JUSTICE CORPS

Action group for judicial transparency, justice reforms and human rights.

Impact:MHRC appointments

Posted by justicecorps on January 9, 2007

– Letter was issued to CM

– Copies of these letters were also sent to Bombay High Court, National Human Rights Commission etc.

– In the meanwhile, Vidharba Jan Andolan Samiti, an organisation taking up the cause of farmers’ suicides, in its PIL on farmers’ suicides, took up also the laxity of the govt. in appointing members of MHRC. HC took cognizance of the same and directed the state  government to fill vacancies.

– Hence there was no need for Justice Corps to further file another PIL.

– Neverhtless, JC contacted Vidharba Jan Andolan Samiti and sent it a copy of the notice if it required the same.

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Posted in Notice to Maharashtra CM | Leave a Comment »

Impact: RTI implementation campaign

Posted by justicecorps on January 9, 2007

– Many organisations were concerned and supported the campaign. We were able to garner support of 36 organisations working in the social sector.

– Many individuals appreciated the idea on various E-lists

– Husein Dalwai, former law minister of Maharashtra who was approached to take up the issue personally, did not sign. But only praised the initiative.

– It is a regular practice in law, that first a notice or letter has to be issued to the appropriate authority before any action is taken against it. JC planned to take up a PIL, but considered it proper to issue notice and have campaign first to alert the Judiciary. However, even before JC could get response from judiciary or from State Information Commissioner, an individual already filed a PIL in the Bombay HC demanding implementation of the Act.

– JC’s letter alerted the judiciary and sent to it a clear message that it too is accountable and being watched by the public.

Posted in Signature Campaign for RTI | 1 Comment »

Notice to Maharastra Chief Minister

Posted by justicecorps on January 4, 2007

We learnt that the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission was running without a Chairperson since last four years (upto 2006) and that the term of three members of the Commission ended in March last year. Therefore, the MHRC had only one member instead of the needed five. Now therefore, as the Chairperson of the Committee responsible for recommending the names for the position of the State Human Rights Commission the CM ws asked to take note of this dire situation and immediate action to fill the vacancies was the demand made by Jutice Corps.

The letter sent to the CM follows:

 

JUSTICE CORPS
(Action group for judicial transparency and justice reforms)
C/o: 28 Sunrise, Samta Nagar, Kandivali (East), Mumbai 400 101
Mob: 9869 650 870, Email: justicecorps@gmail.com


NOTICE

To

Mr. Vilasrao Deshmukh 25th July, 2006.

Chief Minister, Government of Maharashtra.

As Chairperson of Committee under section 22(1) of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

Dereliction in the appointment of members of the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission. Take notice that we shall take up a writ petition in the Bombay High Court, if the Chairperson and members of MHRC are not appointed within 1 month of this notice.

Dear Sir,

We learn that the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission has been running without a Chairperson since last four years and that the term of three members of the Commission ended in March this year. Therefore, at present the MHRC has only one member instead of the needed five. Now therefore, as the Chairperson of the Committee responsible for recommending the names for the position of the State Human Rights Commission, please take note:

1.. That, the objective of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 is to provide for the constitution of National and State Human Rights Commissions “for better protection of human rights and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.

2.. That, as per section 2(d) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, “Human Rights” mean the rights relating to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by Courts in India.

3.. That, Human Rights are guaranteed to the individual by the Constitution of India and the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 and every effort must be made to address violations.

4.. That, under section 22(1) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, the Chairperson and members of the State Human Rights Commission shall be appointed by the Governor, provided that every appointment shall be made after obtaining the recommendation of a Committee consisting of

a) Chief Minister Chairperson

b) Speaker of Legislative Assembly Member

c) Home Minister Member

d) Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Member

e) Chairperson of Legislative Council Member

f) Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Member.

5.. That, as Chairperson of the above mentioned committee, to our knowledge, you have failed to initiate any dialogue in the matter and have not taken necessary steps to appoint the members of the State Human Rights Commission. Mr. Ramdas Kadam, member of the very recommending committee has slammed your governments nonchalance in a news-report dated 29th April, 2006 by stating “This shows us how inefficient the government is. Apart from not appointing a Chairman, the authorities have not even allocated more funds to the Commission”.

