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“Gandhi would be in your jail”: Protests against CSPSA at Berkeley

October 2, 2008
Justice and the Law

Director-General of Police Vishwaranjan of Chhattisgarh faces protesters in Berkeley / FDRI Seminar on Indian Democracy: Justice and the Law

The Center for South Asia, University of California Berkeley and Foundation for Democratic Reforms in India jointly organized a seminar (September 27, 2008) on Indian Democracy where the Director General of Police of Chhattisgarh was a speaker.

As part of protest actions in solidarity with Dr Binayak Sen and in opposition to the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA), a letter from over a hundred academics to Mr Vishwa Ranjan, the Director-General of Police, Chhattisgarh, reached him in Berkeley, along with copies of earlier petitions from citizens of India and the world, a letter circulated by alumni of Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore (alma mater of Dr. Binayak Sen), and a letter signed by 22 Nobel Laureates and released on May 14, 2008, one year after Dr. Sen’s arrest and imprisonment.

A section of the protestors

A section of the protestors

Dipti Bhatnagar spoke at the panel and screened a slideshow on behalf of all the organizations protesting the DGP.  Fifty students and community members distributed literature, silently carried signs, and sternly interrogated the DGP during the question and answer session.  Nandini Sundar, Justice Srikrishna, Rajiv Dhavan and Sunil Kumar also spoke.

Over 135 academic faculty, including professors from Berkeley and 6 other campuses of the University of California, and from India, signed this letter in just three days.

The DGP himself “signed” the postcard to the Prime Minister demanding release of Binayak Sen.   In fact, he wrote “you should send this letter to the government, not to the police.”   It is within his power as Chief of Police to withdraw the falsified charges against Dr. Binayak Sen and take responsibility for the “mistake” he admitted regarding arrest of Ajay TG.

This account was sent by Aravinda Pillalamarri on behalf of:

Students for Justice in Chhattisgarh  (Text of Statement read at Berkeley Seminar)
Alliance of South Asians Taking Action
Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South  Asia
Association for India’s Development
Friends of South Asia
Campaign to Free Binayak Sen
Campaign to Stop Funding Hate
Hesperian Foundation, Berkeley
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
Progressive Bengali Network
Sanhati

Videos: (credit: Balaji Narasimhan)

DGP Vishwa Ranjan on Ajay TG’s case

Anirvan Chatterjee presents letter signed by more than 100 academics to DGP Vishwaranjan at Berkeley/FDRI Seminar on Indian Democracy

Attorney Rajeev Dhavan says charges against Dr. Binayak Sen false; asks DGP to resign

16 Comments leave one →
  1. robert wilson permalink
    October 3, 2008 10:34 AM

    Thank you all for taking the effort in the campaign to free Dr Binayak Sen. This man shows the spirit of unselfishness
    far more than the ordinary call of duty, he is so obviously a prisoner of conscience and should be freed immediately along with other similar people who find themselves in trouble for being true.

    We all want the best for the Indian people but the government needs to respect as much as possible the needs of all sections of society not just stock exchange profits & materialistic status symbols!

  2. vishwaranjan permalink
    October 8, 2008 1:26 AM

    DGP CHHATTISGARH’S REJOINDER

    Nivedita Menon’s write-up in Kafila (ans another webzine)based on account sent by Aravinda Pillalamarri have various misrepresentation of facts. Firstly, I did not sign any postcard demanding the release of Dr. Binayak Sen. When the post card was given to me I returned it writing on it that they are giving it to a wrong person and that they are free to petition the government. This happened after the conference when I was discussing with a group of students after the seminar I had said that since the police is convinced they have charge-sheeted the case. However, since the trial has already commenced and the matter sub-judice I can not discuss evidence here. The supporters of Dr. Binayak Sen had gone up to Supreme Court but could not get relief. They can again move the trial court if they want or petition the government if they so desire.
    The reference of what I said about Ajay TG is also misleading and mischievous. I had only stated that the police did not press charge-sheet because it wanted to verify certain facts brought to my notice by the wife of Ajay TG and the police wanted to check the veracity of those facts before taking a decision. Not preferring to file a charge sheet does not mean closing the case.
    What the write-up did not carry mischievously or unfortunately was that people participating or attending to the seminar objected to the behavior of the protestors and demanded that I may be allowed to complete my presentation.
    The psy-war machinery of Maoists believes that a lie is stronger than truth. It seems Goeble continues to be one of their heroes.

