Skip to main content

Setback to Gujarat government frequently detaining activists, as court calls tribal farmer leader Sutariya's arrest illegal

Romel Sutariya
By Our Representative
In a landmark judgment which is seen as a major setback to the Gujarat government seeking to arrest activists ahead of important functions as a preventive measure, the sessions court of Tapi district of South Gujarat has said that the arrest of Romel Sutariya, leader of the upcoming tribal farmer organization, Adivasi Kisan Sangharsh Manch (AKSM) ahead of May 1 Gujarat Foundation Day celebrations was without any legal basis.
The arrest was made apprehending black flag protests by AKSM and its allies on the Gujarat Day celebrations. Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel was the main guest at the May 1 function in the predominantly tribal district of Tapi. The order comes against the backdrop of several cases of activists being detained without showing any notice ahead of state-sponsored functions.
In one such bizarre incident, two days ahead of the Vibrant Gujarat business summit (January 11-12, 2015), a senior Gandhian activist, Indukumar Jani, a senior economist, Prof Rohit Shukla, and People’s Union for Civil Liberties general secretary Gautam Thaker were “picked up” from the heart of Ahmedabad as they were going to attend a farmers’ protest rally 20 kilometres away. They were detained, along with other farmer leaders, for the whole day.
There have been similar such “preventive detentions” ahead of major state functions have become common, Gujarat activists point out. Sutariya was picked up in the wee hours of April 27, and his detention was upheld by the executive magistrate, Vyara, district headquarters of Tapi, on April 29. The reason for detaining Sutariya was the police “apprehension” that the AKSM leader and his colleagues would create a “law and order problem” on May 1.
The executive magistrate went by the cops’ argument that Sutariya and four of his colleagues had “threatened” self-immolation on lines of Gajendra Singh, who committed suicide at an Aam Aadmi Party meeting in Delhi a few days earlier. The sessions judge, Gita Gopi, “quashed” and “set aside” the executive magistrate’s order, finding it “without any basis”, and upheld the innocence of Sutariya and his four other colleagues.
Arguing for Sutariya and others, advocate NS Pradhan said, his clients had “not given threat of self-immolation”, adding, they had in fact “given written confirmation” about that. Pradhan argued, his clients had been “falsely arrested and detained”, adding the police and the executive magistrate had thus “breached the right of the accused”. Yet, the arrest was upheld by the executive magistrate.
Worse, though the “offence” registered against the Sutariya and others was “bailable”, even the bail was rejected, Pradhan said, adding, the executive magistrate “has no discretionary power to send” the them to judicial custody, yet this is what happened.
Upholding Pradhan’s plea for Sutatiya and others, the sessions court judge said, the record sent by the executive magistrate did not warrant any arrest, adding, the executive magistrate, before allowing the arrest, should have acted on recorded information, and not the expression of a belief, as supplied by the cops, about the breach of peace. The magistrate should have seen the warrant of arrest and whether there was indeed any possibility of breach of peace.
Pointing out that the Sutariya and others were set free by the sessions court only after they produced a personal bond on May 2, a day after the Gujarat Day celebrations ended, the judge said several procedural lapses had occurred in allowing the arrest. Thus, magistrate should have inquired into the truthfulness of the information before upholding the arrest of Sutariya and others, and should have sought “further evidence as may be necessary”.
“The Executive magistrate has not observed the propriety to the proceedings as provided under the criminal procedure code”, the judge said, adding, “there was no show cause notice on record”, hence, the executive magistrate’s order was “against the mandate of the law.”

Comments

TRENDING

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

TN woman's No Caste, No Religion struggle 'follows' ideals of Marx, Ambedkar, Periyar

By Sheshu Babu*
In these days of rising communal tensions, a courageous woman from Tamil Nadu achieved her dream of obtaining 'No Caste, No Religion' certificate through persistent struggle. This is quite a significant achievement. It comes alongside some colleges in West Bengal introducing 'humanity', 'agnostic' , 'secular' or 'non-religious' in the application forms for online submission for students who are unwilling to disclose their faith.

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

US Kashmiri diaspora body: World leaders, UN 'not acting', India enjoys total impunity

Counterview Desk
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session, to begin on September 17 in New York, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a non-profit organization based in Ohio, US, claiming to focus on providing information on Kashmir, has regretted that despite "violent" behaviour of Indian authorities in Kashmir, they enjoy "total impunity" across the world.

Modi used to 'run errands' during Emergency, his role was that much: Top JP associate

By Rajiv Shah
In a sharp exposure, well-known Gujarati critic, journalist and activist Prakash N Shah, who had been among the main contact persons of Jay Prakash Narayan (JP) in Gujarat, has recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “merely running errands” during the Emergency (1975-77) period, adding the PM’s stature has been “sought to be unnecessarily inflated”, though adding, he is not saying this to “belittle him.”

Jharkhand riverine terminal: 485 families 'displaced', lose land, livelihood in Sahibgunj

Counterview Desk
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to inaugurate on Thursday India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj in Jharkhand, built at a cost of Rs 290 crore reportedly in a record time of about two years, several civil rights organizations* have said that the government has failed to address the high-profile terminal’s social and environmental concerns.

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Govt of India 'moves' to hold Assam-type foreigners' tribunals across India, warns report

Counterview Desk
A People’s Tribunal on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has warned in its interim jury report that two recent notifications of the Government of India may lay down the groundwork for triggering an NRC process in different parts of the country, pointing towards recent moves towards this.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk
“Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

New sample suggests high pollution off Vadodara effluent channel, 'requires' action

Counterview Desk 
Gujarat’s top environmental group Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) has sharply criticized the Gujarat Pollution Control Board’s (GPCB’s) “on-serious, casual letter” dated September 5, which allegedly suggests that the top state state agency does not favour taking any action Central Gujarat’s effluent treatment plant, Vadodara Enviro Channel Ltd (VECL).