6.. That, the number of cases of human rights violations are increasing day by day and explains the sorry state of affairs in Maharashtra. The number of cases has increased from 840 cases in 2001 to 5,570 cases in 2005.

7.. That, in the absence of sufficient members of the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, human rights violations cases will pile up leading to delayed justice, thereby giving a free hand to authorities accused of violations to continue their violations.

8.. That, in the absence of the members of the Commission, it is not possible to fulfill the avowed aim of the Act and this defeats the very purpose of the Protection of the Human Rights Act, 1993.

9.. That, as an action group with concern for judicial transparency, justice reforms and human rights we bring to your notice, that we shall be constrained to take up a writ petition in the Bombay High Court in case your government fails to appoint the Chairperson and members of the State Human Rights Commission within one month of the receipt of this notice.

Awaiting your early action and acknowledgement.

Yours faithfully,

Ronald L. Rebello

Social Activist and Founder, Justice Corps

Copy to:

1.. Mr. S. M Krishna, Governor of Maharashtra and authority under section 22(1) of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

2.. Mr. R. R Patil, Home Minister.

3.. Mr. Arun Gujrathi, Speaker of Legislative Assembly.

4.. Mr. Ramdas Kadam, Leader of Opposition in Legislative Assembly.

5.. Chairman of Legislative Council.

6.. Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council.

7.. Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi, for necessary follow up.

8.. Chief Justice, Bombay High Court, requesting suo moto action on the issue.

9.. Print and electronic media.

 

Posted in Notice to Maharashtra CM, Our Activities | Leave a Comment »

Signature Campaign for RTI

Posted by justicecorps on January 4, 2007

A signature campaign was undertaken in July 2006 to demand the implementation of The Right to Information Act,2005 by the Mumbai High Court. The letter drafted to demand the same received support of 36 organisations.

The content of the letter is as follows:

JUSTICE CORPS

(Action group for judicial transparency and justice reforms)
C/o: 28
Sunrise, Samta Nagar, Kandivali (East), Mumbai 400 101
Mob: 9869 828 619, Email: justicecorps@gmail.com

To

The Hon’ble Chief Justice July 19, 2006.
Bombay High Court
Fort, Mumbai.

Dereliction by Bombay High Court in implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2005. Circular issued by Registrar General, Bombay High Court is ultra vires to the Information Act.

Sir,

This is an official complaint and your attention is invited against the excessive circular of the Registrar General of the Bombay High Court. The said administrative circular issued on February 15, 2006 directs all courts to withhold information asked under the RTI Act till further communication is received from the High Court. The Circular states that the matter of supplying information under the Act is under active consideration by the Supreme Court as well as the Bombay High Court. The complainants rely on the information provided in the news report of the Times of India, attached as Annexure I.

Now therefore, such a circular of the Registrar General is ultra vires to the Right to Information Act 2005; is excessive and unjustified on following grounds:

1.. The Right to Information Act contains a clear provision making it obligatory for the public authorities to appoint Public Information Officers within one hundred days of the enactment of the Act as per section 5, and to publish detailed information about its working within 120 days, as per section 4. This sufficient period of 120 days expired on October 19, 2005, the day the Act came into force.

2.. Under section 2(h)(a) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 the Bombay High Court is a public authority and under section 2(e)(iii) the Chief Justice is the competent authority, both who are enjoined to implement the Act. Even after eight-and-half months since the day the Act came into force, the Act remains unimplemented by the Bombay High Court. No provision in the RTI Act excuses the public authority or you as the competent authority by giving extension in period to implement the Act.

3.. No time-frame for implementation of the Act has been given by you as a competent authority and the Registrar General of the Bombay High Court. Infact, the Registrar had initially stated in an interview to the Times of India in November 02, 2005 that the process of implementation of the Act was likely to resume after November 14, 2005 (Please see TOI report as Annexure II). Five months later in April 2006, inspite of a notice issued by activists to the then Chief Justice of Bombay High Court to implement the Act, no response was received from the Bombay High Court. The Registrar General in a response to the Press, repeated that the HC was yet to decide to what extent the Act should be made applicable to the judiciary. (Please see Annexure III).

