June 26, 2017
The fourth All India Conference of IAPL was held in Hyderabad on 24th & 25th June, 2017 (Emergency day) in the background of the recent recommendations of the Law Commission to criminalize lawyer’s strikes or abstention from court work. The right to strike flows from the fundamental right to association and protest. Like most of the oppressed sections in India, the right to protest and collectively bargain is being criminalized and gradually eroded. Draconian legislations such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Sedition, Armed Forces Special Powers Act and various Public Security Acts are being used to suppress the struggling people and dissenting voices. Thousands of such people’s activists, lawyers or Human Right Defenders have been labeled as ‘terrorists’ or ‘anti-Nationals’ and incarcerated under such Acts. The Conference dealt with this aspect of suppression of the people’s right to protest and the use of so-called anti-terror laws in the context of social and political peoples’ movements and the Kashmiri people’s resistance.
On the other hand State Surveillance has been steadily increasing. In the name of ‘National security’, the citizen’s right to privacy is being brutally suppressed. The blatant example is the UID (Aadhaar) project ̶ a story of coercion, rampant illegality and outrageous contempt of court orders. The UID project forces the citizen into choicelessness, destroying the idea of consent, while the State assumes power over the body and data of every person, which it then allows corporate interests to use. The Conference also seeks to examine and discuss whether this Surveillance signifies a new Emergency.
On Saturday, 24th June 2017, IAPL members discussed about the situation and issues prevailing in their respective States and formulated a collective program for the future. They elected a new Secretariat and All India Executive to lead the Association.
On the second day i.e. Sunday, 25th June 2017 Justice (Retd) Abhay Thipsay addressed the hall on the issue of “Independence of the Judiciary and the Bar” followed with inputs by: Dr. Usha Ramanathan on “UID, Surveillance and the New Emergency?”; Adv. Parvez Imroz, (President, JKCCS) on “Situation of Lawyers in Kashmir”; Justice (Retd) H. Suresh on “the need for People’s Lawyering”; Adv. Rajvinder Singh Bains on “Civil Liberties and the Judiciary” and Prof. Srikrishna Deva Rao (VC, NLU Odisha), on “Social Movements and the Judiciary”.
The Fourth All India Conference passed the following resolutions :
1 ) We uphold the rights of lawyers and the legal fraternity to go on strike and demand better working conditions, to fight for their rights and uphold the legally guaranteed rights to organise and bargain collectively. We take objection to the report by Law Commission of India relegating strikes by lawyers as disorderly conduct. The legal community in every democracy remains at the forefront of seeking justice for the people. It is then not at all warranted that the very legal community which protects the civil liberties of the people, should have its fundamental right to strike, curtailed. It is essential that lawyers retain the unhindered human right to organise and strike. We recognise the right to strike as a human right. We therefore, pass a resolution that lawyers and the legal fraternity should continue to have unfettered rights organise and strike.
2 ) The Indian State, being a democracy continues to have anti-people and repressive legislations such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, Section 124 A (Sedition) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and various State security acts such as the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005. These legislations are time and again used against Muslims, Adivasis and other minorities to represses their voices and in recent times to carry forward the Hindutva and development agendas of the State. It is essential that we recognise the fact these laws should not have any force in a democracy. These legislations which give blanket powers to the State and its machinery wreak havoc in the lives of ordinary individuals who dare to question the pervasive nature of the State. It is condemnable that these laws have been give sharp teeth and overreaching powers to arrest, question, and extinguish fundamental and human rights, without accountability. We therefore demand the repeal of anti-people, draconian legislations and release of all prisoners arrested under the provisions of such laws.
3 ) The House strongly condemns the unwarranted Judicial outreach and over-activism of the Supreme Court to order for arrest of Justice C. S. Karnan under the cover of the colonial Contempt provisions of the Constitution. The principles of Natural Justice have been thrown to the winds selectively in the case of Justice Karnan for his social background. His removal is nothing but a usurpation of the Impeachment power of the Parliament.
