Tag Archives: legal update

[FB Note] No Respite for Soni Sori by Himanshu Kumar

Source: Facebook Note by Himanshu Kumar

Soni Sori continues to be ill-treated at the hands of Chhattisgarh government, after a brief breather during her treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at New Delhi. She is now back in the Raipur Jail after spending 5 weeks recuperating in AIIMS, and the Chhattisgarh government has made clear its intentions of continuing ill-treatment of her, by denying her food, water and medicines immediately after discharge from AIIMS.
Soni Sori was brought to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on May 10th at the behest of the Supreme Court which ordered immediate and urgent treatment to be provided to her. Ms. Sori arrived in Delhi visibly weakened due to months of ill-treatment and improper medical treatment by the Chhattisgarh government. She was suffering from the continued impact –of the wounds inflicted on her during the inhuman sexual torture meted out to her in October, 2011 under police custody, which had been allowed to fester untreated in the jail. Consequently, she had grave secondary medical conditions, such as intermittent anal and vaginal bleeding, blisters on skin, difficulty in walking etc. at the time when she was brought to AIIMS

Over the 5 weeks of her treatment in AIIMS, she seemed to have recovered significantly, due to regular and expert medical care provided to her. But immediately after her discharge from AIIMS, Soni Sori has been denied her basic human rights yet again by the Chattisgarh government. Soni Sori’s counsel, Mr. Colin Gonsalves expressed his concern to the Chhattisgarh Government counsel, Mr. Atul Jha about no travel arrangements being made for her return to Chhattisgarh, to which Mr Jha assured Mr Gonsalves that every necessary precaution would be taken including, if need be, return to Raipur by flight (as she had been brought to Delhi). But despite these assurances, Soni Sori was taken to Raipur by train, in a crowded unreserved compartment. In scorching summer heat, Soni Sori was made to stand for most of the 24 hour long train journey from Delhi to Raipur, despite her fragile health condition. With daytime temperatures touching 45 degrees Celsius, she was denied water, kept without food for the whole day and not even given the medicines prescribed to her by the doctors at AIIMS.
It should be recalled that Soni Sori, an adivasi school teacher, had been subjected to brutal physical torture and sexual violence during her custody in the Dantewada police station on the night between 8th and 9th October, 2011. Her torture had been confirmed by an independent medical examination conducted by the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata, during which stones lodged deep in her private parts had been recovered. However, the medication prescribed by the NRS hospital had been discontinued by the jail authorities in Raipur Jail soon after her discharge, and Soni Sori had been denied any regular medical attention since the examination conducted by the NRS Hospital in October 2011. In the absence of regular medical care and attention, Ms. Sori’s condition had steadily worsened, prompting the Supreme Court in June 2012 to order her to be brought to AIIMS in New Delhi for immediate medical treatment.

It was sheer and deliberate negligence on part of the Chhattisgarh Government that led to such deterioration in Soni Sori’s health in the first place, that the Supreme Court had to order immediate medical intervention by AIIMS. The manner in which Soni Sori is being treated after her discharge from AIIMS once again raises serious concerns about the intention of the Chhattisgarh government in ensuring her health and safety. If her medicines are not administered with regularity, Soni will lose the little gains in health that she had made during her stay at AIIMS.
We urge the Chhattisgarh Government to ensure that Soni Sori’s health makes full recovery, and that the recommendations of the medical team at AIIMS regarding physical rest, nutrition and medication are followed diligently. We would like to remind the Government that undertrial prisoners such as Soni Sori are guaranteed basic human rights by the Indian constitution. Soni Sori has already suffered gravely at the hands of Chhattisgarh authorities, first through direct and malicious torture at the hands of the Chhattisgarh police, and then through apathy and negligence of the Chhattisgarh jail authorities. It is time for state violence against her to end.

For more details contact:
Vani Subramanian, Saheli Delhi – 9891128911
Shalini Gera – 9891176443.

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Soni Sori Fails to Appear in Court [Latest Update]

Via Himanshu Kumar

इस सप्ताह दो पेशियों पर सोनी सोरी को पुलिस दंतेवाडा कोर्ट में पेश नहीं कर पाई ! पुलिस ने कोर्ट को सूचित किया है की सोनी सोरी बीमार है तथा वह रायपुर के सरकारी अस्पताल में भरती है और कोर्ट में पेश करने की हालत में नहीं है ! हांलाकि सोनी ने अपने पत्रों में छत्तीसगढ़ से बाहर इलाज की मांग की है क्योंकि पुलिस प्रतारणा के बाद रायपुर के सरकारी डाक्टरों ने सोनी का इलाज करने के बजाय उसे अस्पताल से निकाल कर जेल भिजवा दिया था और मीडिया में बयान दे दिया था की सोनी झूठ बोल रही है ! परन्तु कलकत्ता के अस्पताल में उसके गुप्तांगों में पत्थर पाए गए थे ! हमें सोनी की जान की चिंता हो रही है !

