PUDR condemns the re-arrest of political prisoner Kobad Ghandy. Seventy one year old Ghandy, who is facing incarceration since September 2009 had been granted interim bail on medical grounds for three months starting from 12th December 2017 by a court in Andhra Pradesh. But on 16th December 2017, he was rearrested by the Jharkhand police while he was attending a court hearing at Achempet in Telangana. The Jharkhand police accompanied by the Andhra Pradesh Special Intelligence Bureau (APSIB) have taken him to Ranchi. He is to be produced before a Court in Tenughat, Bokaro district on 18th December in connection with an FIR registered in 2007 at Thermal Police Station.
It is pertinent to note that while in jail, Ghandy and the Cherlapally jail authorities had sent two letters to the concerned Court in November 2016 and March 2017 requesting him to be produced with regard to the case but got no response and was never produced. Now when he was out after so many years, he has been re-arrested on account of this very case. According to a press release issued by Ghandy, most of the Accused in this case have been acquitted while rest are on bail.
At least 16 cases have been foisted upon Ghandy in different states including West Bengal, Telangana, Jharkhand, Punjab, Delhi and Gujarat. Except in one case in which the Delhi High Court held him guilty under various provisions of IPC including sections 120 B (Criminal Conspiracy) read with, 420 (Cheating) and 468 (Forgery) and awarded him jail term which he has already undergone during adjudication of the case, he was not convicted in any other case till date. He has been acquitted in atleast 3 of them. For five years from 2010 to 2015 there remained a statutory bar imposed on him (under section 268 CrPC) which prevented trials in other cases from proceeding. Even after the bar was removed, in many of his cases trials have not started because he has not been produced before the concerned Courts. He hasn’t been able to avail bail granted to him earlier on medical grounds by the Delhi High Court because he could not obtain bail in other cases pending against him elsewhere. Immediately after his release on 12th December he had visited a hospital and had been advised complete rest for a month but again faces imprisonment.
It has been seen that this modus operandi of persecuting persons deemed to be associated with the banned CPI (Maoist) has been used frequently by State functionaries with full intent of ensuring continued incarceration of such persons. Foisting of multiple cases, denial of bail and execution of production warrants right after obtainment of bail/acquittal have characterised cases of such prisoners. The cases of Sheela Marandi and Bellala Padma are pertinent examples, who were re-arrested right outside the jail gate soon after they were released (on bail/acquittal) citing production warrants pending execution with regard to cases in Odisha and Chattisgarh respectively. Both of them had 9 cases each foisted against them. [See CDRO report “Campaign for Release of Political Prisoners”, April 2017]
It is condemnable that thousands of persons in the country continue to face incarceration on account of their political beliefs and association. In this context, PUDR demands the immediate release of Kobad Ghandy.
Shashi Saxena, Shahana Bhattacharya
17th December 2017