DR. LEO REBELLO, M.D. Ph.D. (London), D.Sc., D.Litt., Fellow of the European Medical Association, is the co-founder and presently President of All India (Press) Letter-Writers Association. Goodwill Ambassador of St. Stanislas Order, Poland; World Peace Envoy of and World Peace Ambassador Award from International Association of Educators for World Peace, US; Senator-Minister for India of the International Parliament for Safety and Peace, Italy; Director of Natural Health Centre & President of Indian Council of Natural Medicine and Research, Prof. Rebello has written 26 books, lectured in over 61 countries and is engaged in Humanitarian work. Several organisations have nominated him for Nobel Prize in Literature 2000 for his contribution to creative writing and for the Nobel Prize in Medicine 2005 for his contribution to the field of Alternative Medicine and AIDS.
ONE MAN CAN FIGHT
by Dr. Leo Rebello
In India, we have multiple laws (some of them draconian, like POTA) and many courts. Sometimes even the advocates do not know which case is to be referred to whose jurisdiction. For last 30 years I have been taking up many legal issues and even though I am a doctor by profession and author by choice, I have argued my own cases (PILs) and represented others in different courts right up to the Supreme Court.
Incidentally, under section 32 of the Advocates Act 1961, or if you are holding a General Power of Attorney, even a "non-advocate" can represent anyone if asked. Infact "non advocates" do far better than the advocates, as they study the case well and take up cases out of commitment and not as business.
Established under the Human Rights Act, the Commissions are at two levels: state level and national level. Powers are the same. The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC in short, was established about a decade ago. Presently, its Chairman is Justice Dr. A.S.Anand, the former CJI. He should find an answer to its very low output -- 85% cases pending. Most states also have the State Human Rights Commission, like in Maharashtra we have the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission, MHRC in short.
Making complaints to these commissions is relatively easy. Any violation of human rights by any authority (except by courts, which, willy-nilly are also the violators of human rights as you will see from the below mentioned unique case) can be reported to these Commissions and now they have even the powers to grant interim relief. A complaint can be made by the victim (even handwritten will do), or by anyone on behalf of the victim. The Commissions may also initiate suo motu action. No court fee is required and there is no need for an advocate.
Here below is an unique case which will always be cited as such in the case laws. It is a case of a frail woman (age 50, operated five times for cancer and other complications), who has been dishoused and the perpetrators getting away with minor punishment. It is a case of doggedness of Dr. Leo Rebello, who will not allow that to happen.
The case briefly: Mrs. Agnes Patole, a cancer patient, was arrested on October 23, 2001 at around 10.00 PM when she had gone to the Samata Nagar Police Station, Mumbai, to lodge her complaint of assault by her father (an ex cop, corrupt to the core) and brothers. Instead of registering her complaint the duty officer SI Prakash Bele on the instruction of Inspector Incharge Pramod Rane arrested her under sections 452, 448, 506(ii), 323 and 34 of the IPC (CR no.261/2001). Even though Mrs. Patole was arrested on serious charges like attempt to murder (her own father), trespass, etc. (this is called fixing) no arrest memo, no panchnama was drawn. Similarly, no investigations were carried out, no justification for arrest was shown, no medical examination was done inspite of the fact that she is a known cancer patient, and violating these and other SC guidelines on arrest she was incarcerated to the jail for 10 days and deliberately dishoused. She fainted in the police van, was taken to BMC’s Bhagwati hospital, but instead of admitting her she was put in a lock up and produced the next day in the MM Court at Borivali, where the Magistrate who is supposed to verify the papers, sent her routinely to the Yeravada jail in Pune for 10 days and prohibited her from entering her own flat at 50B/989 in Samata Nagar, Kandivli East, Mumbai 400101, where she has been residing for the last 20 years. This action of the Magistrate (obviously blind, deaf and dumb and the number of such irresponsible or illiterate magistrates is a legion) itself is ultra vires to the Constitution of India, specially since civil reviews were pending before the City Civil and High Court vide WP 422/2000. As a result of this well planned action by the corrupt father (an ex cop), she is now homeless ever since 2001.
