Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University, Delhi & Foundation for Media Professionals Invite you to a panel discussion on
Transnational Torture: Law, Violence and State Power in India and the U.S.
Cordially invites you to
Discussion of a new book by Dr Jinee Lokaneeta, Associate Professor in Political Science, Drew University, USA
on Custodial Torture in Liberal Democracies
ON FRIDAY, 27TH JULY 2012 AT 6.30 PM IN CONFERENCE ROOM I.
Panelists : Ms Vrinda Grover, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court; Prof Aditya Nigam, CSDS; Prof Ujjwal Kumar Singh, Dept. of Political Science, University of Delhi; and author
Dr Jinee Lokaneeta
Chair : Shri Sankar Sen, IPS (retd.), and former Director General, National Human Rights Commission
Transnational Torture: Law, Violence and State Power in India and the U.S. (2012) brings out the extent to which torture has been practiced in liberal democracies, where there has been constant negotiation with and accommodation of excess violence by the state
(Orient Blackswan, 2012)
(NYU Press, 2011)
Seminar on Sex and Morality under the Indian Constitution in the Context of
Conflicting Perspectives of Cultural Groups.
Organised by Constitutional Cause
at ILI Auditorium, Opp. to Supreme Court, New Delhi.
at 4.30 p.m.
Justice P.V.Reddi, Chairman, Law Commission is the chief guest.
3rd May, 2012
3pm to 5pm
Gandhi Peace Foundation, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg, Near ITO, New Delhi.
The Citizens Initiative for Peace, a network of citizens which came
into existence in August 2009, has been aiming for the past three
years for the ending of hostilities between the Maoists and the state
and central governments, in the interests of the people.
We demand that the Maoists must at the earliest and unconditionally
release Alex Menon, the District Collector of Sukma, Chhattisgarh. We
welcome the release of MLA Jina Hikaka.
At the same time, the Government must stop the mass arrests and
continued illegal detention in jail of several hundred adivasis,
activists and innocents in the name of Maoism. Many of them have never
got legal representation or fair trial, and suffer severe
overcrowding, health problems and mental torture in jail. A committee
must be constituted and these cases reviewed. All frivolous cases must
be dropped and people released at the earliest.
We appeal to both sides to continue the present ceasefire in Orissa
and Chhattisgarh, extend it nationally for at least six months, and
prepare for Peace Talks. It is our firm belief that the Government
must take the initiative in this.
In order to discuss these demands, we are meeting on the 3rd of May,
2012 at the Gandhi Peace Foundation, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg, Near
ITO. Please join us and help in strengthening the voice for a just
A press conference will be held soon after the meeting at 5 p.m. at
Gandhi Peace Foundation. Speakers include:
December 7, 2011
The Council for Social Development Hyderabad invites papers for the National Workshop “CHALLENGES TO CLINICAL LEGAL EDUCATION IN CONTEMPORARY INDIA” with SPECIAL FOCUS ON SOCIO-ECONOMIC RIGHTS OF ADIVASIS on January 31-1st February 2012.
- Understanding Adivasi rights
- Social exclusion and the law
- Economic citizenship and Adivasis
- Challenges to Clinics in the area of adivasi rights
November 23, 2011
Foundation for Media Professions (FMP) organised a seminar on the media’s coverage of Anna Movement at IIC, New Delhi. The multi-purpose hall, where it was held, was virtually over-flowing with many standing and listening to all the panelists for nearly 3 hours. The panelists included, Prashant Bhushan, Aruna Roy, Yogendra Yadav, Vineet Narain, and journalists from print and electronic media. The audience strongly contested the claim made from the dais that the Anna movement was spontaneous, the media’s role was limited, etc. A few revelations which one gathered, and paraphrased here:
* The Anna movement was a first great social movement in recent times. The media helped it to cross the threshold. Once its crossed the threshold, its popularity was entirely due to its strength, rather than to the media. (YY)
* It is not fair to comment that the followers of Anna did not know the provisions of the Janlokpal Bill. Even Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement had followers who did not quite understand his philosophy. (YY)
* The Anna Movement may reflect a number of conspiracies by different groups. But it is not fair to say that one group’s conspiracy is predominantly behind it. Many conspiracies can check each other, no harm. (YY)
* It is not proper to say that the critics of Janlokpal Bill are supporters of corruption. But it is not fair to say that just because we believe in Jan Lokpal Bill, we are intolerant of alternative views. We have every right to express our views, go on fast. Others are free too. (PB)
*PB is misrepresenting our criticism. We say that those who are in the Anna movement brand the critics, which is not fair.(AR)
*If the media constantly says that gulabjamun cures diabetes, and then follows it up with an opinion poll, of course, people are likely to say that gulabjamun cures diabetes. (VN)
*The reason why Jan Lokpal Bill omits NGOs and private sector from its purview is that there is no conflict of interest here, and any complainant is free to use the normal legal remedies to get redressal. Whereas in the case of public servants, when the CBI investigates, there is a conflict of public interest, hence there is a need for a separate body. (PB)
*While YY claimed that the movement was inclusive, AR disagreed.
