The true test of human rights is its applicability in times of
terror and emergency, not ordinary times, said Dr. V Suresh,
National General Secretary of PUCL emphasizing the fact that Human
Rights are no luxury or privilege but fundaments rights of every
citizen of India.
Dr Suresh was delivering the second
Professor Iqbal Ansari Memorial Lecture on the topic of ‘Sedition,
Anti Terror Laws and Democracy’, here at Indian Law Institute.
In an exemplary address, he
emphasized the need of studying the anti-terror law UAPA and how
the government has quietly done away with whatever little
safeguards that were there in the previous anti-terror laws. He
gave a few interesting examples to back his claims.
He also explained how even in India there was an attempt to change
the discourse on human rights wherein the State tried to ride on
the insecurities of the people and tried to push a view that human
rights could be brushed aside in what it termed as ‘war on
Arguing for prosecution of police
officials involved in framing innocents and reparation of victims,
he said, “There is now ample documentation from all across the
country that terror laws including the UAPA have been grossly
abused to implicate people falsely in cases.”
Citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), he
argued, “human rights are indivisible and cannot be suspended even
in times of emergency. Indeed, the experience of Holocaust and
world wars had taught us that human rights needed to be protected
in those periods of emergencies and wars.”
“Article 3 of UDHR was crafted to
prevent abuse, not in ignorance of abuse,” he added.
“The UN assembly has passed a resolution on Remedy and Reparation
for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law
and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, to which
India is not a signatory. However, it does not stop us from
approaching the courts citing this resolution.
"We must build a collective movement
to demand that police officer in charge of investigation who
handles the case from filing of FIR to its conclusion shall be
held liable if the court comes to the conclusion that the case is
not made out,” Dr V Suresh opined.
Earlier, Advocate Mayur Suresh, a lawyer by profession and a
research fellow at the University of London, in his special
presentation traced the prehistory of Section that is the colonial
‘sedition’ law and located it in the State’s fear of simple
He cited the famous Kedarnath Singh vs the State of Bihar
Case of 1962. Mayur Suresh, emphasizing the primacy of
“disaffection” in sedition made an interesting submission when he
said that the idea of love is deeply implicated in the history of
“The very same theme of corrupted love seeped into the sedition
law in India. Thus TADA and POTA defined sedition not only as
disaffection from the government but have expanded it to include
disaffection against India itself. The state appears like a
neurotic lover demanding not only love, but a constant public
display of love,” Mayur explained.
He argued, “Sedition law, while it
may have been used to silence and suppress political dissent, is
not simply a tool for that. Otherwise, it would not have been
applied randomly to numerous Muslims, arrested for ‘disaffection’”
adding, “if sedition means the suppression of political dissent,
then why are Muslim youth being picked up randomly and booked for
Senior journalist and former Editor of Tehelka Weekly, Ajit Sahi
while presiding over the lecture said, “we have won the fight
against the TADA, POTA and I strongly believe in winning the fight
against UAPA and Sedition” adding, “We need to be optimistic and
keep out battle against the draconian laws on”.
He appealed to the
human rights groups and activists to come together to fight
against draconian laws such as, sedition, UAPA, AFSPA in order to
restore real democracy.