Translation:
Last week police has failed to bring Soni Sori in two court hearings. Police has informed the court that Ms.Sori is not well and had to be admitted in a govt. hospital. However Soni Sori has demanded that she must get medical treatment outside Chattisgarh, because after she was tortured by police, the govt. doctors instead of treating her in the hospital sent her back to jail and gave statement to media that Soni Sori is lying. Later medical reports from hospital in kolkata confirmed stones were found in her private parts. We are worried about her Life.

Please see Chandresh Meravi’s board for the complete translation and more information on Soni Sori.

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[Newswing] How long will the 6000 Jharkhandi Adivasis languish in jail?

Most of the arrests are in violation of SC decisions

“Mere membership of a banned organisation will not make a person a criminal … Supreme Court on 3rd February 2011 (CRIMINAL APPEAL NOs. 889 OF 2007)
“Mere possession of Maoist literature does not make a person a Maoist” Supreme Court , while granting bail to Dr. Binayak Sen on 15th April 2011

Context: in Jharkhand, during the past ten years, 550 young men & women were killed by the police & para-military forces as being Naxalites (Hindustan Times, Ranchi edition, 18.4. 2011.) There are now about 6000 Adivasis in jail (Ajay Sharma in Hindustan, 08.02.2012). The charge against the majority of them is that “maoist literature” was found in their possession and that they are “helpers of Maoists” […]

Read the full article here.

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[Indian Express] Cops chargesheet Essar official, Soni Sori in ‘Naxal payoff case’

The Special investigation team (SIT) probing the alleged Essar-Naxal payoff case has chargesheeted a senior company official with serious offences, including sedition, for “providing financial support” to the insurgents.
The chargesheet filed on Tuesday, a day before the 180-day period was to expire, names Essar GM D V C S Verma, suspected Naxals Lingaram Kodapi, Soni Sori, company’s chief contractor B K Lala and top Naxal commanders Raghu and Vinod.

The SIT, headed by IG P N Tiwari, has charged the accused under Sections 121 (waging or attempting or abetting war against nation), 124 (A) (sedition) and 120 (B) ( criminal conspiracy) of IPC, as well as Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act. The chargesheet lists witnesses and Verma’s call details to claim he was providing Essar’s CSR money to the CPI (Maoist) through conduit Lala, the company’s chief contractor. […]

Read the rest here.

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[Zee-News] Payment to Naxals: Chargesheet against Essar GM, 5 others

Raipur: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Chhattisgarh Police Tuesday filed a chargesheet against six persons, including the general manager of Essar Group, in the case of alleged payment to Naxals at a court here.

SIT officials told media that the chargesheet was filed in the court of magistrate Yogita Wasnik against Essar GM DBCS Verma, Essar contractor B K Lala, and two Naxals.

A local person called Lingaram Kodopi and teacher Soni Sodhi also figure in the chargesheet.

Next hearing in the case will be on March 13.

In September last year, police had recovered Rs 15 lakh from B K Lala and Kodopi.

According to police, the money was meant for Naxals.

Verma and Lala had been arrested and later given bail, while Lingaram and Soni are still in jail. The remaining two are absconding.

Read the full article here.

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Two Bits of Legal Updates on Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi

[Gathered from twitter feeds and facbook comments — uncomfirmed]

  • Soni Sori’s Court Hearing is set for March 13th. However, it keeps getting postponed. The only way to continue keeping her in jail is to keep shifting her court date, since an actual trial would acquit her. Media and public pressure is more critical than ever before. There have been reports that her health is deteriorating. After she was shifted to Raipur, her court hearing was set for January 26th. Instead on that day, her torturer was awarded the bravery medal.
  • The Special Investigation Team (SIT) Report on the Maoist-Essar Pay-off scandal is due to come out this week. Both Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi are implicated in the pay-off.
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Soni Sori’s Feb 23rd Letter to her Lawyer

Letter to Supreme Court Advocate Sir
Advocate sir,

I should have been kept in Delhi instead of Raipur. My troubles have increased ever since I was moved to Raipur. I have not even been provided with medicines. When I express my complaint of pain, they tell me that I have come through the administration, and they call me and write me down as a “Naxalite” woman, and this puts me under a lot of mental stress. I am not given my medicines, due to which my internal pains have been increasing. I have told the local court all this, but instead of solving my problem, the local court is avoiding it by saying that since my case is with the Supreme Court, whatever will be done here will be done by the Supreme Court.