The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) organised its Fourth National Convention in New Delhi today on the subject of judicial accountability and the Lokpal Bill. Speakers included Ram Jethmalani, Shanti Bhushan, Anil Divan, Prashant Bhushan,A.B.Bardan,Arvind Kejriwal and Manoj Mitta.
June 25, 2011
Panel Discussion on Protection of Journalists
By Anuj Kapoor
As a tribute to J. Dey,the crime reporter in Mumbai who was killed recently, the Forum for Media Professionals held a panel discussion at India International Centre in New Delhi on the spate of attacks on journalists by state and non-state actors in different parts of the country. The discussion was moderated by Sagarika Ghose, of CNN-IBN. The panel consisted of seven journalists, many of whom had themselves been victims of such attacks. Attacks here mean not necessarily battery but also includes false implication in criminal cases, criminal intimidation etc.
Sachin Kalbag, Editor, Mid-day, talked about J Dey’s case. J Dey who had done many exposures was assassinated by unidentified persons on 11th June, 2011. Sachin said that investigation had not made any headway till now. He also mentioned the case of Tarakant Dwivedi who had been booked under the draconian Official Secrets Act, 1923 for merely writing an article describing that certain weapons which were bought post 26/11 are rotting due to leakage during the Mumbai rains.
Supriya Sharma, a TOI-correspondent from Chhattisgarh, who spoke next, told the gathering about how many incidents involving police excesses go unreported. The reasons she identified for this are that police threatens the local news sources in and around Dantewada and since the local scribes have to reside in the same area, it is easy to mount pressure on them and keep them from covering such stories. Other than this, she said, the funding model of many local dailies is also responsible for many incidents going unreported. This, she stated, was probably because many local dailies earn substantial revenue from the government advertisements, and would not report news against the same government. She spoke of one Sai Reddy, a local journalist in Bijapur whose wife used to run a ration shop. Since Reddy had brought to light certain cases of police abuses, he was booked and arrested by the police under the Chhattisgarh Special Security Act for aiding the Maoists by supplying them with ration etc.
On the conflict of interests for the media, Gautam Nalvakha remarked that many media houses in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are being given mining licences. It is but obvious that they would not report of the almost absolute opposition these projects receive in the public hearings. Supriya pointed out Dainik Bhaskar as case in point. Owned by media conglomerate DB Corp Ltd, this Hindi daily, Supriya said, even published false reports to justify the coal mining projects DB Power Ltd, a subsidiary of the DB group, is going to undertake.
Kumar Badal, a correspondent with Tehelka, spoke on how he had been made a victim at the hands of persecution by the NDA govt. After Tehelka’s crackdown on the corruption in defence deals, Badal said, since Tarun and Anirudh were difficult to get, the CBI falsely implicated him to ‘teach Tehelka a lesson’. He stated that he was tortured after being falsely involved and arrested in a poaching case. This is another illustration of the CBI working at the behest of the government in the centre. Badal stated that he hardly got any support from the media fraternity, excepting his own organisation Tehelka. Badal stated that the might of the state is too strong to be described. While the state actors get one arrested after falsely implicating the person in some criminal, the powerful non-state actors go the extreme way of contract killing. Threats are common in both. Badal’s story in the larger context of the attack against Tehelka can be read here.
K.K. Shahina was another victim of false implication. She said that the cause of her victimisation was her investigation in the fragile case portrayed by the Karnataka police against Abdul Nasar Madani as an accused in 2008 Bengaluru blasts. Instead of blindly following the police accusations against Muslims in terror cases, Shahina herself ventured to find the truth. Initially, a case under 506 IPC was framed against her for intimidating witnesses. Now she has also been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Her hearing before the Karnataka High Court for anticipatory bail is to come up next week. A report on her implication can be read here.