    Vishwaranjan
    DGP
    Chhattisgarh
    Raipur
    India

  3. October 8, 2008 1:32 AM

    You all are mad or fool.

    If You all people if dont know about chhattisgarh and its cituation, you have no knowledge of tribal life.

    The case is pending in Supereme Court of India. It is not a matter of police, Chttisgarh or Government .

    Come soon and view what is happend in Chhattisgarh. naxaly are total against of human right.

    You and all people as your type are totaly mad.

    God Bless You

  4. Nivedita Menon permalink*
    October 8, 2008 2:40 PM

    Mr Vishwaranjan,
    Thank you for your comment. It is revealing, though not surprising, that you have chosen to distance yourself from precisely the two positions you took at Berkeley, that might actually redeem you from the point of view of democratic functioning. You write:
    a) “I did not sign any postcard demanding the release of Dr. Binayak Sen. When the post card was given to me I returned it writing on it that they are giving it to a wrong person and that they are free to petition the government.”
    The report posted above says: ‘ The DGP himself “signed” the postcard to the Prime Minister demanding release of Binayak Sen. In fact, he wrote “you should send this letter to the government, not to the police.” ‘
    That is, the report puts the word “signed” in quotation marks, which makes it clear that you did not actually sign the petition, but instead gave an alternative comment, which is reproduced in full.
    There is no misrepresentation that I can see here.
    b) You say “The reference of what I said about Ajay TG is also misleading and mischievous. I had only stated that the police did not press charge-sheet because it wanted to verify certain facts brought to my notice by the wife of Ajay TG and the police wanted to check the veracity of those facts before taking a decision.”
    I listened once again to your actual words on Ajay TG given in the video link above, and I invite you to do the same. You clearly say that after Ajay’s wife visited you and gave you all the evidence claiming that he had been wrongly implicated, you examined it, and found it “possible that he may not actually be a Naxalite”. You also use the phrases “”some kind of technical mistake” and “technical error”.
    Again, no misrepresentation.
    Let me assure you that when I read that report I thought I finally understood why of all people the DGP of Chhattisgarh had been invited to a conference on democracy in India. I thought okay, this is a police officer of integrity performing a difficult job a) pointing out that Binayak Sen is a political prisoner, and that it is not in the power of the police to release him, and that you were merely following orders given by the government; and b) that when evidence is brought to your attention that exonerates a wrongly arrested person, you are not afraid to recognize the mistake and admit it publicly.
    I’m sorry to see that I was wrong.
    And so very weary to see that the government’s propaganda machinery is in full working order. If someone wielding the power you do can be compelled to take on personal embarrassment and loss of credibility by denying easily verifiable comments that you made, what we say happens to ordinary citizens under the CSPSA cannot be far from the truth!
    Manash, people generally do call on God to bless us and help us when they find themselves at a loss for words in the face of our audacity in disbelieving the police and the state. (See Noel’s comment on “Some questions about the Delhi encounter”)
    That’s fine, we need all the help we can get.

  5. Nivedita Menon permalink*
    October 9, 2008 7:58 AM

    And by the way, Mr Vishwaranjan, I am very happy to learn that Berkeley protected your freedom of expression “What the write-up did not carry mischievously or unfortunately was that people participating or attending to the seminar objected to the behavior of the protesters and demanded that I may be allowed to complete my presentation.”
    The videos linked to the report do in fact reveal everything, including loud protesters being quietened with “Let him speak.”
    You might like to consider carrying this respect for freedom of expression back home with you to Chhattisgarh, where under the CSPSA, your police force routinely arrest film-makers and journalists for expressing inconvenient views.

