Saturday, 10 December 2011

AFSPA: Legal terror

The non-state armed group (insurgents, extremists or terrorists, whatever you may call them) need to be dealt with and contained because they violate rights of the people to live peacefully, they try to impose their will on the people and the state unlawfully and violently trampling the constitutionalism and the rule of law that are sine qua non for civilised human existence. It is the mandate of the state to maintain the reign of law and constitution and the writ of the government established by law along with ensuring security and safety of the person and property of the citizens. But when the state through its security forces and law enforcement agencies commits more atrocious acts than the acts which it professes it is fighting the difference between the non-state terrorists and the state gets blurred. 

The armed forces of India when operate under the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 in North East India or in Jammu and Kashmir (under J&K version) do not act for enforcement of the constitution and the law of the land or for protection of the life and property of the citizens. Because, they operate outside the constitutional and legal system of the land. The AFSPA places them above the constitution, law and human rights obligations. The AFSPA gives them the power to commit atrocities and wreak terror on the citizens which they are supposed to combat and prevent and protect the citizens from, with additional guarantee of immunity from any accountability.The mischief that is addressed in the statute is doubled by its provisions. To purportedly prevent the people from the terror of certain armed groups the sate itself has unleashed its unmatched terror upon the very people under the AFSPA. And it is not only in law but very much in practice.

The inevitable conclusion is that this piece of legislation is not meant for protection of the people and the democratic way of life because it kills both of them. This Act serves to protect the land and its resources from the people who live there. This is in tune with the declaration made by then prime minister Indira Gandhi during the unrest in Mozoram in 1980s that she did not care for the people but the land and cleared the land by bombing from the air.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Fasting and sit-in demonstration in front of
administrative  headquarters of Cachar at Silchar,
Assam demanding scraping of AFSPA
on 5th November, 2011 
Barak valley, the southern part of Assam comprising of Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts has also been declared as "disturbed area" under the anti-justice draconian piece of legislation titled the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) and as a result the members of the armed forces have been given the power to use lethal force against civilians even to the causing of death on mere suspicion that they may act in breach of any law or any order along with the power to enter into any doweling places by breaking their entrance and search and seize anything without warrant and arrest any person without warrant and keep the arrestees in custody for unspecified times without charge in the valley along with the rest of Assam and parts of some other North East Indian states and Jammu and Kashmir. AFSPA also places the army above the law, constitution and judiciary for acts claimed to be done under the Act by barring institution of prosecution, suits or any judicial procedure in any court in India. The Act is in force in parts of North East India since 1958 and in Jammu and Kshmir since 1990.

Many say AFSPA is not an instrument of law and order; rather it is a declaration of war by India against some sections of its own people. The government of India and now particularly the army say that this empowerment to kill and torture the civilians and blanket immunity is needed to protect national integrity and national security by fighting insurgents and rebels. The government of India said that it was an extra-ordinary measure to meet an extra-ordinary situation and hence it was temporary. But, after 53 years it still continues in North East and it is in force in Jammu and Kashmir for 21 years. Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare recently remarked that if we were not able to lift AFSPA from some parts then what we were doing these 20 years. He said it while backing Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's move to lift the Act from some parts of his state.

Barak valley is in a way a separate unit in North East India geographically, ethnically, culturally and linguistically. More than 80% people are Bengali and Hindi speaking Hindus and Muslims. People of the rest of North East India belonging to various tribes do not readily accept people of Barak valley as their own. Simply because ethnically, linguistically and culturally the people of Barak valley are more like people of the rest of India. For law and order and other related purposes it can also be treated as a unit.

Nor there has ever been any armed rebellions or insurgencies in Barak valley against the state of India or any governments in India established by law since independence, neither any armed rebel or insurgent organisations ever formed and worked in the valley for its "independence from India" or separate statehood within India.

I am not denying the existence of one or two small organised groups of criminals in the valley. But the general public view them as groups of mercenaries nurtured by politicians to use them against their opponents and social activists who raise voice against corruption and oppression of the people by those politicians. This is a pure law and order problem and does not in any way amount to public disorder or a condition that is envisaged in the Naga Peoples' Movement for Human Rights case by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court envisaged a condition of the disturbance of public order which falls short of the "armed rebellion" within the meaning of Article 352 of the Constitution of India calling for proclamation of emergency but exceeds the limit "law and order" problem. There has never been such disturbance of public order in Barak valley. the valley was once dubbed by Indira Gandhi, a former prime minister of India, "Island of  Peace".

Investigations by human rights groups have also shown that these groups have some sort of nexus with para-military and the army at some level. But if asked the governments and the army will show you some cases where they nabbed some people with illegal fire arms and explosives or where they killed some alleged insurgents or terrorists in encounters. But investigations by human rights groups in some of such cases also show that most of these cases are false and the alleged insurgents or terrorists are innocent victims. These investigations reveal that in most of the cases politicians use the army or paramilitary forces to eliminate their opponents or inconvenient social activists or to teach them some lessons. There came out some cases where businessmen or otherwise wealthy and influential people also use the forces like politicians against their rivals. The forces teach the intended people by raiding their houses mid-night, mercilessly beating up everybody in the raided house including aged persons, pregnant women and children and in some cases they also molest and rape minor and teenage girls, by arresting and detaining the intended persons for days in their custody where they subject such people to torture and other cruel treatment including electric shocks and water boarding etc, some succumb to these treatment and some are framed with false charges of keeping firearms and explosives illegally or letter or letter head of some little known armed outfit which are planted by the raiding forces before or at the time of raid and then discovered by them. This is in addition to the fake encounter killings. The forces do it for a few thousands of bucks because it also gives them chances of earning accolades, medals and promotions as well as it justifies continued militarization of policing and governance through the AFSPA.

Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah has been talking of de-notifying some areas of the state which was notified as disturbed areas under the Act (known as withdrawal or lifting AFSPA) for some days. He is backed by his father and Union Minister Faruk Abdullah, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Gulam Nabi Azad and most importantly by Union Minister for Home Affairs P Chidambaram, although the proposal is opposed by the army and Union Defence Ministry. But, nobody ever talked of lifting AFSPA from Barak valley. IS BARAK VALLEY MORE INSURGENCY-AFFECTED THAN JAMMU AND KASHMIR?

