Much has been said recently about national interest requiring turning a blind eye towards the extra-judicial killings of Indian citizens allegedly with the connivance of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and its uniformed police accomplices. To hear some commentators, all that stands between India and imminent destruction is the capacity of an unaccountable body to Parliament to execute whomever, wherever, and whenever they like. Stripped of the immunity to murder at whim, the IB would be allegedly forced to fight suspected terrorists with both hands tied behind its back. Or would it?
Human Rights Features aim to look at issues behind the headlines from a human rights perspective. If you wish to reproduce this article in entirety, please cite ‘Economic and Political Weekly’ as the source. If you would like to use the content in your own work, please provide complete and accurate citations. We would appreciate it if you could also send us a copy of the published work.
The Jammu and Kashmir government has cleverly used the Supreme Court's order on revamping police legislation to bring in the J&K Police Bill 2013 that has several arbitrary and draconian provisions. While demanding revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the state government is attempting to bring in a law that gives the police huge powers over citizens without protecting the latter's rights.
There is need for a statutory framework for South Asia’s intelligence agencies to build effective oversight and accountability mechanisms. Whilst national security is highly important to public interest, it is only one of many competing interests to be balanced for effective governance. This paper outlines best practice for regulation of intelligence services in South Asia, acknowledging the difficulty of balancing national security needs with civil liberties guarantees. It seeks to identify appropriate civil liberties safeguards, whilst maintaining sufficient freedom for intelligence agencies to perform their functions effectively.
It appeared in the December 2012 issue of the South Asia Journal.
The blanket refusal by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir to investigate or release the identities of bodies buried in unmarked and mass graves is a gross violation of international law that India has so far been able to commit with impunity. National and international pressure has been found wanting in this regard. Fatigue and helplessness over the persistence of India’s egregious human rights abuses has made such relative silence the norm. Domestic apathy and selective enforcement of international law must be overcome to end such impunity to the violation of human rights.
It appeared in the 10 November 2012 issue of the Economic and Political Weekly.
Dear Madam/Sir, The Government of India is considering a proposal to notify farming as an essential service. This is ostensibly to bring drought relief to farmers suffering from a weak monsoon - a laudable goal indeed. However, if farming is deemed an "essential service", farmers and farm workers could lose many of their political and civil rights because the government can then invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act to ban strikes by agricultural workers, leaving them without collective bargaining power.
It appeared in the 22 September 2012 issue of the Economic and Political Weekly.
Dear Madam/Sir, Please find enclosed as HRF 222, – an article on the proposed, “The Border Security Force (Amendment) Bill, 2011”. It appeared in the 12 May 2012 issue of the Economic and Political Weekly.