Gautam, speaking next, briefed about his deportation from Srinagar Airport, which has been reported by Kafia here and here. He said that the government usually showed tolerance for rascality and hardly came out to support and upholding the freedom of the media.
Jatin Desai, a senior-journalist who has worked on various media-issues, said that in the past 20 years there have been an astounding 1750 cases of attack on/threat to media persons in Maharashtra. Out of these, 85 per cent of the cases were withdrawn by the state. He alleged that the Mumbai police had nexus with the underworld and that substantial part of the reason why no breakthrough had been made into J Dey’s case yet.
Desai pointed out that there was a need to have a separate law to protect journalists. A draft ordinance that was prepared during the tenure of ex-Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan proposes that offences against the media be made cognizable and non-bailable. In Maharashtra, this move received mixed responses from the Cabinet.
The issue of separate law for journalists has now been taken up by the Centre which is working on a draft law. One can argue that a separate law to protect journalists is not needed if the implementation of the existing laws is strengthened. A separate law for just journalists could be challenged as being discriminatory. The panellists didn’t really debate this issue, with Sagarika Ghose just fleetingly speaking against it. What came to fore was that the media should use its biggest tool, the pen, to protect itself. Instead of just one reporter from just one media agency covering/exposing a story, and becoming the lone target, the solution laid in other media houses giving support. This will, it was suggested, prevent individuals like J. Dey from being targeted. A distressing practice that was condemned by many on the panel was that the media agencies detach themselves from their scribe soon after trouble strikes.
JUNE 22, 2011
World Refugee Day: Report on a lecture
By Anuj Kapoor
The World Refugee Day was observed in New Delhi on June 20 by the UNHCR, India, with a lecture by Dr.B.S. Chimni, Professor, Centre for International Legal Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Dr. Chimni has been a visiting professor at various foreign universities and for a period of two years, was the VC at West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. His areas of interest include international law, international trade law and international refugee law. Dr.Rajeev Dhavan, Director, PILSARC, presided over the function. Ms. Montserrat Feixas Vihe, Chief of Mission, UNHCR India, was also present on the dias. The topic of the lecture was “The Rights of Refugees: The 1951 Refugee Convention and Beyond”.
In his introductory speech, Dr. Dhavan posed to Dr. Chimni the question as to why states were unwilling to accept responsibility for refugees. Dr. Chimni began by stating that there were two options for him on how to take forward this opportunity to talk about the right of refugees, first was to discuss the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the rights recognized under it and explore the developing jurisprudence on the subject in international human rights law and humanitarian law; the second way was to examine the ‘structural reasons’ as to why the realization of the rights of refugees has been difficult. He chose to go ahead with the latter.
He began by citing Australia and Italy as examples where the state has been taking vigorous steps to keep the refugees away. In Australia, he said, the paramilitary forces were guarding the shores to keep asylum seekers away. He said that there history hasn’t seen a golden age of asylum till now. The closest that it has come was during the cold war era which was rather brief, and the reasons for it weren’t exactly founded on the principle of refugee protection.
At present, most of the developed countries keep their doors closed to refugees with the result that 80 per cent of the refugees are being hosted by the Third World countries. Another startling fact revealed was that despite displacement of people having increased many folds, actual number of asylum applications made in Europe has, in fact, reduced in the past few years. Most western states have a hostile attitude towards incoming refugees despite many such states being parties to the 1951 Convention.
Dr. Chimni spoke of the need to give effect to treaty obligations by bringing national legislations into force. Another structural reason he identified was that the civil society itself was not mobilized enough. There needs to be a shift from the existing charity based approach to a more rights based approach. Most states at present see refugees as passive acceptors of aid who should just accept whatever they get as charity. He compared their plight with those of persons with disability, whereto, unfortunately a charity based approach is still prevalent.
One fundamental reason for the charity based approach towards refugees is, as Dr. Chimni highlighted, that states maintain the belief that they owe accountability only to their own citizens, and not to aliens. Idealistically and philosophically speaking, he conceptualized that the idea of nationality or migration should not, and has never figured in discourses on the idea of justice, an example in point being the work of John Rawls.