(There are so many other reasons of not only lifting AFSPA from certain areas but also entirely deleting the law from the statute book, which I discussed elsewhere)

Monday, 7 November 2011

Some of the reasons why AFSPA must go

Waliulah Ahmed Laskar

 Irom Sharmila Chanu (also known as the Iron Lady of Manipur) is on hunger strike for 11 years since 5 November, 2000 in demand of the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958 which is in force in most area of the North East Indian states including all the districts of Assam and a similar version of the law is in force in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990. Government of India has enforced virtual emergency for more than 5 decades in North East under the Act derogating basic human rights to life and personal liberty of the citizens living in the AFSPA-affected areas. After 11 years of fast by a lady sacrificing her life, agitation by civil society and calls from international forums the Government still have not repealed the Act.
Here are a few reasons why I think AFSPA must go:

  1. A draconian law: The AFSPA is a piece of colonial legislation that gives the armed forces of India unfettered power: (i) to use lethal force on civilians even to the extent of causing death on mere suspicion that they may cause breach of any law or order, (ii) to search any dwelling places by breaking them on mere suspicion without warrant and (ii) to arrest people without warrant and to keep them in custody for unspecified time and more importantly the Act also bars the judiciary to question any acts of the armed forces operating under the Act in areas declared disturbed under the Act.

  1. Its continuance is based on lie: The Government of India took the plea that it is a temporary measure for meeting an extra-ordinary situation and it would be withdrawn as soon as possible. This plea was taken in parliament when the Act was being passed, in the Supreme Court in the Naga People s Human Rights Movement case in 1997 and in international forums including the United Nations Human Rights Committee. It is now 53 years in North East and 21 years in J & K. If a measure for this length of time is temporary than what is permanent?  

  1. The provisions of the Act militate against the purpose of the enactment: The non-state armed groups (insurgents, extremists or terrorists, whatever you may call them) need to be dealt with and contained because they violate rights of the people to live peacefully, they try to impose their will on the people and the state unlawfully and violently trampling the constitutionalism and the rule of law that are sine qua non for civilised human existence. It is the mandate of the state to maintain the reign of law and constitution and the writ of the government established by law along with ensuring security and safety of the person and property of the citizens. But when the state through its security forces and law enforcement agencies commits more atrocious acts than the acts which it professes it is fighting the difference between the non-state terrorists and the state gets blurred.

    The armed forces of India when operate under the AFSPA do not act for enforcement of the constitution and the law of the land or for protection of the life and property of the citizens. Because, they operate outside the constitutional and legal system of the land. The AFSPA places them above the constitution, law and human rights obligations. The AFSPA gives them the power to commit atrocities and wreak terror on the citizens which they are supposed to combat and prevent and protect the citizens from, with additional guarantee of immunity from any accountability. The mischief that is addressed in the statute is doubled by its provisions. To purportedly prevent the people from the terror of certain armed groups the sate itself has unleashed its unmatched terror upon the very people under the AFSPA. And it is not only in law but very much in practice.

  1. Problematic political premise: The political premise of the Act appears to be very problematic in the sense that it seeks in essence to impose “Indian-ness” through violence on some of the people of the country who are deemed not to be adequately “Indian”. This is apparent from the facts that despite naxalism admittedly being the biggest threat to the national security the Act is not extended to the naxal affected central India[1].  Rather, it is stated that the responsibility to deal with such problems rests with the state governments, which is very true. This discriminatory attidute can not be explained in any way other than the racial reading of the situation and believe in fascist violence.[2] The “Indian-ness” as it was understood by our freedom fighters and for which they embraced martyrdom is not one which would needed to be or which could be imposed through violence.

  1. A fraud on the constitution: The Act provides more than emergency powers to the armed forces fraudulently bypassing the provisions of the constitution of parliamentary oversight over the exercise of such powers. The constitution also imposes duties upon the Union Government to perform its obligations under the international treatises. India is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 (ICCPR) which provides for derogations[3] of some the rights in times of emergency declared legally, which are nonetheless derogated by the Act without such declaration. It is to be noted that the Supreme Court did not examined the compatibility of the Act with the international human rights laws in the Naga People s Movement for Human Rights.

  1. The law lacks legality: Both the procedural and substantial requirements of legality are conspicuous by their absence in this Act of the parliament. On the procedural level it is to be noted that the Act came not only as a product of a “decision” by the political executive (i.e., as an ordinance on 22nd May, 1958) but also subsequently escaped more or less unscathed from the “legislative oversight function” of a democratically constituted Parliament on 18 August, 1958. And finally, rather than returning the legislation to the Parliament again for reconsideration, the President readily gave his assent on the legislation, thus making it into a law on 11 September, 1958. On the substantial level the Act does not pass the test of precise definition as its terms are too vague and it also provides powers/measures disproportionate to the mischief it is intended to address.

  1. Arbitrary application: Not only the framing of the Act and its provisions are arbitrary but also the application of the Act by declaring certain areas as disturbed is also arbitrary inasmuch as the declaration of areas which are not disturbed in the sense in which the term is contemplated in the Act. For example, the southern part of Assam comprising of the districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi tht is known as Barak valley is declared as disturbed area under the Act which can not be said disturbed in any meaning of the word. There has never been any insurgency in the area. And the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi proudly declared it as Valley of Peace admitting the fact.

  1. Recommendations of the government committees: Every government committee which examined the Act opined against its continuity in the present form including the Administrative Reforms Committee headed by Mr. Birappa Moily. Most importantly, the Committee to Review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 chaired by Justice Jeevan Reddy unambiguously recommended total repeal of the Act.

  1. Militarisation of democracy: The ethos and practices inaugurated, nurtured and sustained by the Act has led to critical erosion of normative (norms) and institutional mechanisms of a civilized democratic life which are critically manifest as (a) the near collapse of Criminal Justice System and (b) culture of impunity of unbridled violence in peoples life. The mockery of democracy is such that it can be termed as democracy at gun point.

  1. Traumatised Society: Actions taken under the Act caused hundreds of extra-judicial killings, rapes, torture, enforced disappearances forcing the people to live an uncertain terror-striken life bereft of human dignity. It has made the whole society mentally sick and traumatized.

And such many other reasons.

[1] However, it should be more than clear that I am not seeking extension of the AFSPA to any other parts of the country since I think it must be repealed completely. There are many other draconian pieces of legislation in force in naxal affected areas, though not of the nature of AFSPA, such as the Chhattishgarh Public Security Act etc. which also should be repealed. Rebelion in Central India is largely due to the deprivation, exploitation and oppression of the tribal people by the rulers and wealthy class. These are basically socio-economic and political problems and must be solved by democratic and peaceful political means. 

