January 06, 2011

Prepared for surprises

As expected, Binayak Sen is challenging his sentence of life imprisonment in the Chhattisgarh High Court. While I hope it will be overturned, there is what a good friend, a lawyer, said to me the other day: "Be prepared, always, for our courts to surprise you." And he did not mean pleasant surprises.

There are many things about this case that disturb me.

One, the way a law (Section 124) the British used against the giants of our freedom struggle is used by an Indian government against Indians.

Two, the way this use of the law is uncritically applauded and justified by so many.

Three, the flimsiness of the evidence against Sen. He carried letters? He spoke to jailed (but not convicted) Maoists? He got email from the "ISI", only that turned out to be Delhi's Indian Social Institute?

Four, the way governments seek to stifle any discussion of why we have this enormous problem of the Maoist movement hanging over us.

Five, the way so many of us go along with that stifling, and abuse anyone who seeks such discussion.

Six, the meaning of Indian democracy itself. Does holding elections every few years make us a democracy? Or should the standard be the fundamental promise and ideal of democracy: that everyone feels she has been heard?

Seven, and this follows: the meaning of India itself.


Anonymous said...

Indian Social Institute is in ISI's playbook.

Anonymous said...

1) IF Binayak Sen was carrying those letters then he was part of a conspiracy to overthrow the government of India by unconstitutional means. There seem to be sufficient constitutional means to be rid of a government in India, so why did he have to aid them in this manner?

2)IF Binayak Sen was carrying those letters, he was supporting a group of people who use violence and coercion to carry out their goals. Section 124 is not the only section under which he has been found guilty.

3) Are you a legal expert, that makes you sure that there has been a miscarriage of justice? I thought people had to study for a few years, go out and get a law degree before they could comment on legal judgements.

4) IF there has been a miscarriage of justice, the higher courts will take care of it. That is what they are there for. If you think you can do a better job, please, go ahead and become a supreme court judge.

5)If one doesn't like what the constitution of India says, there are provisions to change it. Just because it takes time is no excuse to pick up and gun and turn into a gangster, or support those who believe they are compelled to.

Jai_C said...

hope this is not ruled off-topic.

1. I remembered the other 2 of the troika from your first post on this subject several years ago:

Arun Ferreira and Murali Satya Reddy.

Arun F and Murali SR have been acquitted:

I also remember and restate for the record my stand on them:

- support for D's stand on Binayak
- ambivalence on Arun F
- oppose D on Murali Satya Reddy

the middle one because I couldnt find anything much on Arun F.

the last because Naxal sites claimed Murali to be the dalam commander for Gadchiroli- RNGaon.

I will now consider that justice has been done for Arun F and possibly for Murali as well. I'm not clear if Murali of this case is the same person as the one from the naxal sites.

If its a case of mistaken identity I unreservedly endorse this verdict (for Murali as well).

If it is the same guy, I think it could be a case of a botched prosecution and then it could be that Arun F is not in the clear either.

Either way, they are innocent until proven guilty and not the other way round.

2. Anon above:

I broadly believe that Binayak is being punished for questioning and criticizing Salwa Judum.


Jai_C said...

Oops on the above... the top link on a search for Arun F led to a news rpt dated Dec *2009* that I mistook as Dec 2010.

A more recent report Dec1 2010 says he is still in jail:


PG diploma with flying colors from jail.

I dont know anything more on this but any further will definitely be off-topic. Sorry Dilip.


Anonymous said...

Nice post.

"Everyone thinks she has been heard" - is a very good parameter by which to measure a democratic society.

Say what you will about Laloo Prasad Yadav, he said the following:

"I might not have given them heaven but I have given them a voice"

In my uneducated opinion its one of the most important statements (per se - in reality he might have given 'them' neither) about democracy made in India post Independence and shows a deep understanding of democracy.



Rohan said...

It's always a not-wholly-welcome challenge for me to wonder over the imprisonment of Dr. Sen. On one hand, there's always the temptation to believe that he's been the victim of some vast governmental conspiracy and he's being suppressed in order to be unable to possibly reassert public view about Maoists. On the other, there are always the images and memories of all the atrocities that the Maoists have committed and still continue to inflict. His treatment by Indian courts has unarguably been extremely unfair and he hasn't received a proper trial, let alone an unprejudiced one. Although he was doubtlessly fulfilling his duties as a doctor, serving the sick and injured regardless of social and legal status, a proper investigation should, I feel, inquire about any possible direct links to the Maoists instead of handling the entire case as one where there is no question about his guilt. I wish that an actual rational and unbiased court of enquiry could handle this case instead of a government obviously only too happy to condemn a possibly nearly innocent man. Then again, the loopholes of the Indian judiciary have long since ceased to invoke anything other than repellence within me. It's one of the reasons why I tried to leave the country, I need the perspective of an outsider, at least for the time being, to be able to appreciate the humanity within India's systems, legal and otherwise, more fully. Your analyses are usually analytical enough for me, I hope I'll get more updates on this topic and others in the years to come. This is a thank you from an Indian currently away.