Sir, I have complete faith that the Supreme Court will bring justice to a woman who has suffered torture. However, the local courts also have the ability to resolve some problems. But no! All of these people deliberately want to give me trouble. I am not safe here – I can feel that I am unsafe. I am suffering grave injustice and these people will not let me live. […]

Read the full letter here. Both the Hindi and English versions are available there, as well as the Audio versions of the letter.

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Update on Abdul Nasser Madani from Adv. Venkatesh Bubberjung of Bangalore

Abdul Nasser Madani is a Muslim political leader from Kerala, India. He has spent more than a decade in Indian prisons without being convicted of any crime. He started the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with the stated objective of “Muslim-Dalit-backward caste” alliance. In August 2010, Madani was arrested by Karnataka police for his alleged involvement in the Bangalore Serial blasts and is currently lodged under judicial custody. Here is the Justice for Madani official website.

Here’s an excerpt from a facebook note from Advocate Venkatesh Bubberjung of Bangalore.

[…] Bangalore Blast case ( a series of 9 chargesheets filed against some 30+ accused mostly malayalam speaking including Abdul Naser Madani as they are referred to ) was posted today for orders on the applications on discharge, on orders on hearing before charge, on consideration of bail applications of some of the accused in Bangalore Central Prison.

Hearing of applications and charge is going on for couple of months before the Court. The hearing of the case was demonstrating number chinks in the armour of the story of prosecution. The advocates for Madani and other accused had explained in detail for days on the aspects of law violated in prosecuting them and poor quality of evidence that is available or framed against them. As the hearing on the applications gained momentum, the accused persons who were housed in Bangalore Central Prison were suddenly transferred to Belgaum Prison without any information as to why they were being transferred. When enquired even court had no proper information to give ( accused are in judicial custody ). When the counsels insisted for the presence of the accused at the time of hearing before charge as they had to take instructions from their clients, they were advised to take the same under video conferencing.

Serious question about the jurisdiction of the Court to conduct the case was raised in the light of National Investigation Agency Act. A procedural law that mandates that all cases under some statutes mentioned in the schedule be investigated and tried by National Investigation Agency apart from other grounds.

What was expected was that the court would pass orders on the applications for discharge and for orders on hearing of the parties before framing of charge. Usual practice is that when orders are passed some time is granted to the accused to challenge the same before the High Court, if they are not satisfied and if they feel that the grounds urged by them before the court were not properly appreciated by the court.

Most of the accused have little knowledge of English or Kannada. The learned judge passed orders on the applications rejecting them and the counsels had sought for copies of the orders as they intended to challenge the same before the High Court of Karnataka. Even without making the copies available for the accused and the counsel to know on what grounds the Learned Judge had rejected the applications, the court rushed to post the matter for framing charge in the case. strangely the order was passed in Kannada, a language not known to the accused persons. order was passed on 25th February, 2012 and was posted for framing of charges on 27th February, 2012, mere 48 hours to secure copy of the order, analyse and to decide whether to challenge the order or otherwise, 26th February, 2012 is Sunday.The advocates only know the operative portion of the order as the entire order is yet to be provided to them for studying. When will they get the copy of the orders? when will they study? when can they give their opinion on the orders that whether it is a good one or that one that needs to be challenged? The court rejected the prayer of the advocates that the case may be adjourned by atleast five to seven days so as to enable them challenge the order. Most of the advocates appearing for the accused are not acquainted with knowledge of Malayalam. Their difficulty is compounded. They have serious problems relating to confidentiality of communication with their clients as they are compelled to take assistance of the other accused or the police for translation.

Why was this mad rush to Frame Charge against the accused persons? They have not demanded that the court to immediately conclude the trial. They are also not running away from the court. All of them are in judicial custody? Why is this mad rush to charge? They are in custody of the court for more than three years. While the courts offer ‘reasonable opportunity’ for challenging the orders of the courts in higher courts, be it the case of 2G, Commonwealth games cases and in long list of cases of corruption accross India, strangely even on repeated request these accused are denied that opportunity.

The oft repeated statement in the court is that trial of the case needs to be completed at the earliest and hence process needs to be expedited. Question that worries us is that whether it is being expedited or short changed. What is the reason for this tearing hurry to frame charges?

These persons are accused of committing offences. The police have investigated and filed charge sheet against them. The matter is in the court. Court has to conduct the case in accordance with the procedures giving equal opportunity to the parties whether it is prosecution or defense. In the process of expediting the conduct of the case can the court deny the rights to the accused persons?

