CHENNAI: Urging the State and the Central governments to initiate dialogue with the anti-Koodankulam protesters at Idinthakarai, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, A P Shah, on Monday appealed that cases filed against the activists be withdrawn.
Addressing reporters after chairing the jury at a public hearing, where those part of the anti-KKNPP protests testified, he said the right to protest and lawful assembly, freedom of expression and speech, has been held as sacrosanct by the judiciary.
He said protests at the plant site have been non-violent and stand testimony to the fact that democracy is alive in the country. However, thousands of cases have been booked against the protesters, some of which come under clauses of sedition. Shah said that there were clear rulings from the Supreme Court that sedition cases could be made out only when violence was incited. “In this case, there seems to be no evidence of incitement of violence,” he observed.
The former Chief Justice said that the Centre should make public certain documents related to the plant, as demanded by the people. This included the Environment Impact Assessment report, conducted as early as 1988, and safety audit reports. Further, there was no clarity on what the liability on the plant operators was in case of an accident, he pointed out. Shah said efforts would be made to take up the issue with the Human Rights Commission.