  6. October 9, 2008 6:21 PM

    LIES DO NOT HELP ANYONE
    Lies have been one of the strongest weapons in the arsenal of Maoists – only next to weapons and explosives. Weapons and explosives are used to terrorize those who oppose them. Lies are meant to partly confuse and to partly win over people to their sides.
    When I decided to go to University of California, Berkeley to present my point of view a psy-war was unleashed in Berkeley through SMSs and cyber-space to oppose my visit. Most people invited in the conference, the Maoists and their supporters thought, would castigate the government of India and Chhattisgarh for violating human rights etc. They did not want the DGP of Chhattisgarh to introduce a discordant note. The Maoists and their supporters decided to use the case of Dr. Binayak Sen as a mask to cover their real intention.
    They send “questions for the DGP” on web-sites asking some inane, puerile and obscured questions about the case of Dr. Binayak Sen and CSPSA. As the case against Dr. Binayak Sen is sub-judice I would not comment on it but there are constitutional and legal ways to fight any ACT or LAW and that is that if it is held ultra vires of the constitution it goes automatically. But Maoists and their supporters who have no faith in the Indian Democratic System or the judiciary in India believe in pressure tactics. Dr. Binayak Sen’s case must be fought more on the streets through dharnas, demonstrations and only incidentally through the courts.
    So the demonstration at Berkeley was not surprising to me. What must have surprised them was that I remained unruffled. What must have further surprised them that a many amongst the listeners started to protest against their unruly slogan shouting. What must have equally flustered them was the fact I was prepared to talk to them and answer questions after the seminar and question and answers session.
    But the psy-war had to be launched. Lies had to be invented. Facts had to be misconstrued. So the post card on which I wrote that I am the wrong person and if they want they should send it directly to the government has been circulated through the cyber-space as my having signed a post card demanding release of Dr. Binayak Sen. My explanation that we preferred postponing charge-sheeting of Ajai TG because his wife gave certain information which we wanted to verify was twisted to mean that arrest of Ajai TG was “technical mistake”. More lies would fill the cyber-space I know. But these don’t ruffle me. Lies have never ruffled me. And I have the strength to accept the truth. At Berkeley there were many other who also know the truth of what I spoke.
    But there is a catch. The muck the Maoist supporters throw into the cyber-space is read mostly by those who believe in their cause. Others who accidentally see their sites only feel bemused and silently chuckle at them.
    – VISHWA RANJAN

  7. Nivedita Menon permalink*
    October 9, 2008 7:28 PM

    Vishwaranjan has simply restated more loudly and IN CAPITALS the same assertions that I have established to be false in my previous response.
    (In that sense you are a better student of Goebbels than we can ever be – “a lie repeated often enough, becomes the truth”).
    He repeats his lies, so let me repeat what I said in response. One, the report posted here does not claim he signed a petition for the release of Binayak Sen, but merely states exactly what he himself claims happened.
    Two, everybody can SEE him and LISTEN to him saying that there was “some kind of technical error”, and “technical mistake” in Ajay’s arrest, by clicking on the video link given above, on this page at the end of the report (“DGP Vishwa Ranjan on Ajay TG’s case”).
    No “twisting”, just straight evidence, Mr. DGP. Or have you forgotten what “evidence” means, being able to arrest and detain people at will under the CSPSA?
    Just one other important fact – it’s too easy to dismiss everybody who challenges you as “Maoist”. The protests at Berkeley and in India over the continued detention of Binayak Sen have to do with basic democratic freedoms. You don’t have to be Maoist to demand that our Constitution be protected from legislative incursions such as the CSPSA, an Act that is blatantly illegal and unconstitutional.
    You gloat over being permitted to speak at Berkeley despite “loud protests”. This is a basic freedom not available to Indian citizens under the CSPSA.
    The “muck” you talk about is basically all over you, DGP saab. But clearly you have never had a mirror held up to you. Chuckle away. Democracy will have the last laugh.

