October 2002 and we filed
written arguments arguing against early polls that were drafted by
Secretary, Teesta Setalvad. Shri Colin Gonsalves appeared for us in the
SC.

 

7.   PIL
on Hate Speech :
We
filed a PIL in the Supreme Court against working president of the Vishwa
Hindu Parishad, Shri Ashok Singhal and chief minister, Shri Narendra Modi,
the union government, state governments of Gujarat and Punjab for not
initiating action against them for perverse and venomous remarks that
distinctly violate sections 153a, 153b, 295 and 505 of the IPC.
Preparations for this and all petitions took months as it is only where
there is substantive documentation and research that the courts entertain
such cases at all. We began preparations in September last year and moved
the SC in early February 2003. It is still pending before the SC and is
also now before Chief Justice VN Khare.Senior counsel, Kapil Sibal appears
for us in this matter.

 

8.   PIL
on Compensation Accountability/ Gujarat HC:
 Work was begun on a
comprehensive petition and PIL on the issue of housing compensation in the
Gujarat High Court in July 2002.. The Secretary personally recorded
affidavits sitting in relief camps and then trained four activists on how
to do the same. We moved the petition in the High Court in February this
year. Senior advocate Mihir Thakore from Ahmedabad appeared for us with Mr
Suhel tirmizi who has been doing all the leg-work on this and many other
cases. To support the case, we have filed 700 affidavits detailing
pathetically inadequate amounts in compensation. While the PM had
committed Rs 150 crores in aid tot he violence affected in April 2002, the
Gujarat government has only used/tapped Rs 77-plus crores and is adamantly
refusing to access more. This PIL demands a detailed account of fund
disbursals in compensation and is still pending; meetings with the chief
secretary have taken place.

 
 

PUBLIC ADVOCACY

1.         Public
Advocacy/Making Institutions Accountable:

Whether it was on representations to
the Election Commission or the President of India, six despatches
containing details have been filed by the CJP and CC that have been
circulated to members. We are also in possession of memorandums by other
groups and have consistently put these on the website and our list server.
The EC delegation gave us three hearings during their first visit to the
State in July-August 2002. CC published the 44-page CEC report on
the Gujarat elections that provided a great impetus to registration of all
legal voters, in GUJARATI. One thousand copies of this were sold all over
Gujarat. The CJP/CC interventions resulted in the registration of
over 12,900 voters who had been left out of the rolls either deliberately
or due to displacement! CJPÂ’s advocacy during the critical
pre-election period was to regularly post details of any obvious
irregularities to the CEC and SEC. Three such examples were about specific
appointments of polling officers with political connections that were too
close to the local MLA. In two of the three that we pointed out (all three
were in Ahmedabad) we were successful in getting the suspect officers
removed.

 

2.          CJP
and KhojÂ’s together co-ordinated with the National foundation for Communal
Harmony on making accessible information of educational aid for children
victims of violence who have lost one or both parents in the carnage. This
is central government scheme for children affected by communal violence.
Through the wide network that we have in Gujarat we distributed 280 forms
and brochures on this scheme. The scheme involves registration, engagement
and authentication of schooling details through the District Collector.
Copies of the step-by-step method were distributed amongst victim
relatives, parents and their children.

 

MEDIA EDUCATION

Over the past
year and a half, I have engaged myself with the national and regional
press preparing researched briefs and backgrounders on facts surrounding
the legal action that we are involved in. This includes backgrounders on
precedent-setting judgements, sections of the laws being debated and
violated and readable gist of the various affidavits filed in the Supreme
Court. This has made the whole issue of Gujarat come centre-stage with
extremely worthwhile pieces being written.

 

Teesta Setalvad,


Secretary

 


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