Justice For Rohith
This is a transcript of lawyer Gunratan’s brief talk as he updates UoH students after returning from the court on March 24th. He is part of the team working on the fictitious cases made on students and faculty of UoH. This video is part of the narratives recorded by Justice For Rohith youtube channel.
….I am also a faculty member from an Institute in Kolkata, but I am involved in legal matters of people who are victims of state repression. I had also come over here when Ambedkar Students Association including Rohith and all were here. I was here in the campus at that time, and after this happened the day before yesterday, I came today morning. So, basically the legal situation is that there are three FIRs which have been filed. One is by the police, the other is by the Registrar of the university, these are two cases, one is 113, and the other is 114. And the police have also revived another FIR which is case number 22, which was filed on the night of the death of Rohith Vemula.
So there are these three FIRs, under the first FIR, there are 30 students and two faculty members who are accused. In the second one there are 45 accused. In total there are 27 people who were detained. What happened is, the rule is that if you are detained by the police, then within 24 hours of the detention, the police has to produce you in front of the magistrate. And the magistrate has to take a decision about your arrest. That did not happen here. That was direct illegal move by the police. The police did not produce them in court throughout the day yesterday. What they did, like cowards, at 11.40 pm, that is, late at night, they produced 27 people in front of a magistrate. And the magistrate sent them to jail custody for 14 days. So that was the situation we began with this morning.
Today morning, a group of lawyers were trying to file a writ of Habeas corpus, which normally is filed when a person has not been produced in the High court. But when we found that these people were already remanded to jail custody, the focus shifted to filing a bail petition.
So a bail petition was filed for these 27 students. I have a list of their names (reads out the names). Two are faculty members and rest are students who were sent to jail custody, contravening all legal (procedures). I have a lot of experience in legal matters but I have never seen this, they were not even allowed to have contact with the lawyers or their relatives, which is very much the part of legal procedure that the police is supposed to follow.
Then the bail petition was filed and the bail petition was argued, there were many faculty members who were present, students were present, there were lawyers present. After the bail petition was argued, the magistrate said that “I will give judgement decision after half an hour.” But after half an hour, what she did was, she did not give either, YES or NO decision, but kept the judgement in abeyance till Monday. This is a sort of very devious method, because it has been kept in abeyance, no further legal move can be done. So now we are basically stuck till Monday and these 27 people will have to remain in jail at least till Monday, when this decision will be given. So this is the scenario.
The Public Prosecutor (PP) who stood on behalf of the state made many types of allegations, telling that ‘the students have behaved like hardcore criminals and so should be treated like hardcore criminals.’
And they said that, this was a preplanned sort of attack on the VC and the residence, these are the sort of arguments which the PP has given. The arguments were weak as this doesn’t follow any point of law. Therefore, the magistrate has put the order in abeyance till Monday which is March 28th. Till then these people will be remain in jail custody. So that is the scenario.
Q and A with students:
Male student: What is the guarantee that the magistrate will release them on Monday?
Gunratan: There is no guarantee. It can be a negative judgement also. That is also possible. I will also list the charges put against them.
The charges include, Section 141, 324, 353, 332, among these there are charges like Trespassing into another’s residence. Then there are charges like illegal restraint, that is, restraining someone from doing something. Among all these charges, there are two charges which are non-bailable as such, one is Section 147 which is injuring or attacking someone with weapons (students reject this loudly). The other is Section 353, which is stopping a public servant from doing his or her duty. These are the two non-bailable charges which have been put. And then there is also the destruction of public property act.
Male student: But do they have substantial evidence for the trespassing charges?
Gunratan: The PP said, ‘we don’t have evidence, we will give all the evidence on Monday.’
Girl student: They can be fabricating it by then.
Gunratan: I don’t think they can , basically they have got it postponed when they know they cannot produce evidence, so they just got it postponed for now.
Girl student: Are they going to be safe?
Gunratan: In jail custody, normally….. they are safe, but it is not right. But it is different from police custody where a person is liable to be beaten up, tortured etc., but generally this doesn’t happen in jail custody.
Male student: Were they beaten in police custody?
Gunratan: There are reports that it happened actually. Especially when being taken from here in the police van. The thing is no one till date has met them in the jail.
Faculty: Few faculty met some of them when they were in police custody.
Gunratan: Yes, but no one has met them in jail custody.
Girl student: Can’t the students file a case against the police against the police brutality?
Gunratan: That is possible. Especially, I saw that there is one student who is beaten very badly and is hospitalized. Uday Bhanu. He can definitely file an FIR. I also suggested to friends here that a case should be filed.
Girl students: There were many others who were beaten up by the police.
Gunratan: People who have beaten up by the police can file FIRs. You can discuss with the lawyers and can definitely file FIRs.
Girl student: There was one police man who was saying he will rape, giving rape threat to girls.
Gunaratan: Yes, FIR can be filed for these kind of attacks
Male student: They used vulgar language at the students.
Gunratan: You should consult with the lawyers and then move forward.