  8. Piyush Mehta permalink
    October 9, 2008 8:12 PM

    Mr. Vishwaranjan,

    You may run – but you may not hide. Your actions are for the world and, more importantly, for you yourself to judge. You so liberally dish out words like Maoists and lies in your rejoinder – what you fail to realize is we are Indians and humanists who value the most basic of rights – our human rights. No individual or state machinery can go unchallenged at these atrocities.

    I urge you to consider your words and the sentiments behind them – and work to protect the citizens, property, and democracy itself – and not to make a mockery of any.

    Regards,

    Piyush

  9. Aarti permalink*
    October 10, 2008 1:02 AM

    Dear DCP Saab,

    I most humbly submit that your characterization of what you term the Maoist “psyc-war”, twice now, in your responses to Nivedita’s post, most aptly characterizes the CPSA legitimized war machinery against human rights and civil liberties in Chattisgarh. The police force has kept in incarceration, for over a year and a half now, a doctor who has spent his life bringing medical care and services to the most underserved people on no evidence whatsoever. However no evidence is needed because simply calling him, and all who support him, “Maoists” is enough to raise the bogey of “red terror”, and throw him into jail, and discredit anything anyone else might have to say on his behalf.

    I am of course no one to teach lexical lessons to someone as strong and confident of his own opinions as yourself, but “Maoist” actually means someone who espouses or claims allegiance to a form of Marxist-Leninist praxis developed in China, of which Mao Zedong was an important ideologue. One may have strong disagreements with it, but surely holding a set of political views is not a crime?

    Further Dr. Sen has never supported violence, either by the state or by naxal groups. His concern has been to demonstrate the tremendous human toll that the stand-off between the state sponsored militias of the Salwa Judum and Naxal groups is taking on tribals. Is it not this that disconcerts you? That he exposed the shocking savagery of the state in forcing civilians to bear arms and become cannon fodder in its own dirty war. It is this that you keep subsuming under the label of “Maoist” without even knowing what Dr. Sen’s political beliefs are or are not, or the political beliefs of those who have spoken out in support. Did you do an opinion poll in Berkley in the middle of your presentation asking people to tick of their politics, else I am not sure how you have decided they were all “Maoists”.

    Because someone’s actual political beliefs are completely besides the point in your schema. By simply calling someone a “Maoist” and equating “Maoist” with “terrorist” you can produce a completely baseless and specious argument for keeping Sen in jail, contrary to all evidence, or lack thereof. If this is not a “psyc-war” I’d like to know what is, and as Nivedita notes, Goebbels is not our hero but yours. Remember it was the communists he hated not the state fascists, who he actually worked for.

    Sadly you are as aware of this as we are. The most charitable reading of your shilly-shalling on your own statements (which are on video record for everyone to see, including you) is that a lifetime serving as a footsoldier in the state’s “psyc-war” has enfeebled your capacity to distinguish between “innocence” and “guilt”.

    Warm regards
    Aarti

  10. Anon. permalink
    October 13, 2008 2:51 PM

    When a DGP comes to blog.

    Now that the DGP has completely exposed himself, it might not be a bad time to ponder for a moment that exposure. I am sure others have wondered why a DGP would be blogging in the first place, and that too, as a DGP. But can we take it further and reflect on the questions that his blogging on this site raises?

    I recall a comment by Aarti on transparency (in her “Some Questions about the Delhi Encounter” post). Her comment was made in the context of Siddharth asking John to expose himself. Aarti wrote: “And just a quick response Siddharth, I think it’s a little unfair to demand transparency from John. A medium like the net allows for all sorts of masquerades and I see no problem with that at all. On a forum like this we engage with whosoever someone wishes themselves to be. After all guile is the first defence against the monocle of power :)”

    Nivedita Menon was the first to wade into the murky waters of identities when she admitted:

    Let me assure you [i.e., the DGP] that when I read that report I thought I finally understood why of all people the DGP of Chhattisgarh had been invited to a conference on democracy in India. I thought okay, this is a police officer of integrity performing a difficult job a) pointing out that Binayak Sen is a political prisoner, and that it is not in the power of the police to release him, and that you were merely following orders given by the government; and b) that when evidence is brought to your attention that exonerates a wrongly arrested person, you are not afraid to recognize the mistake and admit it publicly.