4.. The circular of the Registrar General does not fit in any provision or rule made under the Right to Information Act and is inconsistent with the same. The circular is an administrative order, non-judicial in nature and is excessive.

5.. The circular amounts to circumventing a central legislation, which is Constitutionally sound and remains unchallenged so far in any court of law.

6.. The Judiciary does not come within the purview of the 18 intelligence and security organizations that are exempt from the RTI Act.

7.. That, other than the regular practice of obtaining copies of judgements, there is enough scope to seek information under the RTI Act from the Judiciary and hence there is certainly a need to appoint Public Information Officers for the purpose. Please refer to Annexure IV, a letter to the editor of Times of India on the scope of using the Act vis-à-vis judiciary.

8.. That, as the competent authority, you are empowered under section 28 of the Act to make rules in terms of cost of the medium or print cost price of materials to be disseminated, the fee payable for providing information. Therefore, the duration in deciding the costs and fees payable for providing information is too long. The so-called “active consideration” as cited by the Registrar General of the court is nothing but an excuse and amounts to dereliction of duty.

Now therefore, in the interests of justice and transparency, the following reliefs are sought:

i.. That, as the competent authority, you direct the Registrar General to revoke the said circular forthwith.

ii.. That, information under section 4 of the Act is published immediately.

iii.. That, Public Information Officers under section 5 of the Act be appointed forthwith.

iv.. That, rules under section 28 of the Act should be framed forthwith.

The Supreme Court has in various judgments held in the past that the citizens enjoy the fundamental right to information. The Right to Information Act, 2005 was enacted “to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority”. It is therefore hoped, that as the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court and competent authority appointed under the Act, you would take immediate cognizance of this letter and pass the necessary directives.

Yours faithfully,

Sd/- Sd/-

Ronald L. Rebello Sanket Kashid

Social Activist and Founder, Justice Corps Co-founder, Justice Corps

Sd/-

Ganesh Sodaye

Member, Justice Corps

Copy by email to:

1.. Central Information Commission, New Delhi

2.. Registrar General, Bombay High Court

3.. Organisations and individuals working on the right to information.

4.. Print and electronic media.

In solidarity with the above assertions and demands:

No Name Designation and Organisation

1.. Dr. Leo Rebello President, All India (Press) Letter Writers Association & Litigants Welfare Forum

2.. Mrs. Prabha Tirmare Sr. Lecturer, College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan

3.. Dr. J. Adsule Member, HC Legal Aid Committee, Mumbai

4.. Ms. Ulka Mahajan Sarvahara Jan Andolan

5.. Mrs. Farida Lambay Vice-Principal, College of Social Work

6.. Mr. Datta Balsaraf NavMaharashtra Yuva Abhiyan, Y. B Chavan Centre

7.. Ms. Medha Kulkarni Trustee, Sampark, Mumbai

8.. Mr. Ramesh Kadam General Secretary, Police-Janta Parivartan Dal

9.. Mr. Shuddodan Kathade President, Janvikas

10. Mr. John D’souza Director, Centre for Education & Documentation

11.. Mrs. Leena Joshi Director, Apnalaya

12.. Ms. Seema Pawaskar Systems Elite to Endeavor Development

13.. Mr. Vijay Najaraj Tata Institute of Social Sciences

14.. Mr. Allyn D’Silva Justice & Peace Commission

15.. Ms. Juliet Maben Documentation Research & Training Centre

16.. Mrs. Pamela Fernandes ACCP, Hotline

17.. Ms. Patsy Khan President, Institute of Social Service

18.. Ms. Philomina Vaz Anubhav Mumbai

19.. Mr. Pravin More State Secretary, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights

20.. Mr. Sanjay Lokhande Executive Secretary, Konkan Vikas Samanvaya Vyaspith

21.. Mr. Mohan Surve Executive Director, Vikas Sahyog Pratishthan

22.. Mr. Lalit Babar Dr. Ambedkar Setivikas Sanstha.