[2] The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh himself stated more than once that the biggest threat to the national security is from the left-wing extremism of the Central India. Union Minister for Home Affairs Mr. P Chidambaram calling naxalism bigger challenge than terrorism and insurgency stated that "(t)he most violent movement in India is not terrorism or insurgency but Left-wing extremism" and added that "[t]he burden of the governance cannot be shifted from the state governments to the central the ultimate analysis, the responsibility of governance in the Left-wing extremism affected districts must rest with the states". (Naxalism is a bigger challenge than terrorism - Chidambaram, Time of India, page no 11, dated 14 September, 2011).
[3] Article 4: 1 . In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin.
2. No derogation from articles 6, 7, 8 (paragraphs I and 2), 11, 15, 16 and 18 may be made under this provision.

3. Any State Party to the present Covenant availing itself of the right of derogation shall immediately inform the other States Parties to the present Covenant, through the intermediary of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, of the provisions from which it has derogated and of the reasons by which it was actuated. A further communication shall be made, through the same intermediary, on the date on which it terminates such derogation.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

বাচার লড়াই

বাচার লড়াই
আবিদ রাজা মজুমদার

কেনে অত নীরব তুমি! কিচ্চু কেনে মাত না?
কোন কারণে হতাশরে ভাই, নাই কেনে বোধ চেতনা!
কওনা কথা, মনের ব্যাথা রাখ কেনে ছাপাইয়া
সামনে আইয়া বুক ফুলাইয়া আওনা খাড়া ডাটাইয়া।
আওড়ে তনে চাও কেনে ভাই, মাত কেনে কুচাইয়া
কইবার ডরে মড্ডায় কেনে, থাক কেনে পিছাইয়া!

লাগাও জোরে হায়দরি হাক
একবার গলা ঝাড়িয়া
গুর্কি উঠি পষ্ট কথায়
দেওনা পিলই কাপাইয়া।
পাওনা পাতি, লনা বুঝি
পরোয়া কর কারে?
আওয়াজ তুল, আদায় কর
হিম্মত সহকারে।

বুক ভরা তোর সাহস আছে, মুখে ত নায় কমিনা,
আকল বুদ্ধি সবউ আছে, কমজোরি খান বুঝিনা।
শক্ত আতে শক্ত মাতে, শক্ত কামড় লাগাও চাই!
ইমান রাখি, কট্ট থাকি, জোর কদমে চল চাই!

কে আছে তোর সামনে দাঁড়ায়
কোন বাধা তর রোশ আটকায়?
কদম কদম আগ বাড়ি যা
হাজার বাধা কিচ্চু নায়।
বাচতে যদি চাচ টিকে ভাই
বাচার লাগি লাড়াই কর।
কান্ধে কান্ধে আঞ্জা করি
আত বাড়াইয়া আত ধর।
নিভাগি নাম লাগাইছ না রে
নিওড়া খান অইছ না;
সাচ্চা সাহস রাখিছ দিল
মনরে ছোট করিছ না।
অয়না কিচ্চু আপনাতনে
মুফতে শান বাড়ে না;
লড়িয়া নিবার কদর আছে
মুরাদর দাম কমে না।
পরর উপর গরা দিয়া
স্বপ্নে সময় গয়াইছ না
তাক্কত আছে খরছ কর
লেউংড় ধরি বাচিছ না।

(কবি আবিদ রাজা মজুমদার কাছাড় জেলার (আসাম) পয়লাপুলস্থিত নেহরু কলেজের প্রাক্তন অধ্যক্ষ। কবিতাটি শান্তির সোপান-র ২০০৩ সালের এপ্রিল সংখ্যায় প্রকাশিত হয়েছিল। কবির ব্যাবহ্রূত বানান যথাসম্ভব অপরিবরতিত রাখা হয়েছে।)

আটাশ অক্টোবর আমার জন্মদিন নয়


ওয়ালিউল্লাহ আহমদ লস্কর

আটাশ অক্টোবর আমার জন্মদিন নয়
যদিও সেই দিনেই জন্মযন্ত্রণার শুরু হয়।
জঠর থেকে জঠরে,
                  আঁধার থেকে আঁধারে
বুকে হেটে যাওয়ার নাম,
                  গোলক ধাঁধায় ঘোরপাক খাওয়ার নাম

পিছনে গলিত কবন্ধের পাহাড়
দিগন্ত বিস্তৃত  মুমূর্ষু হাহাকার,
ডান প্রান্তরে জ্বলছে স্বসৃষ্ট নরক
ফট ফট ফাটছে সেরা মানব মস্তক,
বামদিকে ভয়ানক মৃত্যুর আয়োজন
দেখে মরণ কাঁপছে প্রলয় কাঁপন
মাথার উপর উড়ন্ত পায়রার দল
উড়ে ঊড়ে হয়ে যায় মানুষ মারার কল,
পায়ের তলয়ার প্রান্তর পূর্ণ কিলবিল শ্বাপদে
জঠরের ভিতর টইটুম্বুর লৌকিক অ-লৌকিক আপদে,
এর চাপে ক্ষুদ্র থেকে ক্ষুদ্রতর জঠর পথে
মুখ রেখে দৃষ্টি মেলে দিই সাম্নের দিগন্তে,
রক্ত আঠালো-পিচ্ছিল গন্ধ ভেসে আসে নাকে
জরায়ুমুখে অন্ধকার ওত পাতে বাঁকে বাঁকে।

-- হঠাৎ চখের চমক
এক ফোঁটা তরল আলো মিটি মিটি জ্বলছে
জ্বলছে আর নিভছেহাতছানি দিচ্ছে।
একি মরীচিকা, নাকি আলেয়া?
নাকি ও-ই আমার জীবন প্রিয়া?
প্রেমের অনুভবে গাঢ় থেকে গাঢ়তর জন্মযন্ত্রণা,
জীবনের টানে বাড়ছে অসহ্য জীবন-বিরহ-বেদনা।
জঠরের দেওয়ালে চোখ বুজে মাথা খুঁড়ছি,
বুক ঘসটে ঘসটে জরায়ুর মুখ খুঁজছি।

আটাশ অক্টোবর আমার জন্মদিন নয়,
যদিও জন্মযন্ত্রণার শুরু সেইদিনেই হয়।
জবন মানে যন্ত্রণা? নাকি প্রেম, আলো আর শান্তি?
ওগো জনম-প্রিয়া, ঘোচাও আমার জবন-ভ্রান্তি!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Survivors of torture honoured as a part of therapeutic intervention

A ten-day long workshop on Testimonial Therapy of the survivors of torture and organized violence was comducted at Silchar, Cachar, Assam. As a part of the workshop a ceremony to honour the survivors of torture and organized violence, who are struggling for justice was held at Banga Bhavan, Silchar on the 13th September, 2011. The program was organized by the joint endeavors of Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), Peoples Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), Rehabilitation and Research Center for Torture Victims (RCT) and National Alliance on Testimony Therapy (NATT). Eminent personalities of the locality attended the Honor Ceremony. The meeting was presided over by Mr. Manindra Sankar Gupta (Retd. ACS), the Chairperson of BHRPC.