    I’m sorry to see that I was wrong.

    The DGP himself had some identity issues of his own. After peppering his responses with invocations of Goebbels, the official sounding ‘misrepresentation of facts’ and repeated use of the word ‘lies’ – and also bearing in mind that at the centre of this exchange is none other than comic theatre’s most flogged laugh-getter: forgery – the DGP took us to the limit of masquerade by referring to himself in the third person! He wrote, “They did not want the DGP of Chhattisgarh to introduce a discordant note.” But his guile knew other forms as well. While doing everything to prove that he was a ‘good’ cop – anti-Maoist, deferential to Government, respectful of the citizen’s charter etc., etc., – he would have none of Prof. Menon’s mischievous attempts to make him into her idea of a ‘good’ cop. In a most fitting end to the ‘who is the DGP’ debate, Aarti, (typographically maybe) taking her own earlier advice to its limit, simply refused to accept the DGP as DGP, as who he declared himself to be, and instead made him into a “DCP Saab”.

    Now, why on this forum weren’t we able to allow the DGP to be who he wanted to be, i.e., a DGP? Why the discomfort? Why did we assume that he could be other than a DGP? This is not the, ‘can we ever assume a good cop’, question. What I am getting at has to do with what this particular incident reveals about the relationship between freedom, identities and democracy. As much as we would like to have him here, to engage him, we cannot. Why? Would it be enough to answer, as Prof. Menon recently warned ‘Awesome’ elsewhere (“A Little Less Melodrama and a Lot More Forensics”), that “THEY [the police] don’t have the same responsibility!”? Doesn’t part of the answer also lie in our making and practice of democracy in this forum? The rules we have set, by setting no rules, assumes that people can be who they wish to be. Our DGP is just such a person. He can be whoever he has to be – he can even be you or me, with immunity; (the catch is that we can never be him). But, as Shuddhabrata Sengupta subtly suggested, it’s not quite so easy for DGPs either. Go too far and s/he stands the danger of not being anything anymore – a DGP after all will always be someone else’s (wo)man; as for the rest of us, we are only free compared to the person behind us. That when the DGP came to blog he called into question, as I believe he did, the limit of our hospitality does in a way have to do with ‘responsibility’. In another way, however, I wonder if it also has to do with the privileged position given to ‘choice’ in the democracy we are fighting for. (To indulge in a bit of shilly-shalling of my own, I wonder also if it has to do with what I would like to call related ‘spheres of democracy’? That phrase has no meaning in my mind beyond what is self apparent: there is no democracy, as in the way it is used in the expression ‘the world’s largest democracy’, and, with all due respect, ‘democracy will have the last laugh’, but rather that there are more and less democratic spheres that sit amoeba-like say, in a Venn diagram; these spheres even grow, move and can change their democratic colour; and between them subjects, some more free than others, come and go. The DGP’s visit offers us a chance to interrogate the relatedness of two very important democratic spheres.)

    From his visit it may be worth asking if democracy can actually have the last laugh in a space where everyone is free to be who they wish to be. If such a democratic space is actually able to accommodate the very institutions/persons, the DGPs we most desperately need to engage? Finally, if we are somewhere saying that DGPs can’t blog with us, are we ok with that?

    Anon.

  11. Aarti permalink*
    October 14, 2008 1:49 AM

    Dear Anon,

    I must confess that I actually do not understand the convoluted skeins of the argument in 99.99% of your comment. But since you mention my response twice, I will attempt to address the “questions” (if I can even refer to them as that) you raise. Perhaps I am unschooled in a certain form of rhetoric, in which case please do excuse my clumsy attempts at making sense of what, to me, sounds like convoluted pretentious wordiness.

    Anyway, from what I can fathom, your discomfort seems to be with our i.e. Kafila’s assertion of the malleability of identity on a forum such as the internet (where you mention my response to Siddharth), which you see as being incommensurate with “democracy”. You work this out by referring to our inability to allow the DGP to be “who he wanted to be” which is “a DGP” through reference to Nivedita’s comments about him being a certain sort of cop vs, his idea of a cop vs my calling him a DCP as opposed to a DGP (which I confess was a simple typographical error).