23.. Mr. Anil Borkar Gramin Vikas Pragati Mandal, Bhandara

24.. Mr. Datta Patil S. G. V. M

25.. Mr. Sachin Jakhi Sahil Sanstha, Ratnagiri

26.. Mr. Anant Kadam Lokadhikar Andolan

27.. Mr. Devidas Kumbhar Somling Gram Vikas

28.. Mr. Ashok Bhosale Samajik Nyay Pratisthan

29.. Mr. Gajanan Bhoir Sakav, Raigad

30.. Mr. Ajit Karde Vikalp, Satara

31.. Mr. Sachin M. Constructive Catalyst, Pune

32.. Mr. Ramesh Sagare Human Resource Development Corporation

33.. Mr. Suresh Sawant Co-ordinator, Rationing Kruti Samiti

34.. Mrs. Asunta D’souza Social Worker, Salokha

35.. Ms. Sneha Khandekar Social Activist

36.. Mr. Prasad Manjrekar Action Aid International, India office

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Minutes of third official meeting

Posted by justicecorps on January 4, 2007

Day: Thursday

Date: 28th December, 2006.

Time: 11 am to 5:20 pm

Place: Rationing Kruti Samiti office, Mumbai Central

Members present : Ronald L. Rebello, Sanket Kashid, Hemant Morajkar, Ramesh Kadam.

 

1.. Ronald first made a detailed presentation on the problems affecting the justice system of the country as of today, the dynamics involved, the problems of citizens in accessing justice, the recent trends of judiciary, the visits of Sanket and Ronald as team members of JC to various courts and their observations, the judicial reforms demanded by Justice Corps and need for the same etc. Additionally, an idea of the activities of Justice Corps during the year (2006) were discussed such as campaign by JC to get the RTI Act, 2005 implemented by Bombay High Court, responses of various people to it and notice to Maharashtra CM calling him to fill up the vacancies in MHRC, letters to the Editor on judicial reforms etc.

3.. Similarly, the various topics of documentation done by Ronald and Sanket were also presented. So far JC has been able to do documentation on around 40 issues concerning justice reforms, judicial transparency, law and human rights. It was emphasized that systematic documentation has come to a halt since October 31st, 2006 as Ronald has resigned as an employee from Rationing Kruti Samiti. This is because when he was in RKS while doing RKS documentation, he used to also do documentation on judicial reform. Nevertheless, while now newspaper cuttings are being collected on the same, there are absolutely no resources or funds for gum to paste the clippings, for paper, box-files to maintain these clippings etc.

4.. After this presentation, the inclusion of new members in the team was discussed. Hemant Morajkar a budding young journalist and a graduate in Bio-technology has decided to join the Justice Corps team as a core committee member. Shabana Shaikh of Women’s Research and Action Group (WRAG) and a third year student of law has also consented to be a team member, telephonically. She could not make it to the meeting as she had an illness in the family to attend. Ramesh Kadam, involved as a full-timer with Rationing Kruti Samiti and associated with various movements and Unions, in the afternoon session of the meeting said that he would be interested in becoming a member, though he would not be able to participate fully into it and suggested that decisions should be conveyed directly to him. Therefore, as of today, the team strength of Justice Corps is a total of 6 members, namely, Ronald Rebello (Founder), Sanket Kashid (Co-founder), Ganesh Sodaye (Member), Hemant Morajkar (Member), Shabana Shaikh (Member), Ramesh Kadam (Member). The team felt that it is of significance to have one more lady member in order to have a balanced team.

5.. So far there has been no progress on the front of having a bank account for Justice Corps. Sanket and Ronald made enquiries with two-three banks – HDFC, New India Co-operative Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce. None of these banks are ready to open an account for Justice Corps as it is an unregistered organization. It was decided to further make enquires on the same and not give up hope. Ramesh informed the group that Bank of Maharashtra permits opening a “current bank account” for even unregistered organizations. Hence, Sanket and Ronald have decided to make further enquires. Sanket will follow-up the issue of a bank account for Justice Corps. It was emphasized that in order to get even a small amount of funding, a bank account is very much essential.

