Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Petition for the Fair and Just Trial of Dr. Binayak Sen

(This petition shall be circulated from today onwards on the campus of WBNUJS)

Dr. Binayak Sen is a paediatrician, a human rights activist, and the vice-president of Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties. He was arrested on May 14, 2007, on suspicion of being a Maoist symphatizer. On December 24, 2010, he was held guilty by the Sessions Court at Raipur of the crime of sedition and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Dr. Binayak Sen has been one of the most vocal critics of the Chattisgarh government’s policy against the Naxal movement, and the role of the Salwa Judum in committing violations of human rights against villagers. He has dedicated years of his life to providing medical care to the poor and helpless. Dr. Binayak Sen is the recipient of the 2008 Johnathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights. Like Liu Xiabao, he was not allowed by the State to attend his award ceremony.
It is undeniable that when a human rights activist protests against human rights violations in a state, and is then accused of being a Maoist symphatizer, any consequent trial is questionable on grounds of misuse of judicial process. And when the consequent trial is of the nature that was Dr. Binayak Sen’s, then the credibility of the process further diminishes. What is worth noting here is that the evidence presented before the Court was, by no stretch of imagination, conclusive enough to prove his conviction. Unfortunately, the Judges did not give any credence to the insufficiency of evidence in the matter while awarding him with the sentence. A cursory glance at the Judgment is sufficient to prove this surprising disregard for and unwillingness to accept the value of evidence in a criminal trial. After all, The Sessions Court based its judgment on the testimony of a man who claimed to overhear a statement by Dr. Sen’s co-accused, Mr. Pijush Guha, that Mr.  Guha received certain letters from Dr. Sen. Other evidence included letters in which Binayak Sen was referred to as “comrade”.
As students, we find it unacceptable that in a democratic state, anti-sedition laws be used to clamp down on genuine voices against human rights violations. We further believe that the judicial process should not be employed as a means of harassment against those who voice genuine grievances against the state. We also believe that respect for human rights is as integral to the rule of law as is national security. We further believe that national security cannot be used as an excuse for the flagrant violation and suppression of our fundamental and human rights. Lastly, we believe that as persons with a genuine cause of grievance against the State, we could all be Binayak Sens, and if he could be given a sentence of life imprisonment, our collective right to freedom of speech and expression is in danger.
Therefore, we, the undersigned, as students who believe in Dr. Binayak Sen, and who believe in the right of every citizen to dissent peacefully, appeal to you to ensure that Dr. Binayak Sen is treated with the justice and fairness that he deserves. We further appeal that his trial is dealt with as swiftly as possible. Dr. Binayak Sen’s very incarceration is shameful in a democracy. The least that we can do is to ensure that this disgraceful act is remedied as soon as possible, so that Dr. Binayak Sen can go back to serving the people of Chattisgarh. 

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