At the outset Mr. Sadique Mohammed Laskar , the Joint Secretary of BHRPC, delivered the welcome address, and also gave a brief idea on Testimony Therapy. The president took chair and thereafter Mr. Lenin Raghubanshi, Secretary General and Director of PVCHR, Ms Sirin Sabana Khan of PVCHR, and Mr. Imad Uddin Bulbul took chairs at the dais.

Mr. Neharul Ahmed Mazumder, Secretary General of BHRPC, delivered his speech on the purpose of Testimony Therapy and the Honor Ceremony. He dwelt on the need of psychological rehabilitation of the traumatized survivors of torture and organsed violence which aspect is neglected in human rights works. Hence, there was an urgent need for such type of trainings to serve the victims in a better way.

Ms. Shirin Sabana Khan in her very brief speech told about the experiences of working with BHRPC, and about the pattern of torture and human rights violation in the valley. She also added that there remained a lot to work with BHRPC. Ms. Khan further told about various aspects of testimony therapy.

Mr. Nirmal Kumar Das, member of BHRPC, read out the testimony of Mr. Kalam Uddin Choudhury, who is a survivor of torture by the personnel of the Indian Army. Though all the doors are shut by the human rights institutions of India, still Kalam is fighting for justice in legal forum and trying to attract the helping hands of the organizations and individuals. Mr. Kalam is a poor mason apprentice and lost his mental and physical strength to a large extent after the excruciating experience of torture. Kalam was called upon on the stage and honored with garlands and Uttaria (shawl), at the same time slogans against torture as well as slogans hailing Kalam’s struggle for justice raised in the hall. Mr. Lenin Raghubanshi handed over the beautifully printed testimony to Mr. Kalam Uddin Choudhury, The hall was filled with claps and slogans.

The testimony of Miss Mina Begum Choudhury, a secondary victim of organized violence was read by Miss Chaya Kumari, a member of PVCHR. Mina lost her brother in this incident, and her parents alongwith her uncle also faced inhuman torture. She lost her property and shelter. Still she is facing hard as her opponents are very close to the heavyweight political leaders of the locality. Mina got warm welcome when she appeared on the stage with loud slogans, claps, garlands and uttaria. Miss Sirin Sabana Khan handed over the testimony to Mina, which was beautifully printed.

The testimony of Mrs. Alimun Nessa, another survivor of torture, was read out by Sadique mohammed Laskar. Alimun Nessa lost her husband due to cruel inhuman torture in police custody. The torture to which her husband was subjected was witnessed by her. The human rights institutions has never paid heed to her complaints seriously, though all the enquiries conducted into the incident found the involved policemen guilty. Alimun, in spite of, all limitations such poverty and ignorance is still fighting for justice.

Mr. Parvez Khasru Laskar read out the testimony of Mr. Fariz Uddin Barbhuiya, who was tortured by the personnel of 147 Battalion of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) with his family members. Fariz is a retired CRPF personnel himself and runs his business near his house situated opposite to the CRPF camp. Fariz got warm welcome with slogan against torture and praising his bravery. He was honored with garlands and uttaria (shawl). The Chairperson then handed over the beautifully printed testimony to Mr. Fariz. He then delivered a speech thanking the organizers. He added that he has got half justice after being able to express his feelings in such a forum, and that he has got energy to expedite his fight for justice.

Mr. Waliullah Ahmed Laskar, a member of BHRPC, delivered his short speech on various provisions of national and international laws against torture. He also added that the impact of torture on individuals and in society is very serious, it creates trauma in individual and mass mind.

After that Mr. Dholu Mia Choudhury, father of Mr. Kalam Uddin Choudhury was escorted to the stage by Mr. Abdul Rahman Laskar and Mr. Abul Hussain Barlaskar, members of BHRPC. He was welcomed with garlands, Uttaria (shawl) and loud claps and slogans from the audience. Mr. Dholu Mia, a secondary victim of torture had the bitter experience of torture, when he saw his son, the only earning member of his family paralyzed after torture by the personnel of Indian Army. He received his beautifully printed and decorated testimony from Mr. Imad Uddin Bulbul.

Mrs. Aftarun Nessa Barbhuiya, wife of Mr. Fariz Uddin Barbhuiya, a secondary victim was escorted to the stage by N. Kamalini and Sarmila Singha, members of BHRPC. She received warm welcome with garlands, Uttaria, claps and slogans. She received her testimony from Ms. Shirin Sabana Khan, which was beautifully printed and decorated.

Mr. Imad Uddin Bulbul, advocate and Legal Advisor of BHRPC delivered his speech. He told that torture victims must raise their voices and testimony therapy will help to uphold the suppressed voices. He also added that BHRPC has crossed many hurdles, and it will do a lot with PVCHR and RCT.

Mr. Anup Kumar Choudhury (Advocate) and Mr. Shyamal Dey (social activist) delivered their speeches and appreciated the organizers for arranging such a unique program in the valley.

Mr. Lenin Raghubanshi delivered a pithy speech where he expressed the experiences of working with BHRPC. He cited various examples of victims becoming activists after testimony therapy, and encouraged the survivors to raise their voice against torture. He also brought to light the various issues and problems in Barak Valley.

The meeting ended after the address by the chair and vote of thanks.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Concerns over civil and political rights in Assam

Concerns over civil and political rights in Assam[1]

 I am asked to make a brief presentation on issues relating to civil and political rights in terms of the requirement of ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment (CAT) and its Optional Protocol, ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and other challenges relating to civil and political rights. I will try to present my views on the issues very briefly as an activist working in Assam in the field of human rights.

Ratification of the Convention Against Torture and Its Optional Protocol

Though torture is absolutely prohibited now, throughout history, it has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, coercion and punishment. Deliberately painful methods of execution for severe crimes were taken for granted as part of justice until the development of Humanism in 17th century philosophy, and "cruel and unusual punishment" came to be denounced in the English Bill of Rights of 1689. The Age of Enlightenment in the western world further developed the idea of universal human rights. The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 marks the recognition at least nominally of a general ban of torture by all United Nations member states[2]. Now in the 21st century the prohibition of torture has been recognized as a peremptory norm of international law and a number of international, regional and domestic courts have held the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to be customary international law. [3] Some other legally binding international treatises, to which India is a state party, prohibits torture which include Geneva Conventions[4], International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.[5]

Though the constitution of India does not expressly prohibit torture, the constitutional jurisprudence prohibits torture absolutely. According to the Supreme Court, any form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment fall within the ambit of Article 21[6] of the Constitution – whether be it during interrogation, investigation or otherwise. A person does not shed his fundamental right to life when he is arrested. Article 21 cannot be denied to arrested persons or prisoners in custody (D K Basu v State of West Bengal[7]).

Despite such constitutional and judicial denunciation of torture, it is routinely practiced by law enforcement officials and security forces in India. However, there is no accurate data on the use of torture in the country since the Government does not have an unambiguous and strong policy against torture. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) gathers figures on custodial deaths. Based on these figures, the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) estimated that between 2002 and 2008, over four people per day died while in police custody, with "hundreds" of those deaths being due to police use of torture.[8]

Over the days, with the war on terror, practice of torture is becoming more wide spread and there is no legal instrument and mechanism to combat it in India. The CAT and its Optional Protocol provide such mechanism at the international level. The convention was adopted on 10 December, 1984 and came into force on 26 June, 1987. It has 78 signatories and 149 States Parties.[9] India signed the CAT on 14 October 1997, but is yet to ratify it. Advocacy and lobbying from all quarters including NHRC has succeeded and India decided to ratify CAT. The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on April 26, 2010 and was passed by that house on May 6, 2010 without referring it to the Standing Committee. It was a misnomer to call it the Prevention Torture Bill. It appeared to have been designed to promote torture. The definition of torture (a) was inconsistent with the definition of torture in the Convention against Torture, (b) it required the intention of the accused to be proved, (c) did not include mental pain or suffering, and (d) did not include some acts which may constitute torture. The Bill diluted existing laws by imposing a time limit of six months and requiring prior government sanction for trying those accused of torture. Existing laws do not have such requirements. There was no independent authority to investigate complaints of torture, and no provision for granting compensation to torture victims has been made.[10]  When it was introduced in the Rajya Sabha fortunately the house referred it to the Select Committee and which came up with fairly sensible suggestions and submitted its report on 6 December, 2010.[11] It changed the definition of torture to make it consistent with the definition given in the CAT. The Committee suggested that the limitation period should be two years and not six months as it was in the bill. It suggested dilution of requirement of prior approval for prosecution. The Committee also talked of witness protection which is very sensible. Overall, it can be said that the suggestions of the Committee, if incorporated in the bill in toto, will make the law a pragmatic and preventive tool, though there are much to be desired. For example, 1. requirement of prior sanction for prosecution is a question mark on the wisdom of the judiciary. Courts can deal appropriately with malicious, vexatious or frivolous complaints; 2. persons other than victim and his/her relatives should also be authorized by law to file complaint on his/her behalf without authorization by him/her as provided in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993;[12] 3.  an independent mechanism both at national and state level should be established to torture cases and situations in detention places.

Optional Protocol

Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment (Optional Protocol) aims to create a global system of inspection of places of detention as a way of preventing torture and ill-treatment. A Sub-Committee of the Committee Against Torture, composed of 10 independent and impartial members working in their individual capacity, will be empowered to carry out missions to any State that ratifies the Optional Protocol. On the basis of its visits, the Sub-Committee will write a confidential report for the State Party, including practical recommendations. It will initiate a dialogue with the State Party on measures to improve the conditions of persons in custody with the aim of preventing torture.

The second important element of the Protocol is the requirement to put in place national preventive mechanisms. Article 3 of the Protocol requires ratifying States to “set up, designate or maintain at the domestic level one or several visiting bodies for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

The emphasis of the Protocol is on prevention and being transparent to the world. Refusal to ratify it means refusal to be transparent which belies India’s claims to democracy and the primacy of the rule of law.

India should ratify both the CAT and its Optional Protocol and also extend invitation to the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and provide facilities to interact freely with survivors of torture and human rights defenders from North East.

Ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearance

Enforced Disappearance is abduction or kidnapping, carried out by State agents, or organized groups and individuals who act with State support or tolerance, in which the victim "disappears". Authorities neither accept responsibility for the dead, nor account for the whereabouts of the victim. Legal recourse including petitions of habeas corpus, remain ineffective. Enforced Disappearance is a serious violation of fundamental human rights: the right to security and dignity of person; the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the right to humane conditions of detention; the right to a legal personality; as well as rights related to fair trial and family life. Ultimately, it can violate the right to life, as victims of enforced disappearance are often killed. Increasingly the international community considers Enforced Involuntary Disappearance as a specific human rights violation and a crime against humanity. This culminated in the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. On February 6, 2007 the Convention was opened for signatures and signed by 57 States. The convention clearly states: - No one shall be subjected to Enforced Disappearance. - No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for Enforced Disappearance.[13]

India signed the International Convention for Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances in February 2007, but has failed to ratify the convention. The crime of Enforced Involuntary Disappearances is not codified as a distinct offence in Indian penal laws. Police either have to make an entry in the general diary as a missing case or register a case under provisions for kidnap or abduction.[14] These provision do not contemplate a situation which is contemplated in the Convention.

Apart from Jammu and Kashmir, the cases of enforced disappearances are routine in North East India, particularly in Manipur. The infamous secret killings in Assam during 1998–2001 also fall within the ambit of enforced disappearances. Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) also documented cases of enforced disappearances. BHRPC wrote to the Prime Minister of India on July 18, 2009 about the disappearance of Paresh Das (55) and Dilip Das (45) of Nandan Kanan Tea Garden area under Jirighat Police Station in Cachar district, Assam, on May 25, 2009 from Tamenlong in Manipur and the PMO in turn wrote to the Chief secretary of Assam requesting him to take appropriate actions.[15]

Lack of substantive and procedural laws as to with the problem is one of the factor that crippled the state in terms of effective prevention and placing deterrence. Ratification of the Convention along with incorporation of the provisions in domestic laws is the need of the hour.

Other Challenges Relating to Civil and Political Rights

There are so many other challenges in exercising and enjoying civil and political rights. One of them is the challenge of policing while respecting rights of the people adhering to the human rights norms.


The police, in a sense, is the most empowered group of human rights defenders.[16] But sadly enough, after 64 years of independence, the institution remains and functions more or less all over the country as it was designed by the British colonial rulers in the Police Act of 1861.

After decades of public pressure, lack of political will and continued poor policing, a police reform process is finally underway in India. On 22 September 2006, the Supreme Court delivered a historic judgment in Prakash Singh and Others vs. Union of India and Others[17] instructing central and state governments to comply with a set of seven directives laying down practical mechanisms to kick-start reform.[18]

The directives were aimed to ensure functional autonomy of the police and their accountability to the law. For ensuring functional autonomy the Supreme Court directed 1. to establish a State Security Commission to i. ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police; lay down broad policy guidelines aimed at promoting efficient, effective, responsive and accountable policing, in accordance with the law; give directions for the performance of the preventive tasks and service oriented functions of the police; evaluate the performance of the state police and prepare a report on police performance to be placed before the state legislature.

2. The second directive was aimed at ensuring fair selection of Director General of Police (DGP) and guarantee of his tenure.[19]

3. Security of tenure is similarly important for other police officers on operational duties in the field. In order to help them withstand undue political interference, have time to properly understand the needs of their jurisdictions and do justice to their jobs, the Supreme Court provides for a minimum tenure of two years for the following categories of officers:           - Inspector General of Police (in charge of a Zone)
- Deputy Inspector General of Police (in charge of a Range)
- Superintendent of Police (in charge of a District)
- Station House Officer (in charge of a Police Station)[20]
4. To counter the prevailing practice of subjective appointments, transfers and promotions, the Supreme Court provides for the creation of a Police Establishment Board. In effect, the Board brings these crucial service related matters largely under police control. Notably, a trend in international best practice is that government has a role in appointing and managing senior police leadership, but service related matters of other ranks remain internal matters. Experience in India shows that this statutory demarcation is absolutely required in order to decrease corruption and undue patronage, given the prevailing illegitimate political interference in decisions regarding police appointments, transfers and promotions.[21]

5. the Supreme Court directed the Central Government to establish a National Security Commission for Central Police Organisations and Central Cara-Military Forces.

For ensuring accountability the Supreme Court directed the governments to set up: 
6. Police Complaints Authority[22] and
7. To separate investigation and law and order function of police.[23]
The Government of Assam passed the Assam Police Act, 2007 purportedly to comply with the Supreme Court directives. But in reality it does not comply with the judgment fully. The Commonwealth Initiative for Human Rights (CHRI), a regional human rights organization which was also one of the interveners in the Prakash Shingh case, after an analysis of the Act says that the Act only partially complies with the directives:

  1. State Security Commission was established but the composition is not as per the Supreme Court directive.[24] The Act has also weakened the mandate of the commission and has made its recommendation non-binding.
  2. The second directive regarding selection process of the DGP and guarantee of his tenure not complied.
  3. Directive regarding guarantee of tenure of the police officers on the field are also not complied. Only one year of tenure is guaranteed to the Superintendent of Police in charge of a district and Officer-in-Charge of a police station with  vague grounds for premature removal.[25]
  4. Police Establishment Board was set up but the mandate was not adhered to.[26] DGP has also been given the power to transfer any officer up to the rank of Inspector “as deemed appropriate to meet any contingency", contrary to the directive.
  5. The Central Government did not establish National Security Commission in utter contempt of the judgment.
  6. The Assam Police Act, 2007 establishes Police Accountability Commission to enquire into public complaints supported by sworn statement against the police personnel for serious misconduct and perform such other functions[27]. But the Chairperson and members of the Commission are appointed directly by the government.[28] This can, at best, be called partial compliance.
  7. Half hearted attempts can also be seen regarding separation of investigation from law and order function of the police. Special Crime Investigation Unit has been set up in urban police stations but there is no specific section on separation of between law and order and crime investigation.

This deliberate attempt to bypass the Supreme Court directives prompted the petitioner in the case former Assam director-general of police Prakash Singh to describe the Assam Police Act, 2007, as a fraud on the people of the state. He was speaking at a seminar  jointly organised by the commission and the Assam State Legal Services Authority at the Assam Administrative Staff College, Guwahati. According to him, the government had violated the letter and spirit of the apex court guidelines by passing the act without conforming to these guidelines.[29]

The Act needs drastic amendment to be brought in conformity with the Supreme Court guidelines and to be compatible with International Human Rights Standards. More importantly the role of the police needs to be redefined "taking into account the emerging challenges of policing and security of the State, the imperatives of good governance, and respect for human rights".[30]

Implementation of the Laws

Another huge challenge to the civil and political rights is the no-adherence and non-implementation of laws and other instruments that are meant to protect such rights. The Supreme Court guidelines in DK Basu, and NHRPC guidelines regarding arrest, custodial deaths have the potential to drastically reduce the number of torture and disappearance cases if implemented properly. The DK Basu guidelines are only implemented in papers. In rural police stations the guidelines are not even hung in a language eligible to the public at a conspicuous place.

BHRPC has documented many cases of fake encounters and custodial deaths where no magisterial inquiry was conducted in contravention of the statutory mandate of section 176, of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973[31]. In other two cases where the executive magistrates conducted the inquiry the accused police personnel have been found guilty of murder. [32] The reports are dated 28 March 2007 and 9 April 2008 but till the date neither prosecution has been started nor has any compensation been provided to the kins of the deceased. Apart from legal immunity provided by security legislations such as the Armed Forces (Special Power) Act, 1958, the Assam Disturbed Areas Act, 1955 there is a regime of de facto impunity guaranteed to the violators which responsible for the increase of the incidents of torture, custodial deaths and other extrajudicial killings.

Anomalies in the Legal Regime

Such gap between good laws on papers and their implementation on the ground may have been facilitated by the mindset that has been created among the law enforcement officials and security forces by the blanket power that has been given them to carry out their operations, once an area is declared disturbed under the AFSPA and ADAA. Even a non-commissioned officer in case AFSPA and a Havildar in case ADAA is granted the right to torture and to shoot to kill based on mere suspicion that it is necessary to do so in order to "maintain the public order" with full guarantee that he will never be required to answer in a court of law. If they are exempted from answering in a regular court of law, one may wonder, what the use of a magisterial inquiry is whether by judicial magistrate or executive magistrate.

Repeal Draconian Laws

Passing of the Prevention of Torture Bill, enactment of laws incorporating provisions of the Convention on Enforced Disappearance, carrying out the police reform as per the Supreme Court directives, ratification of CAT and its Optional Protocol and ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearance envisage a sea change in the human rights regime in the country. As a logical corollary to these steps repeal of the AFSPA, ADAA, repeal or amendment to the National Security Act, 1980, the Assam Preventive Detention Act, 1980 and other such laws must be carried out to bring the entire human rights regime in India in conformity with the international human rights standards.

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar
Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC)
Silchar, Assam

[1] This is a little modified version of the presentation made in the North East Consultation for  Universal Periodic Review of India at the UN Human Rights Council in 2012 held at NEDFi House Dispur, Guwahati on 23 September, 2011.
[2] Article 5 states, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
[3]  The United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 8/8 on Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
[4] The four Geneva Conventions provide protection for people who fall into enemy hands.
The third (GCIII) and fourth (GCIV) Geneva Conventions are the two most relevant for the treatment of the victims of conflicts. Both treaties state in Article 3, in similar wording, that in a non-international armed conflict, "Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms... shall in all circumstances be treated humanely." The treaty also states that there must not be any "violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture" or "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment".
GCIV covers most civilians in an international armed conflict, and says they are usually "Protected Persons" (see exemptions section immediately after this for those who are not). Under Article 32, protected persons have the right to protection from "murder, torture, corporal punishments, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments...but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by non-combatant or military agents".
GCIII covers the treatment of prisoners of war (POWs) in an international armed conflict. In particular, Article 17 says that "No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind." POW status under GCIII has far fewer exemptions than "Protected Person" status under GCIV. Captured enemy combatants in an international armed conflict automatically have the protection of GCIII and are POWs under GCIII unless they are determined by a competent tribunal to not be a POW (GCIII Article 5).
[5] Article 7: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation."
[6] Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides that “[n]o person shall be deprived of his life and liberty except according to procedure established by law”. The right to life in Article 21 of the Constitution of India does not mean mere survival or existence. It encompasses the right to live with dignity. Torture is inflicted with the aim of degrading a person and involves the violation of dignity. It therefore falls within the ambit of Article 21.
Further safeguards are provided under other articles of the Constitution. Under Article 20(3), no person accused of any offence can be compelled to be a witness against himself. Article 22 (1) and (2) provide that a person who is arrested must be informed as soon as may be of the grounds of his arrest. The person also has the right to consult a lawyer of his choice. An arrested person must be produced before the nearest magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) also requires the production of accused before court within 24 hours. Section 54 of the CrPC gives the arrestee the right to be medically examined. No statement of a witness recorded by a police officer, according to Section 162 of the CrPC, can be used for any purpose other than contradicting such a statement. Thus admission of guilt before a police officer is not admissible in a court of law. Section 164 of the CrPC requires that the magistrate must ensure that a confession by the accused is voluntary. Sections 330 and 331 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) make it a penal offence to cause hurt to a person in order to extract a confession. (Human Rights Feature (Voice of the Asia Pacific Human Rights Network), Optional Protocol to CAT: India can’t see the consensus accessed at on 22 September, 2011.
[7] AIR 1997 SC 610, 1997 CriLJ 743, 1996 (4) Crimes 233 (SC), (1997) 2 GLR 1631, JT 1997 (1) SC 1, RLW 1997 (1) SC 94, 1996 (9) SCALE 298, (1997) 1 SCC 416, [1996] Supp 10 SCR 284
[9] United Nations Treaty Collection, accessed at on 22 September, 2011.
[10] PRS Legislative Research, Legislative Brief: The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010
[11] The Report is summarized as: 1. The Bill seeks to provide punishment for torture committed by public servants or with their consent. It was introduced to enable India to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Committee added a number of amendments to the Bill.
2. The Bill defines “torture” as grievous hurt or danger to life, limb and health. It adds that an act is torture only if it is done intentionally and with the purpose of getting information or confession. The Committee recommended that the definition of torture should be suitably expanded so as to make it consistent with the UN Convention and include offences under the Indian Penal Code. Torture of women and children should be given special consideration and attempt to torture should also be made an offence. The definition of public servant should include any government companies or institutions.
3. The Bill states that a person shall be liable to a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine. The Committee suggested that a minimum punishment of three years be given to make the law more of a deterrent. Also, the torturer should be fined a minimum of Rs 1 lakh.
4. The Committee was of the opinion that the Bill should include guidelines for arriving at a fair compensation to the victim or to his dependents on his death.
5. The Committee stated that the limitation period for filing a complaint should be two years so that complainants have sufficient time to initiate proceedings. It added that there should be a specific provision in the Bill to ensure that complaints of disadvantaged victims are registered according to the law.
6. The Bill states that approval of the central or state government is required before courts can admit complaints against a public servant. While there is a need to protect honest officials, the Committee was of the view that this provision should not be used to shield guilty officials and deny justice to victims. Therefore, it suggested that if requested sanction is not given within three months, it would be deemed to have been granted. Trial for every offence under this law should be concluded within one year.
7. Since victims and witnesses face threats from accused persons, the Committee recommended that adequate provisions for the protection of victims and witnesses should be included in the Bill. A medical examination of the victim should be mandatory while he is lodged in jail. The report should be sent to the trial court.
8. The Committee observed that this law should be in addition to and not in derogation of any other law in force.
9. The Committee stated that the appropriate government would need to frame Rules for implementation of the Bill. Such a provision should be included in the Bill.
10. In view of the importance of the Bill, the Committee recommended that the period of notification be specified in the Bill itself. It suggested that the Bill should be notified within 120th day of its enactment.
[12] Section 12 reads  "Functions of the Commission: The Commission shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely : (a) inquire, suo motu or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf, into complaint of (i) violation of human rights or abetment thereof or (ii) negligence in the prevention of such violation, by a public servant; "
[13] Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, accessed at on 22 September, 2011.
[14] The sections of the Indian Penal Code that deal with kidnap and abduction are :359. Kidnapping; 360. Kidnapping from India; 361. Kidnapping from lawful guardianship; 362. Abduction 363.     Punishment for kidnapping; 363A. Kidnapping or maiming a minor for purposes of begging; 364. Kidnapping or abducting in order to murder; 364A.  Kidnapping for ransom, etc.; 365. Kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person; 366. Kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc.; 366A. Procreation of minor girl; 366B.       Importation of girl from foreign country; 367. Kidnapping or abducting in order to subject person to grievous hurt, slavery, etc.; 368.       Wrongfully concealing or keeping in confinement, kidnapped or abducted person.
[15] Vide PMO Letter No. vide No. 13/3/2009-PMP3/75979 dated August 6, 2009
[16] The Preamble of the Assam Police Act, 2007 says that "it is expedient to redefine the role of the police taking into account the emerging challenges of policing and security of the State, the imperatives of good governance, and respect for human rights"
[17] Writ Petition (civil) 310 of 1996
[18] Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Prakash Singh and Others vs. Union of India and Others: Analysis of the Supreme Court Directives on Police Reforms
[19] The Supreme court says, the Director General of Police of the State shall be selected by the State Government from amongst the three senior-most officers of the Department who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by the Union Public Service Commission on the basis of their length of service, very good record and range of experience for heading the police force. And, once he has been selected for the job, he should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation. The DGP may, however, be relieved of his responsibilities by the State Government acting in consultation with the State Security Commission consequent upon any action taken against him under the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules or following his conviction in a court of law in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption, or if he is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his duties.”
[20] The Supreme Court says, Police Officers on operational duties in the field like the Inspector General of Police incharge Zone, Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge Range, Superintendent of Police in-charge district and Station House Officer in-charge of a Police Station shall also have a prescribed minimum tenure of two years unless it is found necessary to remove them prematurely following disciplinary proceedings against them or their conviction in a criminal offence or in a case of corruption or if the incumbent is otherwise incapacitated from discharging his responsibilities. This would be subject to promotion and retirement of the officer.”
[21] CHRI:
[22] There shall be a Police Complaints Authority at the district level to look into complaints against police officers of and up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. Similarly, there should be another Police Complaints Authority at the State level to look into complaints against officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above. The district level Authority may be headed by a retired District Judge while the State level Authority may be headed by a retired Judge of the High Court/Supreme Court. The head of the State level Complaints Authority shall be chosen by the State Government out of a panel of names proposed by the Chief Justice; the head of the district level Complaints Authority may also be chosen out of a panel of names proposed by the Chief Justice or a Judge of the High Court nominated by him. These Authorities may be assisted by three to five members depending upon the volume of complaints in different States/districts, and they shall be selected by the State Government from a panel prepared by the State Human Rights Commission/Lok Ayukta/State Public Service Commission. The panel may include members from amongst retired civil servants, police officers or officers from any other department, or from the civil society. They would work whole time for the Authority and would have to be suitably remunerated for the services rendered by them.
The Authority may also need the services of regular staff to conduct field inquiries. For this purpose, they may utilize the services of retired investigators from the CID, Intelligence, Vigilance or any other organization. The State level Complaints Authority would take cognizance of only allegations of serious misconduct by the police personnel, which would include incidents involving death, grievous hurt or rape in police custody. The district level Complaints Authority would, apart from above cases, may also inquire into allegations of extortion, land/house grabbing or any incident involving serious abuse of authority. The recommendations of the Complaints Authority, both at the district and State levels, for any action, departmental or criminal, against a delinquent police officer shall be binding on the concerned authority.”
[23] The investigating police shall be separated from the law and order police to ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people. It must, however, be ensured that there is full coordination between the two wings. The separation, to start with, may be effected in towns/urban areas which have a population of ten lakhs or more, and gradually extended to smaller towns/urban areas also.”