6.. Justice Corps in order to make its presence known to a wider audience, needs to have a website and an E-group on which essential messages can be disseminated. Hemant, a regular blogger has taken the responsibility of designing, monitoring and updating a website for JC. The content is to be provided to him and he would host it on one of the free blogs available on the internet. Hemant would host the material on www.justicecorps.wordpress.com.

7.. It was brought to the notice of the team that since its inception in March 2006, Justice Corps has met officially only thrice. (Though Ronald and Sanket have met on numerous occasions and have discussed issues unofficially). This is because the team members have not been able to match their schedules. Therefore, it was decided that in the year of 2007, a fixed date should be decided for the entire year, so as to dedicate time to JC. The team decided that the first Saturday of every month will be a JC meeting day come what may. The meeting will be a full day meeting beginning 11 am sharp and should end by around 5 pm. Meeting will be held in the RKS office at Bombay Central till such time as it is permitted by RKS. This was decided in the morning. Ramesh who participated in the meeting in the afternoon expressed his inability to take part in this meeting as he has already pre-booked this day in the month for RKS activities, which cannot be altered. Ganesh Sodaye and Shabana have agreed telephonically to the said schedule.

8.. Sanket bought up the issue of visiting cards. It was discussed that in the course of networking with other activists, organizations and representing JC, there is no identification or contact details that can be given. Hence, it was decided that each one of us would print our visiting cards for JC, for which each of us would bear our own expenses since there are no funds. It was decided that a model visiting card would be designed by Ronald and will be sent to team members via email.

9.. Regarding the activities for JC, it was discussed that each one of the team members need to identify sensitive lawyers connected with various courts and streams of law, who would help us in understanding the problems of those particular courts. For instance, a labour court lawyer to advice on problems of labour courts/laws, a criminal court lawyer on criminal matters/courts and so on. Similarly, we much identify litigants in each court and document their cases in case study formats.

Lectures in various colleges on different topics such as right to information, judicial reform, and public interest litigation too can be organized to mobilize opinion. NSS, student units, principals and faculties of these colleges can be contacted for the same.

To make entry into the slums, it was decided that printing of RTI pamphlets in Hindi and Marathi should be distributed with JC details on it.

Ronald mooted before the group the idea of sending circulars to various colleges inviting students for internship with Justice Corps. This will give an opportunity for JC to mobilize the student community on the issue and also the shortage of human power for documentation will not be felt. These students can indulge in an array of activities at various levels depending on their skills. Ronald has taken the responsibility of co-ordinating the same and following it up. Sarvahara Jan Andolan (Raigad), Kashtakari Sanghatna (Dhanu-Talasari), Rationing Kruti Samiti (Mumbai) are the three organizations where students can be placed for internship in addition to doing JC work.

Ramesh came up with the idea that the organization needs to be membership-based rather than a federation of networks. This idea was supported by all. Ramesh averred that he can collect over 1,000 members within three months. However, the team was clear that the members of JC need to be empowered and concerned individuals and not any Tom, Dick and Harry should be part of it for their personal gain.

Sanket suggested that JC members should get co-opted in All India Press Letter Writers Association (AILWA), a 26 year old registered body of letter writers from the country. The object of joining the association is that JC can be run through AILWA, in particular to obtain funding for JC activities as at present JC is unregistered and no funding agency may provide funds. More appropriately many issues are in common with AILWA such as the recognition of the right to information, judicial transparency and reform and good governance. Besides AILWA members are in the mood of retiring after serving 25 years and want young people to run it. It was proposed by Ronald that Hemant and Sanket, both who are also letter-writers may join AILWA. Unfortunately, the idea of taking costly membership of Rs. 1,000 acts as a deterrent and makes the organization appear elitist. Sanket and Hemant will take their own decisions in this regard.

A short break of an hour was taken during the day to read pending newspapers in RKS office so as to acquire clippings on Justice Reforms. It was decided that such activity would be continued every time and in this way clippings on food security would also be culled out for RKS team, mutually benefiting both organizations.

The meeting completed at 5:20 pm.

 Minutes written by Ronald and Sanket.

 

 

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