In the last month of April this year, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and AS Bopanna ordered journalist Siddiq Kappan to undergo better treatment at a Delhi hospital. The observation made by the judges in the order is a precedent. “We believe that even an under trial prisoner has the most valuable fundamental right to live without any conditions,” the court said.
Kappan, a journalist from Kerala, was arrested by the UP police on his way to cover the gang rape of a Dalit daughter in Hathras. On 23 March last year, the Supreme Court, seeing the situation of Kovid-19, ordered all the Government courts of the country with some guidelines to release such prisoners from jails on interim bail or parole. Father Stan Swamy, 84, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, used to come within the ambit of those guidelines, but his bail application was rejected.
When again admitted in the condition of serious illness, there was no immediate hearing. His right to life was taken away. He was admitted to the hospital when his condition became critical. Father Stan Swamy, who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, was not even given a straw to drink water. The petition had to be requested in the Supreme Court, then the NIA said that they would respond on the next date.
Swami died before the next date. Father Stan Swamy was tortured in prison for 9 months without a crime and was crucified. We had the opportunity to discuss and see his work with Father Stan Swamy. He was a simple-looking person serving humanity. His personality was so great, that the oppressed and tortured tribes considered him God. He was such a person from whom no one could be in danger. The sad thing is that the NIA called this old man a threat to the government. Who never went to Bhima Koregaon.
On the basis of the details of the events in his computer, he was accused of conspiracy. It is also true that the power, which is afraid of small things, is always in fear. Investigating agencies take advantage of this and put many innocent people and those who become the voice of the public in jails on similar charges. Professor Sudha Bharadwaj was also arrested two years ago from Faridabad. There is no evidence against him either but he is in jail. The court is silent even after seeing the truth. Sudha, who became the voice of human rights, was also considered a threat by the government. She used to fight the battles of the oppressed. He also had to file a petition in court to read the book in jail.
Rona Wilson, arrested two and a half years ago in this case, had filed a petition in the High Court saying that fake evidence had been planted by hacking his laptop. He also presented the digital forensic report in court to prove this. The electronic copy of Rona’s laptop was tested by Arsenal Consulting, a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm. He has said in the report that, about 22 months before Rona’s arrest, his computer was hacked by sending malware to it. After several attempts, 10 documents were ‘planted’ on his computer. Father Stan Swamy and Sudha Bharadwaj were also made responsible by adding a connection to them.
The judicial system is expected to do justice expeditiously after examining the evidence and facts presented before it, but this did not happen in this case. The courts always delayed and ignored the facts. These arrested human rights servants were left to die even during the Corona epidemic. The question arises when we see that courts are held at midnight to grant bail to someone, on the other hand, the genuine arguments of the real victims are not even heard. It is clear that if money and power are with you, then the justice system is in your grasp, otherwise, you will end your life fighting for justice. Last year, Justice Deepak Gupta of the Supreme Court raised questions on the judicial system in his address. He had said that the law and justice system of the country is imprisoned in the hands of a few rich and powerful people.
We have seen earlier also that due to our faulty judicial system thousands of innocent lives are cut short in jail. An example of this is Vishnu Tiwari of Lalitpur, who spent 20 years in jail for a crime he had not committed. Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) research scholar Gulzar Ahmed Wani had to spend 16 years in Lucknow jail for the Sabarmati Express blast. When his life was ruined, the court declared him innocent. No action was taken against those who implicated him. The 27 accused in the bomb blast in front of the BJP headquarters in Karnataka are lodged in the UAPA for eight years. The biggest thing is that all of them are imprisoned without any trial. None of these charges has been framed so far. The houses of Khoda village in Faridabad were bulldozed but the Supreme Court did not comment on the large buildings standing nearby. In 2014, the BJP had promised in its election manifesto that the justice system should not remain faulty.
He promised minimum government, maximum governance. In the last seven years, this promise has not been fulfilled but is being reversed. We recall that before the French Revolution of 1789 there was no systematic judiciary. The king made and enforced laws voluntarily. They lacked uniformity. Reformation began after the revolution. Uniformity was brought in the laws under Napoleon Bonaparte. Even in Britain before 1873 the judicial system was faulty. It was amended based on the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
The legal system was created in the interest of the common man. Under British rule, reforms in the judicial system started in our country too, but with the aim of ruling us. A lot has changed after the independence of the country. The governments of the time started paying more attention to democracy and public interest. Arrangements were made to punish those who misused the laws. This improved the situation, but over a period of time, this system has come into the hands of the people and pressure groups who are occupying the power-money power. The death of Father Stan Swamy is the result of that. This is the reason why the Human Rights Wing of the United Nations has warned the Indian government.
If we have to make the country as pretty as a picture and as happy as a lark, then primarily, we have to pay attention to the interests of the citizens. They have to be bound under the rule of law. The judicial system has to be made fair, honest and free from trial. The nimble justice system has to be ensured. If this does not happen, we will continue to be ashamed of the world. We have to make equal laws and justice systems for all. If this does not happen, the country will fall into the hands of anarchy and powerful people.
(The author is Chief Editor Multimedia, ITV Network India.)