Next reason he identified was the hegemony or dominance of the communitarian approach wherein the forces in the society work towards sustaining traditions, life forms and cultural practices and thereby making it unreceptive for aliens. He quoted Michael Wolzer as having said that “to take in large number of refugees is often necessary, but the right to restrain the flow is determined upon the community … blah blah”.
A perpetual state of international relations, wherein the basic tenet/goal is that of maximising power, guides the foreign policy and is also responsible for this lack of responsibility towards refugees. This picture of political realism does not contain any scope of morality or humanitarian considerations. Thus states engage themselves in protection of refugees only when it furthers their power objectives.
Post 9/11, security has also become a strong concern for nations while dealing with asylum seekers. Moving to UNHCR, he commented that the UN body is itself not very clear with its mandate on how to protect the rights of refugees. He said that the policies of UNHCR are donor-driven. The donors are the developed western states which shy away from honouring their 1951 Convention obligations, and thus they steer away UNHCR’s focus from refugees to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Thus, focus has now partially shifted to IDPs and forced migrants. In the broader picture, he noted, that these circumstances were used to justify humanitarian intervention. Thus, critical writing and discussion on status of refugees the world over was diminishing. Dr. Chimni suggested that the way forward is that there be greater production of critical literature on the issues of refugees and their problems, that there be set up an independent Committee for the Rights of Refugees which is uninfluenced by the donors of UNHCR.
After Dr. Chimni finished speaking, the floor was thrown open for questions and comments. An Iraqi refugee expressed discontent and anger with the west being the cause for the worsening plight of the refugees in the Middle East to which Dr. Dhavan later agreed. Another comment that came was about how the society gives so much importance to issues like nationality, race etc when all these are mere accidents by birth. A comparison was drawn between the uncongenial attitude of the states receiving refugees and the Indian states which receive a lot of migrant population.
Later, Ms. Montserrat Feixas Vihe responded to a few questions and Dr. Chimni’s views about UNHCR. She stated that the situation would have been much worse in the absence of the 1951 Convention, and that the hard but true fact about international organizations like the UNCHR is that their ability to help is dependent on the donation they get from various governments. She also stated that the division of the UNHCR’s work into IDPs-field is beneficial as it is an important issue to be addressed. Moreover, refugee protection still remains the primary concern of UNHCR, she said.
JUNE 21, 2011
ATTACKS ON JOURNALISTS: FMP’s PANEL DISCUSSION
As a tribute to murdered journalist J Dey, the Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP) is holding a panel discussion on the spate of attacks on journalists, by state and non-state actors, in different parts of the country.
The panel will comprise journalists who have themselves been under attack or have witnessed their colleagues being harassed, in retaliation to hard-hitting investigative stories.
* Sachin Kalbag, editor of Midday (Mumbai), will speak on the circumstances in which Dey, one of his team members, was murdered on June 13 and Tarakant Dwivedi alias Akela, another staffer, was arrested under the Official Secrets Act on May 17 for his follow-up on 26/11.
* Jatin Desai, a senior Mumbai-based jouranalist who has espoused a host of media issues, including those emerging from Dey’s murder.
* Gautam Navlakha, consulting editor of Economic and Political Weekly, will talk about his “deportation” from the Srinagar airport on May 28.
* Supriya Sharma, Chhattisgarh correspondent of The Times of India, will give a first-hand account of how she and other journalists have been reporting from the “war zone” in Dantewada even as they are caught in the cross fire of Maoists and security forces.
* K K Shahina of Open magazine will speak on the criminal proceedings initiated against her in December by the Karnataka police for her expose on their communally-motivated investigation into a terror case.
* Kumar Badal will recall his six-month incarceration in 2002-03 on trumped-up charges of poaching as part of the infamous crackdown on Tehelka.
The discussion will be moderated by CNN IBN’s deputy editor Sagarika Ghose.
Where: India International Centre, Lodi Estate, New Delhi
When: June 23, Thursday, from 10.30 am to 1 pm, followed by lunch
FMP is a group of journalists set up three years ago to uphold media freedom and promote quality journalism. This is our 19th media dialogue. Please find attached the poster for the event.
As always, the event is open to everybody.
JUNE 14, 2011
Anuj Kapoor, 4th year student from Symbiosis Law School, Pune, will intern from today for 2-3 weeks. He will contribute to the LAOT’s newly added pages as well as to the Home Page.
JUNE 13, 2011
Arushi Garg completes her internship today. LAOT appreciates her contributions during the internship, and hopes she would continue her association with the blog.