    The question of course is, that how do we even know this is “actually” the DGP of Chattisgarh? He could be anyone right? And this I think is the point I was trying to make. I will respond to a position. There is nothing else I can respond to. If this position comes as tagged by the DGP of Chattisgarh, then so be it. And I disagree that while he can supposedly assume our positions, we can never assume his. What do you mean when you say that “the catch is we can never be him”? I presume you are saying that while he can speak as one of “us” through the power of masquerade the internet allows, we cannot speak as “him” because we do not have the institutional authority in “reality” that he comes with. And here you are absolutely right. We don’t. But we are not interested in claiming that authority. When we assume, in masquerade, an equality of articulatory positions, then claims to the “reality” of authority are not really my problem.

    That is why Kafila is democratic :) That is why the DGP can blog with us.

    best
    A

  12. Anon. permalink
    October 14, 2008 3:21 PM

    Hello Aarti,

    Allow me to clarify a couple of things at the outset, I am not questioning Kafila’s democratic credentials. Nothing in what I have read from the positions taken by its founders and most frequent contributors has lead me to doubt for a moment that democracy is fully and even radically practiced in this forum. I apologise if anything I have written has called that into question. Also, I was also not doubting that Mr. Vishwaranjan is indeed the DGP of Chhattisgarh. I accept him as that, as I also assumed all the commentators on his responses did as well.

    The question I asked re: whether the DGP can blog with us, was not about whether he can actually blog, of course he can. He just did. I was surprised though by his coming here to make his case when there is the entire legal system at his command. That surprise was what provoked my interest in thinking about the role of sites such as Kafila – given for instance the centrality of the practice of masquerade within its conception of democracy – in transforming other sites of democracy, such as the one represented by the DGP that is built on rigid pillars of authority and fixed distributions of power. Furthermore, we may not be interested in claims to authority in “reality” as the DGP represents, and rightly so, but what authority do we make a claim to when we demand that our conception of democracy also be? And yes there is a question mark there because it is unclear what is to be demanded. Are we saying that there is one true form of democracy that we should all strive towards? That ‘truth’ will be had by amassing the ‘evidence’ and facts’? Are we saying that different forms of democracy should be allowed to coexist? If so, can they? Or are we saying that the DGP and the powers that he represents have got democracy wrong, screw up even their error, and need to be changed? If so by whom, and where and how?

    Finally let me acknowledge that I only picked up on and used passing comments of both you and Prof. Menon that hinted at the DGP being a ‘different’ kind of visitor to the Kafila site than the usual, to possibly open a discussion of some issues I believe the DGP’s visit raised. It appears that in at least one instance I was wrong to take for granted that my way of writing was sufficient to reveal my own acknowledgement of the weakness of those bits of ‘evidence.’

    In closing let me thank you for pointing out at the outset that ‘assumptions’ are enough to settle questions of authority and that conceptions of democracy in your engagement with state power are not meaningful issues with which you wish to engage with on this site. It is also reassuring to know that we need not go beyond “Kafila is democratic” to answer that “the DGP can blog with us.”

    Anon.

  13. October 14, 2008 11:20 PM

    Sorry for commenting off the trek but it’s so surprizing that in India every politician is ready to stand (or to talk) and to do every possible effort to get release those who are booked because of terrorist activity may be they are innocent or not (as lastest Amar singh said something like this to hire Ram Jethmalani for those 2 Jamia students) or similar incident in past for Afzal guru. Point here is why they don’t vocie same for Binayak sen.

