People’s Commission, Banned:

I wish to come on record by calling the Judgment banning People’s Commission on human rights violations in Punjab as arbitrary, vindictive and a slur on the institution. It would not be unjust to say that this document is the worst gift from the Punjab & Haryana High Court to the new millennium. The judgment has baffled many human rights organisations associated with the activities of the People’s Commission.

The human rights activists were not surprised at the decision of the High Court. What surprised them the most was that the judgment came after a gap of nine months after it was reserved for pronouncement on 13.3.1999. It has also brought to fore that not only the trial of the cases are delayed but the judgments are also delayed for reasons best known to the bench. This could by no stretch of imagination be blamed to the Lawyers or the Judicial system as such.

The issuance of a Writ banning People’s Commission, a private institution run solely by non-govermental organisation has made a flutter of the judgment. Earlier a Writ could be issued by the High Courts only against the Government or a body run by the Government. The judgment in a way widened the scope of Public Interest Litigation, although no Public Interest was sought to be protected by the Petitioner except that the People’s Commission has tried to denigrate the Law Courts and established a parallel judicial system to even raise a finger at the orders of the Law Courts where injustice was writ large. Thirdly, the purpose of the People’s Commission has been vindicated by the said judgment. The Co-ordination Committee on disappearances in Punjab which constituted the People’s Commission was trying to un-earthen the mass scale human rights violations in Punjab during the last over a decade, and in the process lost many precious human lives including that of Jaswant Singh Khalra, Kulwant Singh Advocate, his wife and two month old Child and many more, but by banning the People’s Commission from carrying on its avowed objects, the High Court has confirmed in ice-cold words that human rights have no place in our society, where even High Court and Supreme Court Judges are driven by money, bias and relationships. It has also exposed its stance that nobody would be allowed to speak against the atrocities and brutality committed upon them by the Law enforcers. One cold question of law which makes me frighten still remains un-answered, Whether we are living in a civilised society ? Is our civilisation too narrow-minded and trashy that even freedom of Speech and expression could be denied in the name of upholding the dignity of the Law. After going through the lengthy judgment, every man with prudence fails to understand as to what offence or wrong the People’s Commission would have committed if it had been allowed to function. The judgment is another blot to the Indian Judicial System and voice of the people for a total reform in the institution and accountability for the Judges now hold more solid ground than ever before.

(Arunjeev Singh Walia)