Tag Archives: Karl Marx

Ultra vires regulations- does association with a banned outfit make you a TERRORIST?

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SUVOJIT BAGCHI, The Hindu , fEB 22, 2013

Mere association with a banned outfit or studying its literature does not tantamount to being a terrorist, says a recent Bombay High Court judgement

Freedom of speech:Sheetal Sathe, lead singer of Kabir Kala Manch.

Freedom of speech:Sheetal Sathe, lead singer of Kabir Kala Manch.

The definition of a ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorism’ has been a major topic of continuous debate in India especially in recent months. Can a person collecting and studying literature of a banned party be defined as a terrorist? Can a song with revolutionary lyrics — despising social inequality — be called an act of terror? Or is it that quoting Mao Tse Tung or Karl Marx in a street theatre be defined as a terrorist ploy?

A recent judgement by the Bombay High Court has stated that such acts are not terrorism. Even the judge went on to say, “… the expression of views to the effect that a change in the social order can be brought about only by a revolution would not amount to any offence.”

The judgement — delivered while granting bail to four members of Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), a Pune-based cultural group of Dalit protest singers — has been lauded by social activists and lawyers in Chhattisgarh and other States where a large number of tribals are languishing in jail allegedly for participating in Maoist rallies or providing food to the rebels. The KKM members were arrested and booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) allegedly for being members of the banned CPI-Maoist.

The judgement by Justice Abhay Thipsey has specifically questioned Section 20 of UAPA which penalises members of ‘terrorist gangs or organisations involved in terrorist acts’ with imprisonment for life. Quoting extensively from several verdicts of the Indian and U.S. Supreme Courts, the judgement says that Section 20 of UAPA challenges Article 19 of the Indian Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech, right to form unions and assemble peacefully.

According to the judge, KKM members were arrested for practising rights guaranteed by Article 19. Moreover, the same section of IPC, 120B, which was used against Afzal Guru for allegedly abetting a criminal conspiracy, was also used against KKM members for associating with a banned outfit.

Deconstructing various sections of IPC and UAPA used to frame charges against KKM members, Justice Thipsey said, “Mere membership of a banned organisation will not incriminate a person unless he resorts to violence or incites people to violence,” quoting, inter alia , from a Supreme Court judgement.

Justice Thipsey added if “passive membership” of a banned party is criminally liable, then parts of UAPA may become ultra vires . “It is very clear from the observations made by the Supreme Court that if Section 20 were to be interpreted in that manner (passive membership as active terrorism), it would at once be considered as violative of the provisions of Article 19 of the Constitution of India, and would be struck down as ultra vires ,” page 37 of the judgement stated.

Justice Thipsey has also expressed “surprise” that KKM members were arrested for organising “street plays wherein social issues such as the eradication of corruption, social inequality, widening gap between the rich and the poor, the exploitation of poor, etc.” are addressed. “There is nothing wrong in raising these social issues,” he said.

“The same views (regarding social inequality) are expressed by several national and eminent leaders and the expression for these views cannot brand a person as a member of CPI-Maoist. On the contrary, such a reasoning would indicate that these issues, which are real and important, are not addressed to by anyone else, except the CPI-Maoist, which would mean that the other parties or social organisations are indifferent to these problems faced by the society,” the judgement said. Advocating the teachings of Karl Marx or “having some faith in the Maoist philosophy” is also not criminally liable, said the judge. The judgement has also emphasised that possessing of banned literature of an outlawed political party (CPI-Maoist in this case) is not an offence.

In large parts of India, especially in States where tribals are in jail for being alleged sympathisers of the CPI-Maoist, the judgement has acted as a shot in the arm of the activists and the lawyers. “This is a landmark judgement in context of Chhattisgarh, as there are more than 2,000 tribals languishing in various jails. However, I am not sure if this verdict will be taken into cognisance while passing a judgement,” said K.K. Dubey, who represents several under-trial tribals in south Chhattisgarh. Activists in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand have also welcomed Justice Thipsey’s judgement.

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Protesting against expolitation of poor no crime: Bombay High court

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Prabhat Sharan Mumbai, Feb 5, 2013, DHNS

Court orders release of four artistes alleged to be Maoists

Last week, the Bombay High Court granted bail to four street theatre artistes for allegedly having Maoist connections, observing that “speaking about corruption, social inequality, exploitation of the poor etc and desiring a better society should come into existence and is not banned in our country.”

Granting bail to Dhawala Dhengle, Siddarth Bhosale, Mayuri Bhagat and Anuradha Sonule, against a surety of Rs 30,000 each, Justice Abhay Thipsay said: “Highlighting and creating social awareness on corruption, the widening gap between the rich and the poor and exploitation of the poor is commendable and cannot be considered an evidence of being members of a terrorist organisation.”

