Stan's treatment darkest tag on denial of freedom: National Lawyers Campaign
The National Lawyers Campaign (NLC), a representative outfit, has termed the imprisonment of Father Stan Swamy and repeated bail refusal as “one of the darkest incidents of denial of the fundamental freedom of life and liberty” that was unheard of even in the medieval era.
In a statement issued in New Delhi, NLC president Mathew J. Nedumpura said the 84-year-old and ailing tribal rights activist who died in judicial custody on Monday while waiting for bail ought not to have been arrested in the first place and that no court should have remanded him in custody.
“The denial of bail to Father Stan Swamy, which led to his incarceration and eventual death in a private hospital in Bombay still under judicial custody, is one of the darkest incidents of denial of the fundamental freedom of life and liberty enshrined in our Constitution,” Nedumpura said.
“Even during the medieval days, the custody of a person accused was permissible only if the offences committed were so grave and such that if the person was at large he would not be available for trial and to undergo the punishment,” he added.
Asserting that the sacrifice made by Fr Stan would not go in vain, the NLC hoped the judiciary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah would take note of the injustice that had “stained” India’s image the world over.
The NLC also sought the immediate release of thousands of undertrials who are languishing in jails for years, denied speedy trial.
Nedumpura recalled the words of legendary English jurist William Blackstone who in his Commentaries on the Laws of England had stated that “…the guilt of a man ought not be wrung out of him, and ought to be established by other men and means, through a complete protection against self-incrimination”.
Pointing out that bail is a matter of right and can be denied only if the offender is likely to commit further crimes or is a flight risk, the NLC stated that this protection against incarceration and self-incrimination that has been an undeniable facet throughout the common history of law is being denied in 21st-century India.
“The octogenarian, weak and sick Fr Swamy ought not to have been even arrested and no court should have remanded him in police/judicial custody. I have no words to condemn the injustice done to Fr Stan Swamy,” Nedumpura said.
“I believe the sufferings of Fr Stan will not go in vain, and that the Prime Minister, home minister and the judiciary will take note of the fact that the injustice meted out to Fr Stan has stained India’s image all over the world, and has created a dent in the faith of the common man in the judiciary.
“The reforms we need are drastic, revolutionary. The worship of meaningless procedures and technicality, we must abandon. Thousands of undertrials accused of petty offences, many of which are mere fabrication, ought to be released, and it is the duty of the Bar to raise its voice against injustice,” Nedumpura added.