Even before many of you read this, the court might have already framed charges against the accused for long list of offences alleged against them and expedited the process of trial in the interest of the accused persons! […]

Read the full facebook note here.

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[Facebook Status & Comments] Soni Sori’s Court Hearing is Scheduled to be Any Day Now — Keeps Getting Postponed

Despite a storm of media coverage, protests, press statements, petitions — both nationally and internationally — this is the only piece of information and news source I could find on this important development.

Are the media sleeping? I, honestly, would like to know.

Anyway, here are a series of facebook status messages from Himanshu Kumar.

Feb 22nd (AM)
आज सोनी प्रतारणा मामले में अंतिम सुनवाई है! [Translation: Today is the last hearing on the fraud that has happened to Soni!]

Kamayani Bali Mahabal: Himanshu-ji if it does not coem cant be last, lets hope it comesup today anyhow

Feb 22nd (PM)

सोनी सोरी प्रतारणा मामले में आज सुनवाई नहीं हुई ! [Translation: Soni Sori’s issue did not have a hearing today!]

कोर्ट के पास वख्त नहीं था आज ! कल देखते हैं ! [Translation: The Court did not have time! We will see tommorrow!]

As always, feel free to correct any errors in my Hindi translation. I will post the correction. My Hindi reading skills are bare.

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Open Letter to The Honourable Chief Justice of India and Honourable Judges of the Supreme Court of India

The Open letter (dated 21st December, 2011) is a plea and a protest from 68 different organizations and 188 prominent individuals including researchers, writers, activists, lawyers, doctors, scientists and professors. The letter includes a descriptive report on what has been happening with Soni Sori’s case thus far from her date of arrest (Oct. 4th 2011).

The letter has details of Soni Sori’s two attempts to seek protection from the courts via the judicial process on Oct 7th and 8th of 2011. However on Oct. 10th (by the time the courts and the public see her again from the time of her arrest), Soni Sori is in so much pain that she is unable to stand up long enough to step out of the police van. (A video of her condition has been widely disseminated over the internet).

Soni Sori is unable to appear in front of the Magistrate that day.

From the Open Letter:

[…] In subsequent statements to relatives, her lawyer and a letter addressed to the Supreme Court itself, Soni Sori has described the custodial torture that she was subjected to. She has stated that she has ‘pulled out of her cell at the Dantewada Police Station on the night of 8/9 October 2011 and taken to S.P.Ankit Garg’s room’. There she was stripped and given electric shocks and that stones and batons were inserted into her private parts’. When she awoke the next morning, she had severe aches all over her body, especially her neck and spine, and acute pain in her lower abdomen. She has subsequently informed her lawyer (affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court), that she found several stones inserted in her vagina, many of which she managed to remove herself, but not all.

The Supreme Court (in WRIT PETITION (CRL)NO. 206 of 2011) observed that the injuries against her person did not appear to be as simple as the State was making them out to be, and ordered an independent medical examination in NRS Medical College Hospital in Kolkata. The medical report, presented to the Supreme Court on 25th November, 2011 states that two stones were found inserted deep inside her vagina and one in her rectum. The MRI scan also reveals annular tears on her spine. All irrefutable evidence of custodial sexual abuse and torture that Soni Sori has suffered at the hands of Chattisgarh Police.

Yet, on 1st December 2011, the Supreme Court ordered that Soni Sori remain in the custody of the Chattisgarh State for an additional period of 55 days until the next hearing on 25th January, 2012. Given the prior apprehension of such violence especially in cases under the shadow of the Maoist issue, and in light of the medical examination report placed before the Court, we are distressed that no immediate action was initiated against responsible police officials, or protection ensured for Soni Sori until the next date of hearing. […]

Read the full letter here [pdf download]. The Hindi translation can be found here.

This is the second letter of its kind to the Supreme Court. Additionally there has been an outpouring of separate press statements from respected organizations and groups from all over India (including one from a CPI to the Prime Minister of India, pleading for his intervention).

There have been protest rallies held both nationally (within India) and internationally for the release of Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi.

There are at least three petitions currently in circulation for Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi, including the most recent one from Amnesty International — condemning their arrest and custodial torture and calling for their immediate release.

A little over 4 months have passed since Soni Sori’s arrest without any forthcoming evidence on the charges against her. To the contrary, a video has been made showing Chattisgarh police admitting that they fabricated charges against both Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi.

Soni Sori remains imprisoned. The man responsible for her torture has been awarded the country’s highest award of bravery.

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