The artistes, belonging to a street theatre group named “Kabir Kala Manch,” were picked up the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) in 2011 on grounds that they were inciting the people to violence and members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Though police had detained seven people initially, four of them were still in jail since the ATS claimed to have found “incriminating documents and books” in their possession.

Going through the evidence submitted by the state, Justice Thipsay said: “Many of the books found are available in the market and there is no denial of that by the state. In any case, the said literature is not banned and reading thereof is not prohibited.”

On charges that the theatre group was advocating violence through street plays, Justice Thipsay told the public prosecutor: “There is nothing wrong in raising social issues and emphasising that a change in social order is required. The same views are expressed by several national and eminent leaders and a person cannot be branded a member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) for expressing such views.

“On the contrary, such a reasoning would indicate that these issues, which are real and important, are not addressed by anyone else, except the Communist Party of India (Maoist), which in turn would mean that other parties or social organisations are indifferent to these problems.”

Expressing surprise at the evidence based on which the artistes were imprisoned, Justice Thipsay said: “It is surprising that highlighting the wrongs prevalent in the society and insisting that there is a need to change the situation was considered as evidence and used to convince the court of them being members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).”

The judge further observed that even the expression of views “to the effect that a change in social order can be brought about only by a revolution” would not amount to any offence. Those who advocate the teachings of Karl Marx are certainly not committing any crime.

DOWNLOAD FULL JUDGEMENT HERE

 

People must have space to express anger against injustice

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May 16, 2012, 12.00AM IST, TOI
Documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan ‘s latest movie, Jai Bhim Comrade, portraying events around a police firing on dalit protesters in 1997, won a National Award and a prize of Rs 51,000 from the Maharashtra government – which Patwardhan’s donated to the Kabir Kala Manch(KKM) Defence Committee,  ( the original article does not mention, but fact is money is donated to KKM Defence Committee ), KKM is a cultural troupe inspired by B RAmbedkar and Karl Marx, expressing the oppression of dalits through poetry and song. Patwardhan features this group, some members of which have gone underground recently. Speaking with Jyoti Punwani , Patwardhan explained his view of the KKM, why its work is important – and why Shankar’s 1949 cartoon depicting B R Ambedkar didn’t raise protests back then:How did you decide to feature the KKM in your documentary?I first saw an electric performance by the KKM in 2007 at the 10th anniversary of the police firing at Mumbai’s Ramabai Nagar. I had begun to film Jai Bhim Comrade in 1997 when 10 dalits were killed in this firing and Vilas Ghogre, a singer-poet i knew, hung himself in protest. This shocked me into documenting atrocities against dalits and recording their songs of protest.

The KKM is made up largely of young dalit boys and girls – but their music spoke of centuries of oppression and resistance. Over the next few years, i followed them intermittently with my camera, at performances, at their homes, with their families. I saw them as the new generation of shahirs or singer-poets who’d taken over the mantle from Annabhau Sathe, Amar Shaikh, Vamandada Kardak and Vilas Ghogre. To my surprise, they did not just sing overtly political songs but fought superstition and even wrote love songs, valorizing gender equality and inter-caste marriage.

Why are you donating the prize money you’ve received to the KKM Defence Committee?

The money was given for a film that highlights the KKM amongst others. Ironically, it was given by a state that’s trying to muzzle these sons and daughters of India. People must be given the democratic space to express anger against injustice – the best way to preserve the freedom we all believe in is to speak out even when it is unpopular and to identify the root causes of dissenta¦

The power of KKM’s music is undeniable and the fact that atrocities against dalits continue makes an uncompromising KKM suspect in the eyes of those who protect the status quo. Yet, the KKM i knew spoke of changing the world not with weapons but through song and drum.

Speaking of protest and dissent, what do you make of the NCERT Ambedkar cartoon row? The cartoon didn’t raise protests when it was drawn in 1949 – why now?

The cartoon in its day did not rouse controversy because the nation was young and hopeful. Ambedkar was drafting the Constitution. He was the law minister. Later, a disillusioned Ambedkar resigned when Nehru stonewalled his Hindu Code Bill in deference to orthodox Hindus. Betrayed by his secular friends, Ambedkar, with lakhs of followers, walked out of Hinduism and embraced Buddhism.

Today, repeated betrayals have frayed the sensitivities of dalits, but the iconic persona of Ambedkar is etched in their hearts forever. Deification, desecration and empty, symbo-lic gestures by the state are now a repeating cycle – these take the place of any real attempt to annihilate caste.