Initiative for Justice & Peace
Father Prakash [email protected]
The Honourable Chairman
National Human Rights Commission
Written submission pursuant to the oral submissions made at the public hearing
by the Honourable Commission on 20th March 2002 at Circuit House
As suggested by the Hon. Chairman, that I should submit in writing regarding the incidents of shifting of the official residence of Justice. M. H. Kadri, a sitting Judge of Gujarat High Court and other related matters, I am submitting as follows:
That at about 3.00 p.m. on 28th February 2002, I started receiving telephones about the violence having erupted in the city. Some advocates phoned me that in front of the High Court, trucks were burnt and Judges had left the High Court. I was shocked to hear this, particularly for the reason that I knew that in the High Court premises a police company is stationed and even on the opposite side of the High Court a few policemen used to remain standing.
I telephoned some of my friends belonging to the minority community. At about 4.00 p.m. I could contact Justice Kadri. He informed me that the situation was very tense near about his bungalow. Incidents of looting and arson had started taking place. I asked him about the policemen that had been placed at his residence. He told me that, two ill-equipped police constables are there. I told him that I was requesting my sources for providing further adequate protection at his bungalow. I contacted a retired DSP and requested him to speak to someone in Ellisbridge police station and visit Justice Kadri’s residence. One P.I., (probably Mr. Vachhani) visited Justice Kadri’s house. He told him that he had no extra police force but he himself would be taking rounds and keeping watch.
After an hour or so, I again contacted Justice Kadri. He informed me that nearby Dhuliakot area (where the High Court Judges Bungalows are located) further incidents of looting and arson had taken place. Even near Gujarat College and near Nagari Hospital, garages belonging to minority communities were damaged or burnt. Thereupon, I requested a friend staying in Muslim Society opposite Navrangpura Police Station. In that locality high police officers and high Government officers were staying. The friend told me that the SRP are placed here but its not safe to keep them outside. Justice Kadri’s house is very near from here. If arrangement could be made to give intimation to him about any urgent need, he would see to it that SRP people may rush there. But then he asked me, “will the mob give him time (Justice Kadri) to telephone either to you or anyone in Muslim society?” Hearing this I felt exasperated but continued to remain in touch with Justice Kadri. I remained in touch with him till about 10.30 p.m. to 11.00 p.m.
The next day i.e. 1st March 2002, around 8. 30, I tried to contact Justice Kadri, but on telephone there was no response. Therefore I got worried and contacted protocol officer of Gujarat High Court. He told me that late at night Justice Kadri along with his family members had shifted to the nearby bungalow of Justice Vaghela. I requested the protocol officer to convey to Justice Kadri that I was worried and he may contact me as soon as possible. At about 11.30 a.m. Justice Kadri telephoned me and told that pursuant to the suggestion of Chief Justice and Brother Judges, he had shifted along with his family members to the bungalow of Brother Justice Vaghela. He further told me that he was being asked to shift to Judges Bungalow in Vastrapur. On telephone instantly I told him that tell anyone who is suggesting you to shift that for a sitting Judge to shift from his official residence for the reason that he is not given full protection would amount to insult to the independence of Judiciary and also an insult to the secular philosophy of the Constitution. In reply he requested me whether I could come down to his residence. I told that as soon as practicable I would reach there.
Before proceeding to Justice Kadri’s place, I tried to contact Justice R. A. Mehta, Director, Judicial Academy. He was not available at his residence but I came to know from his residence that Justice Divecha, Retired High Court Judge and Former Chairman MRTP was forced to shift from his residence and his house was ransacked. I contacted Justice Divecha at his friends residence. I saw to it that my message is conveyed to Justice Mehta that he should reach Justice Kadri’s residence as soon as possible and that I was going there. At about 1.15 p.m. or 1.30 p.m., I reached residence of Justice Kadri. After some time Justice Mehta also reached.
From the talk that we had with Justice Kadri, I gathered that:
Ø Chief Justice Dharmadhikari was worried about the safety of Justice Kadri and his family members and was requesting him to shift to Judges Bungalow in Vastrapur or to his own residence which is near Judges Bungalows.
Ø Military intelligence people had told Justice Kadri that it would be proper to shift from that bungalow as police force kept at his residence was not sufficient to protect against the mob violence and that he should not rely for his safety on local police.
military people had offered that they can ensure his safety in military guest
house in cantonment area.
Kadri asked for our opinion and at that time Justice Mehta received telephone
on his mobile from the registrar of the High Court who was speaking from the
residence of the Chief Justice. The registrar informed that two bungalows i.e.
Bungalow No. 14 and Bungalow No. 26 were ready and any of them could be
occupied by Justice Kadri. Justice
Mehta handed over the phone to Justice Kadri. After finishing talk with the
registrar, Justice Kadri asked us as to what do we feel now and what should he
told Justice Kadri that “Brother, I am withdrawing my philosophical
assertions on telephone. Ground
reality is that the Constitutional philosophy is now in the book only.
We may be courageous but we are not soldiers fighting on the border
where to move backward even an inch would be an act of cowardice. In the situation now in which you are placed it would be
unwise not to shift to a safer place”.
I further told him that he should not go anywhere else except with his
kith and kin: ailing mother aged about 85 suffering from cardiac disease and
two college going girls, he and his wife being in family and there being no
other male member, what he and his family now required was the warmth and
support from his kith and kin. Military
people may protect him physically but they will not be able to give
psychological warmth and support. The same was the opinion of Justice Mehta.
the talk with Justice Kadri, we came to know that since yesterday night he had
not taken food at all. It was
around 2.30 p.m. I told him
unless he takes food in our presence we will not leave his house.
In our presence he gulped down two-three
chapattis and some vegetable. After
he finished his lunch he received a phone from military people or some one
connected with military. In our
presence he told on phone that he was ready to shift to his sister-in-laws
flat situated behind V.S. Hospital, Near Tagore Hall. Thereafter, when we felt assured that he would be shifted
under military escort, we left his premises.
At about 5.00 O’clock I contacted Justice Kadri and learnt that at
about 4.00 O’clock, under Military escort he and his family members had
shifted to his Sister-in-law’s place and that his mother’s health was
that day evening at about 6.00 p.m. I received phone from advocate Mr. A.A.
Memon. He requested me to tell someone in police if his residence near Shah
Alam Khadaki can be protected during night time. Exasperated as I was I
expressed my helplessness but told him I was requesting Justice Mehta to do
something, if he could help.
correspondent had taken my interview. It
has appeared in www.rediff.com For your ready reference it has been enclosed. There are some
inaccuracies with regard to dates, timings and certain names.
But as far as the views and general details contained therein, I stand
by the same.
A. P. Ravani
(Justice Ravani is a retired judge of Gujarat High Court)