  14. HemSagar Panda permalink
    October 20, 2008 4:35 PM

    CONFUSION ABOUT INDIAN CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL POSITIONS REGARDING CSPSA

    I have been reading various write-ups and comments in web-sites on what DGP Chhattisgarh spoke in Berkeley and its contradiction by the DGP in one response. I also understand that about 50-60 students of Indian origin opposed his visit, shouted slogans, showed placards and posted posters against him. Even though the DGP has been the most popular and accessible police officer in Chhattisgarh not only in this present tenure as DGP but also because of his earlier postings as Superintendents of Police in Raigarh and Bastar, I can not object to slogan shouting etc. which was organized at Berkeley because we in India also have democratic right to oppose, raise slogans etc. We also raise slogans even though sometimes we are ignorant of full facts.
    However as a lawyer I must explain that there seems to be misconceptions about CSPSA which emanates from wrong understanding of India Constitution. While the ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’ and ‘Fundamental Rights’ enshrined in Indian Constitution are based on basic principles of human rights a balance has been created between protection of individual right and loss of protection for society at large in Indian Constitution. For this, the principle of “reasonable restrictions” has been introduced. There are many Supreme Court decisions to determine the reasonableness of imposed restrictions of already existing laws or a new law, like CSPSA. A law of internment (which restricts fundamental rights) can only be void if it does not offer a right of representation against internment or an opportunity to be heard. It would be similarly held void if it denies the higher courts the jurisdiction to go into the constitutional validity and legality of the law. The CSPSA does not deprive the individual the right to represent against internment, seek bail in the court or challenge the constitutional validity of this law in higher courts. Dr. Binayak Sen is a known social worker but his bail application was finally rejected by the Supreme Court of India.
    Secondly, Indian Constitution does not allow a police officer to be also a judge. The police officer charge sheets in the court a case, if there is prima facie evidence. Prima-facie evidence only means collection of evidences on which charges can be framed in a court of law. It is only after evidence is produced in the court; cross examination of witnesses done and examination of documentary evidence that the trial court comes to a judgment. Even then both the state and defendants can appeal to higher courts if they are not satisfied.
    There is also some confusion regarding police officer withdrawing a case. In criminal cases the police may decide not to prefer charge-sheeting a case if it has not been able to collect enough evidence and can send ‘Final Reports’ but it is for the court to accept them and it is free to return the cases to police for further investigation. Similarly, once the charges have been framed and the trial has commenced the state may decide to withdraw the charges but court may or may not permit withdrawal of charges. So the final decision rests with the courts in such cases and not with the government or the police. This is the settled legal position in India.
    There was another confusion in at least one of the letters/write-ups which talked of “legislative intrusion in the constitution”. Well, if any aspect of the Indian Constitution is to be altered (and it can be altered), or if a new law is to be passed, it can only be done through legislative processes. Such things can not be termed “legislative intrusions”. The settled law of India is that such alterations should not affect the basic frame work of the constitution.
    I think that much of the opposition to DGP Chhattisgarh emanated from ignorance of Indian legal position, which is not much different from laws, in the most of the democratic nations.

    H.S.Panda
    Advocate, Raigarh, Chhattisgarh
    India – 492001

  15. ravi permalink
    October 20, 2008 11:08 PM

    A quick response to Mr. Panda:

    1) CSPSA exploits to the full the escape clauses for “reasonable restrictions” allowed in the Indian constitution. (http://www.constitution.org/cons/india/p03019.html) While CSPSA might be constitutional in a legal sense, the abuses committed under its name certainly violate the spirit of the constitution (assuming good intent on the part of the framers of the constitution).

    2) You say the state cannot *dismiss* a case once trial has commenced, but can only *withdraw* its charges (subject to court approval). I’m no lawyer, so will accept your word. However, far from withdrawing charges against political prisoners like Dr. Sen, the state is trying to frame evidence against them. Why is this so? The DGP evaded these questions at the conference, and is yet to respond.

    3) Why do you think that “much of the opposition to DGP Chhattisgarh emanated from ignorance of Indian legal position?” Would you care to elaborate on which of the protestors’ claims emanated from ignorance? Most of the documents used at the Berkeley protest are available at http://cgnet.in/N1/atfolder.2008-09-28.3372018166/index_html

    4) You claim that “the DGP has been the most popular and accessible police officer in Chhattisgarh.” Who is he popular with, and who is he accessible to? Also, do you have any idea why he invariably responds with ad hominems?

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