Skip to main content

Denial of bail to 'public intellectuals': Will courts inquire into their writings, speeches?

Varavara Rao
By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
It is deeply disturbing that 81-year-old poet Varavara Rao has been denied bail and has now been admitted to a hospital in Mumbai. Reports suggest that the prison in Taloja, Navi Mumbai, where he was lodged, has several Covid-19 patient. The family and friends of Varavara Rao have protested in Hyderabad, as they were not even allowed to visit him.
The bail plea of Sudha Bharadwaj, who dedicated her life for the cause of workers and the most downtrodden people in Chhattishgarh by providing legal aid, has also been rejected. She was teaching at a law university.
A civil liberties activist and journalist, Gautam Navlakha, who is 60 plus, has been taken to Mumbai on remand. The Delhi High Court showed displeasure over this but we don’t know what are the police looking from him which can’t be discussed in Delhi.
And, well-known scholar Anand Teltumbde is already in jail, and his bail plea has been rejected by the court.
Another man who is now mostly forgotten is Prof GN Saibaba, who actually needs medical attention and one person to take care of him. He too is also suffering in jail.
One may agree or disagree with all these persons for what they have been writing. I don’t think any one of them was writing against the state of India. They might have spoken against the government, which is not a crime. All of them have spoken for upholding the Constitution of India.
Waging an armed struggle against the state or working against the national integration or its unity and integrity or against the Constitution of India is definitely a crime according to law, but one wonders as to what these people have done in terms of all this.
Did they instigate people to kill, or have they ever written against any community? Rao is a poet, while Teltumbde and Navlakha are human rights defenders as well as public intellectuals in their own right, and have published in all prestigious publications all these years. Bharadwaj is known for her defence of workers’ rights. Saibaba is an academic; he is physically not in a condition to move himself.
Their track record is publicly available and no one can believe that they were some ring leaders or wanting to do an Osama Bin Laden-type act on India. This is absurd, to say the least.
Public intellectuals, or even propagandists, should be identified by their speeches and writings, because except for that they don’t have anything. Most of these people have their writings and speeches available in public domain.
Let a court-sponsored commission look into writings, books, publications, public meetings of all those who are being charge-sheeted
An author or an intellectual will never force himself on people. It is not that everyone was liking their writings or work, but the government’s wrong action has compelled human rights groups to stand with them because the authorities are violating the right to freedom of expression.
It is desirable that the court seeks details of all these cases and converts them into one, or may be forms a commission to look into such matters. Let the commission look into the writings, books, publications, public meetings of all those who are being charge-sheeted.
Sudha Bharadwaj, Anand Teldumbde, Gautam Navlakha
It is ridiculous to charge a person based on heresy or fake narratives and dubious videos being supplied by those who want no freedom of expression. The Supreme Court could have formed a commission and framed categorical guidelines as what constitutes being anti-national and what does not.
Keeping things ambiguous will only aggravate the situation. One wonders why students of Jamia Millia Islamia or Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) are being charge-sheeted under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). 
The interesting part is that goons who attacked JNU as well as those who attacked, intimidated and threatened anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters are enjoying not only full protection but may also be rewarded. Does any criticism amount to being anti-national?
It is essential for the highest court to seriously look into this state of affairs and act. Don’t those who have been arrested for over years deserve a sympathetic hearing and bail? They are respected citizens and are paying their taxes, too. They are not big industrialists who can run away in chartered flights with defrauding public wealth. The thugs who loot people are enjoying patronage while those who raise their voice face the tyranny.
Every country has a legal process and India too has, but it should not look as if the process is more to stifle the voice of the freedom or the rights of the poor. Life of public intellectuals, authors and poets is well known. Surely, the powers-that-be have all the resources to check what have they been writing, whether the writings violate our constitutions or any other international human rights standards.
A democracy is known to respect divergent views and agree to disagree by abiding by the principles of human rights standards. We hope that courts will take this into cognizance and do what is necessary. They must remember: Prisoners too have the right to health and protection from viruses, which is threatening lives.
---
Human rights defender. Source: Author’s Facebook timeline

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Why no information with Assam state agency about female rhino poaching for a year?

By Nava Thakuria   According to official claims, incidents of poaching related to rhinoceros in various forest reserves of Assam in northeast India have decreased drastically. Brutal laws against the poachers, strengthening of ground staff inside the protected forest areas and increasing public awareness in the fringe localities of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the State are the reasons cited for positively impacting the mission to save the one-horned rhinos. Officials records suggest, only two rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve since 1 January 2021 till date. The last incident took place probably in the last week of December 2021, as a decomposed carcass of a fully-grown (around 30 years old) female rhino was recovered inside the world-famous forest reserve next month. As the precious horn was missing, for which the gigantic animal was apparently hunted down, it could not be a natural death. Ironically, however, it was not confirmed when

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen