SICHREM welcomes the step towards abolishing death penalty: Supreme Court has commuted Death sentence to life imprisonment for Bilavendran, Simon, Gananaprakash and Veerappan

January 23, 2014

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Activists unhappy over Bhullar verdict

April 13, 2013

They are campaigning for abolition of capital punishment

The Supreme Court ruling on Friday that delay in deciding the mercy petition of a prisoner sentenced to death was no grounds to commute the sentence to life imprisonment, has come as disappointment to human rights activists campaigning for abolition of capital punishment.

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the plea of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, a Khalistan Liberation Force terrorist condemned to hang for triggering a bomb blast that killed nine people in Delhi in 1993, that his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment due to inordinate delay in deciding his mercy petition.

The ruling has stirred a debate on what impact it will have on the fate of four of Veerappan’s aides languishing in Belgaum jail whose mercy petition was rejected by the President. But the execution of the death sentence was stayed by the Supreme Court pending the disposal of the petition involving Bhullar seeking commuting death sentence to life imprisonment on the grounds of delay in carrying out the original sentence.

Gnanaprakash, Bilavendran, Simon and Meesekara Madaiah were awarded life sentence by the designated TADA court in September 2001 but the Supreme Court, in 2004, enhanced the punishment to death sentence as the four were found guilty of plotting and carrying out the Palar blast in which 21 policemen were killed in April 1993.

Their mercy petition before the President remained undecided for nine years till Pranab Mukherjee rejected it in February this year.

SICHREM stand

Speaking to The Hindu , Mathew Philips, South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), said that the ruling came as a disappointment because as defenders of human rights they were against capital punishment.

“Even in the United Nations there is growing consensus towards abolishing the death sentence and the judicial system should take cognisance of the emerging views against death penalty and come out with a ruling that facilitates its abolition,” he added.

Human rights activist and advocate M. Ramesh of Belgaum said that the decision of the Supreme Court in the Bhullar case should not be interpreted that it would have the same impact on the fate of the four Veerappan aides as the grounds in the two cases were different.

Sharing his views, he said that there were other reasons being prayed for before the court and not just the element of inordinate delay. “All the four convicts were first sentenced to life imprisonment which runs for a period of 14 years but they have served a term which is much more than that. The rejection of the mercy petition by the President’s office came nearly after nine years,” he said.


Muthulakshmi joins protest against death sentence

February 20, 2013

Slain forest brigand Veerappan’s wife Muthulakshmi on Tuesday expressed her solidarity with the human right activists who are seeking  commutation of the death sentence of his four associates.

Participating in a demonstration held in front of Town Hall here, Muthulakshmi said people of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu should forget their differences and join hands to save lives of the four convicts.

“Media and government is projecting the four men as Veerappan’s associates.  In fact, these men were lifted from their homes and sent to jail. Nobody, including the police, have an idea of what happened inside the forest during Veerappan’s time,” she said.
South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), People’s Union for Civil Liberties  and other human rights organisations under the banner of National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations, Karnataka chapter, participated in the protest.

Memorandum submitted

Later, members of these organisations submitted a memorandum to Governor H R Bharadwaj.

Mathews Philip, executive director, SICHREM said execution by hanging was a crime in civil society.

“We are not against punishment for wrong doers. But, the method of punishment is what we are opposing,” he said. 

Source: Deccan Herald; Dated: 20 February 2013


Petition to NHRC to issue Final Order

April 20, 2012

A petition was sent to the Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission requesting the commission to dispose the final order on the long pending case of Human Rights Violations by the Joint Special Task Force operations in Karnataka and Tamilnadu during the hunt to nab Veerappan.

More than 1000 victim of human rights violations have yet to be addressed since the last order of the NHRC on 15th January 2007 recommending compensation for 89 victims of atrocities by the STF both in the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. There has been a lot of disappointment on the part of the victims that the series of complaints pending before the NHRC have not been followed up for long with a final order. There are several other victims who had also cases registered against them, detained illegally for long and tortured and even raped. In spite of their acquittal most of them have not had any occasion to experience the intervention of the NHRC. !! But the police personnel from both the states were promoted, and given cash awards and sites. The police and the state have not been caring for the rights of these unfortunate souls. This will make them lose their belief in the rule of law that was brought to them by the action of the NHRC resulting in the interim order of 15th Jan 2007.

Meanwhile, the appointment of Mr. Shankar Bidari, who was the Commanding officer of STF during the time when all those atrocities were committed, as the DG and IGP of Karnataka about a month ago. Meanwhile, Mr.A.R.Infant, I.P.S whose seniority was over looked in the appointment raised the issue at the Central Administrative Tribunal. Mr Infant also raised the issue that the Sadashiva Panel Report and the involvement of Mr. Bidari in Human Rights Violations was not placed before the UPSC. Further, the Karnataka branch of the CAT disqualified the appointment of Mr Bidari to the post of DG & IGP in its order dated 16th March 2012.

Perhaps this is the first time an Administrative Tribunal in India setting aside a top level appointment in the Police Department on the grounds of allegations of Human Rights Violations.

Mr. Shankar Bidari and the State government appealed to the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka against the CAT order, and the High Court of Karnataka upheld the CAT’s order and dismissed the petition. It should be noted that the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka described Mr Shankar Bidari as worse than Saddam Hussain or Gaddafi for alleged atrocities by STF led by him from 1993-94

The petition carried the following prays,

  1. the Hon’ble Commission once again takes up all these cases and passes orders with reference to the over 1000 victims who are yet to benefit by its careful attention;
  2. the Hon’ble Commission requests civil society organizations like PW-TN, SOCO Trust, SICHREM, Tamil Nadu Tribal Welfare Association, People’s Union for Civil Liberties TN and KAR(PUCL) and People’s Watch to provide it updated details on the victims in these pending complaints to ensure that all details with the victims are well established;
  3. the Hon’ble Commission takes immediate steps to further request both the state Governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to ensure that their promised compensation amounts of Rs. 5 Crores per state are paid and that this is properly further disposed of by the NHRC to the victims;
  4. that the Hon’ble Commission is further requested to ensure that criminal  prosecutions are recommended against the police officers to be initiated by the State Legal Services Authority of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu;
  5. that the Commission further recommends to the Governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to withdraw all the gallantry awards and rewards conferred on the STF personnel.
  6. that the Hon’ble Commission further recommends to the Governments of the Centre and the two states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to ensure that long term medical attention, particularly physiotherapy on a daily basis is, made available at state costs to each of the victims who deserve it as early as possible through civil society run rehabilitation measures that are being undertaken there.
  7. that the Hon’ble  Commission further recommends to the Governments of the Centre and the two states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to ensure that proper livelihood programs to ensure the right to life of each of the victims are undertaken urgently and on a war footing.