Published On:12 February 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Katju writes to MHA: Suspend cops who detained Iftikhar Gilani

New Delhi: Press Council chairman Justice Markandey Katju has hit out at the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) over detention of Kashmiri journalist Iftikhar Gilani. In a hard-hitting letter to Union Home Secretary R K Singh, Katju condemned Iftikhar's detention and said that policemen who were involved in the "illegal act" should be suspended and prosecuted.
Iftikhar, son-in-law of Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and his family were on Saturday detained by Delhi Police a few hours after Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru was hanged in Tihar Jail. They were, however, released after about five hours of detention.

The Editors Guild of India also condemned his detention saying the Delhi Police owned him an apology. "The police gave no reason for their unwarranted action. It is a matter of relief that he was released after protests by various journalist bodies and individual journalists, and the resultant intervention by the ministry of home affairs," the Guild said in a statement on Sunday.

"The police owe an apology to (Iftikhar) Gilani and his family and the assurance that he will not be harassed in the future or prevented from carrying out his journalistic duties again," it said. Iftikhar had on Saturday claimed that he and his family members were kept in detention following Guru's execution. Police have, however, denied the claim.

The Guild also expressed concerns over the restrictions on newspapers in Srinagar for the past two days. According to information received in Delhi, newspapers in the Valley have been asked not to print or circulate their editions. "That newspapers have not been able to upload their online editions impinges on their constitutional right to freedom of expression. The Guild calls upon the government of Jammu and Kashmir to end all such restrictions, so that newspapers in the state can work without any fetters," it added.

Following is the full text of the letter written by PCI chairman to Ministry of Home Affairs:

The Home Secretary,
Government of India.
New Delhi

Dear Sir,

I am forwarding to you an email I have received from Mr. Iftikhar Gilani, Asst. Editor DNA, who is a Government of India accredited journalist and former Vice President of the Press Association.

I have carefully perused the email he has sent me and I have also read the news item in the front page of today's The Hindu newspaper. They reveal great high handedness and outrageous behaviour by the Delhi policemen concerned in harassing and tormenting Mr. Gilani and his family, including his small children. These were the undemocratic and abhorrent methods of the Gestapo during Nazi rule.

If these allegations are correct, the concerned police officers, who committed these high-handed illegal acts, as well as those higher ups who were instrumental in ordering these shameful and odious acts are prime facie guilty of serious crimes under sections 341/342, as well as other provisions of the Indian Penal Code and are also guilty of gross and blatant abuse of their powers.

Hence, if the allegations in the email of Mr Gilani are correct, I call upon you to do the following acts within 48 hours:

(i) immediately charge sheet and place under suspension all police officers responsible for these high handed and illegal acts including those higher ups who gave the orders for them

(ii) immediately institute criminal proceedings against such officers under the relevant provisions of IPC and other statutes.

(iii) immediately sanction adequate and suitable compensation to Mr Gilani and his family and convey an apology to him

(iv) I am informed that Mr. Gilani is still being harassed and surveillance is being done on him and his family. This is a clear violation of the decision of the Supreme Court in Kharak Singh Vs State of UP and other AIR 1963 S.C.1295,1964 SCR (1) 332, as well as violation of the right to privacy , which has been held to be part of Art 21 of the Constitution of India. Police surveillance seriously encroaches upon privacy of the petitioner and his fundamental rights under Art 21 vide 1999 (24) All Cr. R. 815 (817): 1999 (11).

I may mention that in the Nuremburg Trials held in after the Second World War the Nazi War Criminals took the plea that orders are orders, and that they were only obeying the orders of their superior Hitler. This plea was rejected by the International Tribunal which held that those orders were illegal orders and hence should have been disobeyed. Consequently many of the accused were hanged.

Hence all policemen in India are hereby warned that they should not carry out illegal orders of their superiors otherwise they will be charged for serious crimes, and if found guilty, severely punished.

Justice Markandey Katju
Chairman, Press Council of India

(Courtesy: Kashmir Times)

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