[24] Section 35 lays down the composition :(1) The State Security Commission shall have as its members :-
(a) the Chief minister as the Chairperson;
(b) a retired high Court judge;
(c) the Chief Secretary;
(d) the Secretary in charge of the Home Department as its Member
(e) the Director General of Police of the State; and
(f) three non-political persons (hereinafter referred to as Independent Members”) of high integrity, expertise and competence in administration, law enforcement and security related matters nominated by the State Government. Out of these one shall be police officer superannuated in the rank not below Director general of Police, another a retired civil service officer not below the rank of Commissioner and Secretary to the State Government with experience in public administration, and the third member will be from the fields of public service, legal profession or social organization with at least fifteen years experience in the field.

Where as the Supreme Court approved Model Police Act in addition to the Chair and the Secretary, provides for the following composition:
(a) Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly
(b) Retired High Court Judge nominated by the Chief Justice of the High Court
(c) Home Secretary3
(d) Five non-political persons of proven reputation for integrity and competence from the fields of academia, law, public administration, media or non-government organisations to be appointed on the recommendation of a Selection Panel composed of:
(i) A retired Chief Justice of a High Court to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the High Court;
(ii) The Chairperson of the State Human Rights Commission; in the absence of a state Commission, a person nominated by the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission; and
(iii) The Chairperson of the State Public Service Commission.
[25] Sub-section 3 of section 12 provides: (3) Following officers on operational duties in the field shall have a term of minimum one year --
(i) Superintendent of Police in charge of District;
(ii) Officer in charge of Police Station :
Provided that such officer may be transferred from his post before the expiry of the minimum tenure of one year consequent upon,--
(a) promotion to a higher post; or
(b) conviction or charges having been framed, by a court of law in a criminal offence; or
(c) punishment of dismissal, removal, discharge or compulsory retirement from service or of reduction to a lower rank, or imposition of any other penalty other than censure awarded the relevant Acts and Rules; or
(d) suspension from service in accordance with the provisions of the Rules; or
(e) incapacitation by physical or mental illness or otherwise becoming unable to discharge his functions and duties; or
(f) the need to fill up a vacancy caused by promotion, transfer, or retirement; or
(g) on deputation with the consent of the officer concerned; or
(h) inefficiency or negligence or misdemeanor prima facie establishment after preliminary enquiry :
Provided that in the public interest the State Government may transfer the Superintendent of Police of the District as may be deemed appropriate to meet any contingency :
Provided further that in the public interest the Director General of Police of the State may transfer Officers in charge of Police Station of the rank of Inspector and District Superintendent of Police may transfer the Officer in charge of Police Station of the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police within the district as deemed appropriate to meet any contingency.
[26] See section 44 and 45 of the Assam Police Act, 2007
[27] See section 70
[28] See section 71
[29] The Telegraph, Monday, May 31, 2011: Ex-DGP dubs act ‘fraud’ - Govt faces flak over Assam Police Act, accessed at on 22 September 2011.
[30] Preamble to the Assam Police Act, 2007
[31] The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2005 [NO. 25 OF 2005] incorporates sub-section (1-A) to the section 176 which reads
“(1-A) Where,—
(a) any person dies or disappears, or
(b) rape is alleged to have been committed on any woman,
while such person or woman is in the custody of the police or in any other custody authorised by the Magistrate or the court, under this Code in addition to the inquiry or investigation held by the police, an inquiry shall be held by the Judicial Magistrate or the Metropolitan Magistrate, as the case may be, within whose local jurisdiction the offence has been committed.”;
[32] See Magisterial Inquiry Report vide NO. MISC. CASE. 1/2007/28 Dated Silchar, the 9th April, 2008 and Memo No. KCL22/2007-08/242 dated Katigorah, 28 March 2007.