Bengaluru: Lawyers' body demands release of activists, political prisoners

Lawyers’ body demands release of activists, political prisoners

Lawyers’ body demands release of activists, political prisoners 


Bengaluru: All India Lawyers' Association For Justice (AILAJ) on Saturday issued a statement demanding the release all the jailed activists, advocates...

Bengaluru: All India Lawyers' Association For Justice (AILAJ) on Saturday issued a statement demanding the release all the jailed activists, advocates and political prisoners.

The association based out of Bengaluru raised the case of journalist Siddique Kappan arrested while reporting on the Hathras rape case. "The manner in which Kappan is chained to the cot in the prison in spite of his having tested positive for Covid 19 and denied the use of his toilet is condemnable.

Despite a Supreme Court direction to shift him to AIIMS, he was within a very brief period sent back to Mathura prison, notwithstanding his vulnerable medical condition," the statement read.

"Several student leaders who were at the forefront of the movement against the Citizenship Amendment Act were imprisoned as also prominent human rights activists like Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao.

In fact, Sudha Bharawaj who complained of fatigue, diarrhoea and loss of appetite, smell and taste, has not been provided necessary treatment. Octogenarian poet-activist Varavara Rao was released on medical grounds in March, 2021 after he had contracted coronavirus last year," it read.

The demand for release of others activists includes Prof. Hany Babu, Natasha Narwal, Umar Khalid and Khalid Saifi.

The association recalled the Supreme Court order dated 07.05.2021 taking cognizance of rapid proliferation of the virus amongst the inmates of congested prisons and stressing the need to decongest prisons and that the guidelines laid down in Arnesh Kumar VS. State of Bihar on arrest and remand to judicial custody are still in force. The court also ordered that those inmates who were granted parole last year should be released again for a period of 90 days.

It also issued a directive that arrests and detention in cases that attract punishment of less than or up to seven years of imprisonment should be limited. The release of prisoners will be done by high power committees set up in all States and Union Territories, which will screen the prisoners before releasing them on interim bail.

The court further directed that proper medical facilities must be provided to all prisoners. The Court further acknowledged that the said steps to reduce the impact of CoviD-19 requires calibration of concerns of the criminal justice system, health hazards and rights of accused persons. While noting the alarming' congestion in prisons, the Apex Court asked the government to consider placing convicts under house arrest to avoid overcrowding, the statement says.

The statement issued by the AILAJ Convener Mohammed Afeef reads that despite various orders, what we instead see is a concerted effort to deprive prisoners, and especially political prisoners, of even the most basic medical facilities.

"It is in this context that AILAJ demands that immediate steps be taken to ensure compliance with the order of the Supreme Court dated 07.05.2021 and further ensure the immediate release of all political prisoners on interim bail or parole to protect their fundamental right to life and health," it said.

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