4 ) In Tamilnadu, the right to profession itself has been threatened for the lawyers of high court with ever increasing restraints on conduct imposed not only by the courts but also the police, the executive functioning hand in glove with the court. Arrest and imprisonment for more than 166days of Adv. Murugan is a glaring example of the police authorities’ infringement on right to practice profession independently by lawyers. He arrested for representing the Maoist cases to the annoyance if the state, falsely implicated in a Maoist case along with his clients Chandra and Kala, the two Maoists arrested earlier and whose case he represents as a lawyer in Karur sessions court. This is a blatant violation of right to profession and right to defend the client as per the bar council act 1961. He has been charged with sections under UAPA sec 18, 20, 32 and 38. This house condemns his arrest and demand immediate revocations of the charges foisted upon him and release him unconditionally.
5 ) In Mandsor district of Madhya Pradesh, farmers demanding loan waiver and fair price to their crops by way of peaceful protest were brutally attacked by police. Indiscriminate firing was opened at them, this without any notice or announcement to protesters. In this ghastly act of State Government, 7 farmers lost their lives. Though they were seeking fulfilment of their legitimate demand by way of parliamentary mode, State government could not control its fascist desire to shun the voices, and repeated what it did in 1998, where 24 farmers were martyred in similar fashion in Multai. IAPL, condemns this barbaric deed of State. It demands that probe be conducted through a sitting judge of the High Court to ensure impartialityand consequentlyprosecute and punish the perpetrators of the crime for committing murder of 7 protesting farmers.
6 ) Noting that, death penalty is barbaric, inhuman, and against the school of reformation, against the value of democracy. Noting that, death penalty has been used predominantly against dalits, tribals, women, minority or poors and is used routinely against those groups. Noting that, many democratic States have declared death penalty as a unconstitutional, resultantly 138 countries dejore or defacto abolished it. Nothing that, claims of death penalty working as deterrent have been proved false, baseless and unsupported on every occasion. On the contrary it has been realised that capital punishment was awarded even in such cases where persons were acquitted by higher courts. Believing that, democratic State has no right to execute anyone. Believing that, such punishment cannot coexist in democratic set up. We the members of Indian Association of People’s Lawyers, in 4th All India Conference held at Hyderabad on 25th June 2017, condemn death penalty, and firmly resolve to struggle for abolishment of death penalty.
7 ) The 4th IAPL All India Conference condemns the arrest and continuing incarceration of Adv. Ravindra Balla, Chikudu Prabhakar and other members of the Telangana Democratic Front. These members of the TDF were to conduct a fact finding in the police atrocities in Chhattisgarh. Their arrest and denial of bail is an attempt by the State to silence the voice of People’s lawyers and Democratic voices.
( General Secreatary )
Cover pages of the IAPL Souvenir released by Justice (Retd.) Abhay Thipsay at its 4th All India Conference held at Hyderabad.
The Souvenir carries memorable articles by our late lawyer friends such as PA Sebastian, Balagopal, Mukul Sinha and Bojja Tarakam.
The contents include…
1. Messages in Solidarity
2. Manufacturing Sedition from Political Dissent… by PA Sebastian
3. Death Sentence to Saddam Hussein… by PA Sebastian
4. The Illusion called Secularism… by Mukul Sinha
5. Judges’ Appointments and Accountability… by Bojja Tarakam
6. Ideology and Adjudication: The Supreme Court and OBC Reservations… By K Balagopal
7. Jammu and Kashmir: Violence and Impunity… by Adv. Pervez Imroz
8. Misuse of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act… by Adv Susan Abraham
9. Coercion & Silence are Integral Parts of the Aadhaar Project… Dr. Usha Ramanathan
10. Towards the Abolition of Death Penalty… by Adv. Asahana
11. Sentenced To Life Imprisonment for Forming a Trade Union… Gautam Mody
12. Amidst the darkness… by Adv. Anubha Rastogi
13. Attacks on Lawyers in Chhattisgarh… A fact finding report by IAPL
For copies contact…
Surendra Gadling Adv., 79, Misal-lay-out, Bhim chowk, Nagpur 440 014
M. Venkanna Adv., Flat 5, Block 26, MIG-2, Nallakunta, Hyderabad 500044
Justice Suresh elected Indian Association of People’s Lawyers president.