The case (number 969/2001) was admitted by first Chairman of MHRC, Justice Arvind Sawant, who used to operate from his plush office at A-104 Mittal Tower, Nariman Point, Mumbai 21. Justice Sawant resigned within six months because he was not given the status of the Chief Justice. Justice Anant Mane soon became the Acting Chairman and right from the word go, one could see the bias against Mrs. Patole the victim and favourable attitude towards the culprits. Any other person would have given up, but not me. This led to protracted fight, where everything was given in writing so that manipulation would be difficult. While dealing with irregularities always follow a golden rule; put everything on paper factually and without fear.
Prayers of MHRC case no.969/2001:-
(a) That the Commission may
suo motu withdraw or recommend to withdraw u/s 169 of the CrPC the bogus
criminal case no.261/2001 filed on Mrs. and Mr. Patole. (Not done).
(b) That she be immediately put in possession of her flat 50B/989 in Samata Nagar or compensated (Not done). (c) That she be paid a compensation of Rs.7 lakhs (breakup -- Rs.4 lakhs being the price of the flat. Rs. one lakh being the value of her other belongings. Rs.2 lakhs being the damages for harassment, loss of reputation, mental pain, expenses on courts, stress, etc. (Only a measly amount of Rs.25,000 ordered to be paid).
(d) That Inspector Pramod Rane and SI Prakash Bele be suspended and prosecuted u/s 195, 220, 340 and other appropriate sections of the IPC, as also u/s 147(c) and (e) of the Bombay Police Act and under sections 12(a), 13(4) and (5) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. (Not done).
(e) That the compensation and the cost of this petition be paid to Mrs. Patole by the Maharashtra Govt. and later recovered from the two derelict officers. (partly done).
On 6th April, 2004 a full bench consisting of Dr. Vijay Chitnis (who was earlier a Professor of Law at the Bombay University), Mr. M.R.Patil, IAS (retd) and Mr. C.L.Thool (addl. metropolitan magistrate retired) delivered a 27-page verbose order, which the academic circles will appreciate as being very good order!!!
Some nuggets from the order: That failure to comply with the requirements of the SC order (in DK Basu v/s WB AIR 1997 SC 610) shall apart from rendering the concerned officials liable for departmental action also render them liable to be punished for contempt of court... The Govt. of Maharashtra is directed to take departmental action against both the police officers.... Right to Life means (as interpreted in S.Rathi v/s Union of India, AIR 1998, P-331 by the SC) that every citizen is entitled to a life with dignity. Dignity means honour. Dishonour is more than death to one who is counted as honourable. Dignity makes life worth living... Then the trio say: "Violation of human rights in such a blatant manner is dark spot on the image of the State Govt... Right to compensation is some palliative for the unlawful acts of the servants of the state. It has been held by the SC in R.Shah v/s Bihar AIR1995, SS-1949 that respect to the right of individual is true bastian (sic) of democracy. The State, therefore, must repay the damage done by its officers to the petitioners".
The operative part of the order reads: "The Commission therefore proposes that a token of compensations (sic) of Rs.25,000/- to be paid to Mrs. Agnes Patole by the State of Maharashtra. The State Govt., if it so chooses, may recover the said amount from both these officers equally. It is further recommended that strict department action should be taken against Mr. Rane, Sr. Police Inspector and Shri Bele police sub-inspector for the violation of human rights and also for violation of directives of the Hon'ble Supreme Court as discussed above.... The above recommendations are given under section 18(1), 18(3) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. The State Govt. is further directed under section 18(5) of the Act to report to the Commission action taken by the Govt. within a period of six weeks". Six weeks to end on 19th May 2004.
Since the order is patently insufficient, inasmuch as, the bogus criminal case against Mrs. Agnes Patole is not removed, since she was dishoused and adequate compensation (amounting to Rs.7 lakhs at the minimum) is not paid and the departmental action suggested may not be adequate (because pending this case SI Prakash Bele got promotion as Assistant Inspector and both the officers were shifted to CID, a better posting, rather than being suspended), the complainant, Dr. Leo Rebello and Mrs. Agnes Patole, a victim of the State excesses, have decided to ask for the review of it.
The message from this case: (1) Do not tolerate police excesses and do not keep quiet. (2) Complain and follow up, always in writing so that records cannot be twisted by anyone. (3) It is easy to win if you persist